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EPA Pulls Back Safety Measures on Rat Poison
(Beyond Pesticides, April 19, 2004)
In another example of EPA collusion with the chemical industry, resulting in delays and inaction on hazardous pesticides, the Washington Post on April 15, 2004 reported that after six years of review safety rules for rat poison are stalled. Earlier, Daily News reported on a similar delay with the wood preservative creosote and wood preservatives generally.These stories exemplify a charge leveled by some EPA employees who told Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) that they are under unprecedented political pressure.

The Public Education Center, a national security and natural resources news service, reported in December 2003 that, "Rodenticide makers quash EPA proposals designed to protect children and non-target animals from accidental poisoning." According to the Post, "Proposed child safety regulations were abandoned after more than five years of study, and an assessment of the impact of rat poisons on wildlife has been bogged down for about three years. Along the way, the Environmental Protection Agency gave the industry a rare opportunity to revise regulatory language fo 15 months after it was nearly in final form."

The Post continues: "In the interim, the critics say, the toll has grown. Poison-control centers reported last year that more than 15,000 children younger than 6 accidentally ingested rat poison, up from fewer than 11,000 a decade ago."

"Officials from industry groups and the EPA, which first proposed new child safety regulations in 1998, reject the accusation of undue influence, saying they reached a consensus that the child safety proposals would do more harm than good by making the rat poisons less effective against a creature responsible for spreading serious disease. Instead, the agency decided to require stronger labeling and precautionary statements."

"But EPA documents obtained by an environmental group indicate that the agency consulted heavily with the industry before seeking comment from opponents and that manufacturers got officials to tone down their assessment of the risks associated with rat poison."

"The process has raised questions at the EPA. At one point during the preparation of an ecological risk assessment issued by the agency in 2002 to lay the groundwork for deciding how to proceed, one unidentified official wrote, "Concerned that for a year the broad stakeholder community has been shut out -- some are asking why."

While the issue of adding a bittering agent and a dye to the poison was resolved long ago as a step in the right direction, EPA has now changed its tune, claiming these changes will reduce efficacy. Companies already using the agents, say it works well.

See the entire Washington Post story.

TAKE ACTION: Keep the pressure on EPA. Let the Bush Administration know that you think it should NOT delay action to protect children and wildlife from rat poison. Send an email to EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt and to president@whitehouse.gov. Also let your elected members of Congress know how you feel. Contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative.