WASHINGTON – Today, the public interest group American Tradition Institute (ATI) expressed strong support for a recently introduced North Carolina bill (S.B. 187) aimed at halting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) unethical practice of using humans subjects to research the impact of fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5. If passed, the law would make any “person who violates this section… guilty of a Class F felony,” a serious crime which can carry a sentence of more than a year to nearly three years, according to the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission.
S.B. 187, whose primary sponsors include North Carolina Senators Chad Barefoot, Bill Rabon, and Trudy Wade, states: “It is unlawful for any person to conduct research studies that intentionally expose human subjects to fine particulate matter at a concentration higher than 12 micrograms per cubic meter or the primary annual health national ambient air quality standard, as defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, whichever is lower.”
ATI Senior Fellow and JunkScience.com publisher Steve Milloy is responsible for exposing unethical human experimentation, which is likely the catalyst for S.B. 187. Says Milloy, “People can’t be lied to and treated like guinea pigs by scientists. That is already federal law.” He adds, “That this bill needs to be enacted at all, shows how arrogant and out of touch the EPA is with basic scientific principles and the law.”
In 2011, Milloy filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the EPA regarding their human PM2.5 experiments and received thousands of pages of documents. The documents ATI received from EPA as a result of their FOIA request indicated that the agency used its facility located on the campus of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine to conduct their research on the effects of PM2.5 on human test subjects. The agency parked a running diesel truck outside of their UNC facility, attached a pipe to the truck’s exhaust, and ran the pipes inside to a lab (referred to as a “gas chamber” by the EPA), where a human test subject was placed at the other end breathing in the fumes through a gasmask type of apparatus.
In addition, the EPA FOIA’ed documents also revealed:
- Tests were conducted on hundreds of subjects, including the elderly and some in poor health including those with asthma, and metabolic syndrome;
- One overweight women with a history of heart disease developed a cardiac arrhythmia during the experiment and was rushed to a nearby hospital for an overnight stay;
- Some subjects were exposed to 21 times the level of EPA’s 24-hour standard for PM2.5, and 75 times the average U.S. outdoor level;
- At least three of the EPA researchers involved in these experiments are North Carolina-licensed physicians.
Since 1997, the EPA has regulated PM2.5 on the basis that it kills people, and in 2004, the agency determined that PM2.5 could kill within hours or days of exposure. It also determined in 2004 that there is no safe level of exposure to PM2.5, and it is particularly dangerous to those with health impairments.
In September 2011, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson testified to Congress, saying, “Particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick. It’s directly casual to dying sooner than you should.”
Yet, inexplicitly, despite its own warnings about the dangers of PM2.5, the EPA sought out human subjects to conduct tests under false pretenses. The test subjects were not informed about the dangers of such exposure, and were simply told, “You may experience some minor degrees of airway irritation, cough or shortness of breath or wheezing,” and that these symptoms typically disappear in two to four hours after exposure.
ATI, through its lead attorney Milloy and Dr. David Schnare, director of ATI’s Environmental Law Center, filed suit against the EPA in 2012. The suit asserted that EPA’s conduct “runs afoul of virtually every rule and ethical standard established since World War II and the Tuskegee syphilis experiments to protect human study subjects from rogue and abusive scientific research.”
ATI plans to continue to expose dangerous, unlawful, and unethical abuse of government power to oppose policy that is unscientific, unconstitutional, and environmentally unsound.
Concludes Schnare, “Our suit against this out-of-control agency is exactly the type of work our organization was founded to undertake. The EPA is conducting dangerous and unethical experiments on uninformed citizens of the United States, lying about it, and hiding behind closed doors, and they must be held accountable.”