EPA and Electrolux Reach Settlement for Illegal Imports of Air Filter Products Incorporating Nanosilver
The U.S. EPA has entered a settlement agreement with Electrolux Home Products, Inc. (Electrolux), to resolve liabilities under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). As part of the agreement, memorialized in a Consent Agreement and Final Order (CAFO), Electrolux will pay a civil penalty in the amount of $6,991,400.
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The CAFO resolves Electrolux’s liabilities under section 12(a)(1)(A) of FIFRA for 573 unlawful distributions, by import, of unregistered pesticides, and its liabilities under section 12(a)(2)(N) of FIFRA for its failure to file the required Notice of Arrival of Pesticides and Devices (NOAs) upon the import of those products on 141 occasions.
The imports at issue occurred between January 11, 2020, and May 12, 2020, and were made through eleven different U.S. ports of entry across six EPA Regions. The products that Electrolux imported were approximately 420,000 Frigidaire brand dehumidifiers and air conditioners that contained filters incorporating an unregistered nanosilver pesticide and which were labeled and marketed with pesticidal claims. The claims included “antibacterial filter,” and “helps eliminate bacteria in the air that can make breathing difficult.” The incorporation of nanosilver for an antibacterial purpose renders the dehumidifier and air conditioner products pesticides under FIFRA.
Electrolux, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, designs, manufactures, sells and distributes home appliances and other products for kitchen, laundry and other uses. It is a subsidiary of AB Electrolux, based in Stockholm, Sweden.
Because the dehumidifier and air conditioner products were not registered with the EPA, their import was unlawful. Sections 3(a) and 12(a)(1)(A) of FIFRA prohibit the sale or distribution, including import, of unregistered pesticides in the United States. Because Electrolux failed to file NOAs for 141 of the imported shipments, it is in violation of section 12(a)(2)(N) of FIFRA. The EPA is authorized to seek the assessment of civil penalties for such liabilities under section 14(a) of FIFRA.
Health and Environmental Impacts
The sale and distribution of unregistered pesticides may pose risks to human health and the environment. The only nanosilver pesticides that are currently registered with the EPA are approved solely for incorporation into textiles to protect those articles themselves from antimicrobial pests such as mold and bacteria that can cause deterioration, discoloration or odors. No nanosilver pesticide, or nanosilver-incorporating pesticide product, is registered with the EPA for use in home appliances to disinfect the ambient air or protect the health of the consumer. The EPA has not assessed the risks of exposure to humans from nanosilver being incorporated into a consumer air filter.
Upon determining that the air filter products were unregistered pesticides, the EPA coordinated closely with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection across ports and EPA regions to prevent them from entering U.S. commerce. After Electrolux committed to removing the filters with the unregistered nanosilver, both agencies worked together to conditionally release all the shipments held nationwide so that Electrolux could consolidate them, under EPA administrative order, at several of its own facilities. Electrolux then systematically replaced the filters manufactured with nanosilver and removed the online and on-box pesticidal claims for not only the products it had imported, but for some additional products already in the U.S.
As of the date of the settlement, Electrolux has returned over 500,000 air conditioners and dehumidifiers to compliance for lawful sale in the United States.
For more information, contact:
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
U.S. EPA Headquarters
William Jefferson Clinton Building
1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Mail Code 2249A
Washington, DC 20460