(Beyond Pesticides, June 9, 2011) Earlier this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is moving to ban the sale of most toxic rat and mouse poisons, as well as most loose bait and pellet products, to residential consumers decades after these products were first introduced to the public. Though these rules will better protect children, pets and wildlife, the changes do not go far enough for vulnerable populations, because they will still be allowed by pesticide applicators and in agricultural settings. Children are particularly at risk for exposure to rat and mouse poisons because the products are typically placed on floors, and because young children sometimes place bait 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 exposed to these types of products. Beyond Pesticides urges consumers not to use poisons for rodent control indoors, but rather advocates the use of traps and nonchemical exclusion techniques that eliminate food and water sources and entryways.
In 2008, EPA released its final risk mitigation decision for ten rodenticides, with new measures intended to protect children and the public from accidental poisonings as well as to decrease exposures to pets and wildlife from rodent-control products. This came after the Natural Resources Council (NRDC) and the West Harlem Environmental Action (WE ACT) filed a lawsuit in 2004 challenging EPA’s regulations. In 2005, a New York City’s federal court ruled that the EPA failed to protect children from exposure to chemical rat poisons, and failed to require chemical manufacturers to strengthen safeguards. (See Daily News, August 17, 2005.)
Over the past three years, EPA says it has worked with a number of companies to achieve this goal, and there are now new products on the market with new bait delivery systems and less toxic baits. These products reduce hazards to children, as well as pets and wildlife, but still provide effective rodent control for residential consumers.
A handful of companies do not plan to adopt the new safety measures, however, and EPA intends to initiate cancellation proceedings under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, (FIFRA) the federal pesticide law, against certain non-compliant products marketed by the following companies to remove them from the market:
”¢Reckitt Benckiser Inc. (makers of D-Con, Fleeject, and Mimas rodent control products)
”¢Woodstream Inc. (makers of Victor rodent control products)
”¢Spectrum Group (makers of Hot Shot rodent control products)
”¢Liphatech Inc. (makers of Generation, Maki, and Rozol rodent control products)
In addition to requiring more-protective bait stations and prohibiting pellet formulations, EPA intends to ban the sale and distribution of rodenticide products containing brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone and difenacoum directly to residential consumers because of their toxicity and the secondary poisoning hazards to wildlife.
There are several shortcomings to the new restrictions. Human and wildlife exposures to these toxic chemicals, though slightly minimized, would nevertheless continue because of their continued availability for use in agricultural production and to pest control operators. These rodenticides will still be available for use in residential settings, but only by professional pest control applicators, which means residential exposures continue, albeit at slightly lower levels. The compounds will also be allowed for use in agricultural settings; however, bait stations will be required for all outdoor, above-ground uses to reduce exposure to children, pets and wildlife.
Beyond Pesticides believes that integrated pest managemeny (IPM) is a vital tool that aids in the rediscovery of non-toxic methods to control rodents and facilitates the transition toward a pesticide-free (and healthier) world. Sanitation, structural repairs, mechanical and biological control, pest population monitoring are some IPM methods that can be undertaken to control rodents. For more information on IPM, visit our IPM program page and our Safer Choice page.
For more information on EPA’s changes for rat and mouse products, see: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/mice-and-rats/
Source: EPA Press Release