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EPA fines San Francisco importer for selling illegal mothballs

Release Date: 12/9/2004
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, (415) 947-4248,

Photo of a bag of illegal mothballs SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today fined a San Francisco importer $3,960 for allegedly selling and distributing an unregistered pesticide, a violation of federal pesticide laws.

American Wah Ta Trading Co., located at 75 Boutwell St., allegedly imported unregistered camphor/naphthalene mothballs from China for sale and distribution to retailers.

"Children coming across these products in the home could accidentally poison themselves because these mothballs look so much like candy," said Enrique Manzanilla, director of the EPA's Cross Media Division. "Without such products going through the proper registration process, we cannot be sure what they contain and whether they are properly packaged and labeled."

The EPA recommends that consumers pay careful attention to the pesticides they use in and around their homes. The mothballs look similar to candy, which make them very attractive to children. However, the packaging contains no child-protection warnings or child-resistant packaging.

The EPA will not register a pesticide until it has been tested to show that it will not pose an unreasonable risk when used according to the directions. The agency also makes sure that pesticide labels provide consumers with the information they need to use the products safely. Pesticides that have been registered with the agency will have an EPA registration number on the label.

The EPA is committed to educating consumers and retailers about these and other illegal household products through the publication of fact sheets on the EPA's Web site. In addition, the EPA distributes of flyers in both English and Chinese to businesses in San Francisco and Oakland Chinatowns and throughout California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii. For more information on unregistered pesticides, please visit: and

The EPA has fined more than a dozen companies over the last several years for selling illegally imported mothballs. Importers, dealers and retailers can be fined up to $6,500 for each sale of the illegal pesticide products.

Today's enforcement action was based on information obtained during inspections in May 2003 conducted by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.

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