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EPA Studies Do Not Always Inform Subjects about Lethal Risks

Update Date: Apr 04, 2014 10:21 AM EDT

A watchdog group is claiming that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not inform some of their test subjects about the dangers of participating in their studies. According to the report, the EPA exposed human participants to pollutants that could increase their risk of cancer and death.

"[E]vidence suggests that at least some human study subjects would like to know if a study involves risk of death, even if the risk is very small," the report concluded.

In this EPA inspector general report, the researchers examined five studies carried out in 2010 and 2011 at a facility associated with the University of North Carolina. The EPA is legally allowed to test the effects of pollutants on human subjects in order to assess the potential dangers of such pollutants. The researchers found that the EPA followed all the regulations that applied to each study. Roughly 81 test subjects were legally exposed to "concentrated airborne particles or diesel exhaust emissions," FOX News reported.

Despite following the applicable regulations, the IG report revealed that there were some inconsistencies in the consent forms that were given to the test subjects. One of the studies informed the subjects about the highest range of the pollutant that they would be exposed to. Only two studies listed "risk of death for older individuals with cardiovascular disease." Two other studies' consent forms did not warn participants about the potential risk of cancer due to long-term exposure. Based from this report, the EPA has agreed to include more information about the potential risks involved with participating in these studies.

"EPA concurs with and is adopting the OIG's recommendations to ensure its policies and procedures are strengthened even further. ... All human exposure studies conducted by EPA scientists are independently evaluated for safety and ethics, and the results are peer-reviewed. EPA is committed to ensuring the protection of study participants," the agency wrote in a statement.

The report can be found here.

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