With Pollution Levels Dropping, is Small Particle Air Pollution Really Killing Americans?

Guest essay by Steve Goreham


Unnoticed by most citizens, last week the United States Senate introduced the “Secret Science Reform Act of 2015.” The act is aimed at the Environmental Protection Agency’s practice of refusing to disclose data from scientific studies that support new pollution regulations. The act indirectly questions the EPA assertion that Americans are dying today from small particle air pollution.

Past EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson testified before Congress in 2011, stating, “Particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick. It’s directly causal to dying sooner than you should.” Particulate matter refers to PM2.5, classified by the EPA as particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, much smaller than the eye can see. Particle pollution is a mixture of dust, nitrates and sulfates, metals, pollen, and organic chemicals.

The EPA claims that any level of small particles can cause premature death. The agency warns that death may be short-term, occurring within a few hours of inhalation, or may be caused by long-term inhalation of PM2.5 over several years. EPA policy advisor Amanda Brown asserted that between 130,000 and 320,000 Americans died prematurely in 2005 due to small particle pollution, an incredible 6 to 15 percent of total US deaths.

EPA claims that particle pollution triggers heart failure, respiratory failure, or other causes of death. For example, suppose a senior citizen dies a few days before his 67th birth day and a coroner determines heart failure to be the cause of death. According to the EPA, the death may have been “premature” and caused by small particle air pollution.

The EPA uses “prevention” of premature deaths from small particles to justify tighter pollution regulations. The EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which will force closure of coal-fired power plants across the nation, is an example. The EPA claims that implementation of the CPP will prevent up to 6,600 premature deaths and $93 billion in climate and public health benefits. But the monetized climate benefits are essentially zero. Almost all of the $93 billion comes from an EPA calculation on savings from avoidance of premature death from small particles.


Today, our nation’s air is remarkably clean, especially when compared to 50 years ago. Incidents of serious air pollution are rare. According to the EPA, the concentration of six major air pollutants, lead, nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide, ozone, and particulates, are down more than a combined 70 percent since 1980. PM2.5 particle pollution is typically below the EPA national standard of 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

Fifteen micrograms per cubic meter is not very much. Dr. James Enstrom, retired researcher from the UCLA School of Public Health, points out that a person breathing in 15 micrograms of small particles per cubic meter would inhale only about one teaspoon of these microscopic particles over an 80-year lifespan. The EPA’s assertion that this small amount of particles causes premature death is not credible.

How does the EPA conclude that thousands of Americans die each year from particle pollution? No coroner ever attributes a cause of death to particle pollution. Instead, the EPA relies on epidemiological observational studies that associate particle pollution with death.

Epidemiological studies analyze statistical associations between exposure to an agent and appearance of disease in a population. An example is the Doll and Hill study in the 1950s that found that cigarette smoking caused lung cancer in a population of 41,000 British medical doctors. EPA has concluded that associations found in epidemiological studies show that inhalation of small particles cause premature death.

But the association between death and particle pollution found by studies that EPA relies on is shaky at best. Relative risk (RR) is the ratio of incidence of disease in an exposed population to a control population. The size of the relative risk is a measure of the chance that an association is causal.

The Harvard Six Cities study of 1993 and the American Cancer Society study of 1995, two studies that form the basis of EPA small particle science, found an increase in relative risk of less than 20 percent (RR=1.2). An increase in death rates of less than 20 percent (RR=1.2) is almost statistically indistinguishable from zero. In contrast, the Doll and Hill study on cigarettes and lung cancer found smokers had 10 times the rate of lung cancer and non-smokers, a relative risk of RR=10. The weak association (small relative risk) between death and particle pollution that the EPA judges to be causal could be due to other factors in the measured populations or even random chance.

But what stinks to high heaven is that data from the Harvard Six Cities and American Cancer Society studies have never been released. Other scientists are not able to replicate and verify the results of these studies. In effect, the EPA is asking all to “trust us” on the science of death from particle pollution. The Secret Science Reform Act proposes to force the EPA to disclose data from studies that support the need for EPA regulations.

Further, EPA is often the funding agency for epidemiological studies that are then used to justify new air pollution regulations. EPA supports such studies either directly or indirectly through grants to organizations such as the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society. For example, over the last decade the EPA has provided more than $20 million in grants to the American Lung Association, a group that supports EPA efforts for more stringent air pollution regulations.

