The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that it is filing a lawsuit against eBay for selling products that are environmentally damaging and subsequently harmful to health.
Filed on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency, the suit accuses the e-commerce platform of violating the Clean Air Act (CAA); the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
The DOJ claims that eBay has “sold, offered for sale or caused the sale” of over 340,000 devices that release carbon monoxide and other particulate matter into the air, which has deterred efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Air pollution deaths
“Laws that prohibit selling products that can severely harm human health and the environment apply to e-commerce retailers like eBay just as they do to brick-and-mortar stores,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We are committed to preventing the unlawful sale and distribution of emissions-defeating devices and dangerous chemicals that, if used improperly, can lead to dire consequences for individuals and communities.”
The department accused eBay of “unlawfully” selling “at least 23,000 unregistered, misbranded, or restricted-use pesticide products," including an example of a "high toxicity insecticide banned in the United States." The site also allegedly “distributed over 5,600 items” with methylene chloride in them, also known as unlawful “paint and coating removal.”
Air pollution especially harms communities of color and low-income areas, as noted by U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York, who stated: "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."
Through the lawsuit, the DOJ is requesting "injunctive relief to enjoin eBay from further violations of these laws, as well as civil penalties for CAA violations."