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Project on Government Oversight




Consumer Safety Prevails: "Bug Bombs" to Carry Better Warnings

October 1, 1999 


Beginning today, all total release insecticide foggers (also known as "bug bombs") will have more accurate warning labels regarding their highly flammable nature. The new labels will help educate consumers about the proper use and handling of these aerosols. It will warn of the hazards associated with the use of bug bombs, which have caused an estimated 500 fires or explosions per year.

A graphic of a multi-colored flame must be included on all aerosol foggers. Additionally, the warning label must include "highly flammable." It must also be listed in both English and Spanish.

This change in labeling comes twelve years after the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) initial efforts were thwarted by aerosol industry lobbyists. As an EPA official wrote in an internal document, "They (industry) have presented no data, tried to bully us into compliance, and have succeeded. (Industry) does not regulate the pesticides industry, EPA does." The changes in effect today reflect the end of industry's bullying of EPA on this issue.

The new labels will caution against using foggers around potential ignition sources such as pilot lights and refrigerators. It will also indicate the proper number of "bombs" which should be used in a given area. Unsuspecting homeowners have lost or damaged their homes to fire when they unwittingly detonated the bug bombs.

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) began working on this problem in 1993, after which they released the report Aerosols Give Business and Public Big Boom: Where is the Protection in the EPA? The report, which documented the EPA's subservience to the aerosol industry, highlighted the problems with the inadequate labeling on the "bug bombs."

Danielle Brian, Executive Director of POGO, stated: These better warning labels will avert hundreds of needless accidents a year, making this a significant victory for consumer safety. After twelve years the EPA has finally stood up to industry and done the right thing. 

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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