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Environmental Group Sues EPA For Refusing To Ban Flea-killing Pesticide Used On Dogs And Cats

Natural Resources Defense Council lawsuit targets tetrachlorvinphos in pet products

by Britt E. Erickson
January 12, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 2

An environmental group is stepping up pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency to ban a controversial chemical in flea collars and other pest control products used on pets. In a lawsuit filed last week, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) challenged EPA’s recent decision to allow continued use of the organophosphate pesticide tetrachlorvinphos in pet products.

NRDC claims that tetrachlorvinphos is neurotoxic and poses unacceptable risks to children’s developing brains and nervous systems. The group says that its tests show that flea collars leave behind chemical residues on pets’ fur that can easily be transferred to children.

NRDC first petitioned EPA to ban the chemical in pet products in 2009. But EPA denied that petition in November 2014, saying that it found no risks of concern about tetrachlorvinphos uses on pets. The agency claims that it based its decision on an updated residential exposure assessment for tetrachlorvinphos in pet products.

But NRDC says that EPA’s assessment is faulty because it doesn’t reflect the true vulnerability of children. The group is asking a federal appeals court to review the agency’s decision. “EPA’s blatant disregard for protecting our children’s health from toxic flea collars is irresponsible and unacceptable,” says Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, NRDC senior scientist.

Last year, EPA removed another toxic flea control chemical, propoxur, from the market at NRDC’s urging. The group claims that safer alternatives to both propoxur and tetrachlorvinphos are widely available.


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