Poison, Protection, and Children
The EPA and Industry Team Up to Protect Profits in Florida Study, Leaving Children Behind
By: Robina Suwol & Ashley Posner, Esq.,
California Safe Schools
They call it CHEERS. The "Children’s Environmental Exposure Research Study" is a cooperative agreement between the Environmental Protection Agency and the American Chemical Council. The Chemical Council will provide $2.1 million of the $9 million dollar study—the rest coming from our federal government.
But there’s nothing cheery about CHEERS. The acronym is deliberately misleading and, when examined, downright scary. This time, the government is protecting an unethical study that actually exposes children, including babies, to some of the chemical industry’s most noxious poisons. Who is the EPA protecting? The health of American children? Or the profits of American corporate interests?
Parents of children in the CHEERS study must agree to routinely spray or have pesticides sprayed inside their homes during the two-year study period, according to Chemical & Engineering News. Chemical concentrations will be measured in air, dust, and urine samples of the children, and by analyzing chemicals absorbed in clothing before and after pesticide applications.
The chemicals EPA and their corporate partners want to expose these kids to are already known to cause serious health problems. Along with pesticides, which are known to damage neurological and reproductive development, the study includes phthalates, (chemicals used to soften plastics). Phtalates have been linked in animal studies to damage to kidneys and liver and are considered a probable human carcinogen.
EPA also wants to expose Florida kids to brominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardants). Animal studies indicate that these chemicals may harm neurodevelopment, and a recent study determined of exposure of these chemicals to fetal and newborn mice showed a permanent effect on spontaneous behavior, learning, and memory. Still another chemical category under CHEERS is perfluorinated chemicals, which have shown a statistically significant association with bladder cancer.
In return, the parents of the young test subjects will receive up to $970 and a free video camcorder for participating. And, revealing their target demographic of infants, they are offering a ‘study bib’. A review of the protocol, however, suggests that they won’t receive health care, during or after the study. In fact, the study seems to entirely ignore any potential for serious injury to any of its participants. Participation of the Centers for Disease Control and Florida’s County Health Department appear to be only window dressing.
If it’s not already obvious why this study must be stopped, consider the following. Floridians are already disproportionably burdened by toxins. Due to the state’s humid conditions, it uses fungicides extensively—some reports claim that Florida’s fruits and vegetables can be sprayed with 5 or more active ingredients shown to be male reproductive toxins in animal studies, and the cause of birth defects. Adding additional pesticides and chemicals to the already overburdened bodies of Florida’s children raises additional serious health issues. According to EPA's own Guidelines for Carcinogen Risk Assessment, children receive 50 percent of their lifetime cancer risks in their first two years of life. And because children are growing, they are more vulnerable than adults to toxins. Nonetheless, EPA is proceeding to add a prescription of select poison to the infants used in this study.
Furthermore, EPA’s study is inherently unethical because children cannot legally give their consent to participate in such experimentation. CHEERS directly violates the Nuremberg Code Directives for Human Experimentation arising from world condemnation of the Nazis’ experimentation on human subjects without their consent. Using children without their consent violates their constitutional right to equal protection under the law. Moreover, this study suggests that participating parents are fully informed and competent to rely on the judgment of the individuals conducting the study or applying the pesticides on their own behalf as well as for their babies. Furthermore, the use of government funds to underwrite such tests may create a liability to the government (and the American people) for any future problems attributable to the study.
There may be a glimmer of hope. A recent release was sent out from EPA advising that the study had been suspended while study protocol was reviewed. However nowhere has it stated it's been cancelled, or stopped.
A New York Supreme Court Justice Edward Greenfield ruled in T.D. v The NYS Office of Mental Health (1995), "Parents may be free to make martyrs of themselves, but it does not follow that they may make martyrs of their children." The promise of $970 and a camcorder to potentially permit parents to cripple their infant children leads to the inescapable conclusion that the subjects of the CHEERS study are uneducated, poor and vulnerable. When the government’s protection agencies fail to protect our children, we, as citizens, must insist that they do the right thing. This unconscionable study must be stopped.
Concern over "Phthalates" In Food Packaging – plasticizers Paper, Film, & Foil Converter, Feb 1, 2003 by Richard M. Podhajny (COPYRIGHT 2003 PRIMEDIA Business Magazines & Media Inc. All rights reserved. COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group)
Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers in Maternal and Fetal Blood Samples
Anita Mazdai,1 Nathan G. Dodder,2 Mary Pell Abernathy,1 Ronald A. Hites,2 and Robert M. Bigsby1 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; 2Department of Chemistry and School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Proposal for Regulations on PFOS-Related Substances Partial Regulatory Impact Assessment prepared for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Chemicals and GM Policy Division in association with BRE Environment, September 2004
Take Action! Sign Petition To Stop Pesticide Study On Kids
For further information:
Robina Suwol, Executive Director
California Safe Schools
Toluca Lake, California 91610