I have some very good news: EPA is banning a group of rat poisons known to be especially dangerous for children, pets and wildlife. Finally.
Apparently, the agency got tired of waiting for the manufacturer of d-CON mouse- and rat-killing products to voluntarily follow their safety guidelines. Instead, UK-based Reckitt Benckiser was spending its energy pushing back with an army of lawyers and lobbyists. This time, their tactics backfired.
We congratulate EPA for taking a stand — this ban will make a real difference. Millions of households in the U.S. use rodent control products, and every year there are roughly 12,000-15,000 reports of kids getting poisoned by these products.
What took so long?
EPA will now require that rodenticide products for consumer use be contained in protective tamper-resistant bait stations, and prohibits pellets and other bait forms that cannot be secured in a station. And products to be used in the home cannot contain the following dangerous active ingredients: brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone and difenacoum.
EPA flagged these products years ago as being particularly dangerous for kids. The wait makes me wonder really, just how broken is our regulatory system?
It was three years (that’s time for about 45,000 kids to get poisoned) before EPA took action against the most egregious manufacturers of the lot, the ones who blatantly refused to do anything to reduce the hazards from their products to kids, pets and wildlife. How is it that a manufacturer like Reckitt Benckiser could get away with flouting safety guidelines for so long?
Even after all this, the company can still request a hearing before an EPA administrative law judge in the next 30 days to drag out the process. Really?
Safe rodent control
The fact of the matter? Rodenticides are not needed. Predators like owls, hawks and other raptors do a great job of rodent control; by some estimates a raptor can hunt and eat up to six critters in one night. Rodenticides are highly hazardous to birds and other wildlife, causing uncontrollable bleeding in the birds and animals that ingest them. By using these chemicals, we end up incapacitating nature’s own very effective rodent control mechanism.
There are many simple, commonsense steps we can take to prevent rodent infestations at home. Some of the EPA’s recommendations include:
- Sealing holes inside and outside the home to prevent rodent entry. This may be as simple as inserting steel wool in small holes, or patching holes in internal or external walls.
- Trapping rodents outside the home to help reduce the rodent population within.
- Cleaning up potential rodent food sources and nesting sites.
So while I'm cheering this victory of science and common sense over corporate greed, I'm also looking toward an overhaul of a pesticide regulatory system that takes too long to protect kids' safety.