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HSE press release E212:03 - 5 November 2003

The Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) new Information Sheet offers guidance to professionals in rodenticide treatments, to minimise risk to the operator, the public and the environment.

Every year there are thousands of rat and mice infestations, which are treated by professional pest control operators, including those working for commercial companies, local authorities or water authorities. Poor practices in rodent control may result in rodenticide treatment failure and use being prolonged. Failure to control rodent infestations in highly populated areas may also increase the risk to public health from rat borne disease.

Rodenticide products used in these treatments are approved under the Control of Pesticide Regulations. If used incorrectly there are real risks of harm to workers, the public and their pets as well as wildlife.

The guidance focuses on the principles of rodent control and prevention of an infestation. It also gives advice to the pest controller on lower risk rodenticides and non-chemical control techniques. This will help address concerns from local authorities and the pest control industry over the need for promoting good safe practice and the effective use of rodenticides.

The publication has been produced in collaboration with an independent academic expert on urban rodent control, Dr Gai Murphy from the University of Salford. Dr Murphy carried out a review of existing literature, guidance and research papers and consulted other urban rodent control specialists in the public and private sector to gather information. HSE also carried out an external consultation and contacted rodent control experts in several organisations.

The publication complements the existing Agricultural Information Sheet, AIS31 'Safe use of rodenticides on farms and holdings.'

A copy of Urban rodent control and the safe use of rodenticides by professional users can be read or downloaded.

Notes to editors

1. Before a pesticide may be advertised, sold, supplied, stored or used in Great Britain, it must gain approval under The Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 (COPR) (as amended 1997). Approval is granted by the Ministers of the government departments signatory to the Regulations.

2. The regulatory scheme is jointly administered by the Biocides & Pesticides Unit (BPU) of the Health & Safety Executive and by the Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD), which is part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

3. HSE is responsible is responsible for the registration of non-agricultural pesticides which from April 2000 included the public hygiene uses of rodenticides, previously registered by the PSD.

4. The regulation of non-agricultural pesticides is in a transition phase, moving from one set of domestic legislation, COPR, into a wider European legislative system under the Biocidal Products Directive (BPD). Products approved under the existing regime for pesticides remain in force until reviews have been carried out under the provisions of the BPD.

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Updated 2013-11-12