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Target Corporation to Pay Fine for Violating Clean Air Act


(New York, N.Y.) The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that Target Corporation will pay a civil penalty of $120,000 for distributing and selling Horrible Spooky String; a children’s product harmful to the environment in violation of the Clean Air Act. EPA had previously ordered five national retail chains to pull from their shelves cans of illegally imported confetti string products that contain banned hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These substances deplete the earth’s protective stratospheric ozone layer and increase the risk of skin cancer. Millions of cans of these novelty items, many imported from other countries and known by various names such as Horrible Spooky String, Zany String, Crazy String, and Party Streamer, etc., have been sold illegally in the United States. Not all string confetti products are harmful.

“Importers of consumer products containing illegal substances beware,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “EPA banned HCFC propellants in most spray cans more than a decade ago and importers must be careful to guard against bringing in products that could harm human health or the environment. We are pleased that Target cooperated with EPA’s enforcement actions to ensure that these products will not be available to consumers and the ozone-depleting substances they contained will never make it into our environment.”

Target followed EPA’s directives by taking the banned products off their shelves and shipping them to a commercial incinerator for destruction. A total of 785,516 cans, representing all of Target’s inventory, were incinerated pursuant to EPA’s prior compliance order. The company has also agreed to audit its operations and adopt new policies to ensure that these problems do not arise again. EPA’s Region 2 office in New York led Agency efforts in this national settlement with Target.

HCFCs and other ozone-depleting substances, when emitted, drift up and attack the earth’s stratospheric ozone layer, which protects human and animal life from the sun’s harmful radiation -- a situation which could lead to increased incidences of skin cancer, cataracts, and crop damage. The United States, in cooperation with over 185 other countries, is phasing out the production of ozone-depleting substances in an effort to safeguard the ozone layer. (Stratospheric ozone is not related to the issue of ground-level ozone or smog.)


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