USA: Electrolux Home Products Inc is to pay a civil penalty of nearly $7m for importing dehumidifiers and air conditioners with filters containing an unregistered nanosilver.
Electrolux is said to have imported approximately 79 different models of Frigidaire and Frigidaire Gallery brand dehumidifiers and air conditioners – a total of 420,000 units – that contained filters incorporating an unregistered nanosilver. These were labelled and marketed with pesticidal claims including “antibacterial filter,” and “helps eliminate bacteria in the air that can make breathing difficult.” The imports occurred between January 11 and May 12, 2020 and included portable and window units.
Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), applicants for pesticide registration are required to submit efficacy data to the EPA to substantiate any public health claims they intend to make for their pesticide product. Before a pesticide can be registered, the EPA must determine that no unreasonable adverse effects on human health and the environment will occur when the pesticide product is used according to its label directions.
The nanosilver that was used in the manufacture of the filters was not registered with the EPA.
The only nanosilver pesticides that are currently registered with the EPA are approved solely for incorporation into textiles to protect those articles themselves from antimicrobial pests such as mould and bacteria that can cause deterioration, discoloration or odours. No nanosilver pesticide is registered with the EPA for use in home appliances to disinfect the ambient air or protect the health of the user.
Electrolux agreed to remove the filters with the unregistered nanosilver and removed the online and on-box pesticidal claims for not only the products it had imported, but for some additional products already in the US. To date, Electrolux is said to have returned over 500,000 air conditioners and dehumidifiers to compliance.
As part of the settlement, Electrolux will pay a civil penalty of $6,991,400.