EPA To Better Protect People from Pesticides

February 8, 2013

EPA To Better Protect People from Pesticides

Oakland, CA – After more than eight years of debate, EPA issued final rules on testing pesticides on people. The rules represent years of hard-fought efforts from public health advocates to ensure the safety of people, especially pregnant women and children, from the chemical industry’s experimental use of pesticides.

In response to EPA’s decision, PAN senior scientist Margaret Reeves, PhD, issued the following statement:

"On the eve of her departure next week, EPA Administrator Jackson has finalized a rule to safeguard public health from experimental exposure to pesticides. Critically important, the rule categorically bans the testing of pesticides on pregnant or nursing women and on children. It expands protections for all testing, including tests conducted by other governments, private industry and organizations.

These safeguards are the result of a long battle against the chemical industry's unethical pesticide experiments on humans, which started in the U.S. with the 1996 passing of the Food Quality Protection Act. Calls for additional protections began in 2004 with EPA's approval of an industry-funded study in Duval County, Florida—in predominantly low-income, African American communities—in which investigators offered families money and camcorders to let them observe the effects of household pesticides on their children

At that point, Pesticide Action Network and partners sued EPA on the grounds that they ignored scientific criteria proposed by the National Academy of Sciences, did not prohibit testing on pregnant women and children, and violated the most basic elements of the Nuremberg Code, including fully informed consent.

Joining PAN in the lawsuit was a diverse range of partners including farmworker, public health and environmental organizations. Attorneys from NRDC, Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice served as legal counsel.

In 2010, EPA agreed to settle the lawsuit and to modify the human testing rule to enact far stronger safeguards to prevent unethical and unscientific pesticide research on humans. Today’s final rule is cause for celebration.