Down the Drain

Water pollution caused by cosmetic chemicals, cleaning supplies and plastics

July 12, 2007

Down the Drain: » in Pet Care

By choosing pet care products that do not contain hormone-disrupting chemicals, you protect your pet's health, and you reduce the amount of pollution entering San Francisco Bay.

•We tested 1 pet wash and 1 veterinary clinic.
•We detected 5 of 5 phthalates.
•We detected triclosan.
•We did not detect bisphenol A.

Hormone-disrupting contaminants were detected in Pet Care Wastewater (parts per billion)


  Pet Wash Veterinary Clinic
DEP 1.3 ND
DBP 0.76 ND
BBzP 2.3 ND
DOP 1.6 ND
Bisphenol A ND ND
Triclosan ND 14


More Information:


Phthalates in pet care

Phthalates are found in many pet care products. We detected 5 of 5 phthalates in wastewater from 1 pet wash. Studies show phthalates are common contaminants of people as well as streams and rivers (Kolpin 2002; CDC 2005; Wolff 2007).

  • Phthalates are widely used in cleansing products. In addition, diethyl phthalate (DEP) is a component of fragrance in many cleansing products – in this case, you won't see the phthalate listed as an ingredient, only the word "fragrance" will appear on the ingredient list.
  • Phthalates are widely used in plastic pet products, including toys, some food and water dishes, and food wraps.
  • Phthalates are widely used in plastic medical products, such as IV tubing and blood and fluid storage bags.
  • Phthalates may also be components of a variety of other pet care products, including pill coatings for pharmaceuticals and nutritional supplements, and insecticides and insect repellants.

To reduce exposures to phthalates for your pet:

  • Use pet wash products that do not contain phthalates or "fragrance" – read the ingredient label. If you own or work in a pet wash, offer customers phthalate-free products.
  • Use non-plastic pet dishes and pet toys.
  • Veterinary workers and pet owners can urge their veterinary facilities to reduce or eliminate use of products containing phthalates.
  • Avoid treating your pet with pills, insecticides, and insect repellants that contain phthalates.

Bisphenol A in pet care

Bisphenol A (BPA) may be found in pet care products. We did not detect bisphenol A in wastewater from a pet wash or a veterinary clinic, but studies indicate bisphenol A is commonly detected in people, and in streams and rivers (Kolpin 2002; Calafat 2005; Wolff 2007).

  • Bisphenol A is used to make a plastic coating, called BADGE, that is applied to the inside of the food and beverage cans to keep food from reacting with the metal of the can. This coating appears as a solid color on the inside of the can, and can leach into the food stored inside.
  • Bisphenol A is used to make polycarbonate plastics, sometimes used in pet food and water dishes. You can check for the type of plastic on the bottom of the dish – polycarbonate products may be labeled with plastic number 7 ("Other" type of plastic) or may contain the letters "PC" below the recycling symbol. Bisphenol A leaches out of these types of dishes and into your pet's water or food.

To reduce exposures to bisphenol A for your pet:

  • Cut down on canned foods for your pet.
  • Avoid using polycarbonate plastic dishes for your pets. Alternatives include dishes made from glass, stainless steel, ceramics, or polypropylene dishes labeled plastic number 5 on the bottom (translucent, not transparent).

Triclosan in pet care

Triclosan may be found in "antibacterial" soaps, detergents, and other cleansing products that may be used in veterinary clinics or for home pet care. We detected triclosan in wastewater from 1 veterinary clinic. Triclosan is commonly detected in people, and in streams and rivers (Adolfsson-Erici 2002; Kolpin 2002; TNO 2005; Wolff 2007).

To reduce exposures to triclosan for your pet:

  • Avoid unnecessary use of "antibacterial" pet care products. The American Medical Association recommends against using products with antibacterial ingredients without specific need (Tan 2002). Studies indicate that households that use antibacterial products are no healthier than those that use soap and water and other typical cleansing products (Larson 2003; FDA 2005).
  • If you need to use an antimicrobial skin disinfectant, use an alcohol hand rub instead of a product containing triclosan.
  • Veterinary clinics can switch to effective alternatives to triclosan-based disinfection products.