Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s study found that US Pets are polluted with high levels of toxic chemicals. Like children, our pets play on lawns sprayed with pesticides, lounge on floors coated with cleaner and fragrance residues, and breathe in air contaminants. Their smaller size, closer contact with contaminated surfaces, and habits of licking, and putting household objects in their mouths all increases their exposure to chemicals.
The study analyzed both dogs and cats for 70 industrial chemicals and found them contaminated with 48 of them. Furthermore, the pets had levels of 43 of these chemicals higher than the levels typically found in people. The study looked at plastics and food packaging chemicals, heavy metals, fire retardants, and stain-proofing chemicals in pooled samples of blood and urine from 20 dogs and 37 cats collected at a Virginia veterinary clinic.
Dogs tested were contaminated with 11 carcinogens, 24 neurotoxins, and 31 chemicals that are toxic to reproductive systems. Not surprising then, according to Purdue University Dept of Veterinary Pathothobiology, 20 – 25% of dogs die of cancer.
The study found cats contaminated with even more chemicals, including 40 chemicals toxic to the reproductive system, 15 toxic to the endocrine system, 9 carcinogens, and 34 neurotoxins. Endocrine toxins affect the thyroid and thyroid disease is a leading cause of illness in older cats. Other endocrine toxins are found in fire retardants called PBDEs, and in plastics that release BPA. Both of these have been linked to illness in cats.
In addition to residue from cleaning fluids and pesticides, some other sources of chemical exposure include:
- fire retardants in bedding, foam furniture, house dust, and food
- teflon-family chemicals (perfluorochemicals) in food from dog & cat food bag coatings, stain-proofed furniture, bedding, and carpets
- Phthalates from plastic containers, toys, shampoos, and many other consumer products
- DMP (dimethyl phthalate) used in plastics and other consumer products, including insect repellents and flea & tick collars
This was one of the most extensive investigations into chemical exposures for house pets and the findings are in excess of any imagined. The fact that much of this exposure comes from common household objects, cleaners, and pesticides means that our children and ourselves are being exposed to these same toxins as well. reducing our chemical exposure levels – even a little – can improve the lives of our pets and ourselves.