AKC Endorses Antifreeze Safety Bill

AKC Endorses Legislation Requiring the Addition of Bittering Agent to Engine Coolants and...

AKC Endorses Legislation Requiring the Addition of Bittering Agent to Engine Coolants and Antifreezes

The American Kennel Club has written to key House and Senate congressional leaders supporting and urging prompt action on H.R. 1563. The bill requires engine coolant and antifreeze manufactured or sold in the United States that contains more than 10 percent ethylene glycol to include a bittering agent, thus making it unpalatable to animals and children.

Ethylene glycol (EG) is the most common active ingredient in antifreeze and engine coolants. It has a sweet taste which attracts children and animals, but is highly toxic. Small amounts of EG (1/2 teaspoon per pound for a dog) can cause rapid renal failure and death. Treatment of EG toxicity requires intensive care and is very costly. Prognosis for recovery is usually guarded to poor. EG is also highly toxic to humans. As little as 2 tablespoons of EG can cause death in an adult human, and less in a child. The 2002 Annual Report of the American Association of (Human) Poison Control Centers reported 6077 cases of human ingestion, of which 60 percent were in children, and 40 deaths from EG that year.

The most common bittering agent, denatonium benzoate (DB), would add only 2 to 3 cents to the production cost of a gallon of antifreeze, while the average retail price of antifreeze is $6.50 per gallon. DB is not corrosive and does not damage car mechanisms. It is readily chemically decomposed by bacteria and causes no environmental degradation. The addition of a bittering agent to antifreeze and engine coolant is already required by law in California and Oregon, and in the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia.

H.R. 1563 was introduced in April, 2003 by Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), and currently has 45 co-sponsors in the House. It was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has taken no action on the bill. No Senate companion bill has yet been introduced. The bill has been endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the National Safety Council, Consumers Union, and the American Association of Poison Control Centers, among other groups. The AKC urges fanciers to write your Member of Congress urging that he or she become a co-sponsor of H.R. 1563 if they have not already done so.