New Antifreeze Regulation Will Help Protect B.C. Pets

Ethylene glycol-based antifreeze is the most common type of antifreeze commercially available. It is also highly toxic and its appealing sweet taste has linked it to a number of poisonings of animals and small children. With this in mind, the government of British Columbia is mandating the addition of denatonium benzoate to ethylene glycol antifreeze sold at the retail level in B.C. 

Better known under the trade names Bitrex or Aversion, denatonium benzoate is the bitterest chemical compound known to date. For years, this substance and other similar bittering agents have been used effectively in human and animal taste behaviour modification products, such as nail biting remedies and anti-chewing/licking products for pets. Bittering agents have also been used to prevent accidental poisonings from some toiletries, household cleaners and pesticides.

“We are very pleased the government is taking this initiative to reduce the threat of antifreeze poisoning for animals across B.C.,” said Craig Daniell, CEO of the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “Every year our constables and animal care staff deal with numerous cases of pets who have been poisoned by ethylene glycol antifreeze.”

The addition of a bitterant to antifreeze will lessen its appeal, not its toxicity. Individuals should still take personal responsibility for the proper handling, storing and disposal of any antifreeze product or waste. The new Antifreeze Regulation will be effective Jan. 1, 2011.

Denatonium benzoate will not impair antifreeze performance, nor have any impact on vehicle warranties. Adding it to ethylene glycol antifreeze has the potential to prevent children and household pets from accidentally ingesting the product.

To find out more about proper disposal of antifreeze in your area, please contact the Recycling Council of British Columbia’s Recycling Hotline at 604 RECYCLE (732-9253) or 1-800 667-4321.