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"This does sound like it goes against everything we
recommend at EPA concerning use of [pesticides] related to children.
Paying families in Florida to have their homes routinely treated
with pesticides is very sad when we at EPA know that [pesticide
management] should always be used to protect children."

Troy Pierce-
EPA Pesticide Scientist


"It is important that EPA behaves ethically, consistently, and in a way that engenders public health. Unless these issues are resolved, it is likely that all three goals will be compromised, and the agency's reputation will suffer. EPA
researchers will not tell participants that using pesticides always entails
some risk, and not using pesticides will reduce that risk to zero."

Suzanne Wuerthele-
EPA Toxicologist



"It simply is not credible that a $7.8 billion agency that employs almost 18,000 people has to go to the chemical industry to get $2 million for a crucial study to see if chemicals hurt kids. This is a government function; we should be investing government
funds to be absolutely sure it's independent."

Kenneth A. Cook - President of Environmental Working Group


"Where is the line between enticement and a godfather offer that
impoverished families would find hard to refuse? That is really troubling. We make these decisions over and over in public policy. This is one of those moments."

Alto Charo-
Professor of Bioethics University of Wisconsin


"Several EPA officials, all of whom asked not to be identified for fear of
retaliation, also questioned why the agency removed the study design and its
recruitment flyer from the EPA's Web site once some scientists started to
complain about the project."

SanFrancisco Chronicle 10/31/2004



 

 

 

 


NOTE TO READER: THANKS TO PRESSURE FROM CITIZENS AND THE SENATE THE EPA HAS CANCELLED THIS STUDY. READ MORE HERE:

4/12/2005 - Responding to Consumer and Senate Pressure, EPA Finally Drops CHEERS Study

Sign petition to end human testing of known toxins


 

EPA & CHEMICAL INDUSTRY TO STUDY EFFECTS OF KNOWN TOXIC CHEMICALS ON CHILDREN

Study Launch Date Suspended Until Summer 2005
Offers Public Comment Period

Note: This alert contains a regularly updated Question & Answer . If you have questions or concerns about this issue please read the Question & Answer section thoroughly.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), led by Bush appointees, is seeking input on a new proposed study in which infants in participating low income families will be monitored for health impacts as they undergo exposure to known toxic chemicals over the course of two years. The study entitled Children’s Environmental Exposure Research Study (CHEERS) will look at how chemicals can be ingested, inhaled or absorbed by children ranging from babies to 3 years old.

For taking part in these studies, each family will receive $970, a free video camera, a T-shirt, and a framed certificate of appreciation.

In October, the EPA received $2.1 million to do the study from the American Chemistry Council, a chemical industry front group that includes members such as Dow, Exxon, and Monsanto (see full list of members on sidebar of this page). Critics of the research, including some EPA scientists, claim the study's funders guarantee the results will be biased in favor of the chemical industry, at the expense of the health of the impoverished children serving as test subjects.

For 30 years the ACC has known the high level of toxicity of the specific chemicals being "studied" in this project. These are some of the most dangerous known chemicals in household products. The ACC knows full well the intensely negative impacts that these chemicals have on humans, as does the EPA and has lobbied heavily to keep them legal. This is fully documented in study after study and memo after memo and meeting after meeting over three decades (see side bar and footnotes for reference and further research).

The trick here is that these products are known to have negative long term health effects. This is a short two year study. In other words, the results of he study are already known...there will be little to no obvious short term negative effects on these children at the end of the two year period. The seemingly positive results of the study will allow the ACC to announce positive "EPA study results" to the public, which will allow the ACC to more effectively lobby congress to weaken regulations on these products even more (thereby increasing profits dramatically). This technique has been exercised by the ACC for decades.

The real negative effects of these types of chemicals come further down the road, when these children could exhibit learning disorders, a propensity for various types of cancer, early puberty/ hormonal disruption, and birth defects in their children.

