Two Democratic senators Thursday said they would block the nomination of Stephen Johnson to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency until the EPA cancels a program to test pesticide exposure of children in a Florida county.
WASHINGTON Two Democratic senators Thursday said they would block the nomination of Stephen Johnson to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency until the EPA cancels a program to test pesticide exposure of children in a Florida county.
Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida and Barbara Boxer of California said the testing program was unfair.
The research project, which is partially funded by the American Chemistry Council, does not require the participants to buy or use any additional pesticides than what is already in their homes.
The EPA has defended its children's environmental exposure study as important to help the agency understand how kids are exposed to pesticides that are common in American homes. The research project plans to examine the homes of selected children in Duval County, Florida, and will give participants a camcorder, children's clothing and a $970 payment.
Nelson said the research project was taking place in a "low-income, minority neighborhood" where families would be eager to receive the small payment and clothing.
"Testing pesticides on small children and infants is wrong. We already know it's bad for them," Boxer told reporters at a news conference to announce she and Nelson had placed a "hold" on the White House's nomination of Johnson.
"This program may just be the tip of the iceberg as to what's going to come from this administration regarding human testing," Boxer added.
Johnson, a scientist at the EPA for more than two decades, faced a contentious confirmation hearing Wednesday before the Senate Environment Committee. The panel is expected to vote on his nomination next week. Boxer is a member of the committee.