NRDC: Pesticide Removed from Flea Collars

by Mary Haight on November 12, 2009

Not a cause for celebration yet, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) noted in October that carbaryl (trade name: Sevin), toxic toCharlie1 the nervous system and classified as a “likely” carcinogen by the EPA, is the pesticide being removed from flea collars as of September 2010.  But don’t be lulled into any sense of safety. 

Two known carcinogenic neurotoxins, tetrachlorvinphos and propoxur, will still be present.  These are the offending active ingredients that sit on the dog’s coat for weeks, while you, your kids, and their friends pet the dog and go grab a cookie and eat toxic residue.  Not a cheery picture.

Of course, none of us wants a flea infestation in the house but we also don’t want our wonderful dogs being coated in toxins that surely must shorten their lives and set up conditions for late life cancers.  

NRDC advises we also “avoid permethrin-based products and tick-control products containing amitraz or carbaryl. Instead, opt for safer products whose labels list lufenuron, spinosad, methoprene, or pyriproxyfen. These are common and effective insect growth regulators.”  They also suggest a website you might want to keep in your bookmarks, greenpaws, where you can find out what’s in your brand of flea collar. Ask your local holistic pet store what they recommend.  I noticed this year that PetCo had a couple of alternative natural products. They sell out of the collar quickly, so call to be sure it’s in stock when the season comes around.

Since flea and tick prevention is $1 Billion dollar business, the concept of voting with your dollars is one that should move this market to change voluntarily, removing carcinogens from their products.  Because change takes a very long time without an impetus to do the right thing, it’s up to the consumer.  Either enough pressure is brought to bear on the EPA to forbid the use of toxic products, or enough dollars need to run away from toxic products. 

For those of you who think alternatives won’t keep fleas at bay, here’s my experience.  I first used a homemade recipe with lemons as the main ingredient.  But it had to be reapplied every other day and I thought it might be too drying to my dog’s coat.  Then I bought a natural spray containing many of the same ingredients in the homemade recipe but which also contained aloe which would stop any drying of the coat.  Of course, I sprayed it on my hands and applied it to the dog so he wouldn’t be as surprised by the aroma. We had no flea problem, and the dog did not seem stressed by the smell.

Have you tried any alternative flea products? Did you find them useful? 

(Source: Did you know that the NRDC has targeted these compounds for removal from products for many years? More on toxics from Shanti Menon at NRDC .)

Related articles: EPA Approved Meds Killing Cats and Dogs; Flea Collars A Threat to Human Health; Pet Flea & Tick Products Being Reviewed by EPA

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