Natural TLC

Indoor Pollutants Take a Toll on Pets

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently studied 20 dogs and 40 cats, and found them contaminated with 48 of the 70 industrial chemicals for which they tested. Average levels of many chemicals were substantially higher in the companion animals than is proportionally typical for people.

Dogs tested 2.4 times higher for perfluorochemicals, used in stain- and grease-proof coatings. Cats tested 23 times higher in fire retardants (polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs), which the Environmental Protection Agency notes may be linked to hyperthyroidism. Cats also ingest five times the amount of mercury.

“Pets’ high levels of exposure come about because they spend their days in direct contact with floors and the ground, where dust, dirt, chemicals and pesticides concentrate,” says EWG’s Jan Houlihan. She also points to a 20-year body of scientific literature, “showing that pets can be sentinels for human problems.”

Animal lovers can protect pets by: testing food and water; selecting nontoxic shampoos, flea repellents and bug repellents; housecleaning with fragrance-free natural products; placing an organic cotton towel or rug on the pet’s bed; choosing safe toys; opening windows; replacing lawn with groundcovers that need no chemicals; sticking to organic fertilizers; and supporting the banning of unsafe chemicals.

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