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Flea collars toxic for pet owners

Wednesday - 6/27/2012, 1:26pm  ET

dog Barkley (WTOP/Mike Jakaitis)
Children who play with a pet could be exposed to up to 1,000 times the safe level. (WTOP/Mike Jakaitis)

Meghin Moore, special to wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Pet owners might feel at ease, putting a flea and tick collar on their beloved pet, but they could be doing more harm than good to themselves.

Flea and tick collars could be dangerous, according to a report from the National Resources Defense Council.

When an adult plays with a cat or dog wearing one of the collars, they could potentially be exposed to up to 500 times the safe level of pesticides set by the EPA. This number is higher for children. Children who play with a pet could be exposed to up to 1,000 times the safe level.

Some of the worst collars for pets contain the chemicals propoxur or tetrachlorvinphos. Propoxur has been proven to cause cancer, and tetrachlorvinphos is a known nervous system toxin. It also has been designated as a likely human carcinogen by the EPA.

Experts at the NRDC have said consumers should avoid flea and tick collars with the chemicals, and that non-chemical methods are much safer and effective. However, if needed, flea and tick products that can be taken as a pill are safer alternatives.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)