EPA human experiments debunk notion of 'killer' air pollution: Agency hides exculpatory results

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has conducted air pollution experiments on live human subjects that discredit its claims that fine particulate matter kills people.

JunkScience.com obtained the explosive and heretofore undisclosed results through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and reveal them here for the first time.


Last September, JunkScience.com broke the news that EPA researchers had reported in Environmental Health Perspectives the case study of a woman who allegedly suffered atrial fibrillation after being exposed to concentrated airborne fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in an experimental setting.

After disposing of the EPA’s effort to link the woman’s atrial fibrillation with her exposure to PM2.5, we commented:

It’s also worth asking whether this is the only study subject that the EPA has studied. Are there others? What were their results? Do we only get to hear about the one result that could possibly be twisted to fit the EPA agenda?

To answer this question, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the agency to see if we could get answers those questions.

Result and Analysis of the FOIA Request.

Below is a copy of the of the response we received from the EPA:

This data sheet shows the following:

  • EPA has been conducting air pollution effects tests on human subjects since at least January 2010.
  • By the time the EPA researchers had published their September 2011 report in Environmental Health Perspectives, they had conducted 41 such tests.
  • Of the 41 human experiments, clinical effects were reported by the EPA in only two study subjects. Both of these are controversial. One is the case study reported in Environmental Health Perspectives, which has been previously debunked. The other study subject flagged by the EPA researchers as experiencing a clinical effect (“a short episode of an elevated heart rate during exposure”), in fact, denied feeling any effects. This reported effect was most probably due to some pre-existing condition or other stressor given the low-level of PM2.5 to which the study subject was exposed. Certainly the EPA has no reason to believe that was not the case or that the alleged heart rate jump was due to the PM2.5 exposure.
  • The other 39 study subjects were exposed to PM2.5 levels up to 21 times greater (i.e, up to 750 μg/m3) than the EPA’s own permissible exposure limit for PM2.5 on a 24-hour basis (i.e, 35 μg/m3). All reported exposures among the 39 study subjects were greater than the EPA’s 24-hour PM2.5 standard. Seven study subjects were exposed to levels 10 times greater than the EPA’s 24-hour PM2.5 standard. No clinical effects were reported for any of these exposures.


There are at least three points to be made in light of this discovery.

1. The experimental results provide no evidence that ultra-high exposures to PM2.5 kill.

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson testified to Congress last September that,

[Airborne] particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick. It’s directly causal to dying sooner than you should.

These experiment results — produced by EPA’s own researchers — in no way support Jackson’s assertion.

2. The experimental results invalidate EPA’s cost-benefit analyses for its CSAPR and MATS rulemakings.

The EPA justified the multibillion dollar costs of its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) and its Mercury Air Toxics Standard (MATS) largely on the basis that the rules would prevent thousands of premature deaths from PM2.5, thereby purportedly providing tens of billions of dollars in monetized health benefits from “lives saved.”

But ambient levels of PM2.5 are typically far below the PM2.5 levels to which subjects were exposed in this EPA experiment. We reported earlier that the EPA’s 24-hour PM2.5 of 35 μg/m3 was exceeded only about 0.0096% of the time in the U.S. during 2009.

Moreover, the EPA experiment provides no evidence that PM2.5, even at very high exposures, causes any health effects, let alone premature death.

3. EPA and its researchers have heretofore failed to disclose to the public these significant results.

Finally, there is the matter of the ethics and perhaps even the legality of the conduct of the EPA and its researchers.

The EPA’s experimental data on PM2.5 clearly paint a quite different picture than that provided by the September 2011 report in Environmental Health Perspectives and the agency’s recent PM2.5-related regulations (i.e., CSAPR and MATS).

The EPA researchers failed to mention the results from the other 40 human experiments in their Environmental Health Perspectives report. At the very least, their failure to disclose their own contrary results raises serious ethical concerns.

As an agency, the EPA failed to disclose these stunning results in its CSAPR and MATS rulemakings. This ought to raise concerns about the legal bases for these rulemakings. More than simply ignoring its own negative data, the agency seems to have actually hid them from public view.


In addition to these EPA-conducted experiments, there is other compelling data that casts doubt on the EPA’s claim that PM2.5 causes premature mortality, including historic air pollution data, current Chinese experience with air quality and the study “Fine Particulate Air Pollution and Total Mortality Among Elderly Californians, 1973–2002.”

