A New York City woman thought she was taking medicine when she drank from a bottle labeled “The Cat Be Unemployed.” After ingesting the substance, she became seriously ill. What she thought was medication was actually highly concentrated rat poison, and it is a dangerous product that is illegal.
The poison is a blood thinner that kills rats by bleeding them to death. The product that the woman ingested contained significantly higher-than-legal levels of the poison. Unfortunately, this unsuspecting woman lost two-thirds of her blood after ingesting it.
She survived, but her near death experience with drinking the contents of the small bottle labeled “The Cat Be Unemployed” caused an inquiry into the dangerous product by federal and New York state investigators.
The investigation led to the arrest of ten Chinatown store owners for selling the illegal and very dangerous poison. More than 6,000 packages of illegal Chinese pesticides were confiscated as a result of the investigation.
Two factors made these products particularly dangerous:
1. High concentration of poison. Even a tiny amount accidentally ingested could kill an innocent victim. In fact, the amount of the deadly ingredient was 40 to 60 times the legal limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
2. Labels not in English. The products were especially dangerous because their labels were in Chinese and not in English. As a result, a doctor would not know what chemicals were ingested by a poison victim.
The store owners are now facing charges of reckless endangerment and selling illegal pesticides, and two are facing federal charges for wholesale distribution. One federal administrator described that “people and businesses who make and sell these products are playing Russian roulette with people’s health.”
New York City residents should be extremely cautious about purchasing illegal pesticides. Even though the products might be cheaper, consumers may place their health at serious risk. Consumers should beware of any product that is not clearly marked with the EPA sign of approval.
Source: New York Daily News, “Ten Chinatown store owners arrested for selling illegal pesticides after woman nearly dies,” Jennifer H. Cunningham, Sept. 19, 2011