"On August 2, 2005, Congress had mandated the EPA create a rule that permanently bans chemical testing on pregnant women and children, without exception. But the EPA's newly proposed rule, is ridden with exceptions where chemical studies may be performed on children in certain situations like the followin:"
Children who "cannot be reasonably consulted," such as those that are mentally handicapped or orphaned newborns, may be tested on. With permission from the institution or guardian in charge of the individual, the child may be exposed to chemicals for the sake of research.
Parental consent forms are not necessary for testing on children who have been neglected or abused.
Chemical studies on any children outside of the U.S. are acceptable"
ALERT: EPA TO ALLOW PESTICIDE TESTING ON ORPHANS & MENTALLY HANDICAPPED CHILDREN
NOTE: This alert is now closed. Public comment period to the EPA expired on December 12, 2005. Sign up on our email list here, and we will keep you posted on this issue. Thanks for your involvement.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
EXPIRED ALERT TEXT: Public comments are now being accepted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its newly proposed federal regulation regarding the testing of chemicals and pesticides on human subjects. On August 2, 2005, Congress had mandated the EPA create a rule that permanently bans chemical testing on pregnant women and children, without exception. But the EPA's newly proposed rule, is ridden with exceptions where chemical studies may be performed on children in certain situations like the following:
Children who "cannot be reasonably consulted," such as those that are mentally handicapped or orphaned newborns, may be tested on. With permission from the institution or guardian in charge of the individual, the child may be exposed to chemicals for the sake of research. Parental consent forms are not necessary for testing on children who have been neglected or abused. Chemical studies on any children outside of the U.S. are acceptable. Send a letter to EPA here!
OCA's focal concerns with this proposed rule specifically involve the following portions of text within the EPA document (Read the full EPA proposed rule here: PDF --- HTML):
70 FR 53865 26.408(a) "The IRB (Independent Review Board) shall determine that adequate provisions are made for soliciting the assent of the children, when in the judgment of the IRB the children are capable of providing assent...If the IRB determines that the capability of some or all of the children is so limited that they cannot reasonably be consulted, the assent of the children is not a necessary condition for proceeding with the research. Even where the IRB determines that the subjects are capable of assenting, the IRB may still waive the assent requirement..."
(OCA NOTE: Under this clause, a mentally handicapped child or infant orphan could be tested on without assent. This violates the Nuremberg Code, an international treaty that mandates assent of test subjects is "absolutely essential," and that the test subject must have "legal capacity to give consent" and must be "so situated as to exercise free power of choice." This loophole in the rule must be completely removed.)
70 FR 53865 26.408(c) "If the IRB determines that a research protocol is designed for conditions or for a subject population for which parental or guardian permission is not a reasonable requirement to protect the subjects (for example, neglected or abused children), it may waive the consent requirements..."
(OCA NOTE: Under the general rule, the EPA is saying it's okay to test chemicals on children if their parents or institutional guardians consent to it. This clause says that neglected or abused children have unfit guardians, so no consent would be required to test on those children. This loophole in the rule must be completely removed.)
70 FR 53864 26.401 (a)(2) "To What Do These Regulations Apply? It also includes research conducted or supported by EPA outside the United States, but in appropriate circumstances, the Administrator may, under § 26.101(e), waive the applicability of some or all of the requirements of these regulations for research..."
(OCA NOTE: This clause is stating that the Administrator of the EPA has the power to completely waive regulations on human testing, if the testing is done outside of the U.S. This will allow chemical companies to do human testing in other countries where these types of laws are less strict. This loophole in the rule must be completely removed.)
70 FR 53857 "EPA proposes an extraordinary procedure applicable if scientifically sound but ethically deficient human research is found to be crucial to EPA's fulfilling its mission to protect public health. This procedure would also apply if a scientifically sound study covered by proposed § 26.221 or § 26.421--i.e., an intentional dosing study involving pregnant women or children as subjects..."
(OCA NOTE: This clause allows the EPA to accept or conduct "ethically deficient" studies of chemical tests on humans if the agency deems it necessary to fulfull its mission. Unfortunately, the EPA report sets up no criteria for making such an exception with any particular study. This ambiguity leaves a gaping loophole in the rule. Without specific and detailed criteria, it could be argued that any and every study of chemical testing on humans is "necessary." This loophole in the rule must be removed, based on this inadequacy of criteria and definition.)
By mail: Send two copies of your comments to:
Public Information and Records Integrity Branch (PIRIB)
Office of Pesticide Programs
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Mail Code: 7502C
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC, 20460-0001
Attention: Docket ID Number OPP-2003-0132
1) Question: I read on Snopes that this alert is false. Is that true?
