How a new generation of rat poisons menaces children

Part 2 of 2A 1-year-old boy starts vomiting and experiencing diarrhea. Later, ripped-up remains of a container that held rat poison are found behind the family’s television.A mother puts out two green blocks of rat poison and they disappear. Her 2-year-old son breaks out in a fever. His stool is colored bright green.A 2-year-old boy walks into a room carrying rat poison. Seeing blisters, his parents whisk him to the hospital emergency room, where he is hooked up to a cardiac monitor for several hoursScenes like these – which were documented in a government report – have been playing out routinely in American homes for decades. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has known for a generation that kids have too-easy access to these super-toxic rat poisons.Every year, more than 10,000 kids are getting hold of them, and virtually all of these calls to U.S. poison control centers concern children under the age of 3.Black and Hispanic children living below the poverty line are disproportionately affected. For example, a study in New York found that 57 percent of children hospitalized for eating rat poison from 1990 to 1997 were African-American and 26 percent were Latino.EPA reported that these rat poisons “are, by far, the leading cause of [pesticide-related] visits to health care facilities in children under the age of six years and the second leading cause of hospitalization.”Poisoned children can suffer internal bleeding, coma, anemia, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, bloody urine and bloody stools. Authorities have known for decades that thousands of children each year are exposed – although, fortunately, most are not seriously injured.Known as anti-coagulants, the chemicals prevent blood from clotting or coagulating. One is known as warfarin – the same chemical sold to people as Coumadin, a prescription blood thinner.

Super-toxic rat poisons mysteriously seep into our world

Part 1 of 2 VANCOUVER, British Columbia – With the spooky glow of his headlamp illuminating an antenna in his hand, Paul Levesque stalks one of Canada’s last remaining barn owls.“Are you getting anything?” research team leader Sofi Hindmarch asks over a walkie-talkie. “I got it!” Levesque responds. Then a few seconds later, dejected, he radios back: “No. I lost the signal.” Working in darkness, with the quarter-moon obscured by clouds, these two scientists are trying to figure out what an elusive, radio-collared owl is eating along this country road just beyond the suburbs that ring Vancouver. Their mission is to determine whether the decline of Canada’s barn owl is tied, in part, to super-toxic rat poisons.Scientists know that at least some owls are dying under gruesome circumstances, bleeding to death from stomach hemorrhages in an agonizing and days-long decline. The culprit: An extra-potent class of rat poisons that has flooded the market in recent decades, designed to more effectively kill rats, a food source for the owls.Scientist Paul Levesque tries to locate a radio-collared barn owl.Photo by Paul Joseph Brown, www.ecosystemphoto.comSix of 164 dead barn owls, barred owls and great horned owls in a 2009 western Canada study had rodenticide levels high enough to kill them outright, causing the fatal stomach hemorrhages. Pesticide readings in 15 percent to 30 percent of the others appeared toxic and seem likely to handicap owls in a variety of ways, scientists say.