Will Rat Poison suffer the fate of DDT?

February 12, 2013

With the cacophony issuing from the many supercharged political events that took place during the latter part of January and now into February (more will follow tonight after President Obama’s 5th State of the Union Address), not wishing to enter into the heated fray at the moment, I chose a topic that seemed to cry out for attention because it was not widely reported. The event took place on Wednesday, January 30th: “EPA Moves to Ban 12D-Con Mouse and Rat Control Products/Action will Prevent Thousands of Accidental Exposures Among Children Each Year”

The announcement of the EPA rat and mouse ban also caught my attention because I had recently finished reading Silent Spring at 50, edited by Roger Meiners, Pierre Desrochers, and Andrew Morriss, which was all about the false crisis of Rachel Carson.

Fifty years ago Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring had a profound impact on our society. Carson was not the first to write about the dangers of pesticides or to sound environmental alarms, but her writing captured the attention of the public. In her book Carson vilified the use of DDT and other pest-control chemicals in agriculture, but ignored their role in saving millions of lives worldwide from malaria, typhus, and dysentery, among other diseases.

Caron also warned that the American bird population was on the verge of collapse when it was actually increasing at the time Silent Spring was published. What so alarmed the public about Carson’s book was her exaggerated claim that cancer rates were increasing because of DDT. Once statistical adjustment were made for population age and tobacco use, the apparent rise in cancer rates disappeared.

In Silent Spring at 50 an account can be read of how DDT was effectively used from the 2nd World War up until the time it was banned from use by the EPA in 1972. DDT was first created back in1874, but was essentially forgotten until 1942. It was during the second World War when Allies discovered that DDT was toxic to lice at doses safe for humans.

An EPA press release of December 31, 1972 issued this directive:

“The general use of the pesticide DDT will no longer be legal in the United States after today, ending nearly three decades of application during which time the once-popular chemical was used to control insect pests on crop and forest lands around homes and gardens, and for industrial and commercial purposes.” http://www.epa.gov/history/topics/ddt/01.html

Now the EPA is targeting Recktt Benckiser, Inc., maker of D-Con products, because D-Con refused to adopt the agency’s safety standards to prevent the poisonings of children and the deaths of non-targeted animals. All other rodenticide producers have already adopted the EPA’s safety standards for all of its consumer use products.

James Jones, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, had this to say about the target he has placed on the manufacturer of D Con products: “Moving forward to ban these products will prevent completely avoidable risks to children. With this action, EPA is ensuring that the products on the market are both safe and effective for consumers.”

Jones further admitted that for companies who have complied with the new standards in 2011, EPA has received no reports of children being exposed to bait contained in bait stations, but neither were complaints from users of D-Con products.

The parallel between the banning of rat poison and DDT seems obvious to me. Evidently D-Con products were effective in killing rats and mice; DDT saved millions people worldwide wide from malaria. Nothing better has been found to replace it.

Two years ago when the EPA first proposed a ban on rat and mouse poisons, Kenneth Artz , a freelance reporter for Chicago’s Heartland Institute had this to say:

The ban could force people to rely on products from an alternate class of rodenticides which, unlike the d-CON products targeted by EPA have no antidote.

The ban could force consumers to avoid treating their homes for rodents. Without timely treatment, rodent problems can cause serious health problem, especially people living in poverty.

Furthermore Artz decries the EPA’s decision on a single statistic received between the years 1992 and 2008 of 12,000 to 15,000 reports of rat and mouse poison exposures each year regarding children under 6 years old, believing it improper to use an inadequate reason to ban an extremely useful product from the market.  http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2011/11/23/epa-proposes…

Shouldn’t there be a certain level of risk in society? Parents make choices every day such as weighing the risks and benefits of using a product.

This is the same EPA who allows mercury to be tossed into the environment via CFC light bulbs, but is suing coal fired plants who make electricity out of business because a small portion of mercury is released when being burned.

And may we not forget about the primitive 3.5-gallon toilet, which did work. It was outlawed by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1992 in favor of the politically correct 1.6-gallon toilet, which doesn’t work.

Published at Illinois Review on Tuesday, February 12.

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