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EPA Study to Assess the Health Effects of Pesticides on Kids Halted

In The Dangers of Pesticides and the EPA's Harrowing Plan to Test Them on Kids we reported on some worthwhile facts you should know, including nine of the serious health effects associated with the 1.5 billion pounds of pesticides used by American farmers yearly.

In that article we also discussed a pesticide study that the EPA was going to lead called -- rather crassly - CHEERS, which stands for the Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study.

The two-year study was to monitor infants in low-income families in a region of Florida to determine how chemicals can be ingested, inhaled or absorbed by babies to children up to age 3, as well as the health effects they would cause.

In our article noted above we noted that many people opposed the CHEERS study because (beyond the odd name itself):

Low-income Florida families can no longer look forward to receiving $970, a video camcorder, a t-shirt, bib, calendar, framed certificate, and newsletter for volunteering their infants as subjects in the EPA's study called CHEERS to test health effects of pesticides.

  • The study was in part to be funded by the American Chemistry Council, who works closely with companies in the pesticide industry, representing a potential conflict of interest. And this was to be a shorter-term study, while other research has shown that most of the serious effects of pesticides tend to be seen over the long-term. There was concern that those in the pesticide study could claim the EPA, via this short-term study, found their products safe and they therefore could claim their products posed no risk.

  • Beyond the crassness of the name CHEERS, study participants were to receive $970, a t-shirt, a bib for their baby, a calendar, a newsletter, a framed certificate of appreciation and a video camcorder. Understandably these odd and rather flippant forms of compensation for this study turned many a person's stomach.

The good news is that on Friday, April 8, 2005, Stephen L. Johnson, acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said he was canceling this study on the effects of pesticides on infants and babies entirely. This was due in part to Johnson's confirmation as official head of the EPA being threatened if he supported the study.

But according to a spokesman for the EPA, Johnson had serious reservations about "whether or not this study was the appropriate thing to do."

Whatever the case, it is cancelled. We at support unbiased, solid and conscientious research on the short- and long-term dangers of pesticides, but CHEERS did not suggest any of those attributes.

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