The result is a massive, costly, and growing burden on American citizens in the name of clean air. NERA Economic Consulting estimates that the Clean Power Plan will cost US citizens some $400 billion in compliance costs over the next 15 years. But the savings from “prevention of premature deaths” from particle pollution are likely imaginary.


Originally published in Communities Digital News.

Steve Goreham is Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition of America and author of the book The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism:  Mankind and Climate Change Mania.


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“Further, EPA is often the funding agency for epidemiological studies that are then used to justify new air pollution regulations.”
And that is the biggest problem. The EPA should be dissolved, there will never be any good science come from that organization. At the very least every meeting of every member of the EPA should be live streamed to the public so we can keep and eye on those crooks.

As I understand it, much of the EPA “business” is done by text and private email. Streaming the meetings might not help.

Bryan A

HMMM…spend $400M to save an imagined $93M…must be that “New Math” I’ve heard so much about

Perhaps the emails should be made public, too.


” The agency warns that death may be short-term, occurring within a few hours of inhalation, ” Yet the EPA study had a significant number of human test subjects breathing PM2,5 for several hours at a time over several months. Sounds like the Radiation tests performed in the 50’S on live human subjects.

Grey Lensman

Silly me, I though death was permanent.


So did I.

Pamela Gray

It seems that both some government funded research and some private proprietary research has a shady side equally as large as its benefits side. Money and the prestige that comes with it will always corrupt. Not all the time nor all the people. But certainly some of time and some of the people.

Joseph Murphy

You give them far to much credit.


If the EPA junk science was real millions in China would be dropping every day. Yet we see no bodies.

M Courtney

It’s not quite that simple.
Millions of people do die every day.
Let’s look at the science (when we’re allowed to) and not assume it’s wrong just on instinct.

Adam Gallon

If we’re not shown the science, we can safely assume it is wrong!

Mayor of Venus

With a world population of about 7 billion, and a death rate between 1 to 1.5% per year, total deaths each year is about 90 million, which is about 250,000 per day, not “millions” per day.

@ M Courtney

Let’s look at the science (when we’re allowed to) and not assume it’s wrong just on instinct.

The extremely questionable “statistics” being derived from studies conducted and reported by Harvard Six Cities, Doll and Hill, ACS, ALA, NCI, EPA, etc. …. are not actual, factual science, …. thus you can look at it until the “cows come home” and you still won’t be any the wiser. Statistical claims of “fact” are nothing more than “junk science” claims.


The point is that if particulate emissions were as bad as the EPA claims, then the orders of magnitude higher levels in China should be causing an unmistakable increase in deaths.

Robert of Ottawa

As Steve Milloy of junkscience.com says: “Show us the bodies”


This is a perfect example of what I call “DEATH by Spreadsheet”.
Take any presumed risk and assign it an arbitrary [but kinda-sorta believable] hazard
Multiply by 1.2 due to “climate change” – why not? CC does everything!
Multiply by 1.5 for all “at-risk” populations, which must include women, children, minorities, “the poor”, immigrants, the “Disabled”, and certainly “The Elderly”.
Multiply by 2 to account for under-counted fatalities/calamities due to “insufficient data/research” – which will support demands for “more research and study”
Multiply by various other fudge-factors to produce the desired [political] result —

Robert of Ottawa

I like to think of a “Large Number Fallacy”. Take any small number, say a 0.1% increase in risk of death. multiply it by a large number, say the population of the US, 300,000,000 and voila, there will be an additional 300,000 deaths in the US.
A silly example, but it illustrates the rhetorical slight of hand of these dubious studies

Joseph Murphy

So, particulates are one of the EPA’s back up plans? Regulating CO2 gives them power over the worlds energy supply for the foreseeable future. CO2 is a necessary by product of… everything and quite a nifty way to grab power, it seems particulates is a move in the same vein. What can be done that does not cause some sort of particulates? I just sat down in my recliner and saw a cloud of dust go up! When the EPA is done with me I won’t be able to move or breath, without paying a tax of course.

Evan Jones

When the EPA is done with me I won’t be able to move or breath, without paying a tax of course.
But, my dear fellow! You are taxed for that already.
Come to think of it, I wonder how much excess taxation is reducing life expectancies . . . There is certainly a strong correlation with increased dollars and increased life expectancy, after all.


