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Things I Remark On - Qualified Perceptions
Things I Remark On
  • Yesterday, mjperson told me that it was illegal to use Lysol unless you precisely follow the directions. I didn't believe him. We quested to CVS and examined the Lysol (and the handi-wipes, and half of the other cleaning supplie), and sure enough, most of them say "It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling." I find this deeply disturbing. (The Green Clean Somethingoranother does not have such a warning. I may have to buy it next time, in gratitude for it not threatening to have me arrested.)

    Some googling suggests that this is an EPA regulation for pesticides, and that manufacturers of pesticides are required to put that specific line on their labels. I am still a little suspicious - being legally required to put a line saying it's a federal crime to use it wrongly doesn't actually mean there *is* a law that encompasses it being a crime to spray from 5 inches away instead of 6 to 8? And the lack of a label doesn't mean it *isn't* a crime to spray it into someone's eyes... I claim I have a First Amendment right to spray my Windex into the air in protest!

  • There was a (very good) tuba player in the Davis Square T station today. Not your usual busker. Neat.

  • I have been madly productive on all sorts of crazy things recently. It's more of an eclectic assortment than usual - knit and crochet, Photoshop and Illustrator, log-writing and, mmm, I don't know what goes with that. Work, I suppose. The other accounts person was on vacation last week, so I had to answer all the phone calls All By Myself.
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chanaleh From: chanaleh Date: August 26th, 2009 03:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Funny, I always thought that the "inconsistent with its labeling" language on aerosols was directed against potential drug abuse of inhalants. (Not that I know what kind of high you could possibly get on Lysol, but I am certain I just don't understand the whole concept, so.)

Anyway, it's pretty loose wording, which I further assume is intentionally to give Them plenty of leeway in determining what qualifies as "consistent with label use". It still kinda raises my libertarian hackles, too, though. :-)
chenoameg From: chenoameg Date: August 26th, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that's what I thought.
psychohist From: psychohist Date: August 26th, 2009 07:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's interesting. Personally, I think Federal regulation on local use of products goes way beyond the commerce clause, but the limitations of the commerce clause have been ignored for decades.
ricedog From: ricedog Date: August 26th, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I always thought that referred to lighting it on fire as a weapon.
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: August 26th, 2009 09:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
The same words appear on my insect repellent bottles, including non-aerosol dispensers. Also on aerosol household cleaners, but not on aerosol cans of spray paint or spray enamel. The paint and enamel cans include warnings about how you shouldn't deliberately inhale the propellant to get high, but it doesn't mention the Feds.
psychohist From: psychohist Date: August 27th, 2009 02:46 am (UTC) (Link)
More evidence for the "environmental regulation of insecticides" theory.
earthling177 From: earthling177 Date: August 26th, 2009 11:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I believe you'll see the same or very similar warnings on things like bottles of Clorox too.

The deal is, as far as I've been told, that any product that makes claims like "this is an insecticide" or "this is medicine" or "this is a disinfectant" will sport a similar label.

You are free to use Lysol, Clorox, Raid etc any way your heart desires, except that if you promised someone else that you used the products (say, you have a hotel, restaurant etc that needs to pass sanitation codes) then you need to use it at least as well as the label directs you. It's not so much that it says you need to spray from 10 inches and you sprayed from 5, but you might spray less product, or in an ineffective way if you sprayed from 15 inches instead... similarly, if you need 1.25 cups of Clorox for 5 minutes in a 140F wash to disinfect, but you washed stuff in cold/warm water and used half a cup for 2 minutes, you can't promise the clothes were disinfected properly, even if they ended up bleached enough. Conversely, if you are supposed to use 2 tablespoons of dry chlorine bleach in a sanitizer you can't use either one (not enough disinfection) or 3 or more tablespoons (the sanitizer doesn't rinse the dishes afterwards, so you might have excess bleach which will not only taste bad, but also be unhealthy). So, supposedly they couldn't make people follow the "don't be a dick!" maxim and went all out and made it an unlawful thing.

As laws go, it's probably as enforced as the labels in mattresses and furniture, people just yank each others chains, the laws are there for business, not home. But I'm not a lawyer or play one on TV, so you've been warned... ;-)
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: August 27th, 2009 01:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I just checked a bottle of bleach, and no legal threats on it. Whatever law is requiring this phrase must be very silly if it's required on lemon eucalytpus oil but not sodium hypochlorite.
earthling177 From: earthling177 Date: August 27th, 2009 03:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I think the law is probably ill-written if not just silly. I have a bottle of Clorox Regular Bleach here, about 2-3 months old that has the warning. I have had other bottles of Clorox (can't remember the name, Splash-Free or some such silliness?) that did not have the warning, but that also made no claims about disinfection and killing 99% of germs. That's why I mentioned that I think the warning is related to the claim that the product disinfects, or kills insects etc. Chlorine bleach can still be pretty nasty if mixed with things like ammonia or even if left undiluted on skin or ingested. Eucalyptus oil can be toxic, but I believe the warning is also related to their claims of disinfection.
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: August 27th, 2009 11:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, this is making some sense. The Scrubbing Bubbles with the warning turns out to have antibacterial claims on the can. The bleach (generic, just bleach, no claims about magic anti-splash powers) makes no disinfectant claims and makes no threats about Federales breaking down your door.

On the other hand, none of the three insect repellents I've found it on make any claims about killing insects, bacteria, or anything else, but they all threaten me with the Feds.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: August 27th, 2009 03:33 am (UTC) (Link)
You are free to use Lysol, Clorox, Raid etc any way your heart desires, except that if you promised someone else that you used the products (say, you have a hotel, restaurant etc that needs to pass sanitation codes) then you need to use it at least as well as the label directs you.

In my original argument with Mike, I was claiming that it must be like the mattress labels, and not actually a restriction on consumers, but the EPA appears to think that the labels apply to the public in addition to contractors.

My favorite FAQ:


Is placing mothballs outside on the grass along a fence line to repel cats an illegal use of mothballs?

(Answer: yes, because the directions on mothballs say they are for use in enclosed spaces, so using them outside is illegal. Also, "At present, there are no registered pesticides containing the active ingredients in moth balls that are approved for use in repelling cats." which makes me imagine the ad campaign for a Cat Pesticide.
earthling177 From: earthling177 Date: August 27th, 2009 03:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Geez, and then the government wonders why we think they are not worth their weight in gold sometimes? ;-)

When they allow the very same product, say, Clorox, to be sold in one bottle with the warning and a promise to disinfect, then in another bottle without a warning and without a promise to disinfect, it's not too much of a jump for a normal, brain-enabled customer, to think that it doesn't matter if we use it a bit differently if we don't care about the disinfection.

Maybe it's a giant psych experiment to see under what circumstances the normal citizen will pay no attention to the laws? I know I've been skimming or just skipping warnings altogether for a while now. "Warning, this device generates high heat!" gets me going "Really?!? It's a stove, it's *supposed* to!!!" now more than making me crack up like years ago. ;-)
sammason From: sammason Date: August 28th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hello. I came to check out your blog because I liked your helpful remark on eccentrific's, and now I find that you like knitting! I grew up expert in knitting because all the women in my family did it and it was quite a surprise to find that most people found my skills unusual. Not sure how well I'd enjoy it now, because my hands and eyes are disabled, but anyway I'm going to Friend you.
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