The results of JunkScience.com’s FOIA request add to this growing body of evidence.

Given the significant actual costs of the EPA’s PM2.5-related regulations on society, it is incumbent upon Congress to conduct a thorough investigation of the agency and its PM2.5 claims.

34 thoughts on “EPA human experiments debunk notion of 'killer' air pollution: Agency hides exculpatory results”

  1. Time enough here for only the briefest of comments; here it is.
    The solution might be a whole lot simpler than we think:
    All that needs to be done is to remove all mandates. It is clearly understood and been voiced by many thruout history that mandates are the favorite weapon of tyrants. Remove the mandates—strip away the tyranny. Or do we think it’s a great idea to live under tyrants?–epa or any other. Then we can get back to being a free country—responsible for our own actions.
    The benefits will be endless; scientific talent being wasted on epa bs can actually work on real science–solving real problems! Technical, medical, mechanical–on & on– all without the gigantic burden of gov’t bureaucracy.
    Just to touch briefly on a personal observation of bureaucratic abuse going on daily here in the state of insanity called California:
    Abusive intrusive vehicle smog stations destroying peoples property will actually be able to do real repairs–and doing it cheaper because the government won’t be able to complicate and burden us.
    No more secret police wasting taxpayer time & money terrorizing (yes, TERRORIZING) smog technicians and setting up sting operations to catch ‘felons’ ‘tampering’ with smog equipment on cars they’re testing, and fining them thousands of dollars-ruining careers and lying to the public that they’re ‘protecting’ us. Far too much to go into here, but the Air Resources Board is one of several nightmares we can’t afford.
    The cost to California taxpayers is astronomical today. It’s simple. We can’t afford it. Period.
    Also, yes, thank you Breese! I agree!
    Fraser. You Are a real sick puppy.

  2. “DDT is one of 12 WHO–approved IRS insecticides.” Also, the increase in malaria has been tied to a variety of governmental and environmental factors.
    Malaria and typhus were not nearly erradicated. They can’t be erradicated, only controlled.

  3. 1. Lisa Jackson should have clarified that premature death deals with the shortening of life typically seen in the elderly (maybe she says it in the full transcript of her speech?). Would they have died of another cause just as fast? …That is a better question.

    You can use google scholar and type in “premature death and particulate matter.” Some studies I found- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2944076/

    2. We didn’t know Pluto had 4 moons until 2011. Under your logic, we should ignore the fourth moon since we took time and money to find it.

    3. While I wouldn’t go as far as you about violating the nuremburg code (these people are given a choice to participate), I think these studies are an interesting ethical debate.

  4. 1. Lisa Jackson said PM2.5 kills. She did not specify the elderly. Even so, please produce the evidence of an elderly person (or anyone else) killed by PM2.5.
    2. PM2.5 has been such a public health problem, that no one knew it existed until Dockery, Pope and EPA money invented it in the 1993.
    3. These experiments violate the Nuremberg Code. Who experiments on a sick person without intending to cure them?

  5. I love debunking scientific articles but I also think it’s important to counter these articles that probably have a greater effect on people’s perception. Just a quick counter here mainly to the “3 points” made on this page…

    Point 1. premature death happens in the elderly. From the information here and using common sense, it’s doubtful they exposed elderly to high levels of PM. Thus, Dr. Jackson’s statement on premature death is by no means refuted by this article.

    Point 2. I don’t understand the logic of because we are under the PM standard in many locations, we should remove the PM standard? Also, the article states, “We reported earlier that the EPA’s 24-hour PM2.5 of 35 μg/m3 was exceeded only about 0.0096% of the time in the U.S. during 2009.” But this “report” is actually from “Among the 32 Midwest and Eastern states that would be covered by the CATR.” So not entirely true even if it is entirely true. Areas above the standard are typically in urban areas where populations are dense. So a better metric would weight by population density. Finally, the author should not use a case-report to refute (or support) claims of cost-benefit analysis on a population level.

