The Wall Street Journal: EPA to Ban Some Rat Poisons
6/8/2011WASHINGTON-The Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday it would move to ban the sale of most pellet rat and mouse poison to consumers, but the decision will face challenges from at least two affected companies.
If upheld, the EPA action would pull from the shelves some commonly sold products for controlling rodents. The EPA said the move would prevent thousands of children from being exposed to the products each year.
Consumers would still be able to buy some chemicals designed to kill rodents, but Ed Copenhaver, owner of Frager's Hardware on Pennsylvania Avenue here, said that a pellet rat poison called d-Con, made by British firm Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC is a best-seller.
"That's probably 90 percent of what we sell," Mr. Copenhaver said. "To take the pellets off the market, to me it's going to be a killer."
The d-Con sold at Frager's contains brodifacoum, one of four chemicals that the EPA said it would ban for "residential consumers." Products containing those chemicals could still be sold to farmers and professional exterminators.
For other rat and mouse poisons not subject to the ban, the EPA is requiring that they be sold with a safety feature called a "bait station," which encloses the poison in plastic to prevent children and pets from being exposed.
The EPA said many companies have agreed to adopt the new safety measures. But four companies are refusing to say they will stop making products that don't meet the rules. The agency said it intended to start a legal proceeding to ensure those products are no longer sold.
Two of the companies, Liphatech, Inc. of Milwaukee, Wis. and Reckitt Benckiser, said they would challenge EPA's decision and questioned its scientific basis.
The two others, Woodstream Inc. and Spectrum Group, couldn't be reached for comment.
Tom Schmit, Liphatech's manager of regulatory affairs, said in an interview that the agency was overestimating the risks that children would be exposed to harmful amounts of poisons. He said the rule would drive up costs for homeowners because they will have to pay an exterminator to get "the potent, proven, effective compounds."
"The use of a bait station is a good idea," Mr. Schmit added. "That EPA is requiring that a bait station be sold in each packet is overkill."
Reckitt Benckiser said in a press release that the company's products are safe and will remain "lawful for sale and use throughout the United States" while an appeal of the EPA's decision proceeds.
In 2001, the EPA revoked safety regulations regarding rodent poisons. A federal judge ordered the agency to revisit that decision in 2005, saying it had improperly compromised with manufacturers.
"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 and Pollution Prevention, said in a statement.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group that filed the legal challenge against the agency, said the announcement was good news.
"There are and will continue to be effective and affordable options for pest control," said Aaron Colangelo, a lawyer with the group.