Pesticide Found in Pet Flea Collars and Sprays May Cause Cancer in Humans

Pesticide Found  in Pet Flea Collars and Sprays May Cause Cancer in Humans

This cancer-causing pesticide is still found in flea collars and other products.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the French-based cancer research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), recently listed glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup weed killer, as a probable human carcinogen. While glyphosate got much of the press, IARC scientists also found that there was even more evidenced-based research showing that two chemicals: tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP) and parathion, caused cancer in humans.

While parathion is banned in both the U.S. and Europe, TCVP is only banned in Europe. It’s still legal in the U.S. for use in livestock and pet flea products. For the most part, it’s found in pet flea and tick collars, shampoos, and powders, according to Time.

The chemical was also listed by EPA as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” Young children are particularly vulnerable to TCVP because their bodies are still developing. According to NRDC, there are some indications that the pesticide may impair neurological development in children, causing delays in motor development and attention deficit disorder. Pet flea collars can leave a lot of pesticide residue on your pet’s fur, which can make its way into a human’s system quite easily.

What About Pets?

The EPA didn’t start to evaluate products for pet safety until 1996 and still, data is limited. But we do know that in large doses, TCVP can kill cats and dogs. It’s particularly harmful to cats because they don’t have the enzymes to break down pesticides and because they tend to lick their fur more often. But even still, while FDA approves products for human safety, The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act does not require the same approval process for pet products. Pet poisoning symptoms include salivating, dilated pupils, tremors, vomiting, hiding, shivering, and skin irritation.

How to Avoid Tetrachlorvinphos in Flea and Tick Products

Fleas and ticks are no fun, but using harsh pesticides to kill them isn’t safe either. If possible, it’s best to control fleas and ticks without chemicals by washing your pets regularly with pesticide-free pet shampoo. Use a flea comb on your pet regularly as well. If you live in a part of the country where fleas and ticks are uncontrollable without a conventional treatment, give your pets oral medicines to eliminate pesticide residue. Also, read labels to avoid TCVP. Additionally, make sure you take all the precautionary steps when using oral treatments: don’t give treatments meant for dogs to cats, always give appropriate dosage, don’t split larger doses between two smaller dogs, and be extra careful with pregnant or elderly pets.

While EPA has received petitions to ban TCVP and other pesticides used in pet products, it has yet to take the necessary steps to do so.

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Image of a girl with her puppy from Shuttershock