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Medha Chandra

Company thwarts rat poison rules — again!

A while ago I blogged about a new EPA rule banning a specific set of super-toxic rat poisons for retail sale to homeowners. The ban was put in place to protect children and pets from the dangers of these rodenticide products. The company that makes them, Reckitt Benckiser, challenged the rule in court.

Well, history repeats itself. When California's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently restricted the retail sale of these same super-toxic rat poisons, Reckitt Benckiser, sued DPR as well. This means that while the legal petition winds its slow way through the judicial system, the toxic rodenticides will continue being sold in California.

About 10,000 children across the U.S. get poisoned annually by rat poisons. Some of the specific products targeted by DPR are sold as colorful pellets, and when used at home, small children can mistakenly consume them — with disastrous results. And countless mammals and raptors are killed each year due to exposure to these rodenticides.

Protections thwarted

Reckitt Benckiser Inc. has fought both federal and state efforts to limit the use of their d-CON rat control products.

In 2013 EPA required that rodenticide products for home use be contained in protective tamper-resistant bait stations, and prohibited pellets and other bait forms that cannot be secured in a station. It also banned the most hazardous pesticide products from being sold for home uses. Reckitt challenged them in court, and the case is yet to be resolved. 

The new DPR rule would have ensured that these hazardous rat control products would no longer be sold openly in stores to California consumers.

Starting in July 2014, only licensed commercial and agricultural pest-control operators would have been able to handle rodent control products with the following active ingredients: brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone and difenacoum.

Groups such as Californians for Pesticide Reform, Center for Biological Diversity and Earthjustice are working to ensure children and non-target wildlife are protected from the most hazardous rodent control products. Greg Loarie, an attorney with Earthjustice said:

Reckitt Benckiser knows that California’s bold decision to take d-CON off the shelves is a preview of things to come in other states. Reckitt is fighting hard to hold onto the past, but the corporation should know that we’re prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure d-CON does not become the DDT of our time.

Commonsense solutions

Safe, simple steps can prevent and treat home rodent infestations. Solutions involve a combination of eliminating access points rats and mice might use to enter the home, removing food sources and shelter that attract rodents, and using traps to get rid of existing rats and mice.

A multi-pronged approach to managing rats and mice decreases the risk of dealing with future infestations. As this very useful website says, the best approach is “Clean up, Trap up and Seal up.”

While the corporation and government lock horns, lets take steps to eliminate rodents from our homes using safe, effective methods. We also need to pressure the company to do the right thing and follow the law — DPR needs our support to bring this ban into effect. Stay tuned for how you can help.

All in all, yet another illustration that corporate greed can be an amazingly toxic thing!

Photo credit: Mari/iStock

Picture of Medha Chandra

Medha Chandra

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