The Environmental Protection Agency has fined Portland-based Columbia Sportswear $100,800 for failing to label clothes treated with pesticides.
Between 2010 and 2013, the company sold socks and hats that were treated with a product called Insect Blocker but didn't have the label notifying consumers as required by federal pesticide labeling laws.
According to the EPA, while the products were mislabeled, they should not pose a risk to consumers. The active ingredient in Insect Blocker is permethrin.
Derrick Terada, a protection specialist in the EPA's pesticide unit, said permethrin is a very common insecticide that's found in bug spray, and it's used at a very low concentration in Columbia Sportswear products.
"When it's at such a low concentration it doesn't pose a risk to people," Terada said. "If it was a potentially dangerous situation we would have taken the products off the market, but in this case it wasn't."
According to Scott Trepanier, senior manager for Columbia Sportswear, the company sells a whole line of Insect Blocker clothing, including hats, shirts, pants and socks. Only hats and socks were missing the pesticide labels that include directions for use.
"We discovered at some point from exiting the factory to showing up at store floors, these products had been improperly tagged," he said. "It was unintentional and that's something we're looking to make sure gets fixed moving forward."
The company reported the violation in May of last year. It wasn't the first time the company has violated pesticide labeling laws. Terada said the EPA discovered a similar violation in 2012.
"Quite frankly it was just a lack of labeling on these items and there's no real good excuse for that," Trepanier said. "It was just something that failed to happen. We didn't fix it correctly the first time, and we're hoping to do that in the future."