Rats!

From Holden:

Chimpy’s EPA reversed a Clinton administration decision and sided with the pesticide industry at the expense of children’s health, but a federal judge has rolled them back.

The Environmental Protection Agency has failed to protect children from rat poison exposure, a federal judge ruled yesterday, suggesting chemical manufacturers should add a bittering agent to keep children from ingesting their products.

Ruling in favor of two advocacy groups — West Harlem Environmental Action and the Natural Resources Defense Council — U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff wrote that the agency failed to justify its 2001 agreement with pest control companies, which dropped two provisions from a 1998 rule requiring them to include a bittering agent and an indicator dye.

“In short, the EPA lacked even the proverbial ‘scintilla of evidence’ justifying its reversal of the requirement it had imposed, after extensive study, only a few years before,” Rakoff wrote.

The battle over how to regulate rat poison started in August 1998 when the Clinton administration approved its use as long as manufacturers added a bittering agent and a dye that made it more obvious if a child ingested the poison. Three years later, Bush administration officials rescinded the requirements, on the grounds that they would make the poison less attractive to rats and could damage household property.

Rat poison accidents are on the rise, according to U.S. poison-control centers, and they disproportionately involve African American and Latino children. According to the EPA, 57 percent of children hospitalized in New York state for ingesting rodenticide from 1990 to 1997 were black, while only 16 percent of the state’s population is African American. Twenty-six percent were Latino, although Latinos make up just 12 percent of the state’s overall population.