Terminix Has to Pay $10 Million Over Illegal Use of Dangerous Pesticide

March 30, 2016, 5:41 PM UTC
Terminix employee David Romeo pulls a work box from his truc
Photo by Gary Gardiner/Bloomberg—Getty Images

Pest control giant Terminix International’s illegal use of the chemical methyl bromide is going to cost the company $10 million.

The Department of Justice said on Tuesday that Terminix, which is owned by ServiceMaster Global Holdings (SERV), has agreed to pay $10 million in fines, restitution, and community service a year after its illegal use of the chemical at a U.S. Virgin Islands resort caused a Delaware family vacationing there to fall ill.

The family—two teenaged children and their parents—reportedly suffered from pesticide poisoning last year after staying at the resort in a unit above one being fumigated by Terminix in St. John. According to federal officials, the company illegally used pesticides containing methyl bromide, which is banned from indoor use by the Environmental Protection Agency. The affected family reportedly suffered from seizures and nerve damage as a result of their exposure to the chemical. The DOJ notes that health effects of exposure to methyl bromide can include central nervous and respiratory systems damage.

“When misused, highly toxic pesticides can have catastrophic consequences, and that’s why those who are certified to apply them must do so responsibly and lawfully,” Assistant Attorney General John Cruden, of the DOJ’s environment and natural resources division, said in a statement. Cruden said that Terminix “knowingly failed to properly manage their pest control operations” at the resort.


According to the DOJ announcement, Terminix voluntarily agreed to stop using pesticides containing methyl bromide in the U.S. and U.S. territories. The company’s plea agreement with the government includes a pledge to pay a total of $8 million in fines, along with another $1 million in restitution to the EPA. The company will also fund a $1 million community service project in the Virgin Islands.

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