(Beyond Pesticides, April 2, 2014) Just last week it was announced that California ruled to remove from store shelves several rodenticide products identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as unsafe for children and wildlife. The maker of these products, Reckitt Benckiser, aggressive in challenging regulators who want to restrict the company’s loose bait products, is suing California to stop it from acting. The state’s new restriction on retail sales of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides, due to take effect July 1, 2014, seeks to protect wildlife and pets from accidental poisoning from rat poisons. Reckitt Benckiser is also embroiled in challenging EPA’s decision to remove these products from the national marketplace for failure to meet federal standards.
The California’ Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) ruled last week that second generation anticoagulant rodenticides, including the chemicals brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, and difethialone, found in d-CON brand products, must be classified as California-restricted materials, and only allowed to be used by certified pesticide applicators. This follows EPA’s 2013 issuance of a Notice of Intent to Cancel the registrations of rodenticide products that do not meet the agency’s new mitigation measures to reduce poisonings to children and wildlife. However, manufacturer of d-CON, Reckitt Benckiser LLC, refuses to adopt the risk mitigation measures established by EPA in 2008, and is currently also challenging EPA’s decision to protect the public from these products. All other manufacturers have complied with EPA’s order. See more of EPA’s risk mitigation decision here.
“It’s disgusting that d-CON continues to challenge common-sense controls for protecting wildlife, children and pets,” said Jonathan Evans, toxics and endangered species campaign director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s time to put public safety before corporate profits.”
Reckitt Benckiser argues in its suit that CDPR “violated its own statutory mandate and exceeded its statutory authority.” The company states that California’s decision would effectively “halt the legal sale to individual consumers” of its products, and claims the agency failed to follow proper procedures for adopting or amending regulations.
The regulations from CDPR target products sold to the general public in retail outlets and limits highly toxic rodenticide use beyond 50 feet of manmade structures. These highly toxic poisons, specifically formulations with second-generation anticoagulant chemicals, will still be available for widespread use by licensed commercial and agricultural pest-control operators. EPA’s mitigation measures to reduce direct and secondary exposures now requires products to use bait stations and secured bait forms, instead of loose baits that children can more readily access, as well as eliminates the most toxic and persistent active ingredients.
“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,” said Greg Loarie, an attorney with Earthjustice. “Reckitt is fighting hard to hold on to 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.”
While California’s recent efforts on d-CON products specifically addresses the impact of these chemicals on wildlife, the removal of d-CON rodenticides from store shelves will ultimately have the added effect of protecting young children. Between 1993 and 2008, the American Association of Poison Control Centers logged somewhere in the range of 12,000 to 15,000 reports of rat and mouse poison exposures each year for children under the age of 6. Children can be incidentally exposed to rodent poisons when they are placed in unsecured “loose bait” stations, and research shows that low-income and minority children are disproportionately impacted by these products. One study in New York found that 57 percent of children hospitalized for eating rat poison from 1990 to 1997 were African-American and 26 percent were Latino. In California alone, wildlife poisonings have been documented in at least 25 species of wild animals in California, including mountain lions, hawks, endangered San Joaquin kit foxes and northern spotted owls, as well as numerous cats and dogs.
“So much for corporate responsibility,” said Jason Rylander, senior attorney with Defenders of Wildlife. “Now that both EPA and the state of California have moved to curb the use of d-Con and other risky poisons, Reckitt Benckiser needs to do the right thing and stop fighting measures that could save kids and protect wildlife.”
Beyond Pesticides responded to the irresponsible actions of Reckitt Benckiser by launching the Care About Kids campaign to urge major retailers to stop selling dangerous d-CON rodenticides. In lieu of federal action, Beyond Pesticides argues that retailers have an obligation to stop selling products that EPA has determined are too dangerous to children, pets, and wildlife.
For more information about Beyond Pesticides Care About Kids campaign, see our Rodenticides program page, where you can learn more about the harmful effects of these chemicals and find effective alternatives to their use.
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.
Source: Earthjustice Press Release