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For Immediate Release, March 7, 2013

Contact:   Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 436-9682 x 318
Lisa Owens Viani, Raptors Are The Solution, (510) 549-2963

Maker of Deadly Rat Poison Challenges Common-sense Protections for Children, Pets, Wildlife

SAN FRANCISCO— The makers of d-CON have filed a formal challenge to a proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency to limit the sale of rat poison without tamper-resistant packaging to avoid unintentional poisonings of children, pets and wildlife. Each year up to 10,000 children are accidentally exposed to rat poison in their homes. Reckitt Benckiser — the d-CON parent company — will still be allowed to sell rat poison without tamper-resistant packaging while it challenges the EPA’s proposal.

“It is outrageous that d-CON is fighting even the smallest steps to prevent poisoning our families and wildlife,” said Jonathan Evans, toxics and endangered species campaign director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Corporate profiteering from the reckless use of rat poison must stop.”

The makers of d-CON rat poison have continually fought the EPA to limit tamper-resistant packaging and keep super-toxic rat poisons on the shelves.  EPA initially proposed protections for children and pets from rat poisons as early as 1998, but withdrew that proposal in the face of industry opposition. Ten years later EPA moved forward with restrictions that were subsequently challenged by Reckitt Benckiser, forcing the EPA to issue a new regulation earlier this year.

Conservation groups have called on retailers to stop selling d-CON products that EPA has labeled too hazardous for public use. Reckitt Benckiser is the parent company for a range of other consumer products including French’s mustard, Clearasil, Durex, Woolite and Lysol.   

EPA’s order targets consumer rat poisons used in homes that do not contain tamper-resistant packaging such as loose baits, pastes or blocks. The restrictions will still allow the sale of the rat poisons if they are purchased in bulk at agricultural supply stores, used by professionally licensed applicators or are used outdoors in tamper-resistant packaging.

 "It is appalling that Reckitt Benckiser is fighting even the simplest measures to protect children and pets by tamper-proofing their packaging,” said Lisa Owens Viani from Raptors are the Solution. “Meanwhile, birds of prey and other wildlife continue to die, thanks to Reckitt Benckiser's greed."

Safe alternatives exist to address rodent outbreaks in homes and rural areas. Effective measures include rodent-proofing of homes and farms by sealing cracks and crevices and eliminating food sources; providing owl boxes to encourage natural predation; and utilizing traps that don’t involve these highly toxic chemicals.

Anticoagulant rodenticides interfere with blood clotting, resulting in uncontrollable bleeding that leads to death. Second-generation anticoagulants — also known as “super toxic” rat poisons — are especially hazardous and persist for a long time in body tissues. These slow-acting poisons are often eaten for several days by rats and mice, causing the toxins to accumulate at many times the lethal dose in their tissues. Predators or scavengers like hawks, owls, foxes and mountain lions that feed on poisoned rodents are then also poisoned. Even in remote areas, research has revealed unacceptably high levels of poison in an endangered forest predator, the Pacific fisher: 75 percent of fishers tested showed rodenticide contamination.

The EPA’s action to restrict some poisons was initiated more than 12 years ago when it first proposed adding bittering agents and dyes to deter children from eating rat poison. In the face of industry pressure, the EPA withdrew that requirement in 2001. The agency again issued a risk-mitigation decision in 2008 urging companies to voluntarily remove the worst products from the market. The makers of d-CON challenged the obligation to comply with voluntary measures, which led to the current cancellation order.

Click here to learn more about the dangers of rodenticides.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 500,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Raptors Are The Solution is a national alliance working to educate the public about non-target poisoning from rodenticides — and safer alternatives.

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