Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Wants to End EPA’s Cruel Animal Testing
By Justin Goodman and Nathan Herschler
A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress recently pressed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its "questionable" and "dubious" animal tests. The lawmakers' demand for information on "horrific and inhumane" animal testing at the EPA comes on the heels of a recent Johns Hopkins University study that found that high-tech computer models are more effective than animal tests.
But as scientists and elected officials are coming to the same conclusions about the inefficacy and unethical nature of animal testing, the U.S. government is still wasting tens of millions of taxpayer dollars and countless animals' lives for archaic experiments opposed by most Americans. Now lawmakers have an opportunity to stop it, as Congress is currently debating federal agency budgets for 2019.
Recently, White Coat Waste Project, a watchdog group committed to ending taxpayer-funded animal experiments, uncovered how a little-known EPA program abuses approximately 20,000 animals annually in outdated air pollution experiments. The tests at the EPA's National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory include making animals obese by feeding them lard and then forcing them to inhale diesel exhaust and smog to study the effects. In other tests, animals were blasted with loud noises and exposed to ozone, pregnant animals were stressed with light and noise and their babies were given electric shocks.
Following the exposé, our organizations, the White Coat Waste Project and the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, along with more than 55,000 Americans, urged Congress to cut funding for these tests and support more productive EPA programs focused on alternatives to animal tests like robotic testing systems and organs-on-chips that the EPA has acknowledged can make testing more cost-effective, accurate and efficient. Yet, a lack of transparency and accountability about the EPA's animal testing and efforts to curb it has prevented much-needed scrutiny, until now.
To their credit, several Republican and Democratic lawmakers quickly sprang into action to address this waste and abuse.
In a recent letter to the EPA, Congressmembers Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island), Dan Donovan (R-New York), Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee), Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania) and Brendan Boyle (D-Pennsylvania)—lawmakers who are often publicly at odds on other policy issues—demanded details on the EPA's testing, writing, "These tests likely cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year, and their relevance to humans, as EPA has often acknowledged, is dubious at best."
The same day, the House of Representatives passed language championed by Reps. Ken Calvert (R-California), David Joyce (R-Ohio) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida) in the EPA's 2019 funding bill, urging the agency to do more to reduce its animal tests and focus on high-tech alternatives to animal testing.
This is important progress, but sadly the EPA is not the only problematic agency using wasteful 100-year-old testing methods to guide 21st century public health policy.
In May, the White Coat Waste Project and the Anti-Vivisection Society released a report titled "Toxic Testing" exposing hundreds of wasteful government animal tests by the National Toxicology Program. The report found that recent Program tests used more than 115,000 animals and 186 million taxpayer dollars, and that high-tech and cost-effective alternatives to animal testing are woefully underused.
One of the outlandish animal testing series documented included 25 million taxpayer dollars and 10 years spent to blast 3,000 animals with cellphone radiation equivalent to 10 iPhones all day, every day, for two years before killing and dissecting them. At the study's conclusion, the National Toxicology Program told The Washington Post, "Given the inconsistent pattern of the findings, the fact that the subjects were rats and mice rather than people and the high level of radiation used, [the study] could not extrapolate from the data the potential health effects on humans." Of course, this information was obvious prior to conducting the research, but they proceeded anyway.
In another troubling set of at least 36 different tests costing around $5 million, the Program force-fed and injected thousands of animals with acrylamide, a by-product in coffee and French fries using, as the National Institutes of Health put it, "doses 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the levels people might be exposed to in foods." Based on these inherently flawed rodent tests, the Program concluded that acrylamide can "reasonably be anticipated to be a human carcinogen."
Yet, the National Cancer Institute—which, like the National Toxicology Program, resides within the Institutes of Health—reports, "a large number of epidemiologic studies … in humans have found no consistent evidence that dietary acrylamide exposure is associated with the risk of any type of cancer." Similarly, the American Cancer Society states that "there are currently no cancer types for which there is clearly an increased risk related to acrylamide intake."
The public health and policy impacts of this misleading animal testing are significant. Based on animal tests of acrylamide by the Program and others, a California court ruled that Starbucks and other coffee sellers must now include cancer warnings on coffee cups, despite there being no evidence of health risks in humans.
This is an issue that bridges the growing left-right divide. Consider the fact that Pulitzer-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald recently retweetedan article from the conservative Daily Caller about the EPA's animal testing, writing, "Disgust and opposition to horrific government experiments on animals is not only growing rapidly, but is becoming bipartisan and trans-ideological." He's right. National polls conducted by Lincoln Park Strategies have recently found that 79 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of Democrats want to cut EPA spending on animal tests, and that three-quarters of all voters think federal agencies should be required to replace animal tests with high-tech alternatives whenever possible.
This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
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By Beth Ann Mayer
Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.
