The city’s Department of Health began using dry ice to kill rats Monday, after a successful 2016 pilot and the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the frozen carbon dioxide to kill rodents.
“Rat ice is used in parks primarily because it’s safe — it’s safe, it’s effective and it poses no risk to wildlife such as hawks and birds of prey,” DOH Director of Pest Control Ricky Simeone told reporters Monday at Columbus Park in lower Manhattan.
Simeone was standing beside three holes in the earth of one of the park’s flower beds — burrows, he said, for the rats. Three DOH exterminators, wearing gloves and using metal scoops, filled the holes with little cubes of smoking dry ice — and then buried them. Trapped inside with the dry ice, which turns to carbon dioxide, the rats will suffocate and die.
“Or, nicely put, they go to sleep and they don’t wake up,” Simeone said.
The method works within minutes — though some rats may escape, so the city typically treats an area three times, returning to look for new burrows they might have dug. It can be more effective than using poison.