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Our Dogs, Cats, and Kids Deserve Better: NRDC Sues EPA for failing to act on Flea Collars

Mae Wu

Posted February 6, 2014 in Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment

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One of my best friends is a veterinarian – and as such, I often sought free advice for my dog. One of the things that she has told me is that flea collars are ineffective against fleas and ticks and that there are better options available. What makes this information troubling is that the pesticides on many popular flea collars are dangerous for children.

RIP Noodle

Under the federal pesticide law, a pesticide cannot be sold that may cause adverse impacts to human health or the environment. Based on this standard and armed with science showing that two pesticides found in pet collars are dangerous to children’s brains, NRDC petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to cancel (discontinue) the use of propoxur and tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP) in pet products. Our propoxur petition was filed in November, 2007 and our TCVP petition was filed in April, 2009. To date, EPA has not responded to our petitions.

To compound the problem with this delay, EPA itself even said in 2010 that the risk from exposure to propoxur from flea collars was a concern. This finding alone should be enough for EPA to pull it from the shelves. And yet, it still hasn’t acted.

Left without any other form of redress, today we sued the agency for unreasonable delay to compel EPA to make a decision on our petitions. Such action is necessary to protect children.

Anyone who has seen young kids interact with dogs and cats knows that they hug and kiss them a lot. These interactions with pets (as well as constantly putting their hands and toys in their mouths) open kids up to more exposure to flea collar pesticides than adults have. Given that children’s growing bodies are more susceptible to the harms associated with use of these pesticides, EPA’s delay is unacceptable. It is time for EPA to take action to get these dangerous (and ineffective) pesticides in flea collars off the shelves.

My colleague Miriam Rotkin-Ellman has written a lot more about the science. Check out her posts here and here.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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