Lawsuit Seeks to Protect Consumers From Toxic Pet Products

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Jenny Powers, 212-727-4566

Lawsuit Seeks to Protect Consumers From Toxic Pet Products

New NRDC Analysis Reveals Flea Collars Create Toxic Chemical Residues on Pet Fur That Threaten Human Health

SAN FRANCISCO - The Natural Resources Defense Council has
filed a lawsuit in California against major pet product retailers and
manufacturers for illegally selling pet products containing a known
cancer-causing chemical called propoxur without proper warning labels.

In
new scientific analysis also released today, NRDC found high levels of
propoxur and tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP), another carcinogenic neurotoxin
common in household pet products, on pet fur after use of ordinary flea
collars. NRDC is also petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), calling for the removal of these chemicals from pet products.

"Just
because a product is sold in stores does not mean it is safe," said Dr.
Gina Solomon, NRDC senior scientist and physician. "Under California
law, consumers have a right to know if a flea control product exposes
them to health risks before they buy it."

NRDC filed its
lawsuit in California Superior Court in Alameda County against 16
retailers and manufacturers including Petsmart, PetCo, and
Petstore.com, for failing to comply with California's Safe Drinking
Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, known as Proposition 65, which
prohibits businesses from knowingly exposing consumers without proper
warning to any chemical "known to the state to cause cancer or
reproductive harm." These companies have failed to caution consumers
about exposure to propoxur from the use of their products, which should
have been labeled with a warning as of August 11, 2007.  Proposition 65
provides for penalties of up to $2,500 for every violation.

NRDC's new report, Poison on Pets II,
found flea collars containing TCVP and propoxur pose serious
neurological and cancer risks. These chemical-laden flea collars expose
humans to highly hazardous chemicals that can damage the brain and
nervous system and cause cancer. 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.

Poison on Pets II
tested the fur of dogs and cats wearing flea collars to measure the
invisible pesticide residues left on the pets from these collars. This
analysis, which was the first study of propoxur residues on pet's fur,
found that propoxur levels are so high in some products that they pose
a cancer risk in children that is up to 1,000 times higher than the
EPA's acceptable levels, and up to 500 times higher for adults. The
study also showed that after three days, 100 percent of the pets
wearing collars containing propoxur and 50 percent of the pets wearing
collars with TCVP posed a significant neurological risk to toddlers.
Testing also revealed that unsafe levels of pesticide residue remain on
a dog's or cat's fur two weeks after a collar is put on an animal.
Families with multiple pets that wear flea collars have even greater
exposure risks.

The EPA has never compiled data on
pesticide levels found on a pet's fur after use of flea collars. NRDC's
testing and careful calculations reveal that the EPA's decision to
leave these products on the market may create a significant health risk
to pet owners, most notably young children.

The
availability of many effective and safer alternatives for flea and tick
control makes the continued use of these pesticides an unnecessary
risk. NRDC's groundbreaking 2000 report "Poison on Pets" led to the ban
of six other pesticides in pet products, but products containing TCVP
and propoxur are still on store shelves. 

"The EPA's
evaluation of these chemicals was dangerously flawed and underestimates
the risks to children," said Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, NRDC
scientist. "There is no reason to use carcinogens and neurotoxins to
fight fleas and ticks when there are other safer and effective
treatments available. The EPA should not allow these toxic chemicals in
pet products."

NRDC's recommendations for safe flea and
tick control include the frequent use of a flea comb, regular bathing
of pets, as well as vacuuming and washing of their bedding
regularly. If chemical-based flea control is necessary, the safest
options often containing the least toxic chemicals are those dispensed
by pill. Visit NRDC's free online flea and tick product guide for pet
owners that ranks more than 125 products, categorizing products by the
level of their potential health threat, at NRDC's consumer-oriented
Green Paws website: www.greenpaws.org.  

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The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

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