The EPA in 2003 lifted a temporary prohibition on pesticide testing involving humans. It allowed experiments in which people are intentionally dosed with pesticides to assess the chemicals’ toxicity and eventually set exposure standards. Healthy young men and women were recruited through newspaper ads or on college campuses to serve as test subjects with compensation checks ranging from $300 to $1,000. The test subjects swallowed insecticide tablets, sat in chambers with pesticide vapors, had pesticides applied to their skin, had pesticides shot into their eyes and noses, and were even exposed in their homes for six months at a time.
Public health and farmworker advocacy groups challenged the reinstatement of the experiments in a lawsuit, claiming that the action violated a law requiring strict ethical and scientific protections for pesticide testing on humans. As part of the settlement of that case, the EPA drafted its new proposal restricting the use of human subjects in all studies the agency reviews. The new proposal may not ban the human testing outright, but it sets the bar high enough that studies on people should not be an attractive option as evidence submitted to EPA.
Title: EPA Moves to Curb Pesticide Tests on Human Subjects
Author: Matthew Heller
Publication: Fair Warning
Date: January 31, 2011
Student Researcher: Aluna Soupholphakdy, Sonoma State University
Faculty Evaluator: Professor Ervand Peterson, Sonoma State University