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EPA reviewing pesticides tested on humans

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Data from two dozen industry tests that intentionally exposed people to poisons, including one involving a World War I-era warfare agent, are being used by the Environmental Protection Agency in approving and denying pesticides.

The data come from 24 human pesticide experiments submitted to the EPA by companies seeking pesticide permits. The data, provided by the EPA to congressional officials, are being studied under a policy the Bush administration adopted to have political appointees referee on a case-by-case basis any ethical disputes over human testing.

Aides to two California Democrats, Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Henry Waxman, compiled EPA data on 22 of the cases.

“Nearly one-third of the studies reviewed were specifically designed to cause harm to the human test subjects or to put them at risk of harm,” the aides wrote in a 38-page report and accompanying documents provided Wednesday to the Associated Press.

The report said scientists “failed to obtain informed consent (and) dismissed adverse outcomes,” adding that the tests “lacked scientific validity.”

One study in 2002-2004 by University of California-San Diego researchers administered chloropicrin, a soil insecticide that during World War I was a warfare agent, to 127 young adults. Products such as Timberfume, Tri-Con, Preplant Soil Fumigant and Pic-Chor, must carry a “danger” warning label.

The subjects were paid $15 an hour to be put in a chamber or have vapor shot in their nose and eyes after signing forms warning they should expect “some irritation in the nose, throat and eyes that could be sharp enough to cause blinking and tearing.”

Doses 120 times the hourly limit established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were ingested by the test subjects, according to the congressional aides’ report.

Another study dosed eight people with the pesticide azinphos-methyl for 28 days, and they reported headaches, abdominal pain, nausea, coughing and rashes, the report said.

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