Rodents, such as mice and rats, can:
- carry diseases that can harm people
- cause damage to buildings
- spoil foodstuffs
There are a number of chemical and non-chemical methods for controlling rodents, such as:
- good hygiene practices
- physical barriers
- biocidal products
Biocidal products that control rodents by attraction (like traps) are covered by product type 19 of:
- the GB Biocidal Products Regulation (GB BPR) in Great Britain (England Scotland, Wales)
- the EU Biocidal Products Regulation (EU BPR) in Northern Ireland.
Biocidal products that control rodents by other means, such as poisons, are known as rodenticides and are covered by product type 14.
Rodenticides authorised for use in Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Types of rodenticides authorised for use in Great Britain and Northern Ireland include:
- various types of bait that are intended to be eaten directly by the rodents
- foams that are intended to stick to the rodents' fur and be consumed as part of the animals' grooming
- gases that are released into rodent burrows
Details of the individual rodenticide products authorised for use in Great Britain and Northern Ireland can be found on the UK List of Authorised Biocidal Products.
Depending on when and where they are used, some rodenticides might not be controlled under GB or EU BPR, for example, if they are used on crops in the field they might be controlled under the:
- GB Plant Protection Products Regulation (GB PPPR) in Great Britain
- EU Plant Protection Products Regulation (EU PPPR) in Northern Ireland
By their nature, all biocidal products carry potential risks to people, non-target animals and/or the environment. Rodenticides can often carry a higher risk than some other biocidal products because the way that they are used and how they look and smell, might mean that children, pets and other non-target animals are more likely to be harmed by them.
Rodenticides can be grouped according to their mode of action, meaning, the way they work. The mode of action of a biocidal product usually depends on the active substance it contains. One of the most commonly used groups is the anticoagulant rodenticides.
Risk assessments carried out by regulators, including HSE, have shown that anticoagulants present a higher risk to people and non-target animals than is normally acceptable for authorisation in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Under GB BPR and EU BPR, products with unacceptable levels of risk may still be authorised if it can be shown that the negative impact on society of not allowing their use would outweigh the risks of using them. However, this can only be done if the risks can be minimised with specific measures.
One of the ways of minimising these risks is to minimise the use of anticoagulants wherever possible. If you need to deal with a rodent problem, it is important to remember to consider other available control methods, such as those listed above, before reaching for anticoagulant products.
However, it is recognised that alternative methods may have limitations, and some may not be suitable to be used in certain locations or by some types of users. Effective strategies for controlling rodents are therefore based on having a wide range of options available, including both chemical and non-chemical methods.
As biocidal products are recognised as being one of this range of options necessary for the effective control of rodents, it is also important to ensure that their effectiveness is maintained. If rodent populations build up resistance to biocidal products, our ability to effectively control them could be significantly reduced. The 2 main strategies in minimising this are:
- minimising the use of biocidal products where possible
- maintaining the availability of a variety of such products with differing modes of action
To maintain effective rodent control, it is therefore appropriate to continue to have as full a range of methods available as possible, including the anticoagulant rodenticides. The danger and economic costs of rodents spreading diseases, damaging property and disrupting food supplies and the negative impact that would have on society mean it is appropriate to authorise anticoagulant rodenticides, but with strict controls to help minimise the risks.
General public users
In order to ensure rodenticides are used as safely as possible by the general public, rodenticide products may be restricted in ways such as:
- the amount of active substance they contain
- where they can be used (for example only within a bait box)
- the maximum pack size that can be sold
In order to ensure rodenticides are able to be used as safely as possible by professional users, rodenticide products may be restricted in ways such as:
- the pack size that can be sold
- to whom they can be sold
- the types of treatment programmes that can be used (for example no permanent baiting)
Additionally, the use of anticoagulant rodenticides by professional users in Great Britain and Northern Ireland must follow the requirements of one of the UK rodenticide stewardship regimes.
UK rodenticide stewardship regimes
In order to ensure that the risks associated with the professional use of anticoagulant rodenticides are able to be properly managed, manufacturers, users and other stakeholders were invited to look for ways to manage and improve good practice by professional users and in other areas such as the supply chain. This led to an agreement between stakeholders and the UK Government for the need for rodenticide stewardship.
The UK Government set out a number of principles that should form the basis of any industry-led stewardship regime:
- use of Integrated Pest Management, including use of rodenticides, involving a hierarchy of risk controls for rodents
- responsible use of rodenticides, when demonstrated they are needed, because of their potential threat to human, animal health and the environment
- applicability to all suppliers, handlers and professional users of rodenticides approved under stewardship to address these risks
- the need for the regime to be robust, effective and workable, while remaining as simple as possible
- the need for the regime to cover the whole life-cycle of the rodenticide products: manufacture, supply chain, end-use, disposal and environmental fate
- the enabling of good practice in the control of rodent populations, as part of an Integrated Pest Management system, while minimising resistance build-up and secondary poisoning in non-target species
- delivery of key benefits, such as:
- governance of the supply chain, which gives governance over, and provides the driver for, later stages
- a competent workforce capable of delivering stewardship standards and of demonstrating an appropriate understanding and attitude toward case-specific control of rodents and use of rodenticides
- monitoring compliance with the regime and its environmental impacts, and if possible of the level of conflict reduction (an assessment of whether rodenticides and stewardship together are actually tackling the problems)
The UK Rodenticide Stewardship Government Oversight Group (GOG) is responsible for reviewing the regimes to ensure the principles set out by the UK Government continue to be met. HSE chairs the GOG and other representatives include:
- HSE NI
- Public Health England
- Natural England
- Welsh Government
- Scottish Government
- an independent scientific adviser
The GOG releases an annual report on rodenticide stewardship which can be viewed below.
Existing UK rodenticide stewardship regimes
Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use UK (CRRU UK)
The Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use UK (CRRU UK) has developed a stewardship regime in the UK that meets the regime principles set out by the UK Government.
The CRRU UK regime was developed with a number of different industry sectors, including:
- manufacturing (active substances and products)
- professional pest control
The CRRU UK regime includes a framework of:
- guidelines for safe and effective use set out in a code of best practice
- point of sale verification of competence
- supply chain governance
- effective communication across target sectors