2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 8 Jan 2003 15:51:01 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] People used to test toxic substances: is it right
People used to test toxic substances: is it right?
January 3, 2003

Should chemical and pesticide companies be allowed to replace lab rats
with humans to test the safety of toxic chemicals?

That's the volatile question a special panel of the National Academy of
Sciences is scheduled to take up next week.

A year ago, the Environmental Protection Agency asked the academy to
examine the ethics and scientific value of paying people to eat or drink
small amounts of pesticides, rocket fuel and other toxic substances to
gauge the level at which they affect human health.

Pesticide companies have taken the EPA to court to force the government
to consider the results of human studies performed by private
contractors in regulatory decision-making. Industry officials say the
human tests are a more precise gauge of the potential health impacts of
some toxic substances than laboratory tests on animals.

Critics, however, claim the industry is trying to get around EPA's
formula for establishing a safe pesticide exposure level for humans,
which is 10 times stricter than the toxicity threshold in animal tests.
For children and other sensitive groups, the parameters are 10 times
stricter than for the general public.

"The best information we can obtain about the possible health effects of
pesticides on humans is through the studies that have been performed
directly on volunteers," said Ray McAllister, vice president of CropLife
America, a pesticide trade association. "We need confirmation that the
animal studies are in the right ballpark."

Environmental and public health activists, however, say it's unethical
to lure people with offers of easy money into taking actions that cannot
benefit them and may harm their health. Study volunteers have included
welfare recipients, the homeless and college students.

"It's unbelievable to us that we're even discussing this in this day and
age," said Mike Casey, a spokesman for the Environmental Working Group,
a nonprofit environmental research group. The Environmental Working
Group brought the issue to public attention in 1998 in a report about
studies submitted by industry to the EPA that paid people in England to
eat a bug killer, dichlorvos, that is common in pet collars. In another
study in Scotland, subjects drank doses of the extremely toxic
insecticide, aldicarb.

Most of the studies have been conducted outside the United States.
However, Dow Agrosciences underwrote a 1999 study in Lincoln, Neb., in
which 60 volunteers were given either doses of chlorpyrifos, a leading
pesticide, or a placebo. The volunteers were plaid $460 for their

According to results from the study, volunteers who swallowed the
pesticide capsules reported developing one incident each of nausea,
vomiting, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, impairment of sensation
and chest pain.

That same year EPA banned most industrial and home uses of chlorpyrifos
(marketed under the name Dursban) because it can disrupt the nervous
system. The pesticide is still permitted for some agricultural uses.

In another study underwritten by Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Air Force
two years ago in San Bernardino, Calif., 100 people were paid $1,000
each to eat a dose of perchlorate every day for six months. Perchlorate
is a toxic component of rocket fuel that damages thyroid function,
preventing healthy development of fetuses and children and causing

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