Monday, March 17, 2014

Sargent’s and Wellmark will Cease Manufacture of Flea and Tick Products for Pets

off the market
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached an agreement with Sergeant's Pet Care Products, Inc. and Wellmark International to cease manufacturing flea and tick pet collars containing propoxur by April 1, 2015 and to cease selling the product by April 1, 2016. These flea and tick products are sold under the trade names Bansect, Sentry, Zodiac and Biospot and others. Since flea and tick collars have a shelf life of five years, be sure to read the ingredient list before buying any product.

EPA announced in their press release that this “voluntary” agreement will expedite the removal of propoxur containing products from the market, but the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a petition against the EPA in 2009 to cancel the allowed use of propoxur, a known neurotoxin and carcinogen, and tetrachlorvinphos, an organophosphate a class of chemicals that are also neurotoxins. So, expediency was not the issue for five years. NRDC filed a lawsuit against the EPA toforce the agency to respond to NRDC’s petitions to cancel all manufacturer registrations and uses of neurotoxic pesticides propoxur and tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP) used in popular pet flea treatment products in February 2014. EPA had already negotiated an agreement with Wellmark and Sergeant’s by January 22, 2014.
off the market

Propoxur belongs to a class of pesticides called carbamates that can cause cognitive, behavioral and motor developmental defects in children. Several studies in the research literature documented that prenatal and early- life exposure to organophosphates of which TCVP is one, can impair children’s neurological development at levels below what can cause acute symptoms of poisoning. Due to concerns that the other organophosphates products can harm children’s more vulnerable developing brains and nervous systems, the agency had already restricted household use of other known neurotoxic pesticides.

EPA completed the propoxur pet collar risk assessment showing risks to children from exposure to pet collars containing propoxur in September 2013. Although the amounts in the residue left by flea collars are smaller than the doses that cause acute human symptoms, propoxur may cause long-term health consequences. Through pet collars, children are potentially exposed to levels of propoxur that exceed the US EPA's acceptable levels, according to an NRDC study published in 2009. That study found that after three days, 100 % of pets wearing a propoxur flea collar had enough chemical on their fur to exceed the EPA's acceptable dose level for toddlers.

EPA’s recent risk assessment confirmed this result. The decision reached between EPA and Sergeant's and Wellmark to remove this flea and tick products from the market is the solution to most quickly remove the pet collars from the market. Flea and tick collars work by leaving a pesticide residue on dogs' and cats' fur, which can be transferred to people by hugging, petting or coming into contact with the pets. Some children even sleep with their pets. The major source of exposure to these chemicals is from absorption through the skin after directly touching the treated pet. Small children may ingest pesticide residues when they touch a treated cat or dog and subsequently put their hands in their mouth.

EPA’s risk assessment found, in some but not all use scenarios, unacceptable risks to children from exposure to propoxur pet collars on the first day following application. Because the manufacturers could not find a way to eliminate unacceptable risk under all scenarios, EPA “encouraged” them to cancel these products and they subsequently agreed. Propoxur will remain a registered insecticide for use to control ticks, fleas and a variety of insects in industrial, commercial and residential facilities, just no longer used for pet flea and tick collars.

Flea and tick products can be appropriate treatments for protecting pets and people because fleas and ticks can transmit disease to animals and humans. In Northern Virginia we are especially aware of the threat of Lyme disease. Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks; however, there are eleven tick borne diseases listed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Dogs are also very susceptible to tick bites and tick borne diseases. Vaccines are available for only some of the tick borne diseases that dogs can get, and they don’t keep the dogs from bringing ticks into your home, thus it is prudent to use a tick preventive product on your dog. Alternatives include newer pesticide products sprayed or spotted onto pets, such as fipronil (Frontline®) or imidacloprid (Advantage®). Particularly when used in combination with physical measures like frequent washing and combing of the pet and vacuuming carpets and furniture, can bring mild flea infestations under control. Cats are extremely sensitive to a variety of chemicals. Do not apply any insect acaricides or repellents to your cats without first consulting your veterinarian! It simply might be best and safest to keep your cat as an indoor pet.

Remember to protect yourself and your children from tick borne disease. CDC recommends protect your family from Lyme disease and other tick borne illnesses by being diligent in preventing tick bites:
• Use insect repellent that contains 20 - 30% DEET on yourself and your children.
• Make children bathe or shower as soon as possible after they come indoors.
• Look for ticks on their bodies. Ticks can hide under the armpits, behind the knees, in the hair, and groin.
• Put clothes in the dryer on high heat for 60 minutes to kill any remaining ticks.

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