Lynn L. Bergeson, Timothy D. Backstrom, and Bethami Auerbach, “Something Inside That Shoebox Really Stinks,” Focus, February 2017.
Each year, millions of consumers, including large numbers of children, are exposed to unknown quantities of anti-mold pesticides when they open a shoebox. Although the active ingredient in these mostly unregistered anti-mold pesticides is undisclosed and the products are marketed as all natural, many stickers contain allyl isothiocyanate (AITC). These stickers have not been registered for this use, nor has this use, or the resulting exposure to consumers, been reviewed for safety by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), or by any other regulatory agency.
It’s unlikely that shoe retailers and distributors are aware of the staggering tort liability that could be hibernating in shoeboxes. Someday, millions of unsuspecting and unprotected consumers, including children, could allege they were harmed by products few ever noticed. Even more alarming is that any consumer claims of injury from exposure to an unregistered pesticidal agent cannot be subject to preemption under FIFRA Section 24(b), 7 U.S.C. § 136v(b) because the products are unregistered and have not been reviewed by EPA. This puts U.S. distributors or retailers at risk, especially if they knew that an unregistered pesticide was present in the product and failed to warn consumers.