Daily News Archive

Group Asks Major Retailers to Stop Sale of Deadly Pesticide Widely Used on Pets
(from December 18, 2002)

The national environmental group Beyond Pesticides today asked major retailers to immediately pull off their store shelves tick and flea repellents identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as deadly. Last month, EPA struck a deal with Hartz Mountain Corporation to stop shipping and re-label two repellent products for which EPA has received thousands of reports detailing illness and death in kittens and cats. While shipping of the product stopped at the end of November, the products will remain on store shelves without any warning to consumers until they are replaced with newly labeled products sometime next year. "It is wrong to leave these dangerous pet products on the market after EPA has identified the hazard," said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides.

Because of the pet deaths associated with its flea repellent products, Hartz agreed in November to halt all shipments of Hartz Advanced Care Brand Flea and Tick Drops Plus for Cats and Kittens (EPA Reg. No. 2596-148), and Hartz Advanced Care Brand Once-a-Month Flea and Tick Drops for Cats and Kittens (EPA Reg. No. 2596-151). Although the situation was deemed sufficiently dire to support new packaging, additional safety information, and a shipping stoppage, EPA, nevertheless, has allowed products on store shelves to be sold without warning. Beyond Pesticide fears additional pet fatalities and potential danger to owners applying these products. Affected cats have been exposed to dangerous doses of these pesticides primarily through licking their fur. Program Coordinator of Beyond Pesticides, Jessica Lunsford, said, "If these pets can become ill through normal exposure to these products then children petting the animals will also be exposed and could also be affected."

The primary active ingredient in these products is phenothrin, a synthetic pyrethroid found to induce neurotoxicity when ingested as a result of licking the pesticide application. Symptoms of acute toxicity include sneezing, nasal stuffiness, headache, nausea, lack of coordination, tremors, convulsions, facial swelling, and hyper-excitability. These symptoms have been seen in cats, as obsessive fur licking leading to baldness, severe dermatitis and even death.

This is not the first time Hartz Mountain has produced products tie to pet deaths. In 1988, Hartz was forced to remove its flea and tick product, Blockade, after reports of 200 pet deaths and charges filed by EPA for the company's failure to report adverse effects incidents. Letters urging removal of the products from store shelves, were sent to 35 executives at 25 major retail chains, including PETsMart, Petco, K Mart, Wal-Mart, Kroger affiliated food stores and many others.

The letter to retailers, list of retailers and EPA's Q&A are available on the Watchdogging program page.