Update [2005-4-8 14:29:23 by DuctapeFatwa]:

Minutes after the previous update, this came over the AP wire:

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday canceled a controversial study using children to measure the effect of pesticides after Democrats said they would block Senate confirmation of the agency’s new head.

Stephen Johnson, as EPA’s acting administrator, ordered an end to the planned study, a reversal from the agency’s position just a day earlier when it said it would await the advice of outside scientific experts. link

This should take care of any reservations regarding the gentleman’s appointment.

I originally posted this story as a comment on the open thread, but I decided to make it a piece of its own since there is now a follow-up article.

Also, in my original post yesterday, I failed to mention that in addition to the $970, the parents would also receive a videocamera, and some clothing for any surviving children. However, even when these items are added to the cash, the total value is still significantly less than burial costs.

A Florida senator said Thursday that he was placing a hold on the nomination of Stephen Johnson to become administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency because of a pesticide program involving children in the state.
Nelson’s announcement came one day after Johnson clashed with senators at a hearing over questions concerning an agency program, which reportedly paid low-income families in Duval County, Fla., $970 if they agreed to observe the impacts of pesticides used in their homes on their children.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who initiated the questioning with Johnson on the program, known as the Children’s Environmental Exposure Research Study, also has placed a hold on his nomination.

Johnson said Thursday that the program had been suspended but not cancelled, according to Boxer.

The EPA earlier decided to have an external, independent review of the program and expected to receive the results by this spring.

Boxer said she plans to lift her hold if Johnson cancels the program…link

and here is today’s update to the story:

The Environmental Protection Agency won’t rush to cancel a study on how pesticides affect children despite threats from Senate Democrats to hold up confirmation of the new EPA administrator until the study is canned.

Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Bill Nelson of Florida demanded Wednesday that EPA end the study, saying they will block a Senate vote on the confirmation of Stephen Johnson to be the agency’s administrator.

But the agency said Thursday it is awaiting a report from a science advisory panel before it decides whether to cancel the planned study. EPA has suspended the study, and the advisory panel’s report is not expected until May, said EPA spokesman Rich Hood.

The study is to determine how pesticides, which can cause neurological damage in children, and chemicals such as flame retardants, might be ingested, inhaled or otherwise absorbed through food, drink, soil, crop residue and household dust.

EPA had planned to give participating families $970 plus a camcorder and children’s clothes, but critics inside and outside the agency said that might encourage low-income families to use pesticides in their homes. The two-year study was to be conducted on the families of 60 children in Duval County, Fla.

EPA also had agreed to accept $2 million for the $9 million study from the American Chemistry Council, a trade group that represents chemical makers.

Nelson said the study would be conducted among residents of “a low-income minority neighborhood.” link

It is unclear why the study would have been suspended. This suggestion of possible and temporary appointment blocking on the part of some politicians is the first indication of displeasure or opposition that has reached the media.

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