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Illegal roach killers: EPA fines 99 Cents Only Stores

September 22, 2010 |  2:04 am
99 cent
Got bugs in your house? Be careful what you buy to kill them.

Three illegal products to kill roaches and other insects were sold by the discount chain 99 Cents Only Stores Inc., which has been fined $409,490 by the Environmental Protection Agency. The fine, issued last week, is the largest contested penalty in the agency's history.

Of the 166 separate violations, all but two were linked to a household cleaner and sanitizer called Bref Limpieza y Disinfeccion Total con Densicloro, which was imported from Mexico. The product, which translates into Brief Complete Cleaning and Disinfection with Densicloro, featured pesticide claims in Spanish on the label but was not registered with the federal agency.

At least 658 bottles of the product were sold at 99 Cents Only stores in California, Arizona and Nevada.

The two other products were Farmer's Secret Berry & Produce Cleaner — an unregistered pesticide — and PiC BORIC ACID Roach Killer III, which featured EPA labels that were upside down or inside out.

Nearly 700 of the cleaning and pest control items were sold, according to the agency, which issued a fine after a routine inspection in 2004 turned up problematic products. More violations emerged during subsequent checkups until 2008, the agency said.

"What you don't know really can hurt you. You can't take precautions and you can end up using products in very harmful ways," said Jared Blumenfeld, the agency's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest "The cost of the product doesn't relate to the magnitude of the problem or the dose of the toxicity of the ingredients."

The company said that it stopped carrying products whose labels had not been corrected. Executives said there were no reports of health problems linked to any of the products.

Read more from Tiffany Hsu and Andrea Chang about the fine for selling illegal insecticides.

--Margot Roosevelt

Photo: Shoppers at a 99 Cents Only store. Credit: Irfan Khan / L.A. Times