Low income families have clearly been targeted in this study. Participants for the study will be chosen from 6 health clinics and three hospitals in Duval County, FL. According to the EPA study proposal, "Although all Duval County citizens are eligible to use the [health care] centers, they primarily serve individuals with lower incomes. In the year 2000, seventy five percent of the users of the clinics for pregnancy issues were at or below the poverty level." (p.23)

These medical facilities report that 51% of their births are to non-white mothers and 62% of mothers have only received an elementary or secondary education. Again, according to the EPA study proposal, "The percentage of births to individuals classified as black in the U.S. Census is higher at these three hospitals than for the County as a whole." (pg.23).

Forward this alert to friends and colleagues!

Important Note on Participants of Study: The study layout does not require that participants increase their chemical use, but does mandate that chosen applicants will need to demonstrate that they do regularly use toxic chemicals in and around the home. The concern here is that low income applicants may increase their toxic chemical use for the sake of applying and being eligible for the funding.

Important Note on Suspension of the Study: On November 11th, the EPA announced suspension of the study's launch until early 2005 for the sake of "final review." The Organic Consumers Association is taking this opportunity to call on the nation's citizens to demand the EPA permanently terminate this abuse of low income children by the chemical industry.

CLICK HERE FOR A DETAILED QUESTION & ANSWER SECTION ON THIS ISSUE

Forward this alert to friends and colleagues!


(your info will not be shared - privacy policy)


Questions & Answers: More Info...

Question: Since this is a petition, do we have to leave the text alone or are we allowed to change the text we sign with out own comments?

Answer: This is a petition, so all submitted names will be attached to the petition letter, as it currrently reads. If you'd like to reword the letter and/or send your comments on your own, please mail to:

Mike Leavitt
EPA Administrator
U.S. EPA, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20460
leavitt.michael@epa.gov
Fax: 202-501-1450


Question: I saw on the Snopes website that this is an urban legend. Please explain.

Answer: The Urban Legends/Snopes website is not addressing this issue correctly. They took their stance based on reading just two articles (see the references they cite at the foot of their OCA EPA-Petition analysis webpage). Of course, the EPA put a positive spin on the study in those pieces and even denounced some of its own scientists who have spoken out against the study, as we are. In contrast, our web alert references and links to literally dozens of scientific resources, including the actual EPA study proposal. Some of the well known nonprofits working on this issue include:

Organic Consumers Association
Beyond Pesticides
Center for Health and Environmental Justice
Citizens Campaign for the Environment
Environmental Working Group
Physicians for Social Responsibility

I highly recommend you visit our web alert page and thoroughly read through our Q&A section of the web alert, follow the external links to more information, and make an educated decision about this yourself. There are dozens of resources in the Q&A section, including links to the actual EPA proposal. This study is a blatant violation of human rights for the sake of weakening toxic chemical regulations that cut into the profits of the chemical industry.

The CHEERS website and study proposal are purposely worded to be as digestible as possible. The fact that the EPA claims they are not targeting low income people and minorities carries little credibility. In fact, the CHEERS proposal, itself states:

"The percentage of births to individuals classified as black in the U.S. Census is higher at these three hospitals than for the County as a whole." (pg.23).

also

"Although all Duval County citizens are eligible to use the [health care] centers, they primarily serve individuals with lower incomes. In the year 2000, seventy five percent of the users of the clinics for pregnancy issues were at or below the poverty level." (p.23)

There are dozens of clinics in Jacksonville and Duval County. We find it interesting that the clinics chosen for the study have a higher weight of low income people, and, in fact, many of them are "sliding scale" clinics.

In regards to this being potentially a useful study, there are three decades of data showing these chemicals to be some of the most toxic on the U.S. market. So much so, many of them are banned in Europe. This short term study (on toxins that have long term negative effects) is a tool of the ACC to weaken regulations. The ACC has never released or funded a study that has cast a negative light on any of its members products.

Please contact Snopes (Urban Legends) and ask them to reconsider their current stance on this issue.
http://www.snopes.com/cgi-bin/comments/comments.asp


Question: The EPA Children’s Environmental Exposure Research Study (CHEERS) website states that participants don't even have to have exposure to chemicals, yet your alert states that participants will be exposed to chemicals. What's up with that?

