EPA analysis on Hartz pesticide for pet collars is ‘troubling’ – Court of Appeals

  • Plaintiff’s National Resource Defense Council has long called for a ban on the use of World War II nerve gas derivative TCVP
  • Court overturns 2020 EPA ruling against NRDC and orders new response within 120 days

(Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Wednesday tore up the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to allow continued use of the neurotoxin TCVP in pet collars and ordered the agency to issue a new decision within 120 days.

In a victory for the National Resources Defense Council, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals called the EPA’s 2020 analysis of the potential risk of TCVP to pet owners and their children “troubling,” “problematic.” and a “show of irrationality,” largely because the agency ignored a pet collar maker’s own data on the amount of pesticide dust emitted from the collars and assumed that the quantity was much lower.

The EPA “has not provided a well-reasoned or reasonable decision,” wrote Circuit Judge Ronald Gould, joined by Chief Circuit Judge Mary Murguia and U.S. 6th Circuit Judge R. Guy Cole Jr., sitting by designation.

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NRDC attorney Peter DeMarco said he hoped the agency would grant the motion for remand.

“The EPA has another opportunity to follow the science on this issue and fulfill its obligation to protect children from such a harmful pesticide,” DeMarco wrote in an email.

In a statement, the EPA said it was reviewing the decision and committed to using “sound science in decision-making under federal pesticide laws.”

According to the advisory, TCVP is derived from World War II nerve gas and is used in several collars offered by Hartz Mountain Corp to kill and repel ticks and fleas. (Hartz’s lawyers at Crowell & Moring did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.)

The 2009 NRDC petition stated that humans get TCVP on their hands when interacting with pets, and children ingest it by putting their hands in their mouths.

In December 2016, the last month of the Obama administration, the EPA deemed exposure to TCVP a potential health risk to children and promised to respond to the NRDC’s petition within 90 days.

In 2017, however, the EPA requested more data from Hartz on the volume of pesticide dust emitted from the collars. In August 2019, Hartz said the collars emitted very little dust, but over 97.2% of the dust was TCVP.

The EPA finally responded to the NRDC petition in July 2020. It abandoned Hartz’s conclusion and assumed that 14% of the dust was TCVP, based on the ratio of the weight of the pesticide to the total weight of the necklace. The EPA further reduced exposure by assuming that owners would cut off at least 20% of the collar’s length.

The EPA provided no explanation for these changes in its denial, and the 9th Circuit declined to consider the “post-hoc” explanations it offered during the court proceeding.

The case is Natural Resources Defense Council v. US Environmental Protection Agency; Hartz Mountain Corp, Speaker

For the Natural Resources Defense Council: Peter DeMarco, Aaron Colangelo and Ian Fein, NRDC

For EPA: Gus Maxwell and Jean Williams of the US Department of Justice; Benjamin Wakefield and Erin Koch of the Environmental Protection Agency

For Hartz Mountain: Amanda Shafer Berman, Kirsten Nathanson and Michael Boucher of Crowell & Moring

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