From tomorrow's New York Times:
New Device for Germophobes Runs Into Old Law
By BARNABY J. FEDER
With so many people worried about getting sick — whether from the common cold and flu or exotic new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria — Paul and Jeffrey Metzger had every reason to hope that the germ-fighting key fob they invented would be a runaway hit.
Their device, known as the Handler, began selling last year online and in stores like Duane Reade pharmacies for about $11. It features a pop-out hook so germophobes can avoid touching A.T.M. keypads, door handles and other public surfaces where undesirable microbes may lurk. As added protection, the Handler’s rubber and plastic surfaces are impregnated with tiny particles of silver to kill germs that land on the device itself.
But those little silver particles have run Maker Enterprises, the Metzger brothers’ partnership in Los Angeles, into a big regulatory thicket. The Metzgers belatedly realized that the Environmental Protection Agency might decide that a 1947-era law that regulates pesticides would apply to antimicrobial products like theirs. The agency ruled last fall that the law covered Samsung’s Silvercare washing machine. Samsung was told it would have to register the machine as a pesticide, a potentially costly and time-consuming process, because the company claims the silver ions generated by the washer kill bacteria in the laundry.
(Read the full article here.)