Thursday, June 25, 2009

Georgia seeks to revoke license of company for pesticide misuse

The Georgia Department of Agriculture will be seeking to revoke the structural pest control license of Biotech Systems of Georgia (Biotech) due to the misapplications of pesticides. Biotech is a Pelham, Alabama, company that treats nursing homes and other healthcare facilities in Georgia and several other states.

The Agriculture Department is alerting 154 facilities serviced by Biotech about possible pesticide misapplications. The Department has also notified the Environmental Protection Agency, the Georgia Department of Human Resources and appropriate regulatory agencies in other states.

The action follows an investigation that began last month. During a routine inspection on May 5, 2009, the Department of Agriculture found information that indicated pesticides were misapplied by Biotech at two Georgia nursing homes.

The Georgia Agriculture Department asked for records from Biotech and received an incomplete set of pesticide use records from the company on May 20. On June 9, at the request of the Agriculture Department, the Georgia Structural Pest Control Commission (GSPCC) ordered Biotech to produce a complete set of pesticide use records and have the records delivered to the Department by June 17. (GSPCC has authority under the Georgia Structural Pest Control Act to compel the production of documents.)

Records furnished by Biotech indicate that pesticides were misapplied to numerous facilities.

Some of the pesticide application records delivered to the Georgia Agriculture Department by Biotech on June 17 are different from the records obtained on May 20. “This concerns us greatly. At least some of the records appear to conflict with the records we obtained earlier and are therefore possibly suspect,” said Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture Terry Coleman.

Of greatest concern are the misapplications of the pesticides Termidor and ZP Tracking Powder. The Georgia Agriculture Department tested eight nursing homes and found Termidor present in all eight. It appears that Termidor, an insecticide labeled for use outdoors, was used indoors, and ZP Tracking Powder, a rodenticide, was improperly used in a food storage area. The Department is sending clean-up recommendations to the facilities as provided by the manufacturers of these pesticides.

“We have also notified the Georgia Health Care Association. Its staff is working to make sure safety concerns are addressed,” said Deputy Commissioner Coleman.

“We will seek to revoke the license of Biotech Systems of Georgia because the company appears to have disregarded rules governing pesticide application on numerous occasions. These rules are not arbitrary but are based on the effective use of these pesticides and, what is more important, on concerns of safety for people and the environment,” said Coleman.

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