Dry Ice Program to Kill Rats in Boston Shut Down by Federal Officials

Department of Agricultural Resources and Environmental Protection says the program violates federal law

Federal officials have shut down a program that was pioneered to control the rat population on the streets of Boston.

City workers have been burrowing holes and filling them with dry ice before covering them with dirt. When the rats enter those burrows, they die from asphyxiation.

"We have done dozens of locations. We have had no problems,” said Boston Inspectional Services Commissioner Buddy Christopher. “It's cheaper than poison – less likely a child or animal will ingest this.”

The program was so successful that Boston became a pioneer with other major cities soon started doing the same thing.

“They’ve all had tremendous success,” Christopher said.

But the dry ice program has now hit a glitch. The state's Department of Agricultural Resources and Environmental Protection sent the city a cease and desist letter saying the program violates federal law.

A statement by the Environmental Protection Agency read, “The CO2 product is being used as a pesticide and therefore would need to be registered.”

Christopher said he disagrees with but plans on complying.

“It's not something that's man made, it’s a natural product,” he said. “We are just trying to use it in a way that makes the most sense to the city.”

Rats are still a problem in places like Boston Common, even in the winter, but they are far less active. They become a bigger problem in the spring but the city hopes to have the program back up and running by then.

Contact Us