Answer: As part of the study's structure, there will be a "control group" for the sake of data comparison. That is, a small percentage of participants of any study of this type are not exposed to the chemicals being tested, in order to have a comparison of results between those with exposure and those without. According to the study proposal, if an applicant to the study "is likely to have high pesticide use, the participant will be enrolled into the study. In addition, a limited number of individuals will be recruited who are known to have very low pesticide usage to serve as the study comparison population (less than 10% of the total number of participants recruited)." (p.15 of study proposal)


Question: Why shouldn't we, as taxpayers, be thankful that the American Chemistry Council is putting so much money into this study?

Answer: This study enjoys $2 million of funding from the American Chemistry Council (ACC), who, according to the EPA CHEER's website, will have the opportunity to "review" drafts of the study results prior to its release. The ACC, previously known as the Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA), is made up of chemical corporations, such as Exxon, Dow and Monsanto, who have a long history of being indicted for environmental crimes against minorities and low income families.

We aren't criticizing these companies for NOT doing studies, we criticize them for ignoring and/or burying the mountains of already existing research that clearly indicate many of their products are dangerous. We also criticize them for being responsible for some of the most vile environmental crimes this planet has ever seen. Exxon still hasn't paid a dime to clean up the Valdez oil spill. Dow continues to claim that Agent Orange is safe and had no negative impacts on U.S. soldiers or the Vietnamese. Monsanto is regularly in the news for being convicted for yet another environmental crime against the world's poor, including recently being fined for secretly hiding knowledge of toxic levels of their PCBs in poor areas for over 40 years.

The ACC has consistently demonstrated that it is more concerned with boosting it's member's sales via biased studies than protecting public safety. The ACC would not put $2 million into a study that it does not believe it could put a positive spin on. The ACC has never funded or released a study in which the final results revealed negative health implications associated with its member companys' products. In that sense, for the ACC, the goal of this study is to use the EPA as a conduit for highlighting how safe these products are for children in an indoor home environment.

In a perfect world, we would welcome their investment into studying the safety of their chemical products, and they do a good job of making it appear to consumers that that is their concern. In reality, these chemical products were thrust into the everyday lives of people all around the world by these same chemical companies, prior to the assemblance of adequate health studies. Since then, hundreds of studies have shown these chemicals to exhibit high levels of toxicity. Yet these corporations refuse to pull dangerous products off of the market until there's a legal mandate.


Question: Could you explain more why you are protesting CHEERS. I am in full support of eliminating chemicals in our environment and I went on the EPA website to learn more about this study. The purpose of the study appears to be to test the effects of commonly used pesticides in the homes of young children. Since I believe that these pesticides are harmful and I choose not to use them in my own home, I suspect that the EPA might actually be able to measure the harmful effects of pesticides through this study. Couldn't this study actually help the cause you are fighting for? Also, what chemicals will they be studying?

Answer: First see above question regarding the chemical companies funding this study. Second, there are an abundance of studies that have already taken place that have clearly and consistently shown the toxicity of these products. The American Chemistry Council refutes any study that shows any of its 175 chemical industry members' products in a poor light, and uses membership fees to fund its own biased studies. Even within ACC's own studies there is a long history of manipulating or even attempting to hide incriminating data on chemicals.

