Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog » Blog Archive Environmental Poisoning by Pesticides—Household Chemical Products, and Medications Impact Domestic Pet Populations

(Beyond Pesticides, November 12, 2020) A new report from the University of Milan and Poison Control Center (CVA) in Milan, Italy suggests that domestic animals experience frequent environmental poisoning by household toxicants. This research highlights the significance of investigating methods to classify diseases shared across multiple species to reduce the adverse effects of toxicant exposure. Researchers note, “These findings can provide useful information for the identification and monitoring of known and emerging toxicants, with positive repercussions on human, animal, and environmental health.”

Veterinary toxicologists collaborated with the Poison Control Centre of Milan to analyze data related to animal poisoning episodes from January 2017 to March 2019. Evaluated data includes comprehensive information about animal species, potential poisoning agents, route of exposure, and clinical signs. Toxic chemicals (toxicants) considered include pesticides (insecticides, rodenticides, molluscicides, herbicides, and fungicides), drugs/medication (human and veterinary medicinal products, tobacco/nicotine, and drugs of abuse), household products (i.e., detergent, disinfectants), and other causative compounds. To analyze data results, researchers used IBM® SPSS® Statistics software and graphed findings using Prism by GraphPad.

Researchers reported 442 animal poisoning episodes. Pesticides and medicine are the two major causes of domestic animal poisoning (34.1{50531db320f8e8a316d79d6a285e47c71b6e4f6739df32858cb86474d7e720e9} and 33.5{50531db320f8e8a316d79d6a285e47c71b6e4f6739df32858cb86474d7e720e9} of incidents, respectively). The remainder of animal poising incidents are from household products and other causative agents. The number one cause of pesticide-related poising events is insecticides (44.6{50531db320f8e8a316d79d6a285e47c71b6e4f6739df32858cb86474d7e720e9})—including pyrethrin/pyrethroids and neonicotinoids, followed by rodenticides, fungicides, herbicides, molluscicides, and unspecified pesticides. The leading cause of medicine-related poisoning is veterinary prescriptions. Species observations demonstrate that dogs and cats are most frequently associated with animal poisoning incidents. The most common exposure route is ingestion, preceding dermal and mucosal exposure (via inhalation). Nearly all animal exposures incidents are accidental (93{50531db320f8e8a316d79d6a285e47c71b6e4f6739df32858cb86474d7e720e9}), however, some incidents occur due to owner errors/misuses, intentional poising, or unknown sources.

Individuals often use toxic chemicals without realizing the harm that they can cause to themselves and their pets. Pets are of specific concern, as their behavior patterns make them more likely to encounter harmful chemicals and their smaller bodies increase susceptibility to chemical effects. Furthermore, pets can develop diseases comparable to human illnesses from susceptibility to the same environmental contaminants, but at a quicker pace. This is because pets share a combination of gene functions and pathophysiological (biological processes associated with disease or injury) similar to humans. Animals, therefore, can act as viable biological sentinel species (bioindicators) to determine and assess the impact (especially chronic) of environmental pollutants on human health.

Clinal results from this research reveal similar effects on domesticated animals, as that exposure to these chemicals causes gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting, neurological problems like convulsions/tremors and ataxia, heart problems like slow or rapid heart rate, and irregular heartbeat, and sometimes mortality. Cats are highly sensitive to synthetic pyrethroid insecticides, triggering seizures, tremors, muscle spasms that can lead to death. This study does not explicitly consider cumulative pesticide exposure incidents from household products and veterinary medicine, which could compound health effects.

The use of chemical pesticides must not exacerbate the risk to both animals and humans in the process of avoiding or controlling bacteria, viruses, and other biological pests. Furthermore, we must have a full knowledge of chemicals we are commonly exposed to in our environment, especially as agencies fail to accurately assess the cause of pesticide-induced diseases of these environmental contaminants. Harms ultimately associated with contaminant exposure should end through policy reform and the adoption of safer practices that eliminate toxic pesticide use. With far too many human and animal diseases in the U.S. associated with pesticide exposure, replacing pesticides with organic, non-toxic alternatives is crucial for safeguarding public health, particularly organisms vulnerable to pesticide toxicity. See Beyond Pesticide’s pets page to learn more about pesticide impacts on pet health, including how to how to protect your pet from pesticides and the least-toxic controls for flea and tick infestation. Additionally, Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database is a comprehensive resource for additional scientific literature that documents elevated rates of diabetes, cancer, as well as other chronic diseases and illnesses among people exposed to pesticides.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source(s): University of Milan/CVA