San Francisco Calls on Business Owners to Voluntarily Discontinue Potentially Harmful Mouse and Rat Poisons to Protect the Public and Pets from Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

11/14/11- Today, San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen joined the Department of the Environment, parents, pet advocates and business owners in calling for a voluntary ban of certain mouse and rat control products that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says pose an “unreasonable risk” to children, pets and wildlife.

“The EPA initiated regulatory action to cancel and remove mouse and rat poisons that are potentially harmful but that process can take years to complete; too long for us to wait,” said Melanie Nutter, director San Francisco Department of the Environment.

“Today, we are taking action; we’re joining a growing coalition of cities asking merchants to pull these products off their shelves and send them back to the manufacturers that have not adopted the EPA’s new safety measures. This level of risk is unacceptable for the safety of our residents and environment.” added Nutter.

According to the EPA, the companies that have not adopted the new more protective measures include: Reckitt-Benckiser Inc. makers of D-Con; Spectrum Group makers of Hot Shot and Rid-a-Rat; and Liphatech Inc. makers of Generation rodent control products. The EPA made its determination of “unreasonable risk” in 2008, and gave manufacturers three years – until June 4, 2011 - to switch over to safer products.

“Thousands of accidental exposures of children occur every year from rat bait products, including here in San Francisco,” said San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen. “And the EPA has already clearly established, through a long scientific process, that these particular products pose an unreasonable risk. But yet they remain on store shelves due to legal wrangling.”

“I plan to introduce a resolution at the Board of Supervisors tomorrow demanding that these three manufacturers comply with the EPA and immediately stop the sale and manufacture of products that pose a hazard to the public. I am also asking local businesses to stop the sale of rat and mouse poisons that do not incorporate the safety measures specified by the EPA,” added Cohen.

The Department’s campaign is part of a larger national effort that includes Contra Costa County, Marin Municipal Water District, New York City, and Boulder, Colorado, all coordinating local outreach to protect the public and urging the three manufacturers to immediately stop the sale and production of products in question. The States of Kansas and New York are also in the process of informing Reckitt-Benckiser that they do not intend to renew pesticide registrations for products that do not meet the US EPA’s requirements.

The specific products subject to EPA action are:

  • All rodenticide products sold as pellets
  • All rodenticide products containing brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone and difenacoum
  • Rodenticide products that are not packaged with bait stations

As an alternative to these hazardous baits, the Department of the Environment recommends that consumers seal holes in buildings to prevent entry by rodents, keep areas clean and free of food sources, and use old-fashioned snap traps. While there are now safer bait products on the market, the use of these poisons is usually unnecessary and is better left to professionals.

“As a business owner, I want to make sure I stock products that are safe for my customers and the environment,” said Martha Asten, Owner of Cliff’s Variety. “I am proud to join San Francisco’s Don’t Take the Bait Campaign. I’d urge other merchants to pull these harmful products off your shelves and send them back to the manufacturer like I did,” added Asten.

The Department of the Environment is launching the “Don’t Take the Bait” campaign to educate merchants about the harmful effects of certain rodent baits they may carry, and to encourage them to voluntarily discontinue these products. In the next several weeks, outreach workers will begin canvassing the City talking to business owners; providing them with information they can share with consumers and encouraging them to join the voluntary ban.

“I am pleased to announce that 10 San Francisco businesses with a combined 87 retail locations have already joined our campaign and pledged to remove these poisons from their shelves, said Nutter.

The following local business have already acted and joined the campaign: Walgreens, Flowercraft Garden Center, Papenhausen Hardware, Sloat Gardens, Cliff’s Variety, Soko Hardware, Center Hardware, Cole Hardware and Sunborne Nursery.