In a move to protect children and pets from toxic chemical poisoning, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making moves to ban 12 popular mouse- and rat-poisoning products sold under the D-Con brand name. Products included in the proposed ban include D-Con's pellet, bait bits, and ready-mixed formulations.
EPA says it's banning the products—as early as the end of February—because "they cause unreasonable and unnecessary risks to children's health and the environment, without overriding benefits."
"Moving forward to ban these products will prevent completely avoidable risks to children," says James Jones, acting assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. "With this action, EPA is ensuring that the products on the market are both safe and effective for consumers."
The agency says it is opting to ban the products outright because the product manufacturer, Reckitt Benckiser Inc., refuses to comply with updated EPA safety standards that require rodent-killing products to stop using anticlotting chemicals like brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, and difethialone. These chemicals are toxic to wildlife, which could come into contact with the poison by eating drugged rodents.
"Anticoagulant rodenticides are used to kill mice and rats by stopping the blood from clotting," explains Tina Wismer, DVM, medical director at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Poison Control Center. "A law was passed that went into effect in June of 2011 banning the use of pelleted anticoagulant baits … most companies that produce them either discontinued them or changed their product."
According to updated EPA standards, bait products are also required to be encapsulated in protective bait stations to deter kids and pets from gaining access to the poisonous products.
D-Con, however, did not take measures to comply with the law, the EPA says, putting animals and people at risk.
According to agency statistics, 10,000 children a year come in contact with the dangerous chemicals. Pets are often drawn to rodenticide chemicals, too, a problem that sparked nearly 7,000 calls to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center in 2011. Depending on the kind of rodenticide, the poison could cause internal bleeding, kidney failure, or seizures.
ASPCA says the pellets are especially dangerous for dogs and cats because they can easily pick them up and eat them. The organization warns that ambitious and determined dogs still are able to break through bait stations, suggesting it's better to use nonchemical controls to deter rodents from entering your home.
Meanwhile, a BusinessWeek article quotes D-Con executives who claim the move will actually harm human health, limiting people's ability to control rodent infestations.
For companies that have complied with the new standards in 2011, EPA has received no reports of children being exposed to bait contained in bait stations. EPA expects to see a substantial reduction in exposures to children when the 12 D-Con products that do not comply with current standards are removed from the consumer market, as millions of households use these products each year.
EPA Compliant Products | Non-Compliant D-Con Products
Better yet, don't turn to poison at all to deal with a rodent problem. Instead, try these tactics:
Seal out pests. Create an unwelcoming home for rodents by using steel wool, copper mesh, caulk, plaster, or even sheet metal to cover or seal any holes that mice could use as an entry point into your abode. Remember, they can slip through a hole the size of a dime, so seal up gaps around your doors and water pipes, too.
Don't offer a menu for mice. Rodents will want nothing to do with your turf if you cover trash cans and keep temptations like nuts, grains, and pet foods in sealed containers. Dirty dishes are inviting, so make sure you load up the dishwasher before you hit the sack and don't leave them sitting.
Make your yard unappealing. If you have a compost bin or pile, be sure to mix your fresh scraps in with the decomposing bits to deter rodents. Avoid letting grass grow high near your home's foundation, too. It serves as a hiding place. Keep your firewood piles neatly stacked and at least a foot off the ground.
Be kind. If you're still dealing with a mouse problem, go the humane route and opt for a Havahart trap that catches mice alive, then you can release them further away from your home. By avoiding the use of poisons like D-con's and setting the trapped mouse free in a natural space, you could be better serving nature's food chain. Mice are delicacies to hawks and owls.