  • For example, in this study, perflourinated chemicals, such as Scotchgard and Teflon will be studied. 3M, it's producer and a major funding member of the study, has already accumulated over 20 years of data from studies consistently showing that Scotchgard causes liver damage and severe birth defects, yet the 3M corporation has not pulled the product from the market. The EPA is also fully aware of this chemical's toxicity. A May 16, 2000 internal EPA memo stated that it is "of significant concern on the basis of evidence of widespread human exposure and indications of toxicity. ... These chemicals "combine persistence, bioaccumulation, and toxicity properties to an extraordinary degree." [see full memo]
  • Another chemical focus in this study is dibutyl phthalates. Procter and Gamble and Unilever, major funding members of this study, hold a broad range of patents for uses of this carcinogenic and hormone disrupting chemical. There is no need to expose children to ANY level of this toxic chemical for the sake of "research". The EPA already recognizes phthalates as being highly toxic. In fact, phthalates are regulated as a toxic substance under environmental law. If a factory were to accidently spill even just 10 pounds of phthalates, the incident must be reported to authorities under the Superfund law. Yet under lobbying pressure from ACC, phthalates can legally be used in a variety of household products, particularly body care products. ACC and EPA are already fully aware of the toxicity. Any further study would only be done for the sake of manipulating results to give a positive spin, as phthalates have recently been receiving a lot of negative press.
  • Brominated flame retardants, also known as PBDEs, which are closely related to PCBs, will also be a focal chemical of the study. Since the 1970s, PBDEs have been shown to interfere with brain development, cause thyroid dysfunction and birth defects, yet it is commonly found in homes, in computers, and clinging to dust and settling on the floors where children play. There are more than 30 years of studies revealing the high toxicity of PBDEs.
  • Pesticides will also be tested, including DEET, piperonyl butoxide, pyrethrins, Diazinon, permethrins, and other pyrethroids. The Organic Consumers Association's website contains hundreds of articles regarding studies that have shown these chemicals to be hormone disrupting, cause brain damage, and/or be cancer causing. Monsanto, the producer of the widely used glyphosate (Roundup) pesticide, has disregarded any study showing negative results.
In short, all of these chemicals have been shown, in study after study, over the course of three decades, to be highly toxic, yet the American Chemistry Council continues to deny this toxicity and puts hundreds of millions of dollars into overseeing biased studies, manipulating study results to their advantage, using those results to lobby congress for more relaxed environmental laws, and marketing their proven toxic chemicals to trusting consumers as "safe".

Question: The website page where consumers and concerned citizens can petition the gov't to stop using kids for their planned early 2005 experiments is not functioning properly. After filling in my info and clicking submit, a page full of errors appears, way to many for me to send.

Answer: Due to high levels of traffic currently taking place on the website, our web server occassionally stalls, if there are too many people trying to sign the petition at one time. Please try back again later. Sorry for the inconvenience, we are a nonprofit and are currently seeking funding to be able to afford a larger web server.


Question: I tried to forward the petition to friends & family and the language in the forwarded email is not decipherable. What should I do and thanks.

Answer: That link may not work in some browsers. You can also manually forward the following text in an email to friends and colleagues:

Dear friend,
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced plans to launch an outrageous new study in which participating low income families will have their children exposed to toxic pesticides over the course of two years. For taking part in these studies, each family will receive $970, a free video camera, a T-shirt, and a framed certificate of appreciation. The study entitled CHEERS (Children’s Environmental Exposure Research Study) will look at how chemicals can be ingested, inhaled or absorbed by children ranging from babies to 3 years old.
Please take a moment to follow this link and join tens of thousands of citizens in petitioning the EPA to terminate this study prior to its proposed launch in early 2005.
More information, related newspaper headlines and petition here:
/old_articles/epa-alert.htm
Please also forward this message.


Question: I would like to place this alert on my website and in my printed newsletter. Who should I contact for permission.

Answer: All of OCA's materials can be reprinted and reposted for free and without permission, as long as credit is given to the Organic Consumers Association with our website address. www.OrganicConsumers.org


Question: Could you please state the source of the information you just sent out to subscribers regarding the proposed EPA study that will test the effects of pesticides in children?

Answer: Please refer to the green navigation bar on the right hand side of this webpage for a series of links for further research.


Question: I thought this study was cancelled due to pressure from the public. ? Can you let me know?

Answer: The study is not cancelled, it is merely delayed. On November 11th, the EPA announced suspension of the study's launch until early 2005 for the sake of "final review." The Organic Consumers Association is taking this opportunity to call on the nation's citizens to demand the EPA permanently terminate this abuse of low income children by the chemical industry.


Question: According to the CHEERS site, chemical exposure to participants will not be increased from what they already had exposure to in their homes, prior to the study. So what's wrong with studying what they already would have been doing anyway?

Answer: The study layout mandates that chosen applicants will need to demonstrate that they do regularly use toxic chemicals in and around the home in order to be eligible for the study and the payout. The concern here is that the study serves as an incentive for low income applicants (which consists of 100% of the applicants) to increase their chemical use in the home in order to be more likely to be chosen for the study (and the payout). According to University of Wisconsin's Professor Alto Charo, "Where is the line between enticement and a godfather offer that impoverished families would find hard to refuse? That is really troubling. We make these decisions over and over in public policy. This is one of those moments."

