To The Daily Sun,
I recently learned of a threat to the lakes and rivers of New Hampshire and felt compelled to share this information.
Dogs who have recently received flea and/or tick treatments and dogs wearing flea and tick collars present a danger to the lakes and rivers in which they are allowed to swim. The chemicals, these parasiticides, can kill a wide variety of invertebrates essential to the ecosystem.
According to reporting by the Veterinarian New Service, “The insecticidal chemicals fipronil and imidacloprid … are active ingredients in many topical flea treatments, including in popular brands such as Advantage and Frontline Plus ... however, their active ingredients also can kill tiny aquatic insects that are a crucial food source for fish and birds.”
The Science Daily reports that "recent studies have shown that fipronil degrades to compounds that are more persistent in the environment, and more toxic to most insects, than fipronil itself. Our results, showing that fipronil and its toxic breakdown products are present in nearly all of the freshwater samples tested, are extremely concerning."
According to the National Pesticide Information Center, “Permethrin is used in … flea collars and in spot-on treatments for dogs…. When permethrin gets into surface water like lakes or streams, it sticks very strongly to sediment and can stay there for more than a year….Permethrin is highly toxic to fish and other animals that live in either salt water or fresh water.”
The loss of small insects and other invertebrate creatures will cause irreparable harm to New Hampshire’s delicate aquatic systems. Making the situation worse, the loss of this important but relatively invisible food base can occur without much notice until the destruction of the ecosystem has gone past the point of no return.
I am concerned that not enough is known about the potential dangers of flea and tick treatment, and suggest four important remedies:
1. I call upon residents and visitors to New Hampshire’s lakes and rivers to keep dogs who have recently received flea/tick treatments, or dogs with active chemical collars, to voluntarily keep their dogs out of freshwater systems.
2. I urge the veterinary industry to employ safer alternatives to the toxic chemicals now in use.
3. I urge the various media statewide to report on this phenomenon to increase public awareness of the ecological threat, and
4. I call upon the New Hampshire legislative bodies to initiate legal protections for our freshwater ecosystems.
Healthy aquatic ecosystems are essential to tourism and the New Hampshire way of life.