Federal Regulation of Rodenticides
Pesticide products used in the United States, including commercial rodenticides, are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). As part of FIFRA, all rodenticide products must be registered (licensed) by EPA before they can be sold to the public or certified applicators. The US EPA periodically reviews the registrations of rodenticides, and has the authority to cancel product registrations or make use restrictions, if it finds that a product poses unreasonable risks to human health or the environment. Examples of these risks include the potential for loose baits used around the home to poison children and pets, as well as wildlife poisonings through consumption of rodenticide baits or poisoned prey.
To help protect against the inherent risks of rodenticides, in 2008 EPA issued a Risk Mitigation Decision for products containing certain first-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (warfarin, chlorophacinone, diphacinone), second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, and difethialone), and non-anticoagulant rodenticides (bromethalin, cholecalciferol, and zinc phosphide). US EPA required manufacturers to adopt various mitigation measures, including:
- Requiring rodenticides marketed to individual consumers to be sold in tamper-proof bait stations,
- Prohibiting the sales of loose bait products to individual consumers,
- Imposing package size, use, and sale/distribution restrictions on products containing second-generation rodenticides (brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, difethialone).
Most rodenticide manufacturers accepted EPA’s 2008 mitigation measures and modified their products accordingly. Only one manufacturer has refused: U.K.-based Reckitt-Benckiser has continued to make its popular “D-Con” brands available to consumers nationwide, without bait stations and in several formulations that include second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides.
On February 5, 2013, EPA published a notice of intent to cancel the federal registrations of the 12 rodenticides still marketed by Reckitt Benckiser which fail to comply with EPA’s 2008 mitigation measures. On March 6, 2013, Reckitt Benckiser filed formal objections to EPA’s decision and requested a hearing before an EPA Administrative Law Judge. The cancellation process resulted in a settlement agreement between EPA and Reckitt Benckiser to end the production of the 12 rodenticides by the close of 2014 and to stop distributing those products to retailers by March 31, 2015.
California and State Regulation of Rodenticides
In addition to federal regulation, rodenticides are typically regulated at the state level by the responsible state agency. Therefore, in addition to meeting federal registration requirements under FIFRA, manufacturers may also need to meet particular state law requirements.
In practice, most states do not have separate registration systems; however, California, New York, Florida and Washington do have additional regulatory review of pesticides. California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (CA DPR), is currently conducting a review of state-registered rodenticides, in parallel with federal regulatory proceedings.
On July 19, 2013 the CA DPR announced that it will act to restrict use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGAR) to address the statewide problem of wildlife exposure and poisoning from products containing SGARs. This move comes after a ten-year reevaluation of certain SGARs within DPR and 2008 action from the U.S. EPA to prohibit all consumer-size SGAR products and require secure bait stations to be used for all outdoor aboveground uses.
In effect, the restrictions limit the possession and use of SGARs to only certified pesticide applicators in California. At the same time this action expands the definition of private applicator to include livestock producers to mirror the federal definition, opening up the potential for increased agricultural use. The restrictions began on July 1, 2014.
Making SGARs unavailable to general consumers may encourage people to use other rodent control strategies, such as integrated pest management and non-chemical measures. However, the effect of these restrictions on wildlife remains uncertain. Use of SGARs under these restrictions still leaves wildlife that consume poisoned rodents in a vulnerable position.
On September 19th, a California bill banning the use of second generation anticoagulant rodenticides in certain wildlife habitat areas was approved by Governor Jerry Brown. The bill, AB 2657, prohibits the use of rodent poisons containing brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, and difethialone in California state parks, state wildlife refuges, and state conservancies. While the bill protects significantly less wildlife habitat than was originally proposed, it is a step in the right direction and will help protect some of the vulnerable California species that reside in State Parks and Refuges.
For additional information about state-by-state regulation of rodenticides, please consult the website of the agency responsible for regulating pesticides in your state, usually a Department of Agriculture or Environmental Protection. Contact information is available on the National Pesticide Information Center’s Directory of State Pesticide Regulatory Agencies.
Local Regulation of Rodenticides
In California, local governments once had the authority to restrict the use, sales, and distribution of pesticides, including rodenticides, within their jurisdiction. However, in 1984, pressure from pesticide manufacturers based on concerns about having to deal with a patchwork of regulatory requirements by locality led to the passage of legislation prohibiting municipalities from adopting local ordinances that are more stringent than the state policy. Other states have also passed such laws.
These laws preempt local authority to regulate pesticides and assign authority to a higher level of government. Nine states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation allowing localities to restrict pesticides under certain circumstances. In states with preemption, municipalities have passed resolutions urging local businesses to stop stocking and individuals to stop buying rodenticide products that would be prohibited under the U.S. EPA’s Risk Mitigation Decision. A number of successful campaigns to prevent use of second generation anti-coagulant rodenticides have been launched in municipalities across the country, including one sponsored by the City of San Francisco. For more information on municipalities that have passed resolutions discouraging businesses from selling certain rodenticides, please visit Raptors Are The Solution’s homepage.
- Environmental Protection Agency, Risk Mitigation Decision for Ten Rodenticides (May 28, 2008)
- Environmental Protection Agency, Notice of Intent to Cancel Registrations of, and Notice of Denial of Applications for, Certain Rodenticide Bait Products, 78 Fed. Reg. 8123 (February 5, 2013)
- Environmental Protection Agency, Statement of Reasons and Factual Basis for Notice of Intent to Cancel Registrations of, and Notice of Denial of Applications for Certain Rodenticide Bait Products (January 29, 2013)
- California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), Preemption: Federal, State and Local Jurisdiction of Pesticide Use in Chapter 1: California’s Second Century of Pesticide Regulation
- California Department of Pesticide Regulation, Notice of Final Decision Concerning Brodifacoum (Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticide) California Notice 2014-09
Click here to view letters submitted to the California DPR to comment on proposed SGAR restrictions.