Vets urged to stop giving pesticide flea treatments after river pollution study
According to researchers, it is recommended that veterinarians minimize the application of flea treatments containing pesticides on dogs and cats. This suggestion comes after a study uncovered a significant level of harmful chemicals in these treatments that ultimately make their way into rivers.
According to a study by the University of Sussex and Imperial College London, individuals who use flea treatments for their pets may potentially expose their hands to fipronil and imidacloprid, two insecticides, for up to 28 days after application.
The researcher in charge, Dave Goulson, who is a biology professor at Sussex, expressed worry over the discovery that dog owners have been regularly exposed to two highly toxic insecticides through contact with their pets. Additionally, the use of these products is unintentionally contaminating rivers, which is likely to upset pet owners.
Veterinarians frequently advise administering routine flea treatments, even if dogs and cats are not currently infested, to prevent the bugs from finding refuge in their fur. However, researchers warn that this practice may have severe consequences for the environment, as the chemicals in these treatments can be harmful to aquatic life such as fish and invertebrates.
According to Goulson, veterinarians should refrain from promoting the use of preventive treatments for fleas in dogs and cats. If an animal does not have fleas, there is no reason to treat it. Currently, most treatments are unnecessary. A better solution would be for vets to advise pet owners to regularly wash their pets’ bedding, as this is where flea larvae are typically found.
The chemicals found in flea products can enter household drains when pet owners wash their hands after using the treatment. This contributes to the high levels of fipronil and imidacloprid in rivers, which can be harmful to wildlife. It is recommended by veterinarians that pet owners avoid touching their animals until the treatment has fully dried. However, a study conducted by Sussex-Imperial and published in the journal Science of the Total Environment found that the pollution from these products persists for the entire duration of their effectiveness.
Fipronil and imidacloprid are commonly utilized in remedies for fleas, typically administered once a month on the back of a pet’s neck. However, they are no longer authorized for use in outdoor farming. Imidacloprid is classified as a neonicotinoid pesticide.
According to the research conducted by Imperial College London’s ecology professor, Guy Woodward, the presence of banned chemicals in UK freshwaters at levels that could harm aquatic life is still a concern, despite their prohibition from outdoor agricultural use for a number of years. The study also highlights the potential impact of domestic pet flea and tick treatments as a largely ignored but potentially significant source of contamination in our water systems.
Goulson stated that the use of insecticides could pose a threat to human well-being. He also suggested that a thorough evaluation of the environmental effects of pet parasiticides should be conducted. Currently, such assessments are not being carried out, as it was previously assumed that pesticide use on pets would have minimal impact. However, if these neurotoxins come into contact with our hands, they could easily spread throughout our homes, which is concerning for our health.
“According to a recent study conducted in Switzerland, neonicotinoids were detected in the cerebrospinal fluid of all children who were tested. However, the potential health hazards of prolonged human exposure to these substances have not been thoroughly examined.”