Court Orders EPA to Act on Pesticide in Pet Collars

By Margie Kelly, April 2020

A federal appeals court in California today ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to act on a request by the Natural Resources Defense Council to ban the use of the toxic pesticide TCVP in pet collars. The EPA acknowledges exposure to the pesticide can harm kids’ developing brains.

TCVP (tetrachlorvinphos) is an organophosphate pesticide used in pet products, especially flea collars. The EPA has determined that the use in flea collars put children at risk because of harm to the brain and nervous system. 

Mae Wu, senior director of the Health and Food Program at NRDC responded with this statement:

“This is an important victory – and one for which we’ve been fighting for more than a decade. In 2016, EPA scientists finally acknowledged the danger this toxic chemical poses to children, but the agency then failed to remove the dangerous pet products from the market.  It’s especially gratifying, on Earth Day, to have the court hold EPA accountable to its ‘core mission’ to ‘protect human health and the environment.’”

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NRDC first petitioned EPA to ban the last remaining residential use of this dangerous family of chemicals back in 2009. The agency ignored the petition and stalled for 5 years. NRDC sued in 2014 to force EPA to respond to the petition and then again in 2015 to challenge EPA’s refusal to follow the science and ban the use of TCVP in pet products. As a result of that lawsuit, EPA reevaluated the safety of TCVP and determined that the pet products put children at risk.  However, the Trump Administration then did nothing to ban the use in pet products, so NRDC took EPA back to court in 2019 to demand the agency act on our request to ban this last remaining residential use of TCVP and the agency’s own scientific findings.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today found that “EPA’s years-long delay on this critical matter of public health has been nothing short of egregious.”

The court wrote: “Repeatedly, the EPA has kicked the can down the road and betrayed its prior assurances of timely action, even as it has acknowledged that the pesticide poses widespread, serious risks to the neurodevelopmental health of children.”

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted our request and ordered the agency to take final action on this pesticide by either denying our petition or beginning proceedings to cancel the pesticide within one year.

A copy of the court opinion can be found here.