    Point 3. It appears that the experiment was still being conducted in June 2011 and may still be going on. The fact that they have not published on the total results is very understandable since it’s been less than a year. Turn around is slow for these experiments and definitely does not imply fraud. BUT, why they did publish on this case-report rapidly is probably from a human subjects consideration. They need to disseminate this adverse event to other people to ensure that this does not happen in other/future experiments. I expect their outcome of interest was not atrial fibrillation but harder to study effects .

    Thanks for reading.

  6. IHAWG, I can follow what you said. However, I know few others who can.

    Perhaps it would be better if you you rewrote your opinion for people that don’t do compliance for a living. You have a good point, though I believe you are being too apologistic for the EPA. They could have given an honest report of the benefits, and then taken the flack), but they did not, and academic and scientific dishonesty at this scale is inexcusable

  7. This is all a side show to the real argument. Title III of the GHWB-signed CAAA of 1990 requires EPA to regulate HAPs from specified industry sectors as EPA deemed justifiable. EPA was required to specifically report to Congress on the EU industry. The WJC-admin issued the infamous Hg Report and tried to regulate only Hg from the EU industry. GWB tried to delist the industry sector from Title III regulation and chose the CAMR route. The Courts vacated and remanded this and instructed EPA to regulate all HAPs from all sub-categories for this industry sector. Title III requires EPA to regulate all HAPs from all existing sources to the level of the best 12% performing sources. And this regardless of cost. One can argue whether EPA has over-reached on setting the MACT limits (Franken-MACT, hyper-MACT, etc.). Nevertheless, EPA HAD TO issue a MATS Rule, or else. The PM2.5 co-benefits is mere icing on the cake to try to make MATS more palatable to politicians. EPA had to do this because they know full well that direct cost benefits for MATS is essentially zilch. Read Dr. Anne Smith’s excellent Congressional testimony on this matter.

    Until Congress revises Title III, the MATS rule will NEVER go away. It may be pared down by lawsuits. But it will never go away. It is statutorily required and upheld by the courts.

    Mr. Milloy can argue all he will about costs. It will literally take an act of Congress to change MATS, or get rid of it altogether.

  8. When I was 16 (a really long time ago) my hair was quite long, and I got my hair caught in an electric drill motor. The damn things are dangerous!

  9. John Deere’s interim tier 4 engines, designed with filters to remove particulates from the air, have added approximately 12-14 inches to the overall height of the tractor. The added cost of such will be paid first by farmers then by consumers. But the worst part, in my opinion, is that the overall height of the tractor cab is now over 6 feet above the ground and the Department of Labor is working on regulations to prevent youth under 18 from working more than 6 feet above the ground. We may have to give up teaching work ethic to our youth because the DOL doesn’t want to let farm kids under 16 even use power tools such as an electric drill.

  10. The EPA is like cops. Cops are gang-bangers with government powers. EPA is like haters of modern technology with government powers. And both groups like their jobs, or they’d leave.

  11. Based on particulate concerns, the EPA moved toward regulating dust on farms. Believe it or not, Congress did step in to prevent the EPA from trying to control the uncontrollable and raise the cost of food production exponentially. Wouldn’t that have given BIG government a strangle hold on Americans?!!

  12. It is long past time for Congress to disband the EPA. It no longer, if it ever did, pays any attention to science and the scientific method when considering its rules and regulations. The agency promulgates rules and regulations based only on its agenda. This site has cited incident after incident, including the ban on DDT, the desire to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, and now the particulate matter fiasco.

  13. She is responsible for what she testifies to regardless of whether her “staff” neglected to inform her of the other results or not. At best she is incompetent for not asking, but it is more likely she liked their answer because it fit the “company line” as you stated.

  14. Millions have been spent in the last few years to retrofit diesel engines with particulate matter filters to comply, and now we find out that there really was no justification. Does anyone know how much did these 41 studies cost and how much was funded by the Federal government?

  15. I’ll go with: It’s a big, bureaucratic place and they haven’t plugged all of the holes or found a way to do it without getting busted by a lone-wolf whistle blower. — Yet.

    They’re still at that awkward stage where someone deletes the Gleick grants, but can’t do it “well.”

  16. Maybe the EPA is following FDA rules. The FDA reportedly just needs 2 studies to show a drug works and they declare the drug effective. There is no mention of the other dozen the did not show any effect. Sounds quite similar.

