Many Americans believe that commercially available pesticides, such as those found in pet products, are tightly regulated by the government. In fact, they are not. Many of the products sold in grocery, drug and pet supply stores, even when applied as instructed on the box, can cause serious health consequences to pets and humans. Just because these products are on store shelves does not mean they are safe.
A first-of-its-kind study by NRDC shows that dangerously high levels of pesticide residue can remain on a dog's or cat's fur for weeks after a flea collar is put on an animal. NRDC found that residues from two pesticides used in flea collars -- tetrachlorvinphos and propoxur, among the most dangerous pesticides still legally on the market -- were high enough to pose a risk to both children and adults who play with their pets.
NRDC is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the pesticides tetrachlorvinphos and propoxur from pet products. Residue levels produced by some flea collars are so high that they pose a risk of cancer and damage to the neurological system of children up to 1,000 times higher than EPA's acceptable levels.
California has already determined that one of these pesticides, propoxur, causes cancer and that consumer warnings are required. NRDC sued major manufacturers and retailers of flea collars with propoxur in an effort to make them comply with this warning requirement or to stop selling such products in California. Retailers across the nation should help keep pets and families safe by removing products that contain tetrachlorvinphos and propoxur from their shelves.
When NRDC released its first groundbreaking "Poisons on Pets" report in 2000, flea control products included seven organophosphate insecticides. Since the report's release, six of these organophosphates have been banned and removed from the pet market.
NRDC continues to pressure the EPA to ban the last remaining organophosphate insecticide and is calling for the EPA to also ban pet products that contain carbamates -- a class of insecticides closely related to organophosphates. Both organophosphates and carbamates work by interfering with the transmission of nerve signals in the brains and nervous systems of insects, pets and humans alike. In overdoses, organophosphates and carbamates can be fatal. But even with normal use of flea-control products, hazardous chemical residues endanger pets and people. NRDC is also petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), calling for the removal of propoxur and tetrachlorvinphos from pet products.
Until the EPA bans the last of these toxic chemicals, consumers should avoid products that list tetrachlorvinphos, carbaryl and propoxur as active ingredients. Learn more about which products to avoid with the Green Paws product guide on SimpleSteps.org.