eBay charged with selling environmentally hazardous products, including illegal pesticides

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a federal civil complaint against the online auction giant eBay for the unlawful sale and distribution of a broad range of products that are damaging to the environment as well as human health. These products violate protective measures such as the Clean Air Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide And Rodenticide Act.

According to the complaint, eBay was involved in the sale of hundreds of thousands of environmentally hazardous products, including banned pesticides and vehicle emission evading devices.

For example, they are being accused of the unlawful sale or distribution of more than 23,000 pesticides that were either misbranded, unregistered or designated for restricted use. According to the DoJ, some of these chemicals are restricted-use pesticides that can only be applied by certified applicators. Others contain a highly toxic insecticide that has been banned in the country. eBay even continued to allow these products to be sold on their platform after a stop sale order was issued by the EPA in 2020 and was amended in 2021.

In addition, eBay allegedly sold more than 343,000 aftermarket devices that can help vehicles attempt to cheat emissions tests and make them appear to meet the standards when they do not. These products can significantly raise the amount of pollutants such as nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, non-methane hydrocarbons and particulate matter that are emitted by vehicles, all of which have been linked to cardiovascular and respiratory health effects and premature death, among other problems. In some cases, these devices can cause a vehicle to emit hundreds or even thousands of times more pollution than those whose emission controls are legitimate.


They also reportedly distributed more than 5600 products geared toward removing paint and other coatings that contain methylene chloride, a substance that can damage the liver, skin, heart and eyes. Part of the Toxic Substances Control Act prohibits retailers from distributing products that contain this ingredient because of the risks it poses to human health, including the potential to cause cancer, a loss of consciousness and death.

For its part, eBay has said it regularly removes and blocks listings involving products the Justice Department has identified as problematic, which results in the loss of millions of listings per year. Unfortunately, many are clearly getting through their technological safeguards. They said in a statement: “The Government’s actions are entirely unprecedented, and eBay intends to vigorously defend itself.”

U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement that the company’s conduct was putting public health and the environment as risk. He noted: “eBay’s sale of emission control defeat devices, pesticides and other unsafe products poses unacceptable risks to our communities disproportionately impacted by environmental and health hazards.”

eBay, Amazon have also come under fire in the past for selling banned pesticides

This is not the first time that eBay has faced these claims. In 2021, they were ordered by the EPA to cease the sale of 170 misbranded and unregistered pesticides.

Amazon has faced similar complaints, reaching a $1.2 million settlement with the EPA over its sale and distribution of illegal pesticides. In that case, the company was accused of committing roughly 4,000 violations related to the sale and distribution of imported pesticides that are banned in the U.S.

It’s bad enough that so many dangerous pesticides and herbicides like glyphosate can be sold legally in our country due to lax regulations, but the fact that substances that even the EPA saw fit to ban are so readily available in online marketplaces means that people and the environment are still being subjected to their risks.

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