In $1 Million Deal, EPA For First Time Allows Red Cross Symbol on Pesticide Products; Groups Say Label Misleads on Consumer Safety and Violates Law

Mar 12, 2007, 01:00 ET from Beyond Pesticides

    WASHINGTON, March 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- All state agencies
 regulating pesticide use were asked today by environmental health advocates
 to prohibit the marketing of pesticide products with a new label that
 displays the Red Cross symbol because it violates federal pesticide law and
 misleads consumers on product safety. Clorox says on some of its new
 soon-to-be released pesticide labels that it will donate up to $1 million
 to the Red Cross when people purchase the products. Last month, a dozen
 groups petitioned EPA to stop the release of the new labels, which they say
 will mislead consumers and violates federal law prohibiting such labeling.
     According to a letter sent to state regulators by the national public
 health and environmental group Beyond Pesticides, "The use of the Red Cross
 symbol implies an endorsement of the product and may imply an endorsement
 of its safety to many, which may mislead users and contribute to product
     While Clorox products are mistakenly viewed as safe chemical products
 without potential hazards, they do contain toxic materials that must be
 handled very carefully. Some of the products require that they be diluted
 with water and warn that they can cause irritation of the eyes, skin,
 respiratory and gastrointestinal tract. Exposure to high levels can result
 in severe corrosive damage to the eyes, skin, respiratory and
 gastrointestinal tissues. The label on some Clorox products warns,
 "Although not expected, heart conditions or chronic respiratory problems
 such as asthma, chronic bronchitis or obstructive lung disease may be
 aggravated by exposure to high concentrations of vapor or mist." Some of
 the products are suspected neurotoxicants. "While EPA should ensure severe
 caution when using pesticides, a label displaying the Red Cross symbol
 sends a misleading message that will undoubtedly result in greater product
 misuse because of a failure to heed important product warnings," said Jay
 Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides.
     Twelve environmental health organizations petitioned EPA in February,
 citing a blatant violation of its own guidelines which prohibit false and
 misleading labels, including: "Symbols implying safety or nontoxicity, such
 as a Red Cross or a medical seal of approval (caduceus)." EPA's own review
 finds compliance with labels tied to consumer perception of product safety.
     For background, see
     Contact: Jay Feldman

SOURCE Beyond Pesticides