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February 12, 2013
Stop-sale expected for 'super-lethal' rodenticide

In a notice, the EPA has announced its intention to cancel federal registrations of 12 mouse and rat poison products produced by a company the Agency says has refused to adopt standards for bait stations that protect children, pets, and nontarget wildlife. 

The majority of the targeted products manufactured by Reckitt Benckiser, Inc., contain “super-lethal” second generation anticoagulants (SGAC), and the EPA also announced that it will not approve the use of SGACs in two additional domestic rodenticide products manufactured by Reckitt Benckiser.  The prohibition will not apply to SGACs applied by professional applicators and agricultural users.  In addition, beginning March 7, 2013, the EPA will prohibit the sale of existing stocks of all the products listed in the notice.

Risks with benefits

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), all pesticides used in the United States—with minor exceptions—must be registered with the EPA.  The Agency is authorized to approve a pesticide that poses a risk to human health and the environment if the benefits of the use of the pesticide significantly outweigh the risks.

The EPA states that “for many years” it has required that rodenticide products used to control mice and rats in and around homes have label language requiring that the products be applied in tamper-resistant bait stations if children, pets, domestic animals, or nontarget wildlife may be exposed to the product. 

“Unfortunately, that requirement has not proved effective in preventing exposures to children, pets, and wildlife,” states the Agency.  “Separate tamper-resistant bait stations are rarely found in the stores that sell the products subject to this notice, and thousands of children each year are exposed to rodenticides in the home.”

The EPA says it looked at the benefits of allowing continued use of consumer-grade rodenticide products not in appropriately protective bait stations and concluded that the benefits are generally minimal and insufficient to justify the increased risks.

Secondary poisoning

SGACs inhibit the blood from clotting, and animals that ingest a sufficient amount will die from internal hemorrhaging.  The chemical may take several days to take effect, and rats may return to the bait a number of times, ingesting a large amount of the SGAC.  This may result in many times the lethal dose found in poisoned rodents.  The EPA has determined that raptors and other animals that feed on rodents are placed at significant risk from SGAC use.  Furthermore, says the Agency, the high risk of secondary poisoning of nontarget mammalian predators and raptors is not compensated by commensurate benefits since other rodenticides registered for residential use can provide equally effective control at similar cost.

Regarding the prohibition on continued sale of existing stocks, the EPA says it is not consistent with the purposes of FIFRA to continue to put registrants who complied with the Agency’s instructions on protective bait stations at a competitive disadvantage relative to registrants who declined to improve their products.

Reckitt Benckiser has until March 7, 2013, to request a hearing on the notice of cancellation before an EPA administrative law judge.

EPA’s notice of intent to cancel registration of certain rodenticide bait products was published in the February 5, 2013, FR.

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