Online retail giant Amazon, owned by Jeff Bezos who also owns the Washington Post, has settled with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for $1.2 million after an agency investigation revealed the company was selling illegal pesticides.
“The agreement settles allegations that Amazon committed nearly four thousand violations of the ‘Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act’ – dating back to 2013 – for selling and distributing imported pesticide products that were not licensed for sale in the United States,” the press release distributed on Thursday said.
“This agreement will dramatically reduce the online sale of illegal pesticides, which pose serious threats to public health in communities across America,” Chris Hladick, EPA Region 10 administrator, said about the investigation into the Seattle-based business.
The Seattle Times reported:
Among the most concerning products for sale were chalk products, used by customers to draw a pesticide-laden barrier on a surface the user does not want an insect to cross and survive.
Arriving in bright, cheery and easily opened packaging, the products look like sidewalk chalk, toys or even candy. Any child could easily open and play with them.
“A kid could get it in the mail, open it up, and have a large exposure,” Chad Schulze, EPA Region 10 Pesticide Enforcement Team Lead, said. “The risk is very real.”
Hladick said he believes Amazon is “committed” to keeping these pesticides from being distributed into the American marketplace.
Ironically, the agreement does not require training for Amazon employees but will provide online training courses for the public in English, Spanish and Chinese to inform them about pesticides that have not been approved by the U.S. federal government.
The investigation into Amazon pre-dates the Trump administration to 2014 when the EPA began looking into several internet retail sites, including Amazon.
“In October 2016, Amazon notified all customers who purchased the illegal pesticides between 2013 and 2016 to communicate safety concerns with these products and urge disposal,” the press release said. “Amazon also refunded those customers the cost of the products, approximately $130,000.”
“When sellers don’t comply with our terms, we work quickly to take action on behalf of customers,” a statement from Amazon and reported by the Times said.
“We will continue to innovate on behalf of our customers and to work with brands, manufacturers, government agencies, law enforcement, and others to protect the integrity of our marketplace,” the statement said.