EPA Says, "Don't Pollute the Air our Kids Breathe," as it Fines Taunton, Mass. Company for Selling Vehicle Emission Control By-Pass Devices
BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a settlement that includes a $80,000 penalty for on-line retailer Penson & Co LLC. EPA alleged that between 2018 and 2020, Penson sold nearly 10,000 aftermarket parts known as "defeat devices" on Amazon and Shopify websites. Selling or installing these types of devices violates the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) because they reduce the effectiveness of and/or disable emission controls on vehicles.
"Tampering with emission controls on vehicles risks more kids going to the ER for asthma attacks, more people getting lung cancer and our neighbors more likely to have heart disease," said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. "This action sends a clear message that EPA is aggressively holding companies accountable for illegal activities that can compromise our health, especially in communities that already are overburdened by environmental impacts."
Penson maintains a warehouse in Taunton, Mass. Through on-line research, EPA learned that Penson was selling illegal defeat devices that disable the exhaust gas recirculation system in light-duty and medium-duty diesel trucks and engines.
Tampering with a vehicle's emissions control system is illegal under the CAA and results in excess emissions of a variety of pollutants including nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. These pollutants increase the risk of a range of health problems. The CAA prohibits manufacturing, selling, offering for sale, and installing aftermarket devices that disable, bypass, or reduce the effectiveness of emission control systems.
As a result of EPA's efforts to improve air quality and fuel efficiency, cars and trucks manufactured today emit far less pollution than older vehicles. To meet EPA's emission standards, engine manufacturers have carefully calibrated their engines and installed sophisticated emissions control systems. EPA testing has shown that aftermarket defeat devices can increase vehicle emissions substantially, which can contribute to a variety of public health problems typically associated with exposure to air pollution. These health effects can include premature death in people with heart or lung disease, heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, and respiratory symptoms such as irritation of the airways, coughing, or difficulty breathing.
As part of the settlement, Penson destroyed its inventory of EGR delete kits and agreed to stop offering them for sale. Following EPA policy, the penalty amount was reduced after conducting a financial analysis of Penson's financial documents that showed it had a limited ability to pay.
Because vehicles that have been tampered with contribute excess dirty emissions to communities located adjacent to highways and freight facilities, EPA New England regards addressing emissions tampering as a key issue to helping to achieve a cleaner and healthier environment for communities that have been disproportionally impacted by environmental pollution.