Since participation in these types of studies is most often marketed to low income individuals or families, researchers regularly find that applicants will change lifestyle behaviors in order to be eligible for the study (in this case, it's $970 and a free video camera). As an example, researchers in studies of tobacco have found applicants who claimed to be regular smokers when entering the study, but in actuality only began smoking upon discovering advertisements for the paid study.


Question: Your alert claims that low income families are being targeted, but the EPA CHEERS website says that the people in this particular area are being studied because they use pesticides year round. Please explain.

Answer: Low income families have clearly been targeted in this study, whether the EPA admits to it or not. Participants for the study will be chosen from 6 health clinics and three hospitals in Duval County, FL. According to the EPA study proposal, "Although all Duval County citizens are eligible to use the [health care] centers, they primarily serve individuals with lower incomes. In the year 2000, seventy five percent of the users of the clinics for pregnancy issues were at or below the poverty level." (p.23)

These medical facilities report that 51% of their births are to non-white mothers and 62% of mothers have only received an elementary or secondary education. Again, according to the EPA study proposal, "The percentage of births to individuals classified as black in the U.S. Census is higher at these three hospitals than for the County as a whole." (pg.23).

In addition, the poorer neighborhoods of Jacksonville FL are not the only areas in the U.S. with year round pesticide exposure. Any area of the country that has a climate suitable for year round managed domesticated vegetation also has year round pesticide use. In short, the targeting of this demographic of the population, based on the argument of exposure, is not valid.


Comment from petition signer: The reason for the study appears to be to measure the uptake of toxins in babies and small children. The study appears to be designed to show that exposure to pesticides do not cause children to die or suffer gross disabilities such as inability to walk or talk during the measured exposure period. The possible delay of such skills and the inability of individuals to perform as well as they might had they not been exposed to pesticides, will not be examined.If past is prelude to the future, one can assume that upon completion of the measurements, corporations will advertise EPA's 'scientific' findings that pesticides at certain levels, are safe in the environments of infants and children. Since the EPA already knows these substances are toxic, it is unconscionable for them not to warn all parents of their potential harm.


Question: That new EPA study has really made me furious. I want to do more than just send in the petition. I don't have much money (I'm a grad student), but I can be active. Please help me find some other way to stop this study!

Answer:

Forward this alert to friends and colleagues!

Related News :


Some Members of the American Chemistry Council/
ACC
(funders of this toxic pesticide study on children)

  • Bayer
  • BP
  • Chevron
  • Dow
  • DuPont
  • Exxon
  • Honeywell
  • 3M
  • Monsanto
  • Procter & Gamble
  • Full list

American Chemistry Council (ACC) is funding $2 million of this study and overseeing much of the data gathering. The ACC, previously known as the Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA), has been found guilty of manipulating data in studies in order to show toxic chemicals to be safe. The ACC has spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbying against laws that protect people from toxic chemical exposure. Here's ACC in the News:


OTHER ORGANIZATIONS WORKING ON THIS ISSUE
w/ further info on their websites:


Please also see OCA's "Appetite for a Change" campaign website... a campaign to reduce chemical exposure to children in schools


Quotes from EPA Study Proposal:

  • "There are approximately 11,500 births in the [Duval] County each year (i.e., approximately 1000 births per month), a number that should be sufficient for effective recruiting of children into the study." (p.17)

  • "The proportion of children living below the poverty level in Duval County in 1997 was estimated to be 18.8 percent.". (p.17)

  • Regarding the health care centers where study participants will be recruited:
    "Although all Duval County citizens are eligible to use the [health care] centers, they primarily serve individuals with lower incomes. In the year 2000, seventy five percent of the users of the clinics for pregnancy issues were at or below the poverty level." (p.23)


  • "The percentage of births to individuals classified as black in the U.S. Census is higher at these three hospitals than for the County as a whole."
    (pg.23)

Targeted health care clinics and hospitals for this study:

  • Beaches Family Health Center
  • Center for Women and Children
  • Marietta Family Health Center
  • South Jacksonville Family Health Center
  • Wesconnet Family Health Center
  • West Jacksonville Family Health Center
  • Shands Jacksonville
  • St. Vincents
  • Memorial Hospital

 

 

 

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