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Juana began to notice mice in her house, now that the weather was getting cold. She was disgusted with the filth they leave behind, and thought of her children crawling on the floor. So, the next time she was at her neighborhood market, Juana asked the matron if she had anything that would get rid of the mice. The matron pulled out a small baggie and said she could use "Tres Pasitos." She said it is called Tres Pasitos ("three small steps") because mice only take three little steps after eating the poison before they die.

At home, Juana took the baggie out to use it. However, she couldn't find any directions at all. It was sold in a clear baggie with no information except a handwritten note that said "Tres Pasitos." Juana called the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), trying to learn how to use the product.

Take Home Message

Juana described the product to the NPIC specialist, and told her about the matron's claim that mice only take three little steps before dying. The specialist recognized the product right away. She explained that Tres Pasitos is an illegal, unregistered pesticide product that should never be used in homes. It contains aldicarb, a highly toxic pesticide that can poison people and pets. Again, Juana thought of her children crawling on the floor.

The specialist explained that children are especially vulnerable because they are smaller, more curious, and they spend more time close to the floor. Tres Pasitos is illegally imported from several different countries, and sometimes sold in neighborhood stores. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published warnings about the product, and stores can be cited or fined for selling illegal pesticides like Tres Pasitos.

The specialist told Juana to beware of any pesticide that comes without instructions. Legal pesticides must have labels with application directions and a list of "Active Ingredients." The only way to be certain that a product can be used in your home is to read the product label. If you suspect you have an illegal pesticide, you can call the National Pesticide Information Center at 1-800-858-7378, or call your local EPA Regional Office for more information.