This Earth Day, it’s important to consider the environment not only for its impact on Mother Nature and our human health, but our favorite furry companions as well. In the first study of its kind, Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that companion cats and dogs are polluted with even higher levels of many of the same synthetic industrial chemicals that researchers have recently found in people, including newborns. Here are some excerpts from their recent news release that will make you think twice if you’re trying to make your home earth friendly for pets:
The 20 dogs and 40 cats EWG studied were contaminated with 48 of 70 industrial chemicals tested. Average levels of many chemicals were substantially higher in pets than is typical for people, with 2.4 times higher levels of stain-and grease-proof coatings (perfluorochemicals) in dogs, 23 times more fire retardants (PBDEs) in cats, and more than 5 times the amounts of mercury, compared to average levels in people found in national studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and EWG.
“Like humans, pets are also exposed to toxic chemicals on a daily basis, and as this investigation found, are contaminated at higher levels,” said Jane Houlihan, VP for Research at EWG. “The presence of chemicals in dogs and cats sounds a cautionary warning for the present and future health of children as well. This study demonstrating the chemical body burden of dogs and cats is a wake-up call for stronger safety standards from industrial chemical exposures that will protect all members of our families, including our pets.”
“This study shows that our pets are susceptible to the absorption of potentially harmful chemicals from our environment just as we are. Perhaps even more troubling is that these chemicals have been found in higher levels in pets than in humans, implying potential harmful consequences for their health and well being and the need for further study,” said Dr. John Billeter, DVM, the veterinarian who conducted the animal tests.
Just as children ingest pollutants in tap water, play on lawns with pesticide residues, or breathe in an array of indoor air contaminants, so do their pets. But with their compressed lifespans, developing and aging seven or more times faster than children, pets also develop health problems much more rapidly. Pets, like infants and toddlers, have limited diets and play close to the floor, often licking the ground as well as their paws, greatly increasing both their exposures to chemicals and the resulting health risks.
Under current federal law, chemical companies do not have to prove chemicals are safe before they are used in products, including pet toys and other products for our companion animals. For pets as for people, the result is a body burden of complex mixtures of industrial chemicals never tested for
safety. Health problems in pets span high rates of cancer in dogs and skyrocketing incidence of hyperthyroidism in cats. Genetic changes can’t explain the increases in certain health problems among pets, leaving scientists to believe that chemical exposures play a significant role.
View the complete research at EWG.