Thu 20 Nov, 2003 12:01 am
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Plan To Lick Poisonings
By Carolyn Carlson
Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer
Albuquerque City Hall went to the dogs Tuesday in support of what Mayor Martin Chávez said would be a simple solution to a horrible problem. Chávez proposed an ordinance that would require any engine coolant or antifreeze sold in the city limits to contain a bittering agent that will make it taste bad to animals and humans. He wants the law to be in effect by March 1.
"City Hall is going to the dogs, at least in the mayor's office," Chávez said after leading Bogie and nine other golden retrievers into his conference room. "I read with concern on how Scooby died. This ordinance is not only for the safety of animals but for the safety of children, too."
The antifreeze ordinance is being nicknamed Scooby's Law by Chávez and his staff. Scooby is the golden retriever that was shot in the snout by an off-duty State Police officer Oct. 25 in Bernalillo. Scooby recovered from those injuries, but on Nov. 8, his first night outside after recovering from the shooting, his owners suspect someone entered their yard and placed antifreeze on the ground. Animals often like it because it tastes sweet. The owner had been changing antifreeze on a car and said he had placed the antifreeze out of the dog's reach. But the next morning Scooby fell ill and antifreeze was found on the ground near him.
Scooby's plight has touched the hearts of people not only in New Mexico but also as far away as Europe. The Antifreeze Safety Ordinance could save thousands of animals each year in the Albuquerque area from a horrible death, Chávez said. Chávez said the antifreeze ordinance will be carried by Councilwoman Sally Mayer and should be heard by the full council before Jan. 1. Then, supporters of the ordinance want Gov. Bill Richardson to take the initiative statewide. Gilbert Gallegos, spokesman for Richardson, said the governor was unable to comment on the ordinance because he is returning from out of state.
California and Oregon have already enacted laws requiring a bittering agent called denatonium benzoate be added to any antifreeze or coolant product containing more than 10 percent ethylene glycol. California's law will take effect Jan. 1.
Ethylene glycol is an extremely toxic and sweet-tasting substance that injures many children and kills thousands of animals every year in the United States, according to Don Harris, a city attorney who drafted the ordinance. Chávez said the cost to add the bitter agent to antifreeze is about 2 cents a gallon.
"All Wal-Mart (or any retailer) has to do is order the bitter-tasting version," Harris said. The additive has shown no proven harmful side effects to automobiles, he said.
Chávez said he urged Richardson to take the proposal statewide during the next Legislative session. Ray Powell, chairman of the state's veterinary board, applauded the proposal.
"I am here to celebrate something that is really important and I encourage the governor to act on this," Powell said. "Something as simple as adding a bitter agent to antifreeze will save many animals' lives."
Take action in the area in which you live
You may want to initiate action in your city to require the anti-freeze additive to protect animals and humans from the danger of drinking this deadly substance.
There is an entire nother antifreeze that is based on Propylene Glycol. This antifreeze is used extensively in MAine because beavers have a habit of finding antifreeze bottles and chewing into them and lapping up the glycol. In fact, we use prop glycol as an energy booster for the sheep and cattle. If one of the sheep is out in the pastures far away that we dont find it for a few days, they can get short on energy so we give them about 100 cc drench of prop glycol.
Just putting a bittering agent into eth glycol is like adding lead to gasoline, the entire formulation should have been scrapped. Prop glycol is cheaper and just as good and its usually a food grade substance that wont wreck a dogs liver.
I forgot to mention that prop glycol is used for freeze protection for RVs and has been used for years. Your mayor should just give an incentive to use prope. (Rather than outlaw or add bittering agents to eth glycol , because theres no guarentee that anybody in ALbuquerque listens to anybody else, I lived there for about a year and was amazed how Hillbilly that town was,)
Thanks for the info Farmerman :-)
I could never figure out why something wasn't done about this a very long time ago!
Farmerman, thanks for the info. I just sent an e-mail to Mayor Chavez with your suggestion. I will let you know if I get a response.
Farmerman, a response from the Mayor
Farmerman, I just got the following e-mail from the Mayor:
Dear Ms. (BumbleBeeBoogie)
Thanks for the insight. I'll share it with the experts.
Hope you can send a followup on this, BBB
Tell him to ask any sheep herder in the north area area on the turquoise road up to santa fe,those are the real experts
i think the problem is gonna be enforcement. How are the Walmarts gonna get rid of their existing eth glycol? theyre going to sell it. I think chavez ought to call the people at wallymart and put it on them. once they change , then everybody with a garage will want to change to propylene.