How to Rock Your Walk<p>Walking isn't just fun and healthy. It's accessible.</p><p>"Walking is cheap," says Dr. John Paul H. Rue, a sports medicine doctor at <a href="https://mdmercy.com/" target="_blank">Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore</a>. "You can do it anywhere at any time; [it] requires little to no special equipment and has many of the same cardio benefits as running or other more intense workouts."</p><p>Want to up your walking game? Try the tips below.</p>
Use Hand Weights<p>Cardio and strength training can go hand-in-hand when you add weights to your walk.</p><p>A <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2019/03000/Associations_of_Resistance_Exercise_with.14.aspx" target="_blank">2019 study</a> found that weight training is good for your heart, and <a href="https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(17)30167-2/abstract" target="_blank">research</a> shows it reduces the risk of developing a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/nutrition-metabolism-disorders" target="_blank">metabolic disorder</a> by 17 percent. People with metabolic disorders have a higher chance of being diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.</p><p>Rue suggests not carrying weights for your entire walk.</p><p>"Hand weights can give you an added level of energy burning, but you have to be careful with these because carrying [them] over a long period of time or while walking could actually lead to some overuse injuries," he says.</p>
Make It a Circuit<p>As another option, consider doing a circuit. First, put a pair of dumbbells on your lawn or somewhere in your home. Walk around the block once, then stop and do some bicep curls and tricep lifts before walking around the block again.</p><p>Rue recommends <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/running-with-weights" target="_blank">avoiding ankle weights</a> during cardio workouts, as they force you to use your quadriceps rather than hamstrings. They can also cause muscle imbalance, according to the <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/wearable-weights-how-they-can-help-or-hurt" target="_blank">Harvard Health Letter</a>.</p>
Find a Fitness Trail<p>Strength training isn't limited to weights. You can get stronger by <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/bodyweight-workout" target="_blank">simply using your body</a>.</p><p>Often found at parks, fitness trails are obstacle courses with equipment for pullups, pushups, rowing, and stretches to build upper and lower body strength.</p><p>Try searching "fitness trails near me" online, checking out your local parks and recreation website, or calling the municipal office to <a href="https://calisthenics-parks.com/" target="_blank">find one</a>.</p>
Recruit a Friend<p>People who workout together stay healthy together.</p><p><a href="https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-017-0584-3" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that older adults who exercised with a group improved or maintained their functional health and enjoyed their lives more.</p><p>Enlist the help of a walking buddy with a regimen you aspire to have. If you don't know anyone in your area, apps like <a href="https://www.strava.com/" target="_blank">Strava</a> have social networking features so you can get support from fellow exercisers.</p>
Try Meditation<p>According to the <a href="https://www.nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/nhis/2017" target="_blank">2017 National Health Interview Survey</a>, published by the National Institutes of Health, meditation is on the rise, and for good reason.</p><p>Researchers <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29616846/" target="_blank">found</a> that mind-body relaxation practices can regulate inflammation, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/biological-rhythms" target="_blank">circadian rhythms</a>, and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/glucose" target="_blank">glucose</a> metabolism, as well as lower <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension" target="_blank">blood pressure</a>.</p><p>"Any form of exercise can be turned into a meditation of some type, either by the surroundings you are walking in, like a park or trail, or by blocking out the outside world with music on your headphones," Rue says.</p><p>You can also play a podcast or download an app like <a href="https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app" target="_blank">Headspace</a> that has a library of guided meditations to practice while you walk.</p>
Do Fartlek Walks<p>Typically used in running, fartlek intervals alternate periods of increased and decreased speed. These are <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-hiit" target="_blank">high-intensity interval training (HIIT)</a> workouts, which allow exercisers to accomplish more in less time.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154075" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that 10-minute interval training improved <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/metabolic-syndrome" target="_blank">cardiometabolic</a> health, or lowered the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, just as well as working out at a continuous pace for 50 minutes.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111489" target="_blank">Research</a> also shows that HIIT workouts increase muscle <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fast-twitch-muscles" target="_blank">oxidative</a> capacity, or the ability to use oxygen. To do a fartlek walk, try walking at an increased pace for 3 minutes, slow down for 2 minutes, and repeat.</p>
Gradually Increase Pace<p>A faster walking pace is associated with a lower risk of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/copd" target="_blank">chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)</a> and respiratory diseases, according to a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30303933/" target="_blank">2019 study</a>.</p><p>Still, it's best not to go from a stroll to an Olympic-worthy power walk in a day. Instead, increase your pace gradually to prevent injury.</p><p>"Start by walking at a brisk pace for about 10 minutes per day, 3 to 5 days per week," Rue says. "Once you've done this for a few weeks, increase your time by 5 to 10 minutes per day until you get to 30 minutes."</p>
Add Stairs<p>You've likely heard that taking the stairs instead of an elevator is a way to add more movement into your daily routine. It's also a way to step up your walking. Stair climbing has been shown to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335519301123?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">decrease the risk of mortality</a> and can easily add a bit more challenge to your walk.</p><p>If you don't have stairs in your home, you can often find them outside a local municipal building, train station, or at a high school stadium.</p>
Is Your Walk a True Cardio Workout?<p>Not all walks are equal. A walk that's too leisurely may not provide enough burn to qualify as cardio. To see if you're getting a good workout, try to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-check-heart-rate" target="_blank">measure your heart rate</a> using a monitor.</p><p>"A target goal for a good walking workout heart rate is about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate," Rue says, adding that maximum heart rate is <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/fat-burning-heart-rate" target="_blank">typically calculated</a> by 220 beats per minute minus your age.</p><p>You can also monitor how easily you can carry on a conversation while you walk to gauge your heart rate.</p><p>"If you can walk and carry on a normal conversation, that's probably a lower intensity walk," says Rue. "If you are slightly breathless but can still have a conversation, that's probably a moderate workout. If you are out of breath and can't talk normally, that's a vigorous workout."</p>
Takeaway<p>By shaking up your routine, you can add excitement to your workout and reap even more rewards than a basic walk provides. Increasing the pace and intensity of a workout will make it more effective.</p><p>Simply pick your favorite variation to add some spice to your next walk.</p>
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