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Health Agencies Update
March 24/31, 2004

Testing Toxins in Humans

JAMA. 2004;291(12):1434. doi:10.1001/jama.291.12.1434-b

Studies that expose individuals to toxins may be justified if stringent scientific and ethical standards are imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to a National Academies of Science committee.

Intentional dosing studies of pesticides, air pollutants, and other toxicants should be conducted and used by the EPA for regulatory purposes only if certain conditions are met, the committee said. Studies must be necessary and address questions not answerable by animal studies, and the possible benefits to society must outweigh any anticipated risks to participants. Dosing studies for the sole purpose of improving the accuracy of EPA's reference doses for humans will be justified only if there are no identifiable risks to participants and informed consent and all other recognized ethical standards for protecting study participants are observed.