On March 5, 2008, the US EPA announced that it had fined the company IOGEAR for "for selling unregistered pesticides and making unproven claims about their effectiveness." The fine, reached via settlement, was for $208,000, and IOGEAR has since removed its pesticide claims from the offending products.
IOGEAR was selling two wireless mouses (mice?) and a wireless mouse/keyboard combination claiming that the nano-coatings killed germs and pathogens. While the nano-coating remains unspecified (although the quote below indicates its nanosilver), the violation was pursuant to the Federal, Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). EPA’s representative, Katherine Taylor, associate director of the Communities and Ecosystems Division at EPA’s Region 9 was quoted a saying, “We’re seeing far too many unregistered products that assert unsubstantiated antimicrobial properties…Whether the claim involves use of an existing material such as silver, or new nano technology, the EPA takes these unverified public health claims very seriously. Consumers should always follow common-sense hygiene practices, like washing hands frequently and thoroughly.”
It was really only a matter of time until the fines began. We’ve seen many examples, check out yesterday’s post for the easy links, of products claiming antibacterial and microbial claims go unregistered, and it appears that it finally wore down EPA’s patience. FIFRA is pretty clear that in order to make "pest killing" claims, the product must be registered so that EPA may be satisfied that the product does not pose an unreasonable risk to consumers. Now that nanotechnology is getting more of the spotlight, I suspect we’ll begin to see more enforcement actions like this to ensure consumer products are complying with applicable legal requirements.