Skip to content

January 30, 2004

For More Information, Contact:
Daryl Savage at (650) 688-6384


PALO ALTO – Once again, California leads the nation on child safety and environmental policy. Legislation authored by Assemblyman Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) and passed in 2002 has been introduced at the federal level by Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-New York).

The law requires a bittering agent to be placed in antifreeze. Antifreeze has a sweet taste and poisons scores of children and tens of thousands of pets and wildlife every year. Adding a bittering agent to antifreeze eliminates the sweet taste, improves consumer safety and reduces the number of accidental poisonings (be it for children, wildlife, or pets).

“So often when you do your work at the state level, you hear arguments about why the solution needs to be national, which often does make sense,” commented Simitian. “This is one more example of California driving a more progressive federal policy. The problem isn’t confined within any one state’s boundaries. It’s nice to see that the solution may not be either.”

Congressman Ackerman’s bill (House Resolution 1563) has broad, bi-partisan support, with more than 50 cosponsors. Locally, Congressmembers Eshoo, Farr, Honda, and Lofgren have all signed on as cosponsors of HR 1563. Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo, 14th Congressional District said, “Bravo to Lauren Ward who recommended to Joe that this bill should be a law.  Congratulations to Joe for seeing to it that the bill moved through the state legislature.  I’m proud to support H.R. 1563 which mirrors this outstanding legislation at the federal level.”

“We are always seeking commonsense solutions to the everyday problems that confront us and this is a big one” Ackerman said. “Antifreeze poisoning in children and animals is a huge but widely unknown problem and Assemblyman Simitian’s bill helps to finally combat it. I’m hopeful this legislation will soon pass on the federal level so we can have a nationwide solution.”

The idea for the bill came to Simitian from constituent Lauren Ward, a former resident of Cupertino who now lives in Los Altos Hills. Ward, trained as a nurse, submitted the idea to Simitian in response to his ‘There Oughta Be a Law’ contest. “It was hard work to get the bill passed in California,” recalls Ward. “It would be great if we could solve the problem and expand upon the bill on a nationwide basis. I really do not see how anybody can be opposed to making the environment a safer place for all of us – our kids, pets and wildlife. I do hope Congress will act soon.”

California Poison Control Services reported that in 2000, 66 children age 12 and under were the victims of accidental poisonings resulting from ingesting antifreeze.  One antifreeze manufacturer, Sierra Antifreeze, estimated that nationwide 90,000 pets and animals die each year from ethylene glycol-based antifreeze.