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Gary and Carley had a mouse problem in their garage. They wanted to purchase a rodenticide product (a pesticide that controls rodents) but they were concerned about their 3-year old daughter, Simone. For that reason, Carley and Gary purchased a product where bright green pellets were inside placement packs. Gary strategically put the placement packs behind boxes near the wall of the garage, so Simone would not see them.

A week later, Carley and Simone returned home from grocery shopping. While Carley unloaded the grocery bags from the car, Simone started walking through the garage towards the house. On her way, she noticed bright green pellets on the floor. She picked some up and started playing with them.

When Carley finished unloading the car, she searched around for Simone. To Carley's surprise, Simone was sitting on the floor playing with green pellets. Carley immediately grabbed the pellets from Simone's hands and asked if she had put any in her mouth. Simone did not respond and started crying. Carley recognized the pellets as the rodent control product she and her husband purchased recently. She immediately searched for the box the rodenticide was originally in and found NPIC's phone number on the label. She called NPIC to find out if the rodenticide will cause any harmful effects.

According to the America's Poison Centers (APC), over 90,200 human exposures to rodenticides were reported in 2007, and more than 43,400 of those involved children under the age of six.

Take Home Message

The NPIC Specialist discussed with Carley the importance of ALWAYS reading a pesticide product label, including the directions and precautionary statements, BEFORE using a product. The NPIC Specialist pointed out that the label of her product stated that placement packs and pellets are to be kept out of the reach from children or pellets are to be placed in tamper-resistant bait stations to prevent exposure to children.

The NPIC Specialist discussed the possibility for mice to gnaw on and tear up the placement packs and then scatter on the floor any remaining pellets.

Carley learned that their accident with Simone could easily have been prevented if the label directions were followed and read more carefully.

Rodenticides are toxic to rodents (and unfortunately also to humans) in a variety of ways. Active ingredients in rodenticides that are anticoagulants (e.g., warfarin, diphacinone, and bromadiolone) disrupt the blood's ability to clot, causing internal bleeding.

Products containing non-anticoagulant active ingredients are toxic in a variety of other ways. They are able to affect the nervous system (e.g., bromethalin). They increase the levels of calcium in the blood, leading to kidney, liver, or heart failure (e.g., cholecalciferol). And lastly, they produce a lethal gas when ingested (e.g., zinc phosphide).

Carley checked the label of her product and saw that it contained bromadiolone, an anticoagulant. The NPIC Specialist discussed that even though Simone was not currently exhibiting any symptoms of poisoning, onset of symptoms for anticoagulants can sometimes take from 36 hours to several days to appear.

Carley learned from the NPIC Specialist that it was important to read and follow the first aid instructions on the label after an exposure. Since she was not sure if Simone ingested any of the pellets, she was directed to call the Poison Control Center for emergency medical treatment information.