NRDC files petition review to ban flea and tick products containing dangerous pesticides

Posted in the Journal Tribune of Biddeford, ME, on October 6, 2015

by Val Philbrick

The National Resources Defense Council is a national non-profit environmental action group, which was formed in 1970 to protect our air, land, and water from the forces of pollution and corporate greed. With a reported two million members and a staff of 500 lawyers, the NRDC fights for issues, such as climate change, endangered wildlife, safe drinking water, and the health of our oceans. The NRDC advises consumers to check the label of the flea and tick pet products they use to make sure that it does not contain tetrachlorvinphos, propoxur or any other high risk chemicals.

According to, “Tetrachlorvinphos is an organophosphate pesticide used to kill fleas and ticks. It is a likely human carcinogen and is toxic to the nervous system…Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on flea and tick control products for their pets, despite safety concerns. Over the years, NRDC has helped remove six of the most toxic chemicals from these products, but two of them – TCVP and propoxur – are still in use. The Environmental Protection Agency should step in to ban these dangerous products nationwide. Retailers should help keep pets and families safe by pulling products that contain tetrachlorvinphos and propoxur from their shelves.”

According to Cornell University’s Pesticide Management Education Program at, “Propoxur is one of a family of insecticides called carbamates. These chemicals block the production and action of cholinesterase, an essential nervous system enzyme. These materials quickly paralyze the nervous systems of insects, gaining them a reputation of having a rapid ‘knockdown’ effect. Propoxur is classified as highly toxic to humans. Carbamates can be absorbed in a variety of ways: breathing, eating and/or skin contact.”

According to, “NRDC first petitioned the EPA to cancel propoxur uses in pet collars in 2007. NRDC filed a petition in April 2009 to cancel all pet uses of TCVP based on evidence that unsafe levels of pesticide residues are present on dogs and cats after a flea collar is used. NRDC’s 2009 petition sought to cancel all pet uses of TCVP based on alleged potential health risks to children.

“In February 2014, the NRDC filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit seeking the court to compel the EPA to respond to NRDC’s petitions to cancel all manufacturer registrations and uses of propoxur and TCVP used in pet flea treatment products. Sergeant’s Pet Care Products, Inc., Wellmark International, and Hartz were among flea collar brands at issue.

“In March 2014, EPA announced an agreement with Sergeant’s Pet Care Products, Inc. and Wellmark International, whereby the companies voluntarily cancelled the use of propoxur in flea collars. Related uses of other chemicals, including TCVP in pet collars, were not addressed in that agreement, and EPA denied, in November 2014, NRDC’s 2009 petition seeking to cancel all pet uses of TCVP.

“On January 5, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit challenging the November 6, 2014, decision of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow the continued use of tetrachlovinphos (TCVP) in flea control products used on pets.”
According to, appeals have been made to the EPA over the past decade and lawsuits have reportedly been filed to get some flea and tick products off the market, but despite some changes in labeling in 2004-05, advising consumers not to use these products on younger or older pets, not much has changed. The website posts many heartfelt testimonies dating back to 2002 of pets being harmed by flea and tick products. Consumers invariably point to the lower cost flea and tick drops, collars and sprays, such as Hartz, Biospot, and Sergeant’s, as the main culprits. These products contain pesticides, such as pyrethrins or the synthetic versions known as pyrethroids, which are the same pesticides used in household products like Raid to kill insects.

The GreenPaws Flea and Tick Products Directory at lists Hartz, Biospot, and Sergeant’s flea and tick products as containing pyrethroids pointing out that “exposures to pyrethroids can result in a variety of symptoms, especially in pets, including drooling, lethargy, muscle tremors, vomiting, seizures and death. Pyrethroids are known to be very toxic to cats, causing muscle tremors, seizures, salivation, vomiting, and even death.”

The EPA has been under fire for years for not taking dangerous flea and tick products ff the market using the justification that millions of people use these products on their pets with no ill effects, but ignoring the thousands of complaints they have received over the years. So the question is why are these products still on the market? Probably for the same reason that the EPA was recently successfully sued in court by the environmental group, Earthjustice, because the EPA refused to curtail the use of agricultural pesticides made by the big chemical companies that have been implicated in the loss of one-third of this nation’s bees. The answer is big money.

One Reply to “Ms.”

  1. At the very least do a titer test before administering these pesticides. Both of my cats had a severe reaction and one went on to die early at ten years old from diabetes and liver toxicity. I attribute that to using Hartz flea and tick treatment one time.

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