Products Liability Law Daily Electrolux hit with $7M penalty for unregistered nanosilver in dehumidifiers and air conditioners
Friday, October 16, 2020

Electrolux hit with $7M penalty for unregistered nanosilver in dehumidifiers and air conditioners

By Leah S. Poniatowski, J.D.

Filters in Frigidaire products violated Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

Electrolux Home Products, Inc. (Electrolux), entered into a settlement agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to resolve the agency’s claims that the manufacturer had violated sections 12(a)(1)(A) and (N) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) when it imported dehumidifiers and air conditioners with filters containing unregistered nanosilver, a pesticide under the FIFRA, and without filing a notice of arrival. Under the settlement, Electrolux agreed to pay $6,991,400 (EPA Press Release, October 15, 2020).

FIFRA. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act prohibits distribution by import of unregistered pesticides (Sec.12(a)(1)(A)) and mandates the filing of Notice of Arrival of Pesticides and Devices (NOAs) with the import of those kinds of devices (Sec. 12(a)(1)(N)). At present, the only nanosilver pesticides registered with the EPA are solely for incorporation into textiles to prevent antimicrobial pests, namely mold and bacteria.

Product import. Electrolux, located in North Carolina, is a subsidiary of AB Electrolux, a Swedish company. The company imported approximately 420,000 Frigidaire brand dehumidifiers and air conditioners between January and May 2020, through eleven different ports of entry. The imported products contained air filters with nanosilver, advertised as being "antibacterial," which placed them under FIFRA as that purpose renders them pesticides.

Cooperation with EPA. After the EPA determined that the products were unregistered pesticides, the agency coordinated with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to block the products’ entry into commerce. Electrolux agreed to remove the filters, and under an EPA administrative order, the company was allowed to receive and consolidate the shipments to replace the filters. Electrolux also removed the online and on-box antibacterial claims. Electrolux entered a consent agreement and final order with the EPA, agreeing to pay a civil penalty totaling $6,991,400.

Attorneys: Rosemarie Kelley, for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Kevin S. Minoli (Alston & Bird LLP) for Electrolux Home Products, Inc.

Companies: Electrolux Home Products, Inc.

MainStory: TopStory SettlementAgreementsNews HouseholdProductsNews ChemicalNews

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