Thursday, March 17, 2005

Have a Snort of DDT, Kid, It Won't Hurtcha 

Alert reader chica toxica asks what the story is on Stephen L. Johnson, Bushco’s choice to be the new head of the EPA. All I’ve found so far is this over at Online Journal:

EPA administrator nominee supports testing of chemicals on human subjects

It seems that the guy (the increasingly whorish) NPR was gushing over as a great choice (a fine scientist, will never let politics or industry affect his science-based decisions) is into letting industry test their chemicals (including pesticides) on humans. In other words, another nominee whose concern for human rights ranks right up there with their concern for wearing matching socks.

Here’s a taste:

During President Clinton's administration, the EPA would not consider the results of controversial trials that tested pesticides on people. But after Bush took over the White House, Johnson changed the policy to permit consideration, saying, "We are willing to consider that such studies can be useful." However, a panel of scientists and ethicists convened by the EPA in 1998 determined that these types of trials were unethical and scientifically unsuitable to estimate the safety of chemicals.

In 2001, the trials considered by the agency gave paid subjects doses of pesticides hundreds of times greater than levels that EPA officials considered safe for the general public. The agency evaluated three studies that year from Dow Chemicals, Bayer Corporation, and the Gowan Company. The Bayer and Gowan studies were conducted in Third World countries, where volunteers were more readily available, while Dow conducted their study in Nebraska.

In the Dow study, human subjects were given doses four times the level that the EPA knew produced adverse effects in animals. Subjects suffered numbness, headaches, nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps. Dow's doctors determined that these symptoms were "possibly" or "probably" related to the chemical. But in the final analysis of the study, Dow concluded that the pesticide did not produce any symptoms. And the EPA accepted it.

It's wasn't surprising then that in October of last year, Johnson strongly supported a study in which infants will be monitored for health impacts as they undergo exposure to toxic chemicals for a two-year period. The Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study (CHEERS), will analyze how chemicals can be ingested, inhaled, or absorbed by children ranging from infants to three-year olds. The study will analyze 60 children in Duval County, Florida who are routinely exposed to pesticides in their homes. Yet the EPA acknowledges that pesticide exposure is a risk factor for childhood cancer and the early onset of asthma.

Charming, huh? Maybe when he gets together with Gonzales, Chertoff, and Negroponte they can mutually figure out a way to use pesticides as an instrument of acceptable torture. Maybe Scalia can figure a way to get the Supremes to reverse their decision on juvenile executions to at least allow for juveniles to participate in pesticide trials while they’re in prison.

Yeesh. I feel like there’s a boulder on my shoulder.

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