(Hartz’ Executive Summary of EPA Evaluation of Pet Spot-On Products, Page 6, Paragraph 2, Sentences 1 and 2)
“Unfortunatley [sic], there is a lot of misinformation on the internet about flea and tick products. Hartz is working constantly to offer factual information about flea and tick products, including a [sic] education tab on our Facebook page that will link you directly to the EPA website for accurate, independent information.”
-Dr. Melinda Fernyhough
Oh yeah, the Facebook Education Tab.
Thanks for reminding us, Mel!
Now that BH has gained a Facebook presence, we’d like to direct your attention to how Hartz has chosen to “educate” its 98,742 fans about fleas, ticks and Hartz products.
We’ll begin with the links to EPA pages.
This move is a wild gamble.
If people actually visit the EPA pages Hartz has provided and review the available information, it is highly unlikely someone would say, “I’m gonna chance it.”
Seeing as how Hartz, to its chagrin, cannot delete pages on the EPA’s website, their only course of action has been to act as if they’re comfortable with the information being offered by the EPA.
By doing so; they hope the public, in an act of laziness, will assume:
“Well, Hartz has willingly linked to this information. It must paint them in a good light. There’s no need to pour through hundreds of pages of boring EPA jargon, just gimme some good ole Hartz.”
Unfortunately, we think Hartz is often proven right in its assumptions about the public’s laziness, but there are notable exceptions.
Moving on, the first EPA link provided by Hartz is called the “Importance of Proper Label Usage.”
Interesting choice, Hartz.
This page is actually titled, “Pesticides: Health and Safety” but Hartz decided it was more appropriate to suggest the associated webpage focuses on the importance of following directions in yet another attempt to direct attention to the claim of “misuse”.
In reality, the importance of following label directions is only mentioned once on this entire page and it is accompanied by an interesting suggestion by the EPA, which we’ve emphasized:
“People should carefully follow label directions and monitor their pets for any signs of an adverse reaction after application, particularly when using these products for the first time. Pet owners may also want to consult a veterinarian about the responsible and effective use of flea and tick products, including whether the use of these products is necessary. Owners should consult a veterinarian about the best way to protect their pets from fleas and ticks, especially before using any product on weak, aged, medicated, sick, pregnant or nursing pets, or on pets that have previously shown signs of sensitivity to pesticide products.”
Here is the introductory text from the same EPA page, again we have added emphasis to a recurring theme:
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is pursuing a series of actions to increase the safety of spot-on pesticide products for flea and tick control for cats and dogs. Immediately, EPA will begin reviewing labels and determining which ones need stronger and clearer labeling statements. EPA will also develop more stringent testing and evaluation requirements for both existing and new products. EPA expects these steps will help prevent adverse reactions from pet spot-on products.
EPA is coordinating with Health Canada and with the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine on these actions. Canada identified similar concerns with incidents being reported from the use of spot-on products. The two countries have very similar products registered and some of the same registrants, and we often work together on review of data submissions. Some flea and tick products are drugs that are regulated by the FDA. We are collaborating with FDA as well because FDA regulates some similar products and it made sense for EPA to learn about FDA’s processes and learn from its experience in post-market surveillance of incidents associated with animal drugs.
We will continue to reach out to the public on actions EPA is taking and provide information that will help consumers use pet pesticide products safely. By using pesticide products correctly, including determining whether or not they are needed, consumers can help protect their pets.“
If people would just take the time to read these three introductory paragraphs from this EPA resource, they’d probably realize these products are not worth the risk, especially considering the possibility these products aren’t even necessary.
Although the EPA doesn’t spend much time on this page talking about the importance of following directions; they state, in multiple areas, the importance of improved labeling communications on the manufacturer’s end in order to make them easier to understand; citing, among other things, the need for narrower pet-weight ranges and clearer statements about not using dog product on cats or allowing cats to interact with treated dogs.
We’ve already pointed out how Hartz could go a long way towards alleviating this problem by keeping their dog products out of their cat packaging, but improved labeling is not the only thing this page talks about.
Under the “Mitigation Measures EPA Will Pursue to Prevent Future Incidents” section of this page, on the subject of “Safety Testing”, the EPA states:
“The team also found that the data we now require to determine the safety of these products for pets do not accurately predict the toxicity seen in the incidents that took place.”
The statement above is very interesting.
It seems to be saying despite studies submitted to the EPA by these companies demonstrating product safety, and thus earning approval, these studies are not being corroborated in the real world.
How could that be possible?
Corporations wouldn’t just lie to make money, right?
They would never falsify documents and submit them as truth, would they?
Under the “Results of this Evaluation of Pet Incidents” section of this page, the EPA also calls attention to the suspected problem of “inert” ingredients:
“Inert Ingredients. To address uncertainties about the “inert” (non-active) ingredients in these products and how they might contribute to toxicity, EPA will be pursuing the following actions:
- No longer allow the interchangeable use of inert ingredients in these formulations;
- Determine whether additional information is needed and, if so, require that information to evaluate certain inert ingredients; and
- Disallow inerts that have suspected toxic effects when and if these are identified.”
