As we reported back in February, the Natural Resources Defense Council sued the EPA in federal court as part of an ongoing effort to halt the use of an insecticide called propoxur, which can pose a threat to the brain and nervous systems of children.
Under today’s agreement between the EPA, Sergeant’s Pet Care Products and Wellmark International (the two companies make products like Bansect, Sentry, Zodiac and Biospot), the companies will be allowed to continue producing collars containing propoxur until April 1, 2015. They will be allowed to continue distributing those collars until April 1, 2016.
While health advocates are happy to see an eventual end to the use of propoxur, the lengthy phase-out period, along with the fact that flea collars can sit on store shelves for years before passing their effective date remains a concern.
Additionally, the continued use of the second chemical involved in the NRDC lawsuit, tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP), was not dealt with by today’s agreement. It’s possible that this will be resolved in the near future, but advocates say that every day a decision delayed is another day that pet-loving children are at risk.
“It’s good to see EPA and pet companies start to address the health threat from toxic chemicals in flea collars, but our kids still need better and more complete protection,” says Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
In 2010, the EPA issued an assessment finding that the risks to children from toxin levels were “of concern.”
Last year, the agency finished its assessment of the insecticide and found, in some cases, “unacceptable risks to children from exposure to propoxur pet collars on the first day following application.”
“EPA found a risk to kids and that deserves immediate action, not a slow retreat,” says Rotkin-Ellman. “Families shouldn’t have to wait years for dangerous products to leave the store shelves. We need strong action that removes these dangerous products from the marketplace and doesn’t leave families at risk.
Because of the concern that these collars could continue to be on shelves for years to come, NRDC is urging major pet store chains to consider removing the collars in question now sooner than later.