Justice Department sues eBay over unlawful sales of pesticides, other products

By Shannon Kelleher

Online retail giant eBay has been illegally selling hundreds of thousands of harmful pesticides and other unsafe products, posing “unacceptable risks” to communities across the country, according to a complaint filed Wednesday by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

The legal action was filed on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in federal court in New York. It argues that the company’s actions violated environmental laws including the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

“The complaint filed today demonstrates that EPA will hold online retailers responsible for the unlawful sale of products on their websites that can harm consumers and the environment,” David Uhlmann, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said in a press release.

The DOJ and EPA allege that eBay sold at least 23,000 unregistered, misbranded, and restricted use pesticides, including a highly toxic insecticide banned in the US, and products that make false claims about protecting against the virus that causes COVID-19. 

This was not eBay’s first alleged FIFRA violation. In June 2020, the EPA ordered eBay, as well as Amazon, to stop selling pesticide-containing products that claimed to prevent COVID-19. The following summer, the agency ordered eBay to stop selling an additional 170 unregistered or misbranded pesticide products.