The Mayor responded again to antifreeze issue
Dear Mayor, Ms. (BumbleBeeBoogie) et al.
Since this is the first query I have had regarding propylene glycol antifreeze, I will respond so that everyone understands more about this alternative.
The major manufacturers already sell propylene glycol antifreeze, including Sierra by Peak and Prestone Low Tox. The links to those products' website are below. The City has done no market research, but I did call Pep Boys, and a store in Albuquerque had Sierra on the shelf.
Ethylene glycol and Propylene glycol have different characteristics, and the other additives which the antifreeze manufacturers utilize makes for product differentiation. By increasing the cost by only two cents per gallon for ethylene glycol (by requiring a bittering agent), it insures for both a wide choice by consumers and for safer products.
The legislation would not require denatonium benzoate in propylene glycol products.
You point is well-taken that propylene glycol antifreezes are safer, and hopefully the Mayor's initiative will increase public awareness of this issue, and lead to more voluntary use of the propylene glycol alternative.
Give up on a perfect world, farmerman. I would be just delighted to have a changeover made upon deletion of existing store inventories. Heck, I didn't even know there was an option. Just make sure the change isn't optional and I'll be more than happy.
who me? perfect world? But Ive got so much optimism to share. Look at how well the world is doing secure in the knowledge that we are led by such Periclean greatness.
Udall Backs Antifreeze Measure
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Udall Backs Antifreeze Measure
By Carolyn Carlson
Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer
Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is lending his support to proposed federal legislation requiring antifreeze to contain a bittering agent to make it taste bad to children and animals. On Monday, Udall signed on as a co-sponsor of U.S. House Bill 1563, which has garnered more than 40 co-sponsors since being introduced by Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y.
The recent death of Scooby, a golden retriever who lived in Bernalillo and who had to be euthanized Oct. 13 after he ingested antifreeze, has brought attention to the problem not only in New Mexico but across the country, according to a Udall news release. Scooby's owners suspect someone intentionally poisoned the dog. In October, the dog survived being shot in the face by an off-duty State Police officer after Scooby wandered into the officer's yard. The officer claimed Scooby was "barking aggressively" and he feared for the safety of his son who was playing next door. An investigation into the poisoning is being done by the Bernalillo Police Department. New Mexico Crime Stoppers has offered a reward for any information leading to an arrest of whoever may have poisoned the dog.
"The recent death of Scooby has helped bring attention to the dangerous problem of antifreeze poisoning," Udall said in the release. "A small sip of the substance may cause immediate kidney failure and doom a small child or animal. But it doesn't take much to prevent antifreeze poisonings; by making antifreeze bitter, we may save thousands of lives every year, and spare many families from heartache and tragedy."
Antifreeze is used to prevent freezing as well as overheating in motor vehicles. It is usually formulated with ethylene glycol, which is poisonous even in minute quantities. Spills occur when vehicles leak the substance, overheat, or when the chemical is changed or replaced. Although antifreeze will biodegrade in the environment, it takes weeks or months to do so.
Ingestion of antifreeze is often fatal, and in cases where death does not occur, it causes extreme sickness such as a lack of appetite, spastic motion of the eyeballs, dizziness, abdominal pain, respiratory arrest or cardiovascular collapse, coma or acute renal failure with uraemia. Skin absorption also can contribute to the systemic poisoning. Individuals who drink tiny amounts of ethylene glycol and survived initial acute effects because of a quick emergency response, died three to 17 days later from kidney failure.
Udall's sponsorship of the federal measure comes a week after Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez proposed an ordinance that would require any engine coolant or antifreeze sold in the city limits to contain a bittering agent that will make it taste bad to animals and humans. Chávez said he wants the law to be in effect by March 1. Chávez encouraged Gov. Bill Richardson to take the law statewide during the next legislative session.
"I am really excited about this, and as I understand it Sen. (Jeff) Bingaman is also expressing interest in this legislation," Chávez said Monday. "It seems the federal measure has been stuck in committees and it would be wonderful if our congressional delegation would be the incentive to kickstart it again. It would be great to have Scooby's Law be the catalyst to get it moving because this is a law that will save children and animals."
On Monday, Gilbert Gallegos, spokesman for Richardson, said the governor is considering the legislation and is in the process of putting together his crime package for the Legislature.
