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News Releases from Region 02

Two Puerto Rico Pesticides Applicators Resolve Violations Involving Illegal Use of Methyl Bromide Pesticides in Puerto Rico

Contact Information: 
John Martin (martin.johnj@epa.gov)

(New York, N.Y. – October 28, 2016) The EPA has finalized legal settlements with two individuals, Miguel A. Merced Rivera and Reinaldo San Miguel, both certified pesticide applicators, and their respective pesticide application companies, Merced Exterminating Service, Corp. and Comejen Exterminating Corp., all of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The settlements resolve violations of the Clean Air Act and federal pesticides law (the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act), involving illegal applications of pesticides containing methyl bromide. 

The health effects of exposure to methyl bromide are serious and range from headaches or dizziness, to central nervous system and respiratory system damage.

"Pesticides containing methyl bromide are very toxic and their use is restricted. Applying methyl bromide products indoors is very dangerous and against federal law," said Carmen Guerrero Pérez, the Director of the EPA’s Caribbean Environmental Protection Division. "We must make every effort to minimize the use of dangerous pesticides to protect people’s health in Puerto Rico."

Both companies applied methyl bromide-containing pesticides at locations where they should not have been used and without the proper supervision of a regulatory authority, in violation of federal pesticides law. Comejen, owned and operated by Reinaldo San Miguel also applied methyl bromide-containing pesticides without sufficient personal protection equipment. Additionally, both companies failed to keep proper records and to make required certifications regarding the use of these pesticides, in violation of the Clean Air Act.

As part of the settlements, both individuals have undergone additional pesticides application training and have agreed to seek prior written approval from the EPA prior to engaging in future fumigation activities. Both companies will also develop Integrated Pest Management plans designed to minimize the use of pesticides. Integrated Pest Management practices help prevent pests from becoming a threat by addressing the underlying causes that enable pests to thrive. These actions, such as repairing water leaks, adding weather stripping to windows, and installing door sweeps, reduce pesticide use. These companies’ Integrated Pest Management plans will be reviewed by the EPA to ensure proper protocols are followed before, during, and after applications of restricted use pesticides.

Merced and Merced Exterminating will pay a combined penalty of $2,500 and San Miguel and Comejen Exterminating will pay a $2,000 penalty.

In 1984, the EPA banned the indoor use of methyl bromide products. The few remaining uses are severely restricted and largely limited to commodity applications for quarantine and pre-shipment purposes. Pesticides containing methyl bromide in the U.S. are restricted-use due to their acute toxicity, meaning that they may only be applied by a certified applicator.

The EPA is investigating the use of methyl bromide across the nation, and has concentrated recent efforts on applications in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In March 2015, a family vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands became gravely ill after being exposed to methyl bromide that was used to fumigate a condo unit below their vacation rental. Regardless of whether a company is large, or very small, such as these two companies, pesticide label requirements are the law and must always be followed.

For more information on the EPA's regulation of pesticides, visit: http://epa.gov/pesticides

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