(Beyond Pesticides, December 18, 2013) A national environmental group is supporting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) efforts to protect children by asking national retailers, including Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and Lowe’s, to make the holidays safer for children and stop selling dangerous d-CON rodent bait products. Determined to present unreasonable risks to children and the environment by EPA, the 12 slated-for-cancellation products contribute to the thousands of rodenticide poisonings of children each year. The manufacturer of d-CON products is using a legal tactic to allow the continued sale of the 12 d-CON products, despite an EPA action to ban them.
“Walmart and other major retailers should immediately discontinue the sale of these toxic mouse and rat poisons. There are effective alternatives available that do not put children, pets, and wildlife at danger of poisoning and even death,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides.
Early in 2013, EPA issued its Notice of Intent to Cancel the registration of 12 rodenticide products manufactured by Reckitt Benckiser LLC after the company refused to adopt voluntary risk mitigation measures established in 2008. The mitigation measures require products to use bait stations and secured bait forms, instead of loose baits which children can more readily access, as well as eliminating the most toxic and persistent active ingredients. On March 6, 2013, the company challenged EPA’s decision, delaying for potentially years a ban that otherwise would have taken effect on March 7, 2013. This was the first time in more than 20 years that a company declined to implement EPA risk mitigation measures for pesticide products.
Between 1993 and 2008, the American Association of Poison Control Centers logged between 12,000 to 15,000 poison exposure reports of children under the age of six from mouse and rat baits.
Beyond Pesticides urges families with small children to utilize alternative measures to prevent rodent problems, including sealing gaps around the doors by replacing worn thresholds and weather stripping, and installing door sweeps, as well as caulking openings around water pipes, electric wires, cables, and vents. The group notes that there are many baits traps on the market that do not utilize toxic chemicals.
While some local stores and national retailers have taken steps to remove the slated-for-cancellation d-CON products from their shelves, there is concern that more needs to be done to ensure that these dangerous products do not fall into the wrong hands or mouths. National retailers are being asked to the lead and establish policies to stop sales of the 12 dangerous d-CON products and ensure that regional stores pull these products from shelves.
Background on Rodenticide Cancellations:
EPA is confident that it will prevail in the hearing initiated by the registrant, but now has the added burden of defending to a judge its decision that continued exposures of d-CON products to children, pets and wildlife pose unreasonable risks. According to EPA, of the nearly 30 companies that produce or market mouse and rat poison products in the U.S., Reckitt Benckiser is the only one that has refused to adopt the new safety measures. The company will argue to continue selling its d-CON poisons as loose pellets and pastes, and other toxic formulations. The agency is advising consumers to be aware that d-CON products subject to the ban may be available for sale by some retailers during the course of the hearing. For a list of the d-CON products the EPA is working to ban, visit: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/mice-and-rats/cancellation-process.html#cancellation.
In 2008, EPA released its final risk mitigation decision for ten rodenticides, which outlined new measures it said will help protect children and the public from accidental poisonings as well as to decrease exposures to pets and wildlife from rodent-control products. EPA is requiring that ten rodenticides used in bait products marketed to consumers be enclosed in bait stations, making the pesticide inaccessible to children and pets, and is also prohibiting the sale of loose bait, such as pellets, for use in homes. Rodenticide products containing brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone and difenacoum are known to pose the greatest risk to wildlife and will no longer be allowed to be sold or distributed in the consumer market. However, use by professional applicators will be permitted, and bait stations will be required for all outdoor, above-ground uses for products containing these ingredients. EPA says this will reduce the amount of product in the environment, providing additional protection for wildlife from poisonings by these more toxic and persistent products. However, many wildlife poisonings do not come from direct contact with the bait. These rodenticides have been involved with the poisonings of federally listed threatened and endangered species, for example the San Joaquin kit fox and the Northern spotted owl. Rodents can feed on poisoned bait multiple times before death, and as a result their carcasses contain residues that may be many times the lethal dose. Poisonings occur when predators or scavengers feed on these poisoned rodents.
While these measures, taken to protect the residential consumer and children, are commendable, there are several shortcomings. 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. Pest control operators will still be allowed to use these chemicals in homes, at their discretion, which means residential exposures continue, albeit at slightly lower levels. These measures also do not apply to rodenticide field uses, or to tracking powder products, which may utilize any of the ten rodenticides, and thus continue to impact residential consumers and non-target wildlife.
Beyond Pesticides believes that integrated pest management (IPM) is a vital tool that aids in the adoption of non-toxic methods to control rodents and facilitates the transition to a pesticide-free (and healthier) world. It offers the opportunity to eliminate or drastically reduce pesticide use and to minimize the toxicity of and exposure to any products that are used. 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, contact Beyond Pesticides or visit our IPM program page.
For more information, go to www.beyondpesticides.org/rodenticides.
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.