Environmental connections to public health >>
Law & Order tackles human testing of pesticides
Tomorrow night, NBC will air “Loophole,” an episode on the crime drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, which focuses on the controversial EPA rule allowing intentional dosing of people with pesticides. In true Law & Order fashion, “Loophole” combines education and entertainment, to mirror EPA’s all-too-real “CHEERS” program, where in 2004 the federal government proposed to offer low-income families in Florida $970, a camcorder, and some clothes if they would record “routine exposure” of their infants to household pesticides.
In the episode, a fictional chemical company tests several children and their families with a dangerous organophosphate pesticide (a class of acutely toxic chemicals). In real life, EPA’s human testing rule contains loopholes that allow chemical corporations to test pesticides on women and children.
According to Physicians for Social Responsibility, the episode highlights many regulatory problems concerning pesticides, and the difficulty of linking exposure with specific health outcomes. The show further reveals the many environmental health threats faced by low-income children in their own homes.