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Council Eyes Anti-Rodenticide Measure

The El Cerrito City Council Tuesday night will consider a measure asking local businesses to stop selling D-Con and other rat and mouse poisons identified by the EPA as posing dangers to children, pets and animals that feed on rodents.

On the agenda for Tuesday night's El Cerrito City Council meeting is a proposed request to El Cerrito businesses to not sell D-Con and other rodenticides that have been targeted as hazardous by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Several other local governments – including Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Richmond, San Francisco and Marin County – have adopted similar measures, according to a city staff report prepared for the council meeting. (The report is attached to this article.)

The EPA announced its intent to ban the pesticides, but some manufacturers are attempting to block the move, creating what is expected to be a protracted official review process.

So in the meantime, a number of local jurisdictions are asking merchants and contractors to voluntarily refrain from using them "due to the risk to public and environmental health because of the length of the EPA prohibition and appeal process," according to the staff report.

The rodenticides are sold as loose baits, or in the form of blocks or pastes, that can be accidentally consumed by children or pets and that allow the poisoned rats and mice to escape and be consumed by birds of prey and other predators such as wildcats and coyotes.

"The American Association of Poison Control Centers annually receives between 12,000 and 15,000 reports of children under the age of six as having ingested these types of rat poison products as they are often set out in accessible locations and mistaken for edible food," the staff report says. "In addition, predator birds and animals often eat poisoned rats and become poisoned themselves through secondary exposure."

Eleven of the 20 poisons on the targeted list contain a highly toxic anti-coagulant that causes death from bleeding. The full list of targeted rodenticides can be found in the attached staff report.

"According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, anticoagulant rodenticide poisoning is the most frequent cause of poisoning in pets," the staff report says. "While older versions of anticoagulant rodenticides such as warfarin required multiple ingestions to result in toxicity, the latest products require only one feeding to be highly toxic." 

The council measure would also ask El Cerrito residents, contractors and city staff not to buy or use the targeted poisons and would ask the state Department of Pesticide Regulation to cancel or not renew registration of the products.

The measure was proposed by Councilwoman Ann Cheng and adopted by the city's Environmental Quality Control Committee on Aug. 14. Several residents as well as members of the ad hoc group, Raptors Are The Solution (RATS), have also contacted city staff urging support for the measure, according to the staff report.

Tuesday night's council meeting at city hall begins at 7:30 p.m. instead of the regular 7 p.m. starting time.

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Paul September 17, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Rather than asking that the products be removed locally (consumers will just go to another store in a neighboring town... or one not voluntarily complying - think Home Depot), I think public education would be better served by requesting the stores to post signs indicating that the rodenticides kill non-target animals, including hawks, owls and pets, that may feed on the poisoned rodents. The signs could then direct consumers to consider other less harmful options. This would educate the consumer and still give them the choice without harming local businesses.
Dorothy Coakley September 18, 2012 at 03:13 AM
I stand corrected, Kathy A is right. Its not a ban. It's public education measure which hopefully will continue to inspire discussion throughout the community. But a "feel good" measure? Not so.
Kathy A. September 18, 2012 at 05:10 AM
Well, citizens like to have more information than less. And often they feel that finding out about things (like the effects of poisons) is more important to them personally than helping merchants increase business, no questions asked. Smart local businesses will do better knowing about these concerns, too.
Adam Henry September 18, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Have we all forgotten about the tried and true, neck breaking rat traps? Or are folks just opposed to getting their hands dirty? If you poison the rats, they climb into your walls, or wherever their nesting area may be, and they die. If you.catch them in a trap, you'll always know where to find the dead pests and they can be easily disposed of. Not only that, but rat traps can be.used over and over again. See, it even makes sense for the economists in the crowd.
John Stashik September 18, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Snap traps are quite effective. Last time I looked, they were one of many pest control products available at El Cerrito's fabulous Pastime Hardware. You don't need politicians interfering to tell you about how to kill a rat. Ask a clerk at the store if one is really clueless.

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