SGARs

How a new generation of rat poisons menaces children

Part 2 of 2

A 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 hours

Scenes 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.

Byline: