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Old 04-06-2005, 12:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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The Environmental Protection Agency Takes On A New Role

Dr. Mengele would be proud:

Quote:
BOXER SHOCKED BY EPA NOMINEE’S FAILURE TO CONDEMN

PROGRAM TO TEST PESTICIDES ON CHILDREN

Washington, D.C.– During a hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was shocked and disappointed by EPA Administrator Nominee Stephen Johnson’s failure to condemn a pending EPA program to test pesticides on children.

The program, the Children’s Environmental Exposure Research Study, or CHEERS, would pay the parent of a baby up to $970 if they expose their child to household pesticides and other toxins over a two-year period. The parents are also given a camcorder, which they can keep, to tape the child’s activities and reactions.

Boxer said, “The idea that the Administration would pay parents to expose their children to toxins is absolutely reprehensible. Further the fact that EPA told parents there was no risk to participating in the study is unconscionable.”

The EPA, National Academy of Sciences, and American Public Health Association have all stated that children are especially vulnerable to pesticides. Pesticides can cause cancer and adversely affect a child’s neurological, reproductive, respiratory, immune, and endocrine systems, even at low levels.

The program, which is sponsored primarily by the EPA, is also sponsored by the American Chemistry Council, which reportedly agreed to give the EPA $2 million to conduct the study.

Johnson said that the program had not been cancelled, and he made no commitment to do so.

Boxer said, “The moral and ethical issues surrounding this program are overwhelming, and Mr. Johnson’s failure to outright condemn the CHEERS program and cancel it is unacceptable.”
I'm so staggered by the magnitude of evil this program represents that I'm not even sure who is to blame. I have no clue if this is a Bush administration thing or what.
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Old 04-06-2005, 01:01 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Read the EPA page at Basic Information, CHEERS, Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study, US EPA:
Quote:
What will I be asked to do?

* Participants are not required to use pesticides or to change any of their regular household routines or how they normally use bug sprays (pesticides).

* Allow two of our researchers to visit you at your home every 3 to 6 months for two years. If pesticides are used, notify researchers to arrange a time at your convenience to conduct study activities before and after the use of pesticides. The visit will take approximately 2 hours per day or per visit.

* Videotape (the video camcorder will be provided) some of your child’s activities and keep an activity diary about your child.

* Allow your child to wear a small watch size activity sensor during the study period. (Approximately 1 week every 3 - 6 months)

* Help to collect some samples of food and urine. Our research staff will show you how to do this and provide you with needed supplies.

* Keep track of your home pesticide and cleaning products use.
I'll have an opinion later.
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Old 04-06-2005, 01:35 PM   #3 (permalink)
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So they're not advocating that you intentionally expose your children to the contaminants they're attempting to study what actual impact the incidental exposure to those toxins may have?

I hate to say it, but unless there's something being omitted by the EPA's info, this sounds like they're attempting a legitimate study without adding any danger to the children, I'd normally be in favor of something like this for the sake of identifying possible unknown risk factors in my children's environment. I'd certainly be researching the program more before enrolling, however.
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Old 04-06-2005, 01:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guy44
I'm so staggered by the magnitude of evil this program represents that I'm not even sure who is to blame. I have no clue if this is a Bush administration thing or what.
I don't see how it is evil. After reading the link provided by Redlemon, the article you quoted seems like a gross mischaracterization of the study. They aren't asking parents to apply pesticides in their home, and parents aren't required to change their regular cleaning routines. From the available evidence, Sen. Boxer appears to have no clue what she is talking about.

It seems like a good idea to me.

EDIT: I type too slowly.
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Old 04-06-2005, 01:37 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Sounds like some are jumping to conclusion. Since they're not injuecting kids with chems or any such nonsense like that, it seems to be a program that may be useful. Sure, the Dems can't bash Bush about it, but if the study makes a link between the use of pesticides and aersols in the home with childhood illnesses, it may be a program worthwhile.
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Old 04-06-2005, 01:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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it doesn't sound worthy of the Mengele reference, but it does sound suspect for a human study, especially kids.
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Old 04-06-2005, 01:43 PM   #7 (permalink)
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World of difference between the two articles. Did you really think the EPA would pay parents to "expose their child to household pesticides and other toxins?" Hardly.

Amazing what you can find out when you put in a little effort. Kudos Redlemon.
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Old 04-06-2005, 01:48 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martinguerre
it doesn't sound worthy of the Mengele reference, but it does sound suspect for a human study, especially kids.
From my understanding they're focusing on children for the simple fact that they're being exposed anyway and people are worried what could be happening to them. They are afterall much more susceptible to the effects of the chemicals than an adult and are also undergoing maturation that could be impacted by these substances.

I guess it makes a huge difference that they're not administering the toxins, they're simply attempting to gather information about the effects of POSSIBLE toxins in a childs environment.
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Old 04-06-2005, 01:57 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coppertop
World of difference between the two articles. Did you really think the EPA would pay parents to "expose their child to household pesticides and other toxins?" Hardly.

Amazing what you can find out when you put in a little effort. Kudos Redlemon.

What he said.

Also, I think that there was a little hope that the story would be true, because it would give them an opportunity to bash Bush.
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Old 04-06-2005, 02:42 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I don't have a problem with this at all. The only way we can find out if the use of certain household chemicals effect children in negative ways is to do a study.

The study does not 'expose' them to anything they weren't already being exposed to. They just ask parents to continue their normal cleaning and pest control schedules. It's basically (almost) free money.
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Old 04-06-2005, 04:15 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Barbara Boxer is shocked and offended! Looks like a good excuse to cut funding to the EPA next year.

Just kidding, I wonder why she thinks that they would willingly harm children. That article is more negative to Boxer than the EPA.
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Old 04-07-2005, 01:40 AM   #12 (permalink)
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What I want to know is how many sick fuckers would purposely expose their children to pesticides just to get the cash. Junkies in a rough spell would probably do it, and some of them manage to have kids for substantial periods of time before Social Services takes them away. Okay, so there are probably not that many people that would sink so low even if it is a distinct possibility.

I'd chalk this one up to Boxer's press secretary trying to keep her in the news. Maybe she'll even pick up a few more voters when she goes up for re-election because she's for the children. And babies, too. She protects babies.

But seriously, this is probably just to keep her in the news and appease her constituents (the ones who voted for her anyway). That first article seemed pretty inoffensive to me, all in all. What ticks me off is that people who agree with her act surprised when worse situations arise and nobody is listening to them anymore. I don't see it as a productive to call any political stunt "evil" or use other similar tactics to discredit questionable (or otherwise) policies just for the sake of retaliating. It really takes the steam out of the rarer occasions where making so much noise would actually be commensurate with the offensive policy.
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Old 04-07-2005, 03:27 AM   #13 (permalink)
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OK, back with my opinion. I'm a consulting environmental engineer, so I actually read the results of studies similar to these. They picked Jacksonville, Florida, because the way insects invade houses there make it essentially necessary to use pesticides year-round. Pesticides have been through some degrees of testing, and it is "generally accepted" how they should be used in order not to deliver a harmful dose to an adult. There has been a recent realization that you can't just "scale down" the dosage levels when it comes to the effects of medicine on children (see studies of antidepressants, for instance). It is likely that the same is true for pesticides.

The EPA does not know enough right now to say "You should never use pesticides indoors if you have children under 3". So, the study. Only 70 households, which is pretty small. Looks like they'll select some households that avoid pesticides altogether, in order to have a control group. The pages I linked to said "Researchers at EPA are very sensitive to issues associated with children participating in this study. The study protocol has been reviewed and approved by four independent institutional review boards for the protection of human participants." That sounds like more review than would be typical.

I think the EPA is doing everything that they can in this study. I think Boxer is grandstanding.
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Old 04-08-2005, 11:38 AM   #14 (permalink)
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And now Boxer's uninformed opinions cause the program to be cancelled.

EPA Scraps Controversial Pesticide Testing Program
Quote:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush's choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday canceled a controversial program to test the effects of bug spray and other pesticides on infants after two Senate Democrats threatened to block his confirmation.

Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Bill Nelson of Florida said they would place a "hold" on the White House's nomination of acting EPA administrator Stephen Johnson unless he canceled the $9 million program, which would have paid families $970 to videotape how spraying insecticides in their homes affected infants.

Boxer and Nelson said the program put children at risk.

Questioned by Boxer at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on Wednesday, Johnson said he suspended the Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study last year before it began pending an independent review. But he did not commit to Boxer's request to cancel it.

"I have concluded that the study cannot go forward, regardless of the outcome of the independent review," Johnson, a career EPA scientist, said in a statement.

The committee will vote on Johnson's confirmation on April 13.

The EPA had defended its children's environmental exposure study as important to help the agency understand how kids are exposed to pesticides that are common in American homes. The research project plans to examine the homes of selected children in Duval County, Florida, and will give participants a camcorder, children's clothing and a $970 payment.

"Information from the study was intended to help EPA better protect children," Johnson said on Friday. "EPA will continue to pursue the goal of protecting children's' health."

The research project, which is partially funded by the American Chemistry Council, does not require the participants to buy or use any additional pesticides than what is already in their homes.
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Old 04-08-2005, 11:45 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Redlemon thank you for your insights, the info that you reference was really enlightening. As for Ms. Boxer I think it's dusgusting that when this came up for review all that she heard were the words "children" and "pesticide study" and she automatically went into grandstanding righteously indignant spin mode. God forbid that she actually understand the purpose of the study and now we get to wait longer and hope that these substances aren't killing our children early.
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Old 04-08-2005, 11:52 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redlemon
And now Boxer's uninformed opinions cause the program to be cancelled.

EPA Scraps Controversial Pesticide Testing Program
Generally, I would like to give her the benefit of the doubt and consider her uninformed, but she might well be informed and simply using this study in a partisan attempt to stall Johnson's nomination as the next administrator of the EPA.

You may not like Johnson independent of partisan politics. You might not like the study because the pesticide industry is funding it, but to suggest that they are going to poison children seems a bit questionable.

Another article on the topic:

Science, Ethics, and a Stalled Nomination
Quote:


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

April 8, 2005
Science, Ethics and a Stalled Nomination
By FELICITY BARRINGER and KENNETH CHANG

WASHINGTON, April 7 - Last fall, when the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a $9 million study of how infants and toddlers are exposed to and affected by bug sprays, carpet cleaners and other pesticides and chemicals in their homes, it sought and found a generous partner in the American Chemistry Council, which generally seeks less stringent regulations for its members' products.

The goal of the study, the agency said, was to "fill data gaps" in the scientific knowledge regulators use to make decisions about which pesticides can go on the nation's hardware shelves. The E.P.A. offered parents as much as $970, children's clothes like bibs and a camcorder to record their children's activities. The chemistry council contributed $2 million.

The study, proposed for Florida but interrupted, is now being used by Democrats to stall the nomination of Stephen L. Johnson, a career scientist with years of work in the agency's pesticide divisions, to be the E.P.A.'s next administrator.

Mr. Johnson has been the acting administrator since Michael O. Leavitt left in January to lead the Health and Human Services Department.

With Mr. Johnson under fire, the agency said it would await a report from a scientific advisory group before making its decision on whether to continue the study. But other statements and private hints from the agency on Thursday gave indications that it wouldW abandon the work, rather than face the public relations battle of fighting charges that it had planned to expose babies to toxic substances needlessly.

On Thursday afternoon, the E.P.A. released a statement saying: "In fall 2004, Deputy Administrator Steve Johnson directed that the Children's Health Environmental Exposure Research Study be suspended. Since that time, no work has been conducted on the study, nor is any planned."

The genesis of the study, one of dozens in the past decade in which the agency has pooled its money with that of the companies it regulates, reflects two conflicting realities.

Regulators and industry alike want as much certainty as possible about what common chemicals like those found under many kitchen sinks can do to the most vulnerable human populations. But there is an ethical dilemma about how to acquire that information without hurting the very people who are meant to be protected.

Jeff Goldhagen, who directs the county health center in the Jacksonville, Fla., area, where the study was to take place, described the research as similar to studies in earlier years that looked at the damage children suffered from secondhand cigarette smoke.

"Exposing children to pesticides was not a part of the study," said Dr. Goldhagen, the director of the Duval County Health Department and a pediatrician. "This was merely a look at those families, in which children live, who use pesticides. What is their exposure?"

In the Jacksonville area, he added, up to 80 percent of the households use pesticides "to control for insects, whether cockroaches, termites, ants, spiders."

The vocal opposition to the study by two environmental groups was echoed in the Senate this week by two Democrats, Barbara Boxer of California and Bill Nelson of Florida.

Mike Casey, a spokesman for the Environmental Working Group, called it "a spectacularly bad idea." In modern research involving humans, Mr. Casey said, "you never want to conduct a study in which people stand to get no health benefits."

Erik D. Olson, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said: "We would argue that if you want to find out what the exposures are to kids that are in homes where pesticides are heavily applied, you can find them out through a random, well-designed look at blood and urine samples of the kids. For $9 million you could do 1,000 kids easily."

The E.P.A. study was to focus on 60 children.

The whole issue of human testing has been a subject of controversy at the agency for much of the past decade. After the 1996 passage of the Food Quality and Protection Act, which provided for tighter controls on pesticides, the industry began to push for increased human testing.

Unlike medicines, for which drug companies conduct trials on people to establish safety, pesticides have in the past generally been tested on animals. The environmental agency notes the lowest levels that cause noticeable harm to animals and then sets the maximum allowable human exposure as much as 1,000 times lower.

That adjustment is designed to provide a margin of safety to allow for different biochemical processes in animals and people and for the extra sensitivity of young children to certain chemicals.

The chemical industry says human studies are more relevant for regulators guarding human health. They also may provide evidence that the agency could use to loosen some of the more stringent controls.

After the 1996 law, some chemical companies sponsored studies that paid people to expose themselves to toxic chemicals in an effort to show that higher exposure levels were still safe.

In December 2001, Dr. Johnson sought guidance from the National Academy of Sciences on whether his agency should consider such studies in making its regulatory decisions.

"What factors should the agency consider in determining whether to accept, consider, or rely on human studies performed by third parties?" Dr. Johnson wrote in a letter to the academy. "Are there clear boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable human research?"

The academy's report, released last year, said such studies were ethical provided that strict standards were used, so that there was little chance of harm to people. The academy also said the agency should accept studies conducted before the use of such standards, unless they were fundamentally flawed.

Jamie Conrad, assistant general counsel for the American Chemistry Council, said the council believed that any human testing studies submitted to the agency should comply with the federal testing guidelines.

"Our view is that the safety of human subjects is absolutely paramount," Mr. Conrad said.

The agency, under the pressure of an industry lawsuit, has proposed regulations that incorporate the academy's recommendations.

But passing scientific muster is not the same as passing public muster, the agency found shortly before the election last fall, when The Washington Post and the Environmental Working Group brought wide public notice to the agency's partnership with the chemical industry in the Florida research project and the use of inducements to families to participate.

The Democratic attacks made that point anew on Wednesday.

"I'm going to stand up for the health and safety of children in my state," Mr. Nelson said, announcing on Thursday that he, like Ms. Boxer, was holding up Mr. Johnson's nomination.


Felicity Barringer reported from Washington for this article, and Kenneth Chang from New York.
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Old 04-08-2005, 11:56 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sapiens
Generally, I would like to give her the benefit of the doubt and consider her uninformed, but she might well be informed and simply using this study in a partisan attempt to stall Johnson's nomination as the next administrator of the EPA.
Excellent point, I hadn't considered that.
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Old 04-08-2005, 04:03 PM   #18 (permalink)
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It's stuff like this that makes me glad I let go of my long-held belief in the inherent goodness and righteousness of the Democratic Party, but it's still disheartening no matter which side of the aisle is responsible for pulling this type of crap. Politics are unfortunately always going to be politics.
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