Backyard Pesticide Companies Agree to Disclosure Requirements Under Agreement with AG Coakley
The AG's Office filed an Assurance of Discontinuance today in Suffolk Superior Court requiring BuzzOFF Mosquito, LLC, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the manufacturer of BuzzOFF residential mosquito misting system, and BuzzOFF of Central Massachusetts, LLC, which distributes BuzzOff's products locally, to educate consumers who are considering purchasing the misting system about non-chemical alternatives and to post signs to notify neighbors and passersby that the system is being used there.
"Homeowners should have the facts to make informed decisions about the potential dangers of spraying pesticides in their yards," said AG Coakley. "Through this action, the companies will take steps to protect consumers and give proper warnings of the potential risks of their products."
"With mosquito season at its peak, it's important that the public is educated about the proper use and effects of using pesticides and alternative preventive pest control methods," said Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Scott Soares. "We appreciate the work by Attorney General Coakley to inform and protect the public from the risks associated with this pesticide."
Mosquito misting systems automatically spray pesticides on a predetermined schedule in an attempt to limit the number of mosquitoes in the target area. This contradicts generally accepted pest management practices, known as Integrated Pest Management, that focus on prevention (for instance by eliminating potential mosquito breeding sites by emptying water from containers such as garbage cans, flower pots, bird baths, and discarded auto tires), and minimizing the use of potentially risky chemicals.
While the insecticide that is used in these misting systems is thought of as relatively safe, studies show that there are potentially serious neurological and oncological risks associated with them. These chemicals are toxic by design and their application must be carefully controlled.
The Attorney General's Office reviewed BuzzOFF's marketing materials, including brochures, print and internet advertisements, and customer contracts, and concluded that the marketing materials may have directly or by implication misrepresented the safety and efficacy of the mosquito misting systems. For example, one of the ads inaccurately claimed that the BuzzOFF system has been "EPA Approved," when EPA does not issue approvals for chemical pesticides but instead may register a chemical for a particular use and include various labeling and other requirements for its use.
Under the terms of the settlement reached with AG Coakley's Office, the companies have agreed to pay the Commonwealth a total of $10,000 to resolve the matter with each party paying $5,000 to the Commonwealth. If the dealer complies with the terms of the settlement, $4,500 will be forgiven. Also, if the BuzzOFF dealer fails to comply with the requirements of the settlement, the distributor may terminate the dealership.
The settlement also requires the companies to take steps to minimize the possible health risks, including advising consumers about non-chemical pest control alternatives, and refraining from claiming that the BuzzOFF mosquito misting system and the pesticide chemicals used in the system are "safe," "non-toxic," or will not cause any harm to humans, pets, other non-target species and the environment. The companies have also agreed to inform consumers that the pesticide mister should not be used when children or pets are present.
The products and companies that are the subject of this settlement are not related to the line of clothing marketed under a similar name, nor are they related to the backyard mosquito control products that use an attractant to draw mosquitoes to the system, and neither of those types of products are the subject of this matter.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Andrew Goldberg, of AG Coakley's Environmental Protection Division. Lee Corte-Real, Director, Division of Crop and Pest Services, is handling the matter for the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.