The government imposed new restrictions Thursday on some of the biggest-selling rat poisons, citing the danger they pose to children, pets and wildlife.
Beginning in October 2009, many rat poisons sold to the public in retail outlets will have to be packaged in dispensers, called bait stations, that cannot be easily tampered with by children and pets. Loose bait such as pellets will be taken off the market for home use.
The Environmental Protection Agency had proposed tougher regulations 16 months ago that would have required uniform tamperproof packaging for the rat poisons, but the pesticide industry, public housing authorities and others complained about the cost. Manufacturers will now be allowed to market bait stations with different degrees of tamper resistance.
"With our decision, we are achieving the same goals," said Steven Bradbury, who directs pesticide reviews by the agency.
Rat poisons subject to the new ruling are marketed under the brand names d'Con, Eraze, Havoc, Hawk, Jaguar, Just One Bite, Ramik, Rampage, Real-Kill, Tom Cat and Victor.
EPA said the new requirements will also reduce deaths to birds and other wildlife from eating poisoned rats. Four rodenticides that pose the greatest risk to wild animals will no longer be sold in retail outlets. Professional pesticide applicators and ranchers will still be able to buy them for application around barns and other agricultural buildings.