You may have been surprised by that last bullet, so we’d like to take a moment to clear up confusion about “inert” ingredients, using information from a different EPA page containing a disclosure about “inerts”. This information does not come from one of the pages offered up by Hartz on their Facebook “Education” Tab.
Again, we have chosen to add emphasis to one particular section:
“What is an inert ingredient?
Pesticide products contain both “active” and “inert” ingredients. The terms “active ingredient” and “inert ingredient” are defined by the federal law that governs pesticides (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act [FIFRA]). An active ingredient is one that prevents, destroys, repels, or mitigates a pest, or is a plant regulator, defoliant, desiccant or nitrogen stabilizer. By law, the active ingredient must be identified by name on the pesticide product’s label together with its percentage by weight.
All other ingredients in a pesticide product are called “inert ingredients.” An inert ingredient means any substance (or group of similar substances) other than an active ingredient that is intentionally included in a pesticide product. Called “inerts” by the law, the name does not mean non-toxic.
Pesticide products often contain more than one inert ingredient. Inert ingredients play key roles in the effectiveness of pesticides. Examples include inerts that prevent caking or foaming, extend product shelf-life, or solvents that allow herbicides to penetrate plants. “
If you look at the individual reports for all the products named in the EPA Public Advisory published in March 2010, you’d find that Hartz is suspected of having toxic “inert” ingredients.
Speaking of all the individual reports for the products named in the EPA’s Advisory, that’s exactly where Hartz directs consumers to next.
Again, Hartz hopes consumers will be overwhelmed by the prospect of going over all the data provided by the EPA and just assume Hartz must have checked out okay or they wouldn’t have dared to provide links to the EPA’s reports.
Of course, as loyal Readers know; if you analyze the data provided by the EPA, as we have, here is what gets revealed:
The following chart shows, if your dog experiences an adverse reaction to any of the Spot-On dog products listed in the EPA Public Advisory Published in March 2010, what the likelihood is (based on percentage of reported events) of your dog experiencing Death or a Major, Moderate or Minor event. As you can see, in the case of an adverse event, your dog is 2.5 times more likely to die from a Hartz product than any of the other brands found in the EPA Public Advisory published in March 2010. Hartz also tops the list for Major events and Moderate events, clearly making it the most dangerous of these products.
Likelihood of Death, Major, Moderate or Minor Event if Your Dog Experiences an Incident With a Manufacturer’s Product Listed in the EPA Public Advisory published in March 2010:
This next chart shows, if your cat experiences an adverse reaction to any of the Spot-On cat products listed in the EPA Public Advisory Published in March 2010, what the likelihood is (based on percentage of reported events) of your cat experiencing Death or a Major, Moderate or Minor event. As you can see, in the case of an adverse event, your cat is 3 times more likely to die from a Hartz product than any of the other brands found in the EPA Public Advisory published in March 2010. Hartz also tops the list for Major events and comes in second for Moderate, clearly making it the most dangerous of these products.
Likelihood of Death, Major, Moderate or Minor Event if Your Cat Experiences an Incident With a Manufacturer’s Product Listed in the EPA Public Advisory published in March 2010:
The last EPA link provided by Hartz pretty much says everything except “Don’t Buy These Kinds of Products!”:
“Taking care of your pets responsibly includes protecting them from fleas and ticks. Before purchasing and applying pesticide products to pets to control fleas and ticks, there is important information you should know.”
“Consult your veterinarian about the best way to to protect your pets from fleas and ticks and whether pesticides are even needed.”
“If your pet experiences an adverse reaction, immediately bathe the pet with mild soap and rinse with large amounts of water.”
“Keep the package with the product container (such as individual applicator tubes). Also keep the package after treatment in case adverse effects occur. You will want to have the instructions at hand, as well as contact information for the manufacturer.”
Aside from these warnings, the EPA gives tips on pesticide-free solutions:
“Flea and Tick Control Tips
- The following tips may help to prevent, reduce, or eliminate flea infestations:
- Vacuuming on a daily basis to remove eggs, larvae and adults is the best method for initial control of a flea infestation. It is important to vacuum the following areas: carpets, cushioned furniture, cracks and crevices on floors, along baseboards and the basement.
- Steam cleaning carpets may also help as the hot steam and soap can kill fleas in all stages of the life cycle. Pay particular attention to areas where pets sleep.
- Wash all pet bedding and family bedding on which pets lie in hot, soapy water every two to three weeks. If an infestation is severe, discard old pet bedding and replace it with fresh, clean material.
- Flea combs are very effective tools in the suppression of adult fleas. They allow hair to pass through the tines but not the fleas, removing fleas as well as flea feces and dried blood. Focus combing on those parts of the pet where the most fleas congregate, usually the neck or tail area. When fleas are caught, deposit them in hot soapy water to kill them.
- Consider keeping pets indoors.”
As mentioned near the beginning of this post, linking to all this information was a bold move by Hartz.
Stupid, but bold.
This concludes Part I of “A [sic] Education Tab”.
Stop by on Saturday for Part II.
Click this link for “‘A [sic] Education Tab’ Part II”