For many businesses, trying to solve a rat problem can be daunting. Many companies end up taking what they believe to be the easy way out – rat poison. The strategy is straight forward, easy to implement, and requires very little thought or upkeep. However, the question is: Does it actually solve the problem? And at what cost?
10,000 American children each year are dangerously exposed to rat poisons which can cause internal bleeding, coma, vomiting, diarrhea, and more. The anti-coagulant in these rodenticides act as a blood thinner – using the same chemical in the prescription medication, Coumadin.
Pets and wildlife are heavily affected as the poison travels up the food chain, killing domestic dogs and cats, owls, hawks, foxes, bobcats, and the list goes on and on. Local wildlife is being decimated, with animals getting sick and often dying slowly and painfully. Graphic accounts and visuals of just a few of these deaths can be found on Poison Free Malibu’s website. Ironically, these animals are all a form of free, natural rodent control and arguably the most effective approach. One single family of barn owls can eat up to 3,000 rodents per breeding season! Additionally, rats are just one of several rodent species that are targeted by these poisons, further exacerbating the negative effects on rodent predator populations.
The EPA is moving towards restricting the use of rodenticides, however, not without pushback from the companies selling these products. The pesticide industry and health officials stress the importance of controlling rats for the sake of public health because they can spread various diseases, including hantavirus, hemorrhagic fever, leptospirosis, rat bite fever, and salmonellosis. Nonetheless, Environmental Diversion Solutions (EDS) believes using poison – battling one health risk with another health risk – should be the last resort in controlling the rat population. The main rodent attractant in our waste stream is food waste deposited in trash bins, particularly from commercial food service businesses. We can greatly reduce local rodent problems in our cities by reducing their access to food waste.
Proper waste management program designs and waste handling equipment are an incredibly important tool in battling this issue. EDS recommends trash compactors specifically designed for food waste which better contain the waste inside, not only deterring rats from entering but also eliminating odors and seepage.
EDS also promotes the use of organic waste dehydration equipment which reduces the moisture content of food waste by 80-90% and significantly decreases odors at the point of generation. This process greatly reduces the rats’ affinity for the waste, while saving businesses money on trash hauling bills, labor cleanup costs, pest control costs, and odor control cost.
With the passing of AB-1826, California law will now require businesses to divert organic waste away from landfills. In return, trash hauling fees are expected to increase significantly this year as waste haulers must re-tool their equipment and bring separated food waste to designated facilities rather than traditional landfills. By using compaction and/or dehydration equipment in place of open top trash bins to dispose of food waste, businesses that generate food waste can keep that waste from ever reaching the trash bin and thus eliminating the need to use poison bait boxes. This will help companies save money, improve our environment, and meet California state law compliance without taking a financial toll on their budget.