California to require labeling on cancer causing flea collars

California dogs, cats and their loyal humans will soon be seeing warning labels on flea and tick collar products containing propoxur, a known carcinogen.

In a law suit filed by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)—an environmental protection organization—a settlement was reached in December resulting in the mandatory labeling of products containing the toxin. In agreement with the settlement, 18 retailers including the largest pet supply chains, PetSmart and PETCO, will no longer be able to distribute or sell flea collars containing propoxur without warning labels stating that the products expose animals and humans to a known carcinogen.

In 2009, the NRDC conducted a scientific analysis finding high levels of propoxur and other toxins such as tetrachloryinphos on pet fur, which have been connected to damaging effects on the brain and nervous system and linked to several types of cancer, according to the study. The NRDC then filed the lawsuit in 2009 after retailers ignored a 2007 law calling for them to comply with California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act requiring businesses operating in California to have warning labels on any products containing carcinogens or toxins harmful to the reproductive system.

The NRDC also has a pending petition with the EPA over their decision to keep  flea collars that contain the toxic ingredient on shelves, despite risks to animals and humans, especially small children. The organization seeks to have the products banned from sale as even with warning labels, young children are especially at risk through contact with their pet’s fur, where the toxins linger getting onto furniture, carpets and clothing as well as making direct contact with skin.

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Photo: Melody Gutierrez