NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

EPA Proposes Ban on Rat and Mouse Poisons

December 2, 2011

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced plans to ban 20 rat and mouse control products because they use loose bait.  The products are especially dangerous, EPA claims, because they are sold for use in homes where unsupervised children or pets may come into contact with them.  However, critics (especially those representing businesses whose products may be on the chopping block) are quick to emphasize the minimal health benefits and the many potential costs of the ban, says the Heartland Institute.

  • The EPA's proposed ban could force people to rely on products from an alternate class of rodenticides which, unlike the products targeted by EPA, have no antidote.
  • EPA's decision could also force consumers to avoid treating their homes for rodents unless they can afford to hire a pest control professional to use the ingredients denied to individuals.
  • People living in poverty are most afflicted by rodent problems, and they will be the ones most adversely affected by the proposed ban because they will be unable to afford the professional exterminators made necessary by the ban on these do-it-yourself consumer products.

The EPA's decision to ban these household products is based largely on a single statistic: between 1993 and 2008 the American Association of Poison Control Centers received 12,000 to 15,000 reports of rat and mouse poison exposures each year regarding children under 6 years old.  However, improper use should not constitute an outright ban, as there are an infinite number of other products and activities that, if used incorrectly, are even more dangerous.

National Center for Policy Analysis Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett says this is a classic example of government overreach.  The EPA, in this circumstance, should recognize its responsibility to provide information and ensure that customers are aware of what they are buying, but should avoid overstepping those bounds.  Decisions such as consumer product use, made in the name of protecting children, should be made by parents.

Source: Kenneth Artz, "EPA Proposes Ban on Rat and Mouse Poisons," Heartland Institute, November 23, 2011.

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