Rodenticide Poisoning in Children and Wildlife Deemed an Acceptable Level of Societal Risk by Todd M. Wynn, Director of the ALEC Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Last September, the EPA released a statement about its plan to ban the sale of “the most toxic rat and mouse poisons and “rodenticide products that use loose bait and pellets.” Its reason for doing so was “to better protect children, pets, and wildlife.” The EPA had previously announced in 2008 that “rodenticide manufacturers would have three years to adopt limits on the sale of the products” after the agency had gone through “thirteen years of studies, hearings, reports and legal battles.”

According to PRWatch, the EPA became aware that rodenticides “were finding their way into the food chain” by the early 1980s. Poison control centers in this country had been receiving 12,000 to 15,000 calls annually regarding the exposure of children under the age of six to rat poison.

From PRWatch:

In 1998, the Clinton administration’s EPA deemed that rodenticides had to taste bitter, so kids wouldn’t eat the products, and be colored with a bright dye, so it would be obvious if they did. The EPA backed down from these requirements in 2001 after George W. Bush took office and made the measures “voluntary,” reportedly due to industry pressure.

After seeing no drop in the number of children being poisoned by rodenticides, in 2004 the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed suit to force the EPA to take action, and a New York district court criticized the agency for reversing itself and caving to pesticide manufacturers. The court wrote, “the EPA lacked even the proverbial ‘scintilla’ of evidence justifying its reversal of the requirement it had imposed, after extensive study, only a few years before.” In response, the EPA took steps to regulate the products. Those rules were intended to go into effect this year, but were delayed by the resistance of Reckitt Benckiser and two other rodenticide manufacturers, Liphatech and Spectrum Group.

The EPA estimates that the unreported child exposure rate may be four times as high as the 12,000-15,000 calls to poison control centers each year, and some believe the number to be ten times as high. Poisoned young children can experience internal bleeding, bloody urine, bleeding gums, and blood coming from their ears. African-American and Hispanic children living below the poverty line have been disproportionately affected. A New York study found that 57 percent of children hospitalized for eating rat poison between 1990 and 1997 were African-American and 26 percent were Latino.

Known as anti-coagulants, the chemicals in the rodenticides prevent blood from clotting or coagulating. In addition to the ill-effects of rodenticides on young children mentioned above, poisoned children can suffer coma, anemia, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, and bloody stools. For decades, many thousands of young children have become ill “after touching or ingesting rat poison that was applied ‘loose,’ in pellet form.” According to MSNBC, the EPA reported that rat poisons “are, by far, the leading cause of (pesticide-related) visits to health care facilities in children under the age of 6 and the second leading cause of hospitalization.”

The poisons have also had deleterious effects on wildlife.  Wild animals—including bald eagles and bobcats— “have been found dead with lethal levels of a super-toxic rodenticide in their systems.”

One would have hoped that the three manufacturers of rodenticides who have delayed implementation of the new EPA regulations, would be terribly concerned about the ill-effects that their products have had on both children and animals…and maybe have felt a responsibility to comply with the new requirements. Reckitt Benckiser, the maker of d-CON®, doesn’t appear concerned at all. The company, a member of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), filed suit in federal court to prevent EPA’s new rules from going into effect. Reckitt Benckiser claims the restrictions on use of rat poisons would probably lead to “potentially significant public health consequences.” Todd M. Wynn, the director of the ALEC Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force spoke out in defense of the companies who have not complied. He said, “There are certain levels of acceptable risk in society.”

Aaron Colangelo, who is an attorney for the NRDC, said, “It is outrageous to say it is ‘acceptable’ for tens of thousands of kids to get poisoned each year.” He told the Center for Media and Democracy that “there is not an undue economic burden associated with reformulating these products.”  Colangelo pointed out that the rest of the industry had complied with the new rules without adverse economic impact and that “the health care costs for treating these kids certainly outweigh the economic costs of reformulation.” He added, “Kids find it everywhere. Outside their apartment complex, or in public parks, or in schools, or in public housing. Little kids will put anything in their mouth.”

Colangelo thinks it disgraceful that “a few ‘hold-out bad actors from the chemical industry’ are further delaying EPA regulation of the rodenticides, despite decades of evidence of harm.” Said Colangelo, “It should not take this long to do something simple like protect toddlers from rat poisoning.”

AFTERWARD

From ThinkProgress:

 For years, ALEC has successfully killed these kind of regulations on environmental toxins and pollutants on behalf of corporations. At their annual conference in New Orleans this year, ALEC distributed a pamphlet titled “The Many Benefits Of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment,” complete with pictures depicting happy wildlife and a healthy environment. Companies like Koch Industries, BP, WalMart, and others join forces to fund this little-known organization that works behind the scenes to fight the dirty battles that no corporation would want to be publicly associated with.

SOURCES

Pesticide News Story: EPA Seeks Independent Scientific Review on Banning Certain Mouse and Rat Poisons (EPA)

Cancellation Process for Certain Rodenticide Products (EPA)

Kids Eating Rat Poison Is an “Acceptable Risk” for ALEC (PRWatch/Center for Media and Democracy)

ALEC Deems Kids Eating Rat Poison An ‘Acceptable Risk’ (ThinkProgress)

to ALEC – Your Safety is a Non-Issue (Daily Kos)

Corporate Education Reform and ALEC’s Definition of Acceptable Risk (Huffington Post)

On the News With Thom Hartmann: President Obama Denounces “Trickle-Down Economics,” and More (Truth-Out)

Decades on, EPA on verge of curbing use of rat poisons: Activists hope new rules will slash number of U.S. kids being sickened each year   (MSNBC)

FYI

The Mercatus Center: A Tentacle of the Deregulation-Loving Kochtopus Helping in the Effort to Deny Climate Change and Eviscerate the EPA (Turley Blawg)

Smart ALEC: The Organization That May Be Helping Corporations Write Legislation for Your State (Turley Blawg)

10 thoughts on “Rodenticide Poisoning in Children and Wildlife Deemed an Acceptable Level of Societal Risk by Todd M. Wynn, Director of the ALEC Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force

  1. We have redent poisons in the UK, usually grains dyed blue to identify them as being poisonous, although we also have waxy “toy” blocks for rats that are poison and trap shy. We don’t have this problem of kids eating the stuff. Why are kids eating it in the USA? Maybe this ban is missing a deep underlying issue.