Answer: The Snopes/Urban Legends posting is actually in regards to an EPA proposed study called CHEERS and an alert we had sent out regarding that in late 2004
. It is not directly related to this alert. The Snopes posting did a great disservice to that issue in their inaccuracy and lack of research into this issue. We spend massive amounts of staff time researching these issues, confer with outside experts on the topic, and cite dozens of references. The Snopes website, while valuable with most of its information, is not always accurate, and that is the case here. In fact, you'll find they reference only a couple of newspaper articles to backup their stance on this issue. Fortunately, enough concerned citizens, several nonprofits, dozens of mainstream newspapers, and many congress members, actually did their research on the EPA study and found that study was, in fact, very problematic. In fact, in early 2005, the EPA CHEERS study was permanently dropped, thanks to pressure from Congress. In August of 2005 Congress went a step further and mandated the EPA pass a rule that bans all testing of chemicals on children and pregnant women, without exception. That is what this alert pertains to. Snopes hasn't posted any information about this particular alert, and we hope they do their research this time. We ask our readers to do your research, as well. No single alert or single website will provide you with all of the information you need. We provided dozens of links on our alerts to external resources that allow you to further research and reference all of the information we provide. If you have questions, we're always happy to help out email@example.com
2) Question: I read the EPA website and part of the introduction of the rule, claims the rule is to prohibit all such testing and to establish sanctions. That sounds like a good thing. So what's the problem?
Answer: The EPA is proposing a rule that they would like to have approved. Anytime you are marketing a product, you sell its best points and hope that people won't look too deeply and find its flaws. The EPA website and the introductory description of the rule are very long winded and flowery, claiming this rule abides by the congressional mandate to ban all testing of women and children, without exception. In fact, if you read the rule, which is 30 pages of fine print, there are multiple exceptions. We have noted those in our template letter to the EPA and on our action alert page. This is a specific layout of the problematic text as taken directly from the actual EPA rule. In short, these are the loopholes in the document that need to be removed, as mandated by congress, which says the rule must have no exceptions.
3) Question: The rule says these waivers apply when the IRB sees a benefit of the test for the children involved, and also calls for supplementary protective measures when necessary. That sounds like a good thing. So what's the problem?
Answer: Actually, you are referencing a point made under subpart §26.405 of the rule. That subpart is designed to only address "research presenting the prospect of direct benefit to the individual subjects." In that subpart, it says that "more than minimal" risk to children subjects is acceptable if there is a chance it could benefit the child. Outside of that subpart, there are no stipulations requiring that the studies be beneficial to the test subjects. Anywhere else in the document where this type of situation is noted, it is under an "or" clause. In other words, the loopholes for this rule state that the rule can be disregarded if the study was done overseas, OR the test subject's guardian consents, OR if the study may be of benefit to society as a whole, OR if the study may be of benefit to the test subject, etc. The study also calls for supplementary protective measures when necessary but outlines no criteria for how this "necessity" is defined or determined. Without a clearly defined line of what is acceptable and what is not, it's at the whim of the IRB, EPA administrator or third party research organization to determine whether or not supplementary protective measures are necessary. In that sense, it could simply mean the IRB might determine, for example, a test subject should wear safety goggles when being doused with atrazine. In other words, without specific definition of what defines a situation that calls for further supplementary protective measures, this becomes a simple, flowery token statement with no meaning and no teeth.
6) Question: The EPA sent me a letter back that says "EPA's proposed rule would ban EPA from conducting or supporting any intentional dosing study of pregnant women or children with pesticides or any other environmental substances. All children are included in this ban. There are no exceptions." They seem to be saying this rule is for studies that don't involve intentional dosing. Is that correct?
Answer: That is incorrect and is misleading PR from the EPA that contradicts the text of their actual proposed rule. As you can see above, we have outlined the specfic text in the rule that we have problems with. Nowhere in the rule does the EPA say that all intentional dosing studies are banned, yet that is exactly what congress had asked them to do. In fact, the rule goes so far as to make make allowances for what it refers to as"ethically deficient human research." (70 FR 53857). In short, the EPA is making public relations claims that completely contradict what is clearly written in balck and white in the actual proposed rule.
5) Question: I can't get your email form to work. How can I send comments to the EPA directly?
