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EPA Sued Over Toxic Pesticides in Pet Flea Collars
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) today filed a lawsuit in federal court against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seeking a responce to NRDC’s petitions to ban two hazardous pesticides used in popular pet flea treatment products.
Due to concerns that the products can harm children’s brains and nervous systems, the agency has severely restricted household use of other known neurotoxic pesticides. But it continues to allow neurotoxic propoxur and tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP) to be used in flea treatments for dogs and cats. NRDC’s lawsuit seeks to force the EPA to respond to NRDC’s petitions to cancel all pet uses and manufacturer registrations of these two chemicals.
“These flea collars leave a toxic residue on pets’ fur, exposing children to chemicals which can have harmful effects on their brains, similar to those from lead” said Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, senior scientist with NRDC’s health program. “Luckily, there are less-toxic alternatives readily available to control fleas."
"Nearly a decade has passed since NRDC urged EPA to get these toxic chemical collars off store shelves, but the agency continues to drag its feet," Rotkin-Ellman continued. “After all, EPA decided long ago that nervous system-damaging chemicals shouldn’t be used indoors, so why is it OK to put them on our pets?”
Flea collars are designed to leave pesticide residues on pet fur, exposing people to the chemicals they contain when they play with their pet or touch pet bedding. Once on a child’s skin, the pesticide is absorbed through the skin or it can be ingested when a child puts their hand in their mouth. Propoxur and TCVP are types of pesticides that are known to be toxic to brain development, nervous system communication and can cause cancer. Children are particularly vulnerable because their smaller bodies are still developing and their activities, such as putting their hands in their mouths after petting animals or playing, increase the likelihood and amount of these pesticides that can enter their bodies. In large doses, these chemicals can also harm or kill dogs, cats and in extreme poisoning cases, even humans.
To protect against exposure to these chemicals, NRDC recommends avoiding flea collars brands that use them, including:
- Sergeant’s Pet Care Products, Inc.
- Wellmark International
- Hartz Mountain Corporation
NRDC has updated its Green Paws product guide, which encourages consumers and pet owners to use safer methods of pet flea control. NRDC’s Green Paws guide also ranks more than 125 flea and tick products based on ingredients, categorizing them by the level of their potential health threat to people and animals.
Prior to today’s lawsuit filing, the EPA failed to respond to NRDC petitions seeking a ban on these two chemicals. NRDC first petitioned the EPA to cancel propoxur uses in pet collars in 2007. In 2009, NRDC released its Poison on Pets II report, which found that 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. Residue levels detected in this study were found to be high enough to pose a risk to the neurological system of children at levels that greatly exceed EPA's acceptable levels. In conjunction with the report, NRDC filed a supplement to its petition.
In 2010, the EPA published an initial exposure assessment based on a new estimated residue level. In that assessment, the EPA determined that the risks to children from exposure to pets wearing propoxur flea collars were “of concern” to the agency. NRDC filed yet another supplement to its petition in 2011 in response to that new assessment. To date, no final decision has been made on the petition, although the EPA has indicated that they expect to issue a revised exposure assessment soon.
For TCVP, NRDC filed a petition in April 2009 to cancel all uses of the chemical in pet collars. To date, the EPA has not responded to that petition either.
Visit EcoWatch’s HEALTH page for more related news on this topic.
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A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.
"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."
The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.
My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for first time since 2001. My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it. Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable. #whiteisland pic.twitter.com/QJwWi12Tvt— Michael Schade (@sch) December 9, 2019
Michael Schade / Twitter
At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.
The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.
Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.
"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."
Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.
Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.
"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.
"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."
The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.
Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.
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