  2. From the company:

    “d-CON did not voluntarily conform with the recommendations in the RMD because we believe removing loose baits from consumer use would make rodent infestations more difficult to control and this could pose many more public health risks. Under the RMD, consumers would have to choose between less effective rodenticides (to which mice and rats have shown resistance), which could result in increased incidence of rat infestations and greater risks of rat bites. Consumers also might use more potent rodenticides that have no known antidote, which could increase the risk of serious harm and potentially death if these products are used improperly. This is particularly worrisome in communities where consumers may not be able to afford the expense of professional exterminators.”

  3. Of course they are going to do and promote what is the best interest of the customer….That is what a Free Market espouses….But if you look at it in the perspective of ALEC…..the Manufacture of the Toxins are the customers….

    I suppose the chemicals that they put in the grounds are safe for the environment….despite the fact that….they put in these fracturing wells…on average 5 million gallons…in what I think will never be retrieved in my lifetime….But that is the Free Market at work….Hmmmmmm….

    Seems like some governmental regulations are in order…because profit and motive get in the way of partisanship politics…..Think Rick Perry…. Texas “Don’t Need those Stickin EPA Regulations”….

  4. Reblogged this on euzicasa and commented:
    JONATHAN TURLEY
    Res ipsa loquitur (“The thing itself speaks”):
    Sorry to have copied this. (in my defense though: i just couldn’t think of a better acknowledgement…so I did what I have to do , and re-blogged this perfect example of social responsibility. Thank you Mr. Turley, for your views on society.

  5. Bron, That’s D-con disinformation plain and simple. The product wasn’t going to be removed. The product had to be in bait boxes. You’re spreading propaganda. If the EPA (and the Administration was worth a shite they’d tell the manufacturers that refuse to comply that they were banned from selling the products. Other companies complied some just didn’t- don’t comply and you don’t get to sell.

    There is though possibly another dynamic at work. Since the children most affected are poor and of color perhaps ALEC and the manufacturers don’t feel the need to take the necessary (small) steps to preserve their lives. If I was organizing a boycott I hit that angle, just to get some attention for the issue. Would ALEC and the manufacturers feel the same if it was majorly white kids in the Hamptons getting poisoned? I bet a dollar to a dime they’d reformulate that poison instantly for fear of lawsuits or government action.

    Re Dean Fox’s posting: the requirements the EPA wanted to apply are mirror images of many of the rat poison regs you currently have in the UK. Also, the D-Con company is owned by Reckitt Benckiser, a multinational corporation headquartered in the UK. I suspect your posting is a bit of an ironic poke at the colonials eh?

    I feel almost obligated to get off into some long rant about Libertarian notions of a benevolent free market that cures all of the country’s problems but I’d rather just go get a sandwich.

  6. Lotta,

    Enjoy your sandwich. Why should we get our knickers in a twist because some rich people don’t care if poor children of color suffer the ill-effects of rat poison?

  7. Rodenticide is more letters than the word rat poison. The public often decries lawyers and litigation as being expensive and bad for society as a whole. A child who has eaten rat poison that was not altered like the recommendations cited needs some recompense. Those guys on TV advertising fro Mesothemeloma victims should take on the rat poisoned clients and stick it to these companies that produce these products. The kid killers will change their tune.

  8. “Why should we get our knickers in a twist because some rich people don’t care if poor children of color suffer the ill-effects of rat poison?” (Elaine)

    That’s it in a nutshell.

  9. Every person who was tested in a random test was positive for the main ingredient in Roundup, a herbicide.

    Kids can pick it up from lawns, gardens, and other green areas when it is used at home or on farms.

    The urine of those tested had 40 times the amount allowed for drinking water.

    Roundup is made by the people who made “Agent Orange” and is the most popular brand going.

    The rats have taken over and they don’t seem to care who they get rid of among us it would seem.

  10. EPA gets tough with rat poison manufacturers
    6/8/11
    http://www.homechannelnews.com/article/epa-gets-tough-rat-poison-manufacturers

    Excerpt:
    In 2008, the EPA gave producers of rat and mouse poison until June 4, 2011, to research, develop and register new products that would be safer for children, pets and wildlife. Over the past three years, EPA has worked with a number of companies to achieve that goal, and there are now new products on the market with new bait delivery systems and less toxic baits that still provide effective rodent control, according to the EPA.

    However, a handful of companies have advised the EPA that they do not plan to adopt the new safety measures, the EPA said. Consequently, the EPA intends to initiate cancellation proceedings under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, the federal pesticide law, against certain non-compliant products marketed by the following companies to remove them from the market:

    • 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)
    • Reckitt Benckiser Inc. (makers of D-Con, Fleeject, and Mimas rodent control products)

    In addition to requiring more protective bait stations and prohibiting pellet formulations, the 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. These rodenticides will still be available for use by professional pest control applicators and in agricultural settings.

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