  17. Lisa Jackson, like all Administrators, gets briefed by her staff and the staffs of her Assistant Administrators on what to say to Congress and elsewhere. She would not have seen the data on the 41 exposures. As much as I dislike this administration, I’d not call Lisa a liar, just under-informed.

    The problem here lies in the researchers, who have a gigantic vested interest in showing PM2.5 to be a problem. The “company line” from the Air Office and ORD is, and has been for at least the past 20 years, that fine particulates cause all kinds of health problems. The EHP paper is unconscionable and a wonderful example of cherry picking data to substantiate your own agenda. I’m sure they used that in Lisa Jackson’s briefings, and felt that the 39 cases of no effects was “irrelevant.”

    I don’t think there’s any difference here between this case and those who peddle global warming. Neither group of researchers follows the basic tenets of science; they just find a cause and then find data to justify their beliefs. If it doesn’t fit their beliefs, it’s irrelevant.

  18. Considering what’s been going on with the Government Accountability Office having party’s and trips with our tax money is anyone really surprised?

  19. Look, if they found a cub scouts head in EPAs sock drawer, the MSM would trumpet ” Agency helps end mystery of missing child….”

  20. Lisa Jackson is continuing on the same path of her pre-decessor Ruckelshaus, who managed to have D.D.T. banned in 1972 on false accusations, that it not only harmed the Bald Eagles, but also causes cancer in humans. Until today the W.H.O. can not show any proof of that false claim eventhough some 60 million people have died from malaria and typhus, which were nearly eradicated by D.D.T.! She is a pathological liar like her mentor and they have never cared about how many people have died and still die from their sick ideology.

  21. Yeah, this is pretty appalling no matter which way you look at it. What I’m surprised about is that they didn’t delete this stuff and deny it ever happened. Given the sheer magnitude of the incompetence or outright disregard for ethics that had to be involved, the fact that they would admit to this data existing and then hand it to Milloy of all people shows that either someone has ethics still, or that they are even worse fools than I thought.

  22. This reveals what may be the ultimate on cherry-picking of data.
    In 41 uncontrolled “tests” with a non-deterministic experimental design, they were only able to report a single *apparently* positive result, and that was not on that they were testing for – it was accidental / incidental and indistinguishable (due to the total lack of controls) from an statistical anomaly.
    My money says the test subject had an episode of “white coat fever.”

  23. Wow. Just like Briffa’s trees… ya picks da ones ya likes.

    This is the most rogue Administration EVER. It’s one thing to diddle the data to give advantage to a business crony, but this is a rape of the entire country for neo Malthusian nonsense. This reckless agenda must be stopped come November folks. It’s that, or we become Greece on the way to Zimbabwe.

  24. For me, the most troubling aspect of all this is that the EPA is conducting medical experiments with substances they think might cause premature death on live human subjects. Shades of Dr. Mengele.

  25. Anyone in favor of the government defining and regulating scientific ethics? And yes to everyone who thinks Congress should be looking into what the executive branch is doing here.

  26. Hmm… Could a FOIA request get them to disgorge a list of who knew of this information prior to Lisa’s congressional testimony last September? If Lisa was not committing perjury, the alternative is that multiple persons in her hierarchy conspired to conceal the data from her. This could be an easy win-win, depending on how they try to dodge the bullet.

  27. Is there NO ONE in this Congress who is paying any attention, or more importantly halting their asses up there ….and actually putting them UNDER oath and questioning them witrh THIS evidence sitting in front of them……. now that’s disturbing!

  28. “rules would prevent thousands of premature deaths from PM2.5, thereby purportedly providing tens of billions of dollars in monetized health benefits from “lives saved.” ”

    Saving lives does not save money on health
    benefits. People dying saves money. Per person
    cost of health care is almost wholly a function
    of how long they live.

  29. They had at the point, 22 negatives exposed at up to 5 times the exposure of the one person that actually had an incident. They chose to present it as a case study without mentioning the other people they had tested. They continued to do tests and had universal negative results (non-palpable increased heartrate does not count)

    I commented last year that the “study” wouldn’t pass muster at an elementary school science fair and openly questioned about how they could be that incompetent. It turns out they aren’t, just fraudulent. This is disturbing.

  30. And whom in the congress is getting a copy of this to conduct the investigation. The EPA’s claims have long been preposterous and it doesn’t seem to stop them from rule making.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.