Answer: By mail: Send two copies of your comments to: Public Information and Records Integrity Branch (PIRIB) Office of Pesticide Programs U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Mail Code: 7502C
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC, 20460-0001 Attention: Docket ID Number OPP-2003-0132
By email: send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org The subject line should read: "Attention: Docket ID Number OPP-2003-0132 "
If you have questions, we're always happy to help out, but please read all of the information provided on this alert page and follow the links on the right hand side of this page to further information prior to contacting us with questions. email@example.com
Other Organizations Working on this alert (These organizations also have further information about this alert on their websites)
Center for Health and Environmental Justice
Natural Resources Defense Council
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
Physicians for Social Responsibility
California Safe Schools
Pesticide Action Network of North America
Related News Articles:
12/16 - EPA regulation to put kids at risk
12/14 - EPA Chemical Testing Rules to Allow Human Toxicity Studies
(Source-The New Standard: NY)
12/9 - EPA's Own Scientists Speak Out Against Proposed Rule Allowing Chemical Testing on Children
12/8 - EPA comes under fire for testing pesticides on children (Source: News Target)
12/7 - EPA to Allow Pesticide Testing on the Handicapped
12/5 - EPA to Allow Chemical Testing (Source: WNY Media Network NY)
11/30 - Pesticide Action Network of North America launches campaign against EPA proposed human testing rule
11/29 -Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis Speaks Out Against EPA's Proposed Rule
11/29 - OCA's Rebuttal Letter Regarding EPA's Attempts to Discredit Those in Opposition to this Rule
11/29 - Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-CA) writes editorial to Environmental Law Institute condemning EPA's proposed human testing rule
11/28 - Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility Launch a Campaign Against EPA's Human Testing Proposal
11/27 - Center for Health and Environmental Justice Posts Serious Concerns about EPA Proposed Human Testing
11/26 - Natural Resources Defense Council Posts Comments Opposing EPA Human Testing Proposal
10/15 - San Francisco Chronicle Covers EPA Testing Proposal
9/26 - Baltimore Sun Posts Letter to the Editor from Natural Resources Defense Council Condemning EPA's Misleading PR Scheme on Human Testing Rule
9/20 - Natural Resources Defense Council Gives Background Q&A Sheet Refuting EPA's Claims That The Rule has no Exceptions
9/15 - Exceptions in new EPA rules would allow testing pesticides on children (Baltimore Sun)
9/8 - Washington Post Covers EPA Chemical Testing Proposal
7/1 - Senate Votes to Stop EPA from Allowing Testing of Toxic Pesticides on Humans
6/28 - Congress Questions EPA about Human Toxin Testing
6/28 - LA Times: EPA Criticized for Pesticide Testing Rules
6/28 - Congressional Flash Report on EPA's proposed rule changes
6/27 - Washington Post: EPA Proposal Would Allow Human Tests Of Pesticides
6/16 - EPA reviewing 24 human pesticide tests
2/8 - EPA Avoids Regulation of Chemical Experiments on Humans Send a letter to EPA here!
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Related Online Resources: Read the full EPA proposed rule (PDF --- HTML) National Academy of Sciences report to EPA on human testing, advising the agency discontinue unethical practices Environmental Health Perspectives scientific journal analyzes human chemical testing and public policy:
Related Quotes from Congress and NGOs:
"Such rule shall not permit the use of pregnant women, infants or children as subjects; shall be consistent with the principles proposed in the 2004 report of the National Academy of Sciences on intentional human dosing and the principles of the Nuremberg Code with respect to human experimentation; and shall establish an independent Human Subjects Review Board."
Congressional Mandate to EPA, requiring the agency create a rule banning testing of pregnant women and children. The law was passed on August 2, 2005 , as part of the Department of Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-54
"A proposed rule on human pesticide testing that fails to protect children and families should be shelved immediately. A protective rule must be issued in its place,"
Senator. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in an interview with the Washington Post on this issue
"For the first time in our nation's history, the EPA has proposed a program to allow for the systematic and everyday experimentation of pesticides on humans. Moreover, the proposed program is riddled with ethical loopholes."
Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) in an interview with the Baltimore Sun
"I am especially concered that the administration's proposed rule fails to meet its congressional mandate and to provide the safety that Americans desire and deserve. For example, the proposed rule, despite its claims, allows intentional testing on pregnant women and children in at least three circumstances."
Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-CA) article in Environmental Law Institute
"EPA's proposal is the pesticide industry's dream, and the public's nightmare."
Richard Wiles, senior vice president of Environmental Working Group
"The exemptions are obviously driven by the pesticide industry's goal of relaxing pesticide safety standards. The rule says it's acceptable to test children if there is a direct benefit. How can any child possibly benefit from exposure to pesticides? What was EPA thinking about?"
Aaron Colangelo, a senior staff lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Fund