The maker of d-Con, the rodent poison sold at hardware and home improvement retailers, announced Friday it would pull the most toxic poisons from store shelves across the country, another sign that California's laws against harmful chemicals are shaping new national environmental standards.
United Kingdom-based Reckitt Benckiser, a consumer products company that makes d-Con, a common poison to kill mice and rats, inked an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that bans the sale of 12 d-Con brand products nationwide. The cancellation of some popular d-Con products ends a protracted battle between the EPA and Reckitt Benckiser, which environmental regulators say violated federal safety regulations to sell the rodenticide to more consumers.
The national ban comes on the heels of California's ban, announced in March, on the sale of highly toxic rat poisons, pointing, some say, to the influence the state has on national chemical regulations.
"It's really interesting, the timing," said Charlotte Fadipe, spokeswoman for the state Department of Pesticide Regulation. "We believe that the actions in California were significant to what is happening nationally."
The state pesticide department banned highly toxic d-Con and products from 16 other manufacturers that contain toxins blamed for killing at least 300 animals, including endangered species, in the past two decades. Rats and mice eat the pesticides, and predators such as foxes and hawks ingest the poison when they eat the rodents. Reckitt Benckiser responded with a lawsuit, filed March 28 in San Diego County Superior Court, but this month a judge gave state officials the green light to begin pulling d-Con from stores by July 1.
Other d-Con products that contain a less toxic form of the poison and are commonly used by homeowners are not affected by the bans.
Earthjustice, a San Francisco-based environmental advocacy group, said the state's leadership on rodenticides helped compel Reckitt Benckiser to back down on the d-Con battle.
"They're looking at their products coming off the shelves July 1 in California," said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie. "They're looking at a very long and very expensive battle with the EPA. They have problems on the federal front, They have problems on the state front."
The 12 d-Con products violated safety standards intended to protect children and animals from the rodent poison, according to a news release from the EPA. The company has agreed to stop production by the end of the year and stop distribution to retailers by the end of March 2015, and will replace the rodenticide with a less toxic form that has been approved by the EPA.
"Those rodent control products will be replaced with a new line of rodenticide baits that have been registered with the U.S. EPA and are approved for consumer use in every state, including California," said d-Con spokesman Tony Brand.
California, however, is still requiring that stores remove the more toxic rodent poisons by July 1.
"It's coming off our shelves by July anyway, and as usual, California is way ahead," Fadipe said.
Contact Heather Somerville at 510-208-6413. Follow her at Twitter.com/heathersomervil.