Residents of Alaska should be grateful to Sen. Ted Stevens for his co-sponsorship of a bill that could help prevent tragic cases of poisoning across the country. Every year thousands of children, pets, wild animals and endangered species are accidentally poisoned from ingesting antifreeze. The sweet taste of antifreeze attracts them, but less than a teaspoonful can be fatal. The Antifreeze Bittering Act (H.R. 2567/S. 1110) would require the addition of denatonium benzoate - the world's bitterest known substance - to engine coolant/antifreeze to render it unpalatable.
Animals come into contact with antifreeze through containers that are not tightly sealed or discarded carelessly, leaks on driveways and in garages, and spills along the road. In addition, the American Association of Poison Control Centers annual report for 2003 alone reported 592 antifreeze poisonings in children under 6 and 803 in children aged 6 to 19.
Passage of the Antifreeze Bittering Act would save countless animal lives and reduce the number of childhood emergencies. Readers should thank Senator Stevens for his leadership on this issue, and urge Sen. Lisa Murkowski and their U.S. representative from Alaska to co-sponsor this important legislation.