Daily News Archive
Groups Sue EPA
For Failing to Protect Children From Rat Poisons
"The EPA is allowing the chemical industry to continue to sell rat poisons without adding ingredients that would protect children," said Aaron Colangelo, an NRDC attorney. "There is an easy and effective solution to the problem, but the agency sided with industry instead of our kids."
In 1998, when EPA determined that rat poison exposures are an unreasonable health risk in violation of federal pesticide laws, EPA refused to approve rat poisons unless manufacturers included two safety measures aimed at protecting children: an ingredient that makes the poison taste bitter and a dye that would make it more obvious when a child ingested the poison. Studies have found that these safety measures do not undermine the effectiveness of the rat poisons.
In 2001, however,
EPA revoked the safety regulations, announcing that it "came
The number of reported child poisonings has increased annually since EPA's policy reversal, according to Poison Control Center data. Every year more than 15,000 children under age six accidentally eat rat poisons, and several hundred require hospitalization. Poisoned children can suffer from internal bleeding, bleeding gums, and anemia, and can go into a coma.
Rat poisons harm
children in all communities, but African-American and Latino children
and children living below the poverty level suffer a disproportionate
risk. In New York state, for example, 57 percent of children hospitalized
for rodenticide poisoning are black, although only 16 percent of New
York state's population is black; 26 percent of hospitalized children
are Latino, although Latinos comprise only 12 percent of the
Millions of pounds
of rat poisons are applied nationally every year. In New York City,
for example, rat poisons are used heavily in public housing, public
schools and city parks. To learn more about rodenticides,
see our factsheet. Also see our alternatives
factsheet for ideas about least toxic ways to control a rodent problem.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Also let your elected members of Congress know how you feel. Contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative.