My home state of Georgia is not known for taking the initiative on most issues, so I was quite proud and impressed when I heard the news that the state legislature has passed a bill requiring that a bittering agent be added to antifreeze. If the governor signs it, Georgia will be the first state in the Southeast with such a law, and the hope is that this will result in bitter antifreeze becoming the norm for this entire region. Such a common sense measure should really be implemented for the entire nation. The cost to producers is minimal, and according to the article the extra expense can be recouped by simply increasing the price of antifreeze by two to three cents. This is a small amount to pay to reduce the danger of a substance that poisons over 1,000 children a year as well as ten times that number of pets.
Ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in antifreeze, is quite toxic (as little as half a teaspoonful will kill a cat) and the substance has a sweet taste that is attractive to children and pets. If not treated immediately, ingestion is usually fatal, especially for pets, and death is quite painful. Naive and/or unbalanced people will sometimes use antifreeze to poison animals -- not only is this unnecessarily cruel, there is also the danger that leaving such a toxic substance lying about will poison unintended victims as well. There is even a recent case of a Georgia woman killing two men for profit with antifreeze. Some companies actually produce a "low tox antifreeze" made with propylene glycol as an alternative, which is just as effective for vehicles but much less toxic. It is also recyclable and better for the environment.
Thanks are in order to Becky Davis, the Georgia woman who spearheaded the effort to get this law passed, Georgia state representative Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson) for sponsoring the bill, and the state legislature for passing the bill and paving the way for it to become law. Some day this will become a non-issue and all antifreeze will be manufactured with a taste deterrent, but until then I hope Georgia's governor will sign the bill quickly so that this particular danger becomes much less of a threat in our state.