Fluoride Action Network

Fipronil: Attorney General Becerra Criticizes EPA for Flawed and Inconsistent Risk Assessment of Hazardous Insecticide Used in Pet Products

August 5th, 2020 | Press Release: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra
Industry type: Pesticides

Note from Fluoride Action Network:
Fipronil structural formula (see adverse effects)

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today filed comments with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criticizing its flawed and inconsistent risk assessment of the insecticide fipronil. According to the EPA’s own research, fipronil exposure from pet pest control products is associated with a troubling 15-year history of severe health incidents. Moreover, California state agencies have repeatedly alerted the EPA that fipronil is polluting waterbodies and waste treatment facilities across the state. In the comment letter, Attorney General Becerra urges the EPA to further investigate the risks that fipronil poses to public health and the environment and to address the data gaps and inconsistencies in its current risk assessment.

“When parents buy common pest treatments for their pets, they deserve to know what risks these products pose to their children,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Unfortunately, the EPA has failed to provide the public with a complete picture of the impacts fipronil could have on their families.  Once again, the EPA is burying its head in the sand so that it can push through its special-interest agenda and ignore the facts and the science.  It’s long past time for EPA to remember its mission — to protect public health and the environment.”

Fipronil is an insecticide that is primarily used to control termites, roaches, and ants, and in pet treatments for fleas and ticks. Currently, pet pest control products containing fipronil are widely used in California by professional pet groomers, veterinarians, and private pet owners. Exposure to fipronil, most frequently from in-home pet treatments, has been found to cause neurological, dermal, ocular, and respiratory symptoms. After application, the toxic substance lingers in the environment for years, polluting California waterways and wastewater treatment facilities and leaching into water sources through everyday activities such as bathing treated pets, washing hands after application, and mopping indoor areas.

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, all insecticides must receive regulatory approval from the EPA before they are put into use. The EPA reviews insecticide registration every 15 years to ensure registration is based on current information on the public health and environmental impacts of the insecticide. As part of registration review, the EPA releases updated risk assessments evaluating whether the insecticide will cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.

Despite its own determination that fipronil poses severe and immitigable health risks, particularly to infants and toddlers, the EPA concludes in its draft risk assessment that there is insufficient evidence of a connection between fipronil exposure and adverse health effects.

In the comment letter, Attorney General Becerra argues that the EPA must conduct additional investigation and analyses to resolve the data gaps and inconsistencies in the draft risk assessment before proceeding with registration review. The Attorney General highlights that the EPA’s current draft risk assessment for fipronil:

  • Makes contradictory conclusions regarding the human health risks associated with fipronil;
  • Ignores scientific evidence that fipronil is contaminating wastewater and sewage treatment plants; and
  • Fails to adequately analyze fipronil’s impacts on urban watersheds and waste treatment facilities.

A copy of the comment letter can be found here,

*Original press release online at https://www.einnews.com/pr_news/523328619/attorney-general-becerra-criticizes-epa-for-flawed-and-inconsistent-risk-assessment-of-hazardous-insecticide-used-in-pet-products