EPA To Ban Rat, Mouse Poisons | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: June 7, 2011

EPA To Ban Rat, Mouse Poisons

Regulation: Action aims to protect children, pets, and wildlife from exposures
Department: Government & Policy
News Channels: Environmental SCENE
Keywords: EPA, rat poison

The Environmental Protection Agency intends to ban the sale of four rat and mouse poisons to residential customers and prohibit the use of most loose bait and pelletized rodenticides, the agency announced today. The action comes three years after EPA advised manufacturers of these products to voluntarily develop alternatives that are safer for children, pets, and wildlife.

The four chemicals affected by the decision are brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone, and difenacoum. EPA plans to prohibit the sale and distribution of the chemicals directly to consumers because of their toxicity; however, they will still be allowed for use in homes when applied by professional pest controllers. The chemicals will also be allowed for use in agriculture as long as they are contained in bait stations.

"These changes are essential to reduce the thousands of accidental exposures of children that occur every year from rat and mouse control products and also to protect household pets," Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Chemical Safety & Pollution Prevention, said in a statement.

Tens of thousands of children under age six are exposed to rat and mouse poisons each year, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Environmental groups have tried for several years to convince EPA to use its authority under the federal pesticide law to ban products containing toxic rodenticides. But after a lengthy litigation process with the Natural Resources Defense Council, EPA decided to let companies voluntarily phase out the chemicals. Many producers have developed safer alternatives, but some have not and do not intend to do so.

"It's nice to see that EPA is stepping up to the plate and protecting children from continuing poisonings," says Jennifer Sass, senior scientist at NRDC. "EPA is not only authorized, but is obligated, to protect children from these poisons. It's just too bad that EPA delayed by years, leaving thousands of children each year at risk of dangerous exposures."

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