Lawn Care Pesticides

Risks Remain Uncertain While Prohibited Safety Claims Continue Gao ID: RCED-90-134 March 23, 1990

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) the information that manufacturers, distributors, and professional applicators of lawn-care pesticides provided to the public about product safety; (2) federal enforcement actions taken against unacceptable advertising claims; and (3) the reregistration status of 34 widely used lawn-care pesticides.

GAO found that: (1) the lawn-care pesticides industry made prohibited product safety claims that differed substantially from claims the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allowed as part of product registration; (2) EPA cited limited resources and its focus on product misuse as reasons for assigning a lower enforcement priority to such false and misleading claims; (3) EPA lacked an effective program for monitoring pesticide manufacturers' and distributors' compliance with registration requirements; (4) although the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had authority to act against false and misleading safety advertising, it preferred to defer to EPA in such matters because of EPA expertise and legislative authority; (5) FTC believed that EPA was informally handling professional applicators' safety advertising, although EPA lacked authority to do so; (6) EPA remained at a preliminary stage in reassessing the risks of lawn-care pesticides under its registration program; and (7) EPA had not completely reassessed any of the 32 older lawn-care pesticides that were subject to reregistration.


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