EPA's Dirty, Dark Secret

October 23, 2012, Investor’s Business Daily | Print Version

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been sued in federal court for conducting illegal experiments on human beings. A federal judge will now determine whether the EPA has violated federal law and the most sacrosanct moral standards of scientific research or whether the EPA has been lying to Congress and the public about the dangers of air pollution.

Based on thousands of pages of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, since 2004 and continuing through the Obama administration, the EPA has intentionally exposed hundreds of human subjects to extraordinarily high levels of air pollutants such as diesel exhaust and fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5. The experiments occurred at an EPA facility located at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Many study subjects were health-impaired: suffering from asthma, metabolic syndrome, and old age (up to 75 years). Financially needy, they enrolled in these experiments for $12 per hour.

Since 1997, the EPA has regulated PM2.5, a major component of diesel exhaust, on the basis that it kills people after long-term exposure. In 2004, the EPA determined that PM2.5 could also kill on a short-term basis — within hours or days of exposure. The EPA also determined that there is no safe level of exposure to PM2.5 — any inhalation can kill. The EPA says that health-impaired people and the elderly are most vulnerable. The EPA also cites “strong evidence” that PM2.5 and diesel exhaust cause cancer.

The chairman of the EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Council, Jon Samet, wrote in a 2011 commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine that there is no safe exposure to PM2.5, a view reiterated to House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., in a February 2012 letter by EPA air chief, Gina McCarthy.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson testified in Congress in September 2011 that “particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick. It’s directly causal to dying sooner than you should.” She added: “If we could reduce particulate matter to levels that are healthy we would have an identical impact to finding a cure for cancer.”

Cancer kills about 570,000 in the U.S. annually, according to the American Cancer Society.

The EPA does more than just badmouth PM2.5 and diesel exhaust; it issues stringent, multibillion dollar-costing regulations. In addition to national air quality standards, which the EPA is currently tightening, the two biggest rules of the Obama EPA are — the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the Mercury Air Toxics Standard. Both depend on the condemnation of PM2.5 as a killer.

In addition to testing the lethal and cancer-causing PM2.5 and diesel exhaust on frail and needy people, the EPA failed to inform the study subjects that these substances were so dangerous.

While the EPA has repeatedly told the public and Congress that PM2.5 can kill within hours of exposure, the EPA only told the study subjects, for example: “You may experience some minor degree of airway irritation, cough or shortness of breath or wheezing. These symptoms typically disappear two to four hours after exposure, but may last longer for particularly sensitive people.”

One obese woman with a history of heart disease developed a cardiac arrhythmia during the experiment. She was rushed to the hospital for an overnight stay. The EPA attributed her heart problem to PM2.5 in a published report, but then failed to warn subsequent subjects of the cardiac arrhythmia risk.

In its lawsuit, the nonprofit American Tradition Institute asserts that the EPA’s conduct runs afoul of virtually every rule and ethical standard established since World War II and the Tuskegee syphilis experiments intended to protect human study subjects from rogue scientific research.

The EPA also has potential civil and even criminal liability. While the mere testing of such toxic substances is clearly prohibited, the EPA has compounded wrongdoing by failing to obtain informed consent. The only way the EPA doesn’t face such liabilities is if it has been grossly misleading the public and Congress about air pollutants.

Three of the EPA researchers are North Carolina-licensed physicians, and the state medical board is investigating. The University of North Carolina, which provided the EPA with the required institutional review board (IRB) for approving the experiments, is also investigating.

In contrast, the Obama-appointed Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues has so far refused multiple requests to get involved, claiming it already has a full agenda.

Because the EPA has so far resisted efforts, including those of Congress, to respond substantively to these allegations, they will now have the opportunity to do so before a federal judge.

Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is a member of the American Tradition Institute.

6 thoughts on “EPA's Dirty, Dark Secret”

  1. Should a faculty throw out cold-fusion professors, intelligent-design professors, and cell-phone-cause-cancer professors. Of course yes.

    Professors who claim the theory of second hand smoke is bogus as are almost all results of environmental study, including fantastic air pollution claims, should be applauded by the faculty.

    What is the line? It should involve actual scientific reasoning not just fashion.

    How can our universities allow the NCAA to be arbitrators of their management as is claimed in the Penn State matter? Then there was the Duke case involving lacrosse players where the faculty joined an ignorant mob.