According to Udall, each year, more than 90,000 pets and animals and 4,000 children accidentally ingest antifreeze from driveways, puddles, curbside road spills and the bottle itself. Children mistake the substance's look and pleasant taste for either a soft drink, juice or other beverage. Animals are naturally attracted to the chemical's sweet taste.
Both the federal Antifreeze Safety Act and Albuquerque's proposed antifreeze ordinance that has been nicknamed Scooby's Law require antifreeze manufacturers whose products contain more than 10 percent of ethylene glycol to add the bittering agent denatonium benzoate in all containers, 55 gallons or less, for sale to the public.
This requirement is already state law in California and Oregon and is being considered in Nevada.
Udall also said besides death or health consequences, antifreeze poisoning poses a serious economic risk for many ranchers in New Mexico. Many ranchers in San Juan County have reported having cows die because of antifreeze. Chris Velasquez, a rancher from Blanco, reports losing eight cows in a week after they drank antifreeze that leaked from a drilling site, according to Udall's release. Udall encourages the Albuquerque City Council to follow the mayor's lead and pass the ordinance. According to Chávez and Udall it would only cost about 2 cents a gallon to add the bittering agent to the antifreeze.
HR 1563 has been endorsed by the Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of the Consumer Reports Magazine. The legislation awaits further action by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Chávez said the city's bill will be heard by the council sometime in December.
Thanks. I like the trend here, but I would still prefer a nontoxic solution as farmerman has suggested. Bitter or not, there are still major disposal issues with conventional antifreeze, radiator hoses still burst, and careless people still flush their own radiators. Some of it is surely still going down the sewers.
i did a google on Denatonium benzoate (never heard of it). Its in the carboxylic acid group, so , at least , its explosive by itself.
This reminds me of one of those shows wherein the main characters spiral into a plot of increasing complexity and confusion.
i found a whole bunch of the propylene glycol products in our local hardware store, BUT NOT AT WALLY MART. perhaps theres a business reason why the low toxicity product (SIERRA) is not preferred.
While BBB was starting this thread, I forgot to mention that we just had the rV center pour about 10 gallons of propylene glycol into our RVs water system and sewage and waste tanks to serve as an antifreeze. The fact that its used in drinking water systems shows it is safe. Of course you flush it out until the water is clear and no longer containing the pink dye.
Actually , in our town, propylene glycol antifreeze is cheaper than ethylene glycol. Also, the efficiencies are about the same.
ya know, somebody swiped my avatar.
Farmerman, I used your info in my most recent e-mail to Mayor Chavez - thanks for your input. BBB
Thank you for the response by Don Harris re the antifreeze issue.
I urge you to consider limiting the sale of antifreeze in New Mexico to low-toxic PROPYLENE GLYCOL products.
DISPOSAL RISKS: One of the most important reasons why the ethylene glycol low-toxic antifreeze should be the only product sold is that bitter-enhanced antifreeze does not solve the major disposal issues with conventional antifreeze: radiator hoses still burst, and careless people still flush their own radiators. Some of it is surely still going down the sewers and into septic tanks, antifreeze containers not properly disposed of and are found by children and animals. If antifreeze contains are sent to recyclers, the residue contaminates the other materials.
A friend told me that he found a lot of the propylene glycol products in his local hardware store, but not at Wal-Mart. Perhaps there is a business reason why the low toxicity product (SIERRA) is not preferred.
He also reported that he had his RV center pour about 10 gallons of propylene glycol into his RV's water system and sewage and waste tanks to serve as an antifreeze. The fact that its used in drinking water systems shows it is safe. Of course you flush it out until the water is clear and no longer containing the pink dye. He said that in his town, propylene glycol antifreeze is cheaper than ethylene glycol, and that the efficiencies are about the same.
I urge you to reconsider the solution of adding bitter to conventional antifreeze and limit sales to propylene glycol products.
I wish you and your family a pleasant Thanksgiving Holiday.
bBB, I caught an error in your opening sentence.You should be asking the mayor to consider pROPYLENE GLYCOL, not ETHYLENE in the opening lines, your later lines are correct . The ethylene glycol is the poisonous one. . Perhaps if you redact your memo to him and sub the words propylene in the first sentence.
Just a note of caution
Personally I like your headline to this post. If Bush is reelected, that's just what I plan to do.
That's great, farmerman. If it were mandated suddenly, there would be some outrageous pricing till a normal production capacity were online, but this really sounds worthwhile.
farmerman, oops, thanks for your good eye correction. I will send a corrected e-mail.