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EPA New Rules for Toxic Rodent Control Products

Posted: August 3, 2011

The Pennsylvania Integrated Pest Management (PA IPM) Program and The Poison Control Center based at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia are joining forces to educate Philadelphians about the importance of EPA’s new law to protect children, pets and wildlife from accidental exposure to rodent control products.

On June 7, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its plans to ban the sale of some popular household mouse and rat poisons along with most bait and pellet products. Since rodenticides are pesticides designed to kill mammals by thinning blood, they can pose a special risk for accidental poisoning of humans and their pets. In addition, rodenticides in pelleted form are easily accessible to children.

Children are uniquely vulnerable to accidental pesticide exposures due to their exploratory behavior.  Fortunately, only a small number of exposed children suffer adverse health effects. However, children in low-income families are disproportionally at risk of exposure.  This information may be particularly important for the residents of Philadelphia. According to The Poison Control Center, children aged 12 and under account for 65% of the children exposed to rodenticides in the Philadelphia County. In addition, in 20 percent of the rodenticide exposures reported, the actual products were unknown to the caller. This indicates that many people are unaware of the specific pesticides they are using, and are not reading the product labels.  Such information is critical to have on hand when calling the Poison Control Centers so that a proper course of action can be advised.

Also, some of the exposure calls involved the use of illegal pesticides. Such products do not have a proper chemical identification, nor have instructions on use. Unfortunately many people don’t even know they are purchasing an illegal product since they are often found in many small neighborhood stores. These non-approved EPA pesticides come in many shapes and forms and claim to get rid of various household pests. Such products may come in unmarked baggies and include such names as "Tres Pasitos", Chinese Chalk and illegal naphthalene mothballs that are colored and look like candy.

Tres Pasitos is imported illegally from Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Its active ingredient is a very toxic chemical called Aldicarb. People exposed to Aldicarb can suffer weakness, blurred vision, headache, nausea, vomiting, tearing, sweating, tremors, and, in high doses, death due to paralysis of the nervous system. Curious by nature, children and pets are especially vulnerable to poisoning by Aldicarb.

PA IPM and the Poison Control Center recommend Integrated Pest Management practices as the best way of controlling rodents like rats and mice. This is achieved by combining the tactics that are most effective, including prevention through sanitation, rodent-proofing and removal of rodent harborage, and other alternatives to pesticides. Make sure that there are no sources of food (such as trash cans without lids, or pet food left outside) or water, such as leaking pipes or hydrants, or standing puddles. Keeping rats out of your house is easier than catching them inside! Look for any openings in your outside wall bigger than a quarter. These may be where pipe or wires enter the building, or warped or broken windows or doors, missing mortar, bricks or siding, or any other way into the building. Seal these with rat-proof materials. Outdoor rat burrows can be reported to the City of Philadelphia Vector Control Program, who will come and treat the burrows. Call them at 215-685-9000. For information on keeping rats out, visit http://www.phila.gov/health/pdfs/RATS.pdf [English only], or for comprehensive information about preventing rats on your property, visit: http://home2.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/pest/rodent_control.pdf (English) or http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/pest/rodent_control-sp.pdf (Spanish).
 
The safest way for catching mice in the home is to use snap traps. Newer models of snap traps are set by simply squeezing the back. This avoids snapping fingers while setting and releasing and it also avoids touching the rodent. The snapping side should be set toward the wall and baited with peanut butter. Snap traps kill the mouse instantly and they prevent the rodents from dying in inaccessible places (e.g. behind the walls) and causing unpleasant odors.

To learn more on how to eliminate mice and rats, you can read a copy of the PA IPM brochure “Is There a Mouse in the House?” at http://extension.psu.edu/ipm/resources/factsheets/Rodentsbrochure.pdf/

To read EPA’s full article please click on the following link:
06/07/2011: EPA Takes Major Actions to Reduce Americans’ Risks from Mouse and Rat Poisons / Move will better protect children, http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/1e5ab1124055f3b28525781f0042ed40/5689a230c1490219852578a80053a4b7!OpenDocument

The Poison Control Center (PCC) at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is a non-profit regional poison control services provider offering a 24-hour-a-day emergency hotline for poisoning incidents and poison information. Information and treatment advice is available to the public and healthcare professionals at no charge. Call 1-800-222-1222 for assistance.

The Pennsylvania IPM program is a collaboration between the Pennsylvania State University and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture aimed at promoting integrated pest management in both agricultural and urban situations. If you need more information on IPM practices you can contact the program at (814) 865-2839. In Philadelphia at (215) 435-9685, cell (215) 471-2200, ext. 109 (office) E-mail: pscip@psu.edu, or our Web site at http://paipm.cas.psu.edu to access the program's blog, Twitter and Facebook pages.