By Lina Younes
Recently, I was looking for something in my garage and I noticed that there was evidence of rodents. While I didn’t actually see or hear any mice scurrying around at the time, it was evident that they had been chewing on some objects and had left their feces as well. Although I have always insisted in practicing integrated pest management techniques at home (provide no food, water or shelter to pests), I noticed that in my garage I was violating one of the basic tenants of IPM: there was too much clutter!
So when I came back in house, I told my family about the rodent problem. My youngest immediately said: “Mom, that’s easy. Take one of those cans. Spray it all over the place because more is better!” I was horrified that she even thought that “more is better.” While I took the opportunity to tell her about the proper use of products to eliminate rodents and other pests, I recognized the fact that many of us make the same mistake when we see a pest in the house. How many times haven’t we emptied a whole can of bug spray when we see a cockroach venture into our home? Have we even made sure that we are using the right type of pesticide to eliminate the right type of pest?
Did you know that the misuse of pesticides can lead to accidental poisonings? Did you know that the majority of these accidental poisonings occur in the home and are 100 percent preventable? That’s why EPA and its federal partners are joining forces to increase awareness of the dangers of poisoning during National Poison Prevention Week, March 17-23. Furthermore, EPA has taken regulatory steps to further prevent poisonings from rodent control products by moving to ban those products that don’t comply with the Agency’s stricter safety measures. EPA encourages residential consumers to use only mouse and rat products that meet EPA’s safety standards. These products are effective, affordable and widely available at retail stores. For a complete list of these products, visit: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/mice-and-rats/rodent-bait-station.html.
Here are some simple tips to prevent accidental poisonings:
- Keep pest control products and household cleaners out of children’s reach.
- Read the label before using a pest control or household cleaning product.
- Don’t use illegal pesticides no matter how cheap they are. They are extremely toxic and dangerous.
- To protect children and pets from exposure to mouse and rat poison, use products with a tamper-resistant bait station.
- In the event of an accidental poisoning, call the toll free Poison Help line 1-800-222-1222 which is staffed around the clock. Help is available in English, Spanish and other languages.
About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.