Ex Officio's BugAway collection told to bug off by EPA

Ex Officio has confirmed to SNEWS® that the company will not be allowed to market or fulfill current orders for the spring 2003 BugAway Collection. Rick Hemmerling, president of Ex Officio, told us that the company has been caught between the cracks of regulation and, as a result, has been informed by the EPA that Ex Officio cannot sell the garments as an insect repellent until they receive the necessary registration as a repellent or insecticide.
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Ex Officio has confirmed to SNEWS® that the company will not be allowed to market or fulfill current orders for the spring 2003 BugAway Collection. Rick Hemmerling, president of Ex Officio, told us that the company has been caught between the cracks of regulation and, as a result, has been informed by the EPA that Ex Officio cannot sell the garments as an insect repellent until they receive the necessary registration as a repellent or insecticide.

"Even though individual components utilized in the Health Guard coating applied to our BugAway line are already EPA registered, the EPA views the end product (a combination of individual ingredients, including the fabric in this case) as the repellent," Hemmerling said. "Since we do not have a registration for the end product -- our garments -- we can't market them as a repellent."

Hemmerling told us he is making a trip out to visit with the EPA to pitch them on the facts and help to educate the government body.

"It was quite painful and expensive to come out with this information and withdraw our product from the market, but we had to take the high road," Hemmerling said.

SNEWS® View: For the EPA, dealing with a regulation written for chemicals and trying to apply it to clothing has never been done, so there is potential for wiggle room. However, if wiggling is not allowed, Ex O will have no choice but to submit its garments to a lengthy and expensive registration process, and that is just for federal approval. The company will also need to receive a registration in each of the 50 states where it can get even more complicated, since some states want a registration based on a share of sales, some just require an annual fee. Kudos to Hemmerling for taking the high road. The company's only other alternative would be to secretly tell retailers that the clothing works against mosquitoes, but publicly not sell it as a garment that repels -- product availability through wordsmithing to get around regulations. Far better to do what Ex O has done. We hope they'll be able to get back to market soon.

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