Environmental Protection Agency officials said they stopped using kids for experiments in 2006, but subsequent reports from a health research project in which nearly two dozen children were exposed to diesel fumes contradict their claim.
"After the 2006 ban went into effect, UCLA and USC used cells in their laboratories to study their response to diesel particles and their chemicals,” said EPA spokeswoman Laura Allen. “The study no longer included children.”
Progress reports after 2006 described continued recruiting of children.
“In the next year, we intend to continue recruitment of adults and children," researchers told the EPA in progress reports covering 2006 and 2007. The reports were included among multiple documents obtained using the federal Freedom of Information Act by JunkScience.com.
Allen declined to comment when asked to reconcile the claim that the agency stopped using children in health testing with the later reports.
The EPA awarded a $3.8 million grant to the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Southern California to test the effects of pollution on kids from 2003 to 2010, according to the documents.
At least 20 individuals ages 10 to 15 were used in the research in which diesel fumes were repeatedly sprayed up the noses of the test subjects. A former EPA employee who is now the top attorney at the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, a Right-leaning non-profit, said the regulations that ban such experiments on underage children were ignored.
“They just didn’t follow them,” said David Schnare. “You have a huge disconnect between the office of research and development and the rest of the agency. What we understand is that they continued using kids. They wanted to see what the response of the body was to that challenge.”
The documents also revealed that the experiment sought to compare in vitro and in vivo findings, indicating that the tests required data from both living humans and cells.
“They were looking for a very specific reaction,” Schnare said. “You can’t do that with cellular work.”
The EPA guidelines are clear in barring such tests.
“Under no circumstances shall EPA conduct or support research involving intentional exposure of any human subject who is a pregnant woman (and therefore her fetus), a nursing woman or a child,” the guidelines state.
“Is the EPA in violation of their regulations?” Schnare said. “Yes.”
The EPA could be subject to lawsuits filed by the experiment’s participants, as well as congressional investigation, he said.
Though the revised guideline wasn’t adopted until 2006, three years after the diesel fumes project grant was awarded, the EPA proposed the revision in May 2003, five months before the experiment began, according to the Federal Register.
The documents obtained by the FOIA also show the consequences of inhaling diesel exhaust were minimized on the consent forms signed by both the children and their parents, despite previous EPA testimony that the pollution contained dangerous carcinogens.