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Reining in rogue rodenticides

Medha Chandra's picture
Medha Chandra
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Over a year ago we blogged about the country’s broken pesticide regulatory system that is allowing certain rodenticides to remain on store shelves despite EPA declaring that they need to go. These are products that pose known health hazards to kids, pets and wildlife.

As the L.A. Times reports, rodenticide manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser has still not complied with EPA’s decision, and has joined with other companies to push back with lawyers and lobbyists. Earlier this week, a coalition of public-health and environmental groups did their own pushing in California, urging the Department of Pesticide Regulation to end the use of super-toxic rat poisons in the state.

This pressure follows on petitions delivered directly to the manufacturers earlier this year signed by thousands of concerned individuals across the nation demanding a stop to products that poison people and animals.

Kids and wildlife at risk

Children are particularly at risk of poisoning from rat and mouse baits because the products are typically placed on floors, and young children sometimes place the colorful pellets in their mouths. The American Association of Poison Control Centers annually receives between 12,000 and 15,000 reports of children under the age of six being harmed by these types of products.

In wildlife these rodenticides cause uncontrollable bleeding in animals that ingest them, either directly or through tainted prey. Rodenticides end up killing hawks, owls, eagles, foxes, bobcats, mountain lions and other non-targeted wildlife. Many of these animals are on the endangered species list, and many are effective natural rodent controllers themselves — hawks and other birds of prey can eat up to six rodents in a single night.

Alternatives exist

The thing is, these rodenticides are unnecessary, especially for home uses. Simple, commonsense alternatives exist that can effectively control rats and mice. As Sarah Aird, co-director of Californians for Pesticide Reform, explains:

"The best fix for rodent problems is to address the underlying environmental and deficient housing conditions that give them access to food, water and shelter — what attracts them in the first place."

My question to Reckitt Benckiser and others: what will it take for you to stop selling an unnecessary product that is harming children and wildlife? EPA wants you to stop, people want you to stop, and yet you persist. Shame!

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