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May 7, 2009

Flea and tick treatments may contain toxic chemicals that can poison pets and harm people. 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.
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. Although we have safer options for controlling fleas on our pets, the EPA still allows dangerous pesticides to be used in flea collars and other products. NRDC is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the pesticides tetrachlorvinphos and propoxur from pet products. Take action, tell the EPA to prohibit the use of these toxic chemicals in pet products.

California has already determined that one of these pesticides, propoxur, causes cancer and that consumer warnings are required. NRDC is suing major manufacturers and retailers of flea collars with propoxur to make them comply with this requirement or pull the products from California shelves. Retailers across the nation should help keep pets and families safe by removing products that contain tetrachlorvinphos and propoxur from their shelves.

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. NRDC checked the listed ingredients of more than a hundred flea and tick products to report which chemicals they contain and the chemicals' toxicity: whether they are linked to cancer, allergies and asthma or are suspected endocrine disruptors. Each product is categorized by its potential risk. We've recently updated the guide with new chemicals and products. Pregnant women and parents of young children should try to avoid products from the red or orange categories. When chemical control is necessary, choose a safer treatment and avoid the most toxic chemicals by selecting a product marked with a yellow paw.

Learn how to protect your pet without chemicals. Regular combing with a flea comb, bathing and vacuuming can reduce and control fleas. Pet bedding should also be washed in hot water once a week. Fleas tend to accumulate in bedding, so care should be taken not to spread the flea eggs and larvae contained in it. Vacuuming picks up fleas and eggs from carpets, floors and crevices, and from under or on furniture. Immediately after vacuuming, bags should be thrown away to prevent fleas from escaping and re-infesting the area. Severe infestations may call for professional carpet cleaning with steam. For more tips on treating fleas without hazardous chemicals, check theGreen Paws site.

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Posted: May 7, 2009 1:20pm


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