Illegal Pesticide Products
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- Protect your Business
- Counterfeit Flea and Tick Products for Pets
- Controlling Pests
- How to solve pest problems in homes, yards, or schools
- Legal pesticide products have an EPA registration number. Read the Label First
- Public Service Announcement: Willie Colon on Illegal Pesticides
Pesticide Information Center (NPIC)
Questions on Pesticides?
- National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC)
You may have seen people selling them on the street or in small neighborhood stores. They go by names like Tres Pasitos or Chalk, and they come with a guarantee to kill roaches, mice and other household pests like nothing else on the market. But most such products are illegal. And illegal pesticides can hurt much more than roaches. They can harm you and your family.
On this page:
Illegal pesticides are often much more toxic than registered pesticides -- those pesticides that EPA has approved -- after strict testing -- for use in your home. They often come in familiar shapes and packaging. EPA has identified illegal flea and tick repellents for pets, antibacterial cleansers, mothballs, and other products that claim to get rid of household pests.
Across the country, EPA has initiated an effort to protect consumers from these products. In areas where illegal products are an acute problem, EPA has increased enforcement actions against companies selling or distributing illegal household pesticides. EPA has also increased efforts to raise public awareness of these product dangers.
Many illegal pesticides are very toxic. Others contain unknown ingredients, or the ingredients may vary from time to time. Some of the illegal products are also available to the public in legal, EPA registered versions. However, consumers may unknowingly purchase or obtain the illegal versions. Though the illegal products may look similar to and make the same claims as their legal counterparts, these products have not been thoroughly tested. And since the products are unregistered, their labels have not been reviewed for clear directions and safety warnings.
Illegal naphthalene moth repellent products -- mothballs -- pose a hazard to young children. Mothballs can be easily mistaken for candy, or simply tempt young children to touch and play with them. Recent studies have linked naphthalene to illnesses, including nasal cancer. Widespread sale and distribution of these products make illegal mothballs a particular concern.
Illegal Pet Products, including
foreign-labeled, unregistered versions of the common pet products Advantage
and Frontline, have been illegally imported and sold throughout the U.S.
Though registered for use in other countries, some foreign-labeled versions
have omitted important warnings, especially those pertaining to children,
that are required in the U.S. Versions imported from such countries as
England and Australia often give doses in metric units, which can cause
Americans to accidentally over-dose or under-dose pets.
Read more about counterfeit pesticide products for dogs and cats.
Retailer information about counterfeit pesticide products for dogs and cats (PDF) (4 pp, 360k, About PDF).
Illegal Insecticide Chalk is also known as "Miraculous Chalk" or
"Chinese Chalk." You may have seen the chalk in a neighborhood
store or sold on the street for about $1 a box. It is mostly imported
illegally from China and often bears a label in both English and Chinese.
Sometimes the manufacturer claims that the chalk is "harmless to
human beings and animals" and "safe to use." These claims
are untrue and dangerous.
Read more about insecticide chalk.
"Tres Pasitos" is imported illegally from Mexico and other Latin American countries. Its name means "three little steps" in English, because after eating it, this is all mice can muster before dying. The active ingredient (or the chemical that actually kills the pest) in "Tres Pasitos" is a chemical called aldicarb . EPA considers aldicarb to be a very toxic chemical - and one that should never be used in your home. Children are especially vulnerable to poisoning by aldicarb when it is sprinkled around the home to control roaches, mice and rats. Exposure to high amounts of aldicarb can cause weakness, blurred vision, headache, nausea, tearing, sweating, and tremors in people. Very high doses can kill people, because it can paralyze the respiratory system. What "Tres Pasitos" does to pests, it can also do to you.
Many common household products, ranging from cleansers to cutting boards,
claim to protect against bacteria. Such claims are illegal unless the
product is registered with EPA or the claim only applies to protecting
the item itself from damage by microorganisms, not to provide additional
health benefits. In addition, the pesticide used to treat the item must
be registered for use in or on the treated item.
Read more about consumer products treated with pesticides.
There are many other illegal pesticides sold on the street and in some small neighborhood stores. All of them should be avoided. You have no way of knowing how dangerous an unregistered pesticide is, because it is not subject to testing requirements or manufacturing controls that registration provides.
Here are some simple rules to follow when looking for a
pesticide to use in your home:
(Example product label)
Look for an EPA registration number on the pesticide's container. This number tells you that EPA has reviewed health and environmental information about the pesticide, and if the label says so, that the product is okay to use in your home.
Look for a list of the active ingredients on the label. Any product registered with EPA must state the active ingredients on the label.
Trust your instincts. If a person offers you a product on the street, chances are it is illegal and could harm you and your family. Shop for pesticides only in stores you know and trust. If the shopkeeper gives you a product that is packed or wrapped suspiciously, don't buy it.
Contact the EPA Regional Pesticide unit that covers your location. EPA is happy to answer any questions you might have about pesticides you are thinking of using in your home. You can also call the National Pesticide Information Center at 1-800-858-7378.
Be aware that EPA registers some pesticides (like farm pesticides) that are not meant to be used in the home. Look for information on the label that states that the product can be used by the general public, indoors, in the home.
When you do find a pesticide that is registered with EPA for use in your home, always remember to read the label first. EPA reviews all pesticide labels before products can be sold. If you follow all the label directions, you will reduce your risk of harming yourself and the environment. The label provides important information you need to protect yourself and the children in your care.