NRDC v. EPA (Tetrachlorvinphos)

In 2009, NRDC experts published a report about dangerous pesticides in household pet products and petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban all pet uses of tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP), a neurotoxin found in pet flea treatments, such as flea collars. TCVP is part of a family of pesticides called organophosphates (OPs), which are known to be toxic to the nervous system. Even small amounts of exposure can interfere with a child’s brain development and lead to learning disabilities.

The EPA had already restricted virtually all other indoor uses of OPs due to concerns that it can harm children’s nervous systems, yet the agency continued to allow the use of TCVP in pet flea products. When children play with their pets, there is a risk that the chemical can be absorbed through the skin or ingested when they put their hands in their mouths.

Following years of inaction by the EPA, NRDC sued the agency in 2014 and again in 2015. While the EPA finally acknowledged the danger TCVP poses to children, the agency failed to remove the dangerous pet products from the market.

When NRDC took EPA back to court in 2019 to demand that the agency act, the court sided with NRDC. In April 2020, it wrote, “Repeatedly, the EPA has kicked the can down the road and betrayed its prior assurances of timely action, even as it has acknowledged that the pesticide poses widespread, serious risks to the neurodevelopmental health of children.” The agency was ordered to take final action on NRDC’s petition to ban TCVP. Unfortunately, EPA denied the petition—leaving a dangerous pesticide on the market.

But even after more than a decade of advocacy, we will not stop until these toxic chemicals are removed from our homes, and children are protected. Once more, on September 18, 2020, we sued the agency for violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). And once more, the court sided with NRDC. On April 20, 2022, the court ruled that the EPA must revise its misleading assessment of the impacts of TCVP—and publish this new assessment in 120 days.

Last Updated

April 20, 2022



Issue Areas

Nontoxic Ways to Protect Your Pet

  • Karen L. Smith-Janssen
January 22, 2016

Court Rules EPA Must Revise "Flawed" Analysis of Toxic Chemical TCVP in Pet Flea Collars

April 20, 2022

Court Orders EPA to Act on Pesticide in Pet Collars

WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court in California today ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to act on a request by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) to ban the use of the toxic pesticide TCVP in pet collars. The EPA acknowledges exposure to the pesticide can harm kids’ developing brains.

April 22, 2020

NRDC to EPA: Protect our Children! NRDC Sues Agency to Ban Toxic Flea Collars and Pet Products

WASHINGTON – Today, NRDC filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) challenging the agency’s decision to allow the continued use of a highly toxic pesticide called tetrachlovinphos (TCVP) in flea control products used on pets. Due to concerns that pesticides like TCVP can harm children’s brains and nervous systems, the agency has already restricted household use of TCVP’s chemical cousins in the class of pesticides called organophosphates. But EPA continues to allow neurotoxic TCVP to be used in flea collars for dogs and cats, which puts kids at risk.

January 05, 2015