Many of us have experienced the dilemma of wanting to keep a home pest-free while ensuring the health and safety of our family. Companies that manufacture pest-control products, including rat poison, are subject to a number of federal and state standards, including those developed by the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA"). Despite these controls, the accidental poisoning of people, particularly young children, and household pets remains a problem. Our Panama City dangerous chemicals lawyer believes there is more to be done, so companies must be held responsible for their safety decisions.
Reports, such as that in the San Francisco Chronicle and direct releases from the EPA, document the agency's decision to remove a dozen D-Con mouse and rat poisons from the U.S. market. Regulators moved to ban the products after the manufacturer refused to adopt and obey EPA standards aimed at protecting children and non-targeted animals from accidental poisoning. Reckitt Benckiser Inc., the manufacturer of the products, now has 30 days to challenge the proposed ban. The dispute focuses on the second-generation anticoagulants used in the D-Con rat poisons and mouse poisons. These lethal compounds interfere with the ability of blood to clot, leading to uncontrollable bleeding and a slow, agonizingly painful death.
Rodenticides are inherently dangerous, but EPA regulators have spent 5 years working with industry representatives on safety efforts. Some companies made changes based on these discussions and the standards that came out of the conversations. Reckitt Benckiser refused to adopt the standards, a move that some say follows 5 years of resistance and a general failure to take even the most basic safety precautions. Notably, no children have suffered from exposure to poisons manufactured in compliance with the new EPA standards.
According to a Scientific American article from late 2010, the EPA has long expressed concern about the dangers rat poisons can pose if they fall into the hands of young children. The article notes that approximately 10,000 children are accidentally exposed to rodenticides each year, a number reiterated in the recent Chronicle report. Between 2004 and 2008, poison control centers nationwide received between 10,000 and 14,000 calls annually about rodent poisons. A large majority of these calls involved children under age 3.
The EPA believed these figures represent only about 25% of actual exposure incidents. The American Association of Poison Control Centers adds that an average of 3,700 cases of rodent poisoning result in medical treatment each year. Black and Hispanic children are disproportionately impacted by rodenticides, as are children living below the poverty line. Another problem is accidental ingestion of the poisons by other, unintended animals like dogs or other pets.
Rodent poisons serve an important purpose, including preventing the numerous diseases carried by mice and rats. They are also inherently dangerous. This does not mean that the manufacturer can just throw up their arms and release the dangerous item into the stream of commerce. Manufacturers can still be held liable for harm due to such products, particularly where a safer alternative exists (such as an EPA-compliant rodent poison). If you or a loved one suffered harm from a rat poison or similar product, call our Panama City product liability law firm. An initial consultation is always free of charge.