Friday 15 March 2024

Cat flea treatment insecticides are poisoning aquatic life in rivers

It may surprise people to know that spot-on cat flea treatments used in the home in the ordinary way can poison aquatic life in rivers and watercourses miles away. It's the insecticides used in these treatments such as fipronil and imidacloprid which do the damage. 

This is what happens: you apply the treatment to your cat at the back of the neck and some of the treatment gets on your hands so you wash your hands afterwards. The water goes down into the drainage system and then to rivers. In fact we are advised to wash our hands afterwards as the chemicals are dangerous to us! 🤢

Or after you apply the treatment your cat goes on to their bedding and some of the chemical is deposited on the bedding. You wash the bedding in due course and the chemical is then washed into the wastewater system and thence into watercourses miles away.

The research was carried out by a PhD student and veterinary surgeon at the University of Sussex in the UK, Rosemary Perkins. She says the following:
This research confirms that fipronil and imidacloprid used in spot-on flea products are important surface water pollutants. With around 22 million cats and dogs in the UK, we urgently need to rethink how these products are regulated and used.
Of the methods mentioned above, the most common is washing your hands. The research by Perkins builds on earlier research which found that the insecticide fipronil was found in 98% of freshwater samples. The other insecticide, imidacloprid was found in 66% of freshwater samples. Both are in concentrations at which they can harm aquatic animals.

The scientists are asking for a review of regulations concerning these cat flea treatments. Professor David Goulson also of Sussex University, who supervised the research said that these two chemicals are extremely potent neurotoxic insecticides. 

He added that it is deeply concerning they are routinely found on the hands of dog and cat owners and that people should be concerned and will be concerned that they pollute rivers and kill aquatic life.

He implies a third way the chemicals get into watercourses. After applying the treatment, the dog owner or cat owner handles their pet and some of the chemical is still in the fur and that gets onto their hands.

I've mention this many times but these insecticides are very toxic to cats as well as people.

The solution?

There appears to be two obvious solutions. The first is not the use the spot-on treatments (I don't) and find other ways, holistic ways, to keep your home and your cat flea-free. 

Ideally it should be a beater type vacuum cleaner which disturbs the particles and flea larvae at the base of the carpet.

Another way is to use surgical gloves would you can buy very cheaply on Amazon when you apply this treatment. Use the gloves repeatedly and then when they are finally worn out placed them in the rubbish in the usual way. That would be a very effective way of preventing the insecticides getting into the water system.

The bottom line is to focus on keeping your home totally flea free which means applying a lot of vigilance such as flea combing your cat once or twice a day to keep tabs on what is going on. 

Minimise the number of cats that you keep in your home. That won't be that popular with some people but the more cats you have the more chance of fleas jumping from one cat to the other and the more treatments you use.

I just want people to think about this problem and try and find their own way to remove it because we don't want to put wildlife under further pressure. Wildlife across the globe is already under immense pressure from human activity in a myriad of ways.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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