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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Health Note: Canine Dips

Air Date: Week of

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Living on Earth’s Diane Toomey reports on a new study that looks at how insecticides on your dog’s fur could be transferred to your child.


CURWOOD: Coming up, an ancient herbal remedy makes a comeback in Hawaii. First, this Environmental Health Note from Diane Toomey.


TOOMEY: If you dip your dog for fleas, your child may be getting a dose of insecticides. Researchers at Mississippi State University dipped a dozen dogs, using a commercial, over-the-counter flea dip containing an organophosphate insecticide. Then, to gauge the amount of residue left over, they rubbed the animal's fur for five minutes with a cotton glove. They did this four hours after dipping, and again one, two, and three weeks after the treatment. And this is what they found: based on the residue collected at the four hour checkpoint, the researchers calculated that if a child played with that dog for five minutes, the child could absorb an amount of insecticide equal to or more than the amount the EPA says a person can safely be exposed to every day over a lifetime.

Researchers did find there was as much as an 87 percent drop-off in residue after the first week. But to figure out when it's safe for a child to pet the family dog, future research, they say, should chart this rate of decline in more detail. As for the dogs, researchers say the insecticide suppressed certain important neurological functions that can lead to effects ranging from headaches to coma. So, researchers caution against exposing the dogs to additional pesticides such as those found in flea collars, after they've been dipped. That's this week's health update. I'm Diane Toomey.

CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.



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