Safety Concerns About New Rat Poison Pill

  • The EPA has rescinded some safety constraints on rodenticides. Some fear this may harm children, because they might now be more likely to ingest rat poison. (Photo by Geovani Arruda)

Plaintiffs in a case before a New York Federal Court accuse the
Environmental Protection Agency of being too soft on protecting children
from poisonous rat pellets. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Jenny
Lawton reports:

Transcript

Plaintiffs in a case before a New York Federal Court accuse the Environmental Protection
Agency of being too soft on protecting children from poisonous rat pellets. The Great
Lakes Radio Consortium’s Jenny Lawton reports:


The poisonous pellets aren’t just tough on rats. Some environmentalists say they’re
injuring young children as well. The Natural Resources Defense Council says more than
fifty-thousand children in the U.S. below the age of six have been sickened by rat poison
this year. In 1998, the EPA made a rule that required manufactuers to put a bitter taste
and a special dye in the pellets to keep children from eating them.


But three years later, the agency rescinded that mandate.


It said it had come to a “mutual agreement” with the rodenticide industry that those precautions
might be making the pellets less effective. But critics say that has put kids back in harm’s way.
Especially those living in low-income areas where rat infestation is a common problem.


Although the EPA won’t comment directly on the case, an agency report from 2001 argued that
when rodenticides are used correctly, and children are supervised around them, fewer accidental
ingestions happen.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Jenny Lawton.

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Bird Song Mystery Revealed

  • Superfast muscles help this bird sing. (Photo by Brian Peterson)

Scientists have come one step closer to understanding how birds create their songs. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Rebecca Williams explains:

Transcript

Scientists have come one step closer to understanding how birds
create their songs. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Rebecca
Williams explains:


(dove song)


That’s a cooing ring dove. And this is a recording of special muscles
the dove’s using to control its song: (sound of muscle activity).


Those muscles are called aerobic superfast muscles. It’s a type of
muscle that has been found in rattlesnakes and some fish. The
muscles were just discovered in birds for the first time.


The research was published in the journal Nature. Coen
Elemans is the lead researcher. He says a unique quality of the dove’s
song led him to investigate it further.


“And we found that some of these doves have a trill in their song, they
make a sound something like (mimics dove song). And during this
short trill, you get elements that are so short, sometimes ten or nine
milliseconds, that I was wondering, how can this be done? This is so
fast that normal locomotory muscles you find in vertebrates cannot do the job.”


Elemans says this discovery could be just the beginning. He says
songbirds have more complex vocal systems than doves… so
songbirds could be using even faster muscles.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Rebecca Williams.

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