For Immediate Release, May 19, 2022
Nathan Donley, (971) 717-6406, firstname.lastname@example.org
Federal Watchdog to Investigate EPA’s Inaction on Seresto Flea Collars
Despite Nearly 100,000 Complaints of Harm to Pets, Including 2,500 Deaths, Agency Failed to Alert Public Or Restrict Collar’s Use
WASHINGTON— The Office of Inspector General for the Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it is investigating whether the agency violated federal law by failing to take action on the Seresto flea collar linked to thousands of pet deaths.
As of April 2022, the EPA had received more than 98,000 complaints linking the flea collar to harms in pets, including more than 2,500 reports of pet deaths. There have also been more than 900 complaints of harm to humans.
For years owners of pets wearing the flea collars have been filing complaints with the EPA about pets dying or experiencing seizures, sudden blindness, rashes and hives. But despite the mounting concerns and a formal legal petition from the Center in 2021 asking the EPA to ban the collar, the agency has not put in place a single protective measure or notified the public about any concerns associated with the product.
“The EPA’s failure to take any steps to protect beloved family pets after nearly 100,000 complaints is a sad reminder of the industry’s outsized influence over the agency,” said Nathan Donley, environmental health science director at the Center. “I hope this investigation forces the EPA’s pesticide office to finally act on these reports and prioritize health and safety.”
The investigation has two objectives: To probe whether the EPA’s response to the pesticide incidents involving Seresto provides assurance that the collars can still be used safely and to determine whether the agency adhered to its legal requirements in its approval of Seresto.
News of the investigation comes after documents obtained by the Center found that EPA scientists were extremely frustrated by the agency’s inaction and were instructed to refrain from emailing about their growing concerns about the safety of Seresto.
During one email exchange, an EPA scientist stated he believed Seresto should be removed from the market and not used on endangered San Joaquin kit foxes. In that same email exchange, the scientist divulged that he and a colleague had previously been instructed by a manager, at the behest of another manager, “not to express our concerns about Seresto in emails.”
The manager did not deny the allegation but suggested that instead of emailing they should have a conversation about the matter.
In a separate email response to the inquiry on the endangered foxes, a different EPA career scientist replied to his colleagues asking about how to proceed: “It depends if you want the real answer or just some talking points to cover our ass for doing nothing.”
In other email discussions, another EPA employee lamented: “The faucet won't turn off! Another Seresto complaint. I hope this all leads to EPA removing this product and any like it! (hey I can dream, right?)”
A fourth employee wrote of feeling like “bashing my head against a wall” after the EPA ignored an Inspector General report identifying the need to modernize the EPA’s incident database. And in regard to Seresto, the employee stated: “I hope this time someone can blow the lid off this travesty.”
A fifth EPA employee tasked with investigating complaints about Seresto divulged to another staff member that they were getting copied on responses from scientists regarding Seresto and “how they have been ignored for years.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.