Suit against EPA seeks ban on pesticides in flea treatments

Wisconsin Gazette

The Natural Resources Defense Council has filed a lawsuit seeking to push the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  to respond to its petitions and ban two hazardous pesticides used in popular pet flea treatment products.

The EPA has restricted household use of some neurotoxic pesticides due to concerns that the products can harm children’s brains and nervous systems, but it still allows neurotoxic propoxur and tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP) to be used in flea treatments for dogs and cats.

The lawsuit filed this week seeks to force EPA to respond to cancel all pet uses and manufacturer registrations fo the two chemicals.

“These flea collars leave a toxic residue on pets’ fur, exposing children to chemicals which can have harmful effects on their brains, similar to those from lead,” said Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, senior scientist with NRDC’s health program. “Luckily, there are less-toxic alternatives readily available to control fleas. Nearly a decade has passed since NRDC urged EPA to get these toxic chemical collars off store shelves, but the agency continues to drag its feet. After all, EPA decided long ago that nervous system-damaging chemicals shouldn’t be used indoors, so why is it OK to put them on our pets?”

Flea collars are designed to leave pesticide residues on pet fur, exposing people to the chemicals they contain when they play with their pet or touch pet bedding. Once on a child’s skin, the pesticide is absorbed through the skin or it can be ingested when a child puts their hand in their mouth.

Propoxur and TCVP are types of pesticides that are known to be toxic to brain development, nervous system communication and can cause cancer. Children are particularly vulnerable because their smaller bodies are still developing and their activities, such as putting their hands in their mouths after petting animals or playing, increase the likelihood and amount of these pesticides that can enter their bodies, according to the NRDC.

In large doses, these chemicals can also harm or kill dogs, cats and in extreme poisoning cases, even humans.

To protect against exposure to these chemicals, NRDC recommends avoiding flea collars brands that use them, including: Sergeant’s Pet Care Products, Inc., Wellmark International and Hartz Mountain Corporation. NRDC has updated its Green Paws product guide, which encourages consumers and pet owners to use safer methods of pet flea control.

NRDC’s Green Paws guide also ranks more than 125 flea and tick products based on ingredients, categorizing them by the level of their potential health threat to people and animals.