Baby-Poisoning Rat Pesticide Company Now Killing Babies with New Product

If you think that’s a rejected headline from an especially twisted edition of The Onion, think again.

In fact, this is exactly what’s happening with the massive British home products company Reckitt Benckiser (RB). You may have never heard of the company despite its nearly $13 billion in annual sales, but you’ve probably heard of many of its brands, including Air Wick, Lysol, Durex condoms, French’s Mustard and other foods, Scholl foot care and many others.

RB first became known for poisoning babies with its rat pesticide product called D-Con. Public health experts warned that D-Con and products like it poisoned more than 10,000 young children a year, mostly in poor African American and Latino communities.

Faced with the threat of having the EPA pull its products to protect children, RB said that this EPA action would be discrimination against minorities.

Indeed, RB fought for years to keep its child-endangering rat poison on the market for years after other companies conceded to EPA’s demands. The company only agreed to end its distribution of the product last year, nearly eight years after EPA warned RB about the threat to children’s health.

rb-before_afterNow the company that promises “Healthier Lives, Happier Homes” is at it again. In South Korea, more than 100 people, mostly pregnant women and infants, have been killed by an RB humidifier disinfectant. South Korean authorities warned about the potentially deadly problems linked to these products as far back as 2011, but RB continued to sell the “disinfectant” and deny responsibility for the deaths, stating just last year that they would not apologize for the tragedies and that “The question of causation is still very much a live issue.”

Facing a massive drop in sales, as well as lawsuits by the grieving families of those killed, RB CEO Rakesh Kapoor this week stated, “I sincerely apologize for the injury and deaths of Korean consumers.”

While the RB humidifier disinfectant is not sold outside of South Korea, the company’s nasty smelling Air Wick air fresheners are widely sold in the US, and have been found to contain a variety of toxic phthalates, chemicals linked to infertility, reproductive abnormalities, and other serious health problems.