Update: NRDC is suing EPA to act on a risk assessment that it says shows propoxur in flea-and-tick collars poses a serious health risk to children.
Flea and tick collars for dogs and cats should be a little less toxic, as the Environmental Protection Agency announced that the last pet collar manufacturer using carbaryl, a pesticide the Natural Resources Defense Council calls "highly toxic," was to have ceased production in Fall 2010.
The decision follows a long campaign, begun in 2005, by the Natural Resources Defense Council to detoxify flea and tick pet products, and it doesn't signal the end of the toxicity of these products, nor the end of use of carbaryl in other applications.
According to NRDC, "Carbaryl, trade name 'Sevin', is a broad-spectrum insecticide used on lawns and gardens as well as agriculture crops that include apples, pecans, grapes, alfalfa, oranges, and corn. About 3.9 million pounds of carbaryl are used annually in the U.S., with about half for agriculture and half for non-agriculture uses."
Last year, NRDC released a report about the toxic stuff in pet collars, and how it spreads throughout a household. Here's what we wrote about that report at the time:
In a finding that shouldn't come as a surprise, but nonetheless sounds alarming, a study has found that flea and tick collars leave a toxic pesticide residue on pets' fur that can be transferred to humans.
The Natural Resources Defense Council study found "high levels" of both propoxur and tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP), both of which it described as known carcinogens and neurotoxins. The group claims that the Environmental Protection Agency's risk calculations are not accurate, leaving children particularly vulnerable to exposure.
"These chemical-laden flea collars expose humans to highly hazardous chemicals that can damage the brain and nervous system and cause cancer," according to NRDC. "Children are particularly at risk from these pesticides because their neurological and metabolic systems are still developing. They are also more likely than adults to put their hands in their mouths after petting an animal, leading to the ingestion of hazardous residues."
The test results showed levels of pesticides left on fur that were up to 1,000 times higher than acceptable risk levels the EPA has set for children. The NRDC sees the chemical residue as "a significant neurological risk," and says that harmful levels of chemical can remain on an animal's fur for up to two weeks.
The group filed a lawsuit against 16 pet product retailers and manufacturers, claiming that they are illegally selling pet products without properly labeling the hazardous substances they contain. The lawsuit is filed in California, where Proposition 65 -- the Toxic Enforcement Act -- sets the nation's toughest rules against selling products with hazardous chemicals.
There was no immediate public reaction from the industry, but The Daily Green has requested comment and will update this post when it becomes available.
In 2000, the NRDC claimed victory when six pesticides once commonly used on pet products were banned.
Instead of using flea and tick collars and other pesticides, the NRDC recommends:
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