For Immediate Release - November 19, 2009

Attorney General Coakley's Office Reaches Agreement with Fall River Store to Remove Unregistered Pesticide From Shelves

BOSTON - Today, Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office reached an agreement with two companies that sold an unregistered pesticide product called "Victory's Miraculous Insecticide Chalk" or "Chinese Chalk" at the Dollar Fun Store in Fall River. The Attorney General's Office filed an Assurance of Discontinuance in Suffolk Superior Court today under the Consumer Protection Act that requires Ding Ji, Inc., the current owner of the store, and Dollar Fun Too, Inc., the prior owner, to remove the product from the store shelves. The defendants have also agreed not to sell this product again and pay $2,500 in costs and penalties to the Commonwealth. Ding Ji Inc. and the Dollar Fun Too cooperated in the Commonwealth's investigation in this matter.

"Victory's Miraculous Insecticide Chalk" looks like common blackboard chalk, and its packaging asserts that it is "harmless to humans" and "safe to use." The active ingredient in the product, synthetic pyrethroid insecticide, a chemical derived from the Chrysanthemum plant, is relatively benign compared with other toxic pesticides. However, it can still be harmful, particularly when it is marketed as safe and is in a form that invites dangerous misuse. Synthetic pyrethroid insecticide is not registered with the Massachusetts Pesticide Board for use in the Commonwealth, and it may not lawfully be sold or offered for sale here.

"Pesticides are toxic by design, and retailers must ensure that they only stock pesticide products that are registered with the state. Retailers must also ensure that the insecticide products they stock do not contain misleading claims of safety that can put the public at risk," said Attorney General Coakley. "We will continue to be vigilant so that consumers know that they can rely on pesticide labels in helping to decide whether, and how, to use household pesticides."

"We were glad to have been able to work with the Attorney General's Office on this investigation to remove an unregistered pesticide product from the marketplace," said Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Scott Soares. "This particular product had the potential to cause harm to children because the product did not have required safety warnings and other preventative measures to control their misuse."

While "Victory's Miraculous Insecticide Chalk" may not lawfully be sold in Massachusetts, there is a similar product called "Dead-Fast Insecticide Chalk," that has been registered for residential use here. Unlike Victory's chalk, the Dead-Fast product is packaged in a plastic dispenser to prevent contact with the skin, contains warnings about applying the product where children are present, and has a bittering agent to discourage children from eating it. No other insecticidal chalk product is registered for residential use in the Commonwealth. Consumers should not purchase or use unregistered pesticides, and should only use registered pesticides in accordance with the instructions on the label.

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Goldberg, of Attorney General Coakley's Environmental Protection Division, with Civil Investigators Dean Bates and Kristen Metzger, handled the case. Lee Corte-Real, Director of the Division of Crop Inspectional Services and Pest Management, handled the matter for the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.