The study entitled CHEERS (Children’s Environmental Exposure Research Study) pays participants up to $970 and offers them a free camcorder, free VCR, as well as t-shirts, calendars, bibs, and a framed Certificate of Appreciation. Participants are asked to “maintain” their normal pesticide applications throughout their home for two years. The EPA will monitor developmental changes in babies, from birth to 3 years, who are exposed to pesticides in their home. The study looks at 60 children, with less than 10% representing a control group, which consists of children that have low pesticide exposure, rather than no exposure at all.

The widespread use of toxic pesticides in homes is a serious threat to our children’s health. Many commonly used products contain ingredients that can affect the nervous system, cause birth defects, increase asthma rates and are suspected to cause cancer. “The EPA’s role is to protect infants and children from harmful pesticides, not encourage exposure!” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE). “CCE believes this study is unethical and dangerous to infants and children. We are sickened by the fact that the EPA views infants and children as acceptable test subjects. Frankly, we are appalled and horrified by the whole study ” Esposito added.

The study solicited participants from 6 health clinics and 3 hospitals in Jacksonville, Florida. According to the study, the 6 health clinics “primarily serve individuals with lower incomes” and the 3 hospitals report 51% of all births were to non-white mothers, with 62% of all mothers having only received an elementary or secondary education.
The selection criteria for the study requires that a participant must spray or have pesticides sprayed inside their home routinely. “This study solicits people that may be easily persuaded to maintain or increase their pesticide use to receive monetary and other forms of compensation,” stated Brian Smith, CCE Program Coordinator. “It has been clearly designed to target lower income families and to endanger the health of their children, making it grossly unethical,” Smith added.
The study has received $2 million in funding from the American Chemistry Council, which represents 135 companies, including pesticide manufactures, leading one to question the motives of the study.

CCE has written to EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt to ask him to halt the study. “CCE believes that it is unethical that an agency set up to protect public health and the environment would advance a study designed to endanger the most vulnerable members of our society, infants and toddlers. This study must be stopped immediately so as not to set a precedent for future similar studies,” stated Esposito. “Once the study is stopped, CCE would welcome the unexpended dollars to be allocated to expand educational outreach on the dangers that pesticides pose to children and vulnerable populations,” Esposito concluded.

The EPA website on the CHEER study: http://www.epa.gov/cheers/

Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) is an 80,000 member not for profit, non-partisan advocacy organization working to protect the pubic health and natural environment. For additional information please visit www.citizenscampaign.org

Buffalo, NY- Environmentalists are calling for the immediate halt to an EPA study that raises serious environmental justice and racism concerns by enticing low-income families to expose infants and toddlers to harmful pesticides.