Daily News Archive
From November 21, 2006                                                                                                        

Pesticide Misting Device Taken Off the Market in New York
(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2006)
Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan today announced an agreement that removes a potentially dangerous pesticide misting device from the market in New York.

The state alleges that BuzzOff Mosquito, LLC, a Louisiana-based company and its authorized dealer in Saratoga Springs, BuzzOff Mosquito Control of Eastern New York, unlawfully marketed a pesticide and an accompanying misting system as "safe" and "non-toxic."

Under the agreement, both companies will stop marketing the pesticide and the misting system in New York and will offer full refunds to consumers who purchased the products from them. The companies have also agreed to a $25,000 penalty.

Attorney General Spitzer said: "Pesticides are toxic chemicals that should not be blindly released into the air by automatic misting systems. We need to work to reduce the public’s exposure to pesticides, and this agreement will help accomplish that important goal."

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan said: "Pesticide use is highly regulated by the state to ensure that our natural environment and our communities are protected. DEC will continue to investigate and enforce against companies, like BuzzOff, that do not abide by New York’s stringent laws."

BuzzOff misting systems are designed to automatically spray a pesticide solution at timed intervals from a series of nozzles connected by nylon tubing to a reservoir and pump. The misters are typically installed along the eaves of a house, perimeter fencing, and around landscaped areas.

The pesticide used in the BuzzOff system is Hydro-Py 300, a pyrethrin-based pesticide. Among the less toxic insecticides available on the market today, it must still be registered with state and federal authorities.

Experts have expressed doubts about the safety of these machines. Automatic pesticide misting systems can be dangerous to public health and the environment because they can spray pesticides directly onto nearby people and animals. In addition, the mist can coat the surfaces of outdoor furniture and children’s toys. In a January 2005 Associated Press article, Joseph Conlon, the technical adviser for the American Mosquito Control Association, stated, "Would I install one in my back yard? No." He further explained, "Our main issue with misting is that there is no surveillance driving it that says that you should be spraying." (Article excerpts can be seen at http://www2a.cdc.gov/phlp/dailynews/default.asp?specific=293)

In 2004 and 2005, the companies sold and installed about a dozen misting systems in New York, primarily in Saratoga County. BuzzOff New York charged its customers from $2,000 to $20,000 for such systems.
In March 2006, the manufacturer of the pesticide sold by BuzzOff Mosquito changed its product label to specifically prohibit the use of the pesticide in automatic misting systems in New York. Despite the change, BuzzOff Mosquito continued to market the pesticide and automatic misting system in New York.
New York law prohibits businesses from making false or misleading claims, such as advertising claims describing the pesticides they sell as being "safe." In addition, it is against both state and federal law to use a pesticide in violation of its label directions. Although homeowners can currently purchase similar misting systems from other companies, consumers should know that there is currently no pesticide registered in New York that can lawfully be used in such systems.

The Attorney General’s Office will also inform the federal Environmental Protection Agency of this settlement and urge the federal government to consider prohibiting the use of pesticides in residential automatic misting devices.

In addition to marketing misting systems with misleading claims, BuzzOff also markets clothing impregnated with the pesticide permethrin to children and adults without any health warnings or pesticide labels in the clothing.

([email protected]).

For past Beyond Pesticides Daily News stories on the EPA’s AZM decisions, click here and here.

For the EPA’s full announcement, click here.