  2. Enstrom simply said about pm 2.5 that you simply cough the trash out when it gets in you! As you can see these green progressives especially those in California have done everything to push their agenda even manipulating data which EPA and CALEPA also are very guilty of,even using so called researchers that didnt have the required credentials to pursue that agenda. Prof Enstrom pointed this out where he works and it created ripples from his school all the way to the California state government that had confirmed this so called lead researchers academia credentials which were falsified………

  3. Heres what happens to scientists that dont tow the line that second hand smoke is real!

    Epidemiologist James Enstrom’s appointment ended today because his research on air pollution did not align with the department mission and failed to reach funding requirements, according to a June 9 layoff notice from Richard Jackson, environmental health sciences department chair.

    Enstrom contended that the short explanation given for his nonreappointment is invalid and filed an appeal on Friday.
    “When (people) make an outrageous statement like my research isn’t aligned with the mission of the department … it’s patently false,” said Enstrom, who has worked at UCLA’s School of Public Health for more than 34 years.

    The stated mission of the department is to study the relationship between environment and health, according to its website.

    Citing the confidentiality of personnel issues, various representatives from the School of Public Health did not comment on the matter but emphasized that the potentially controversial content of Enstrom’s research was not the reason for his layoff.

    “The nature of research results, political views or popularity are not appropriate factors and are not considered when evaluating individuals for reappointment,” said Hilary Godwin, associate dean of academic programs in the School of Public Health, in a written statement.

    Held in suspense

    James Enstrom is anxiously anticipating this day, yet hoping for his circumstances to change.

    Jackson notified Enstrom he would be laid off on Feb. 10, when funding for his position would end in April. In May, the department faculty voted against his reappointment, Enstrom said. On June 9, he received a second layoff notice that extended his term to June 30.

    Enstrom wrote to Linda Rosenstock, dean of the School of Public Health, arguing that he was not given the expected 60-day notice before being laid off and that funding actually did exist to support his position, contrary to Jackson’s explanation. Enstrom’s term was extended, but only until Aug. 30.

    His multiple layoff notices all cite that his research is not aligned with the department’s mission.

    The details of research

    Enstrom, who describes himself as a loner, has created unexpected ripples in the world of academia with his divergent research in air pollution.

    He believes that as a result of publicizing his work, his department has responded by refusing his reappointment as a researcher.


    In particular, his research on fine particulate air pollution in California implies that miniscule diesel particles do not have a significant effect on mortality.

    His findings contradict conventional wisdom and other studies, which contend that this type of air pollution causes thousands of deaths each year.

    “There’s plenty of data from other studies that show this is pretty dangerous,” said Dr. John Telles, a member of the California Air Resources Board, a government agency working to protect air quality.

    The controversy over his research refers to his work on fine particulate air pollution, which refers to dirt, soot, chemicals and other particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers.

  4. The US Department of Energy wired up restaurant and bar workers with air sampling devices to get a better picture of worker exposure to ETS. Their conclusions, published in “Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke in Sixteen Cities in the United States As Determined by Personal Breathing Zone Air Sampling”, appearing in the Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology, were that inhalation exposure to ETS was so low as to render health hazards negligible to improbable. The study showed that typical exposure rates taken for granted by anti-ETS lobbyists are 2 to 5 times the actual exposure rate, over an 8 hour exposure period. Respirable suspended particulate matter exposure was 1/4 the threshold level OSHA considers significant. These findings were later replicated by the Oak Ridge National Laboratories in “”Determination of Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke in Restaurants and Tavern Workers in One U.S. City” in 2000. Additional studies suggest that, in opposition to the anti-smoking forces’ claim that bartenders involuntarily inhale half a pack a day of cigarette smoke, bartenders annual exposure to smoke rises, at most, to the equivalent of 6 cigarettes/year. The question must be asked, then: if exposure to environmental tobacco smoke was so low for individuals working eight-hour shifts in restaurants and bars, how much lower would be the exposure to individuals exposed only during the course of a meal?

    The 2006 standards tighten the 24-hour fine particle standard from 65 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) to 35 µg/m3, and retain the current annual fine particle standard at 15 µg/m3.

    EPA has decided to retain the existing 24-hour PM10 standard of 150 µg/m3. Due to a lack of evidence linking health problems to long-term exposure to coarse particle pollution, the Agency has revoked the annual PM10 standard.

    The Agency selected the levels for the final standards after reviewing thousands of peer-reviewed scientific studies about the effects of particle pollution on public health and welfare. External scientific advisors and the public examined EPA’s science and policy review documents. The Agency also carefully considered public comments on the proposed standards. EPA held three public hearings and received over 120,000 written comments.

    While EPA provisionally assessed new, peer-reviewed studies about particulate matter and health (including some studies received during the comment period), these studies were not the basis for the final decision. EPA will consider those studies during the next review of the PM standards.


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