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Revocation of US safety rules on rat poison formulation

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Activist groups have filed suit against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), alleging that the agency’s revocation of safety rules on the formulation of rat poison has put children at risk. The plaintiffs are calling for the reinstatement of federal controls that required rat poisons to contain an ingredient that makes the poison taste bitter and a dye to make it obvious when a child has ingested the poison. The controls were abandoned by the EPA in 2001 after consultations with the manufacturers led to a mutual agreement to rescind the requirements. Millions of pounds of rat poisons are applied nationally each year—about 800 pounds of rat poison have been used in one New York City housing project alone this year, and the poisons are also used at schools and parks. More than 50 000 children under age 6 were sickened by eating rodent control toxins this year, more than triple the number reported in the first full year after the safety measures were adopted, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. EPA officials said they are reviewing the complaint and will respond accordingly.

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