Over the years I have examined here many research reports which claimed to show harm from air pollution. Not one was methodogically sound. The article below adds to the evidence that air pollution as we normally encounter it does no harm
Fine particulate matter in outdoor air, also called PM2.5, is the most toxic substance known to man. PM2.5 is responsible for 8 million, or one-in-seven deaths per year on a global basis. A single molecule can kill within just a few hours of inhalation. Or at least that what environmental and health regulatory agencies around the world claim.
PM2.5 is so dangerous that no one noticed it until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started trying to regulate it in the early 1990s. PM2.5 kills, in fact, no one. A point that is easily demonstrated and will be done so here. That we still must talk about PM2.5 is a testimony to the stubborn commitment of regulatory agencies to science fraud.
What is PM2.5?
PM2.5 is fine airborne soot and dust. A PM2.5 particle is about one-twentieth the width of a human hair. The soot form of PM2.5 is emitted by all forms of manmade and natural combustion: from fossil fuel plant smokestacks; truck and automobile exhaust pipes; and furnaces, fireplaces and barbeques to wildfires and volcanoes The dust form of PM2.5 exists as pollen, pet dander, dust and mold. Smokers of all sorts inhale PM2.5 in massive amounts, especially compared to PM2.5 levels in outdoor air. You may think that last point condemns PM2.5 as a killer. But it actually is the among the best evidence that PM2.5 doesn’t kill anyone.
What is the history of PM2.5 regulation?
Having eliminated virtually all large and visible particulate matter from US skies by the late 1980s and having established a massive regulatory program in the proicess, the EPA hit on the idea of regulating smaller PM2.5 to keep its regulatory bureaucracy going.
In the late-1980s, the EPA began funding PM2.5 research at the Harvard University School of Public Health. In 1993, the Harvard group issued an epidemiologic study of six cities in the US claiming to associate higher PM2.5 levels with higher death rates. Another larger EPA-funded study reaching the same conclusion was published in 1995.
These studies caught the eye of EPA’s legally mandated panel of independent scientists and experts (the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Council or “CASAC”) who asked EPA for the raw data so that it could review the studies. The agency refused to provide the data. A subsequent request from Congress for the data was also rebuffed.
Based on these two studies, EPA proposed for the first time in 1996 to regulate PM2.5 in outdoor air. The agency claimed that its new regulations would prevent 15,000 deaths in the U.S. per year. As EPA valued human lives at the time at 5 million dollars each, the agency claimed that saving these lives would provide $75 billion worth of economic benefits to the economy per year.
When called upon to review the scientific basis of the proposed rule in 1995, CASAC balked and stated there was insufficient evidence showing that PM2.5 killed anyone. Although the EPA was legally required to obtain the advice of CASAC, the law does not require that the agency accept CASAC’s conclusions. And the EPA did not.
The agency proceeded to regulate PM2.5 for the first time anywhere on the basis that PM2.5 kills. Its success in issuing these regulations emboldened and empowered the agency over the next 15 years to convert and an unknown killer into the most potent killer known to man. The EPA used these claims in a series of regulations during the Obama administration that destroyed 50 percent of the U.S. coal industry.
Does PM2.5 kill anyone?
The EPA, of course, knows that PM2.5 doesn’t kill anyone. Here’s how we know that, too.
Recall that the EPA’s crusade against PM2.5 was launched by the previously-mentioned 1993 and 1995 epidemiologic studies. Epidemiology is the statistical study of disease in human populations, the key part of that description being “statistical.” I could spend pages and pages describing the flaws in EPA’s data and statistical analysis, but your eyes would gloss over and it’s unnecessary thanks to EPA.
In 2012, a group with which I am affiliated, sued EPA for conducting illegal human clinical research experiments involving PM2.5. By the early 2000s, EPA had concluded that any exposure to PM2.5 could kill in a matter of hours and that elderly and sick people were most at risk. To prove its point, conducted numerous experiments on elderly and sick people in which diesel exhaust from a truck was pipelined into an actual gas chamber where the human guinea pigs inhaled very high levels of PM2.5 for hours at a time. This was illegal because researchers are not allowed to conduct Nazi-like experiments where the purpose is to cause harm, especially without the informed consent of the human guinea pigs.
In its defense to our lawsuit, the EPA stated that it conducted the PM2.5 experiments because the PM2.5 epidemiology was only statistics, and as all researchers know, statistics only demonstrate correlation and correlation is not the same as causation. The EPA told the court that the human experiments were needed to establish needed biological plausibility for the claims of the epidemiology studies.
The EPA’s unequivocal admission that epidemiology alone was an insufficient basis to conclude that PM2.5 kills obviates any further need to consider the many significant flaws of the PM2.5 epidemiology.
And what were the results of those clinical experiments?
Despite exposing hundreds of elderly (as old as 80) and sick people (with asthma and heart disease) to extraordinary levels of PM2.5 (as high as 75 times the level in average US outdoor air), not so much as a gasp, wheeze or cough, much less any death, was reported. The clinical research, in fact, provided not an ounce of biological plausibility to the (dubious) epidemiology.
There is one last important point to make about EPA’s PM2.5 epidemiology. Recall that EPA refused to produce to the CASAC and Congress the raw data used in the epidemiology studies it funded. Frustrated by this most unscientific refusal to share data, I sought a way around the EPA refusal and discovered one.
The state of California provides vital statistics, such as death certificates, to researchers. The state also has the best and most localized air quality readings that can be readily matched to the death certificates. After obtaining some of these death certificates and related air quality data, I did a rough epidemiologic study of my own to see if deaths were in fact correlated with PM2.5 levels. They were not.
I subsequently convinced prominent and expert researchers to obtain 12 years-worth of California death certificate and air quality data and do their own rigorous study. Their study of all deaths in California between the years 2000 to 2012 (more than 2 million) reported no correlation between PM2.5 and death.
Although PM2.5 levels in Chinese and Indian cities can reach quite high levels ? e.g., 100 times average outdoor levels in the US ? no actual deaths are ever reported. The reason for this is that the level of acidic gases always remains in a safe range. Simply inhaling PM2.5 alone kills no one.
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