sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Lex Alexander calls the EPA's Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study (CHEERS) "morally repugnant on so many levels it's hard to know where to start criticizing it." One commentor compared it to the Tuskegee Experiment. I had to find out if it's really that bad.

So I went to the EPA website, where it has posted information on CHEERS. According to the EPA's news release (PDF), "Families will be asked to keep records of their pesticide and household product use and children be monitored in their homes. The study is designed to measure the concentrations of chemicals in the children's homes and determine how children are exposed to chemiclas that are present in consumer products used in the home.

"The purpose of the study is to obtain more information about how children may be exposed to chemicals in household products, whether it is through the air they breathe, food they eat or the surfaces they touch. This study will help indentify the potential exposure routes and pathways of these chemicals and provide real-life data that can be used to improve risk assessments for children."

Parents will not be asked to apply any pesticides in their home and will not be asked to change any household routines.

So it sounds to me like families are being asked to keep a record of their chemical use so the EPA can better understand how children are being exposed over the course of normal household routines. Look, it's a fact that kids and chemicals exist in the same house. We scrub our bath tubs, clean our toilets, scrape the burned soup off the bottom of the pot, use bleach in the load of whites. Any rational parent keeps these chemicals away from their kids. But how do they still come in contact with them? EPA hopefully will gain a better perspective through this study.

So what will the EPA do with the results of the study?The problem some groups have is the American Chemistry Council is kicking $2.1 million for the study. Such funding will help guarantee favorable results for the chemical industry, critics claim. Such favorable results would allow ACC to lobby Congress to weaken regulations on chemical household products.

But how does one loosen regulations on bleach? On Comet? On Easy Off oven cleaner? By the same token, how do you strengthen regulations on these products? To me, it's real simple: Keep them away from kids.

Just another point of view. Help me out if I'm missing it.


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