Antifreeze and engine coolant manufactured in the United States will now contain a bitter flavoring agent to prevent animals and children from being poisoned by the sweet-tasting liquid. Although legislation has been passed in several states, the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) and the Humane Society Legislative Fund jointly announced Dec. 13 that the industry would now voluntarily add the flavoring agent to products for sale on the consumer market in all 50 states.
“Poisoning occurs because animals are attracted to the sweetness of antifreeze and engine coolant, which inadvertently spills in our driveways or is left in open containers in garages,” the joint release says. HSLF says estimates range from 10,000 to 90,000 animals poisoned each year from ingesting ethylene glycol, the toxic substance used in antifreeze. The release claims that one teaspoon of antifreeze or engine coolant can kill an average-sized cat.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says ethylene glycol is rapidly absorbed following ingestion, leading to systemic toxicity beginning with effects on the central nervous system, followed by cardiopulmonary effects and, finally, renal failure. Clinical signs may be more subtle in animals than humans.