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COMPANY FINED FOR CLAIMING BALL-POINT PEN KILLS GERMS

Release Date: 11/30/1999
Contact Information: Randy Wittorp, (415) 744-1589

Micro Pen to pay $35,000 penalty

     SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has settled an enforcement action with Micro Pen of U.S.A. Inc., Buena Park, Calif., for selling unregistered pesticides and making unproven claims about their effectiveness, in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.  Micro Pen is paying a penalty of $35,000.

     "Unregistered means unknown: we don't know what's in it and we don't know what it will do to people,"  said Pam Cooper, chief of the Pesticides Program at the EPA's regional office.  "EPA's responsibility is to make sure that products containing pesticides have been properly evaluated and provide the information consumers need to use them safely."

     Micro Pen was cited for selling an unregistered ball point pen, Micro Cleen-Ball pen, which the company claimed contains an antibacterial agent in the pen body.  The label said that the pen would reduce the chance of bacterial infections such as food poisoning; skin, eye, and ear infections; bronchitis; and urinary tract infections, and would contribute to healthier environments in day care centers, hospitals, laboratories, and military facilities.

     The EPA has no evidence that products which incorporate pesticides prevent the spread of germs and bacteria in humans.

     The EPA is especially concerned about such unverified public health claims because they may encourage people to skip proper hygiene.  Consumers shouldn't rely on antibacterial claims as a substitute for following common- sense hygienic practices, like washing hands frequently and thoroughly, and washing any surface that contacts food.

     Manufacturers who claim their product prevents, destroys or repels any pest must register that product as a pesticide with the EPA.  The agency 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.  Consumers should be careful to look for the EPA registration number printed on product labels, and to follow the directions for safe use.

     This enforcement action is based on inspections conducted by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, and is part of a national initiative to stop the marketing of unregistered products with unverified public health claims.

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