Look at some of the maps showing the PM2.5 levels presently! Now take the numbers permitted in the rule. In essence they are requiring that the levels of PM2.5 emitted are LESS than the air that is being sucked into the furnace to burn the coal. Worse yet it will be coming soon to something near you. The Enviro Lawyers will force these standards on Semi-trucks, then automobiles, then emergency generators (like at your local hospital) Then your wood stove, then your furnace, then …..


They’ve already done it for “your wood stove.”

Don’t worry; as long as it uses imported energy, you’re safe

“EPA policy advisor Amanda Brown asserted that between 130,000 and 320,000 Americans died prematurely in 2005 due to small particle pollution, an incredible 6 to 15 percent of total US deaths.”
Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including an estimated 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day.
Deaths from cigarette smoking are the same order of magnitude as those from “particle pollution.” Why are just now noticing that?
More than you want to know about the subject …
Particulate Matter Air Pollution and Cardiovascular Disease
An Update to the Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association

Mark Luhman

Smokers take in small particle at rates thousands to ten of thousands time the general population, most smoker who have smoked ten years cannot be found to be any different than a non smoker, any testing they would do on a smoker would not indicate that he smoked at all. some time latter like after twenty or more years that the differences start to show, most of the time it well above ten years more like forty years it begins to kill the cigarette smoker. If a smoker quits a little over in a year of time his chances of developing problem from his past smoking drops to that of a non-smoked. Second hand smoke has never killed anyone you just cannot get enough small particles and carcinogens in that way to kill you, and allergy to something it the smoke could possible kill someone, yet a host of other thing could kill such a sensitive person. So since the small particles a smoke take in, has virtually has no effect on a smoker in ten years, the equivalent intake of small particles for a non smoker to take to match a smoker, the non smoker would have to live somewhere past thirty thousand years, somehow I just don’t think most of us will live that long. Now so none one can accuse me of being a tool of that tobacco companies I will come clean, I am no fan of cigarettes I am a 62 year old asthmatic, got that problem from my mother, yea I don’t buy the BS asthma is not genetic caused funny it runs in families and across generations. My mother’s father had it also. I am also very allergic, three allergy shots a week to cover what I am allergy to! Fortunately non of them are from cigarettes, perfume candles, well that a different story, tobacco shops not problem candle shops and the candle don’t have to be lit, avoid at all cost! Next smoking did kill my dad his two pack a day Camel unfiltered habit killed him at sixty five, my wife a nonsmoker did survive smokers cancer even though she never smoked, her oncologist did not buy into that second hand smoke as the cause either, our conversation with him he made it plain that he though the connection was pretty dubious.


And I am now reading medical studies, almost a new one monthly, that the decrease in “smoking related diseases” deaths/illnesses has not shown any significant decrease due to the drastic reduction in the percentage of smokers. This fact is causing all types of panic and excuses blaming the cause on 2nd hand, 3rd hand, and other grasping at straw type reasons for explaining why there is no measurable decrease. It sounds more and more like the climate alarmists rants on the pause.

Hal Dall, MD

Last 2 lung cancers I’ve seen are in non-TOBACCO smokers but long term marijuana smokers. Perhaps the EPA would blame 2nd hand tobacco smoke or microparticulates from years of working, living,
etc, etc.

Mark There is something to the notion that the correlation of smoking to every cancer ever to invade the human body is not necessarily causal. “Uncle Harry died of colon cancer because he was a smoker until he quit 50 years ago” Mark that up as a “tobacco related” cancer!

Ian W

There are two other actions that should be added to the requirement to produce data from the sponsored reports.
1. The results from the research should be shown to be replicable and support the claims in their hypotheses.
2. Representatives of the EPA on justifying the reports to Congress should do so under oath that their representations are fully supported by the studies they are using to justify their actions without any caveats. Normally this would require direct quoting of the conclusions of the research conclusions and naming the researchers.
Using their current approach it would appear that they should ban all human access to water,


I would think that some of this small particle air pollution might be found in wind blown dust in some of our drier regions of the country. Is the EPA proposing to stop the wind, and for that matter any driving on dirt roads, etc. We do know of the incidence of dust pneumonia deaths, during the dust bowl years. What does this say for the future of windmills, once the EPA does succeed in eliminating the wind??? Get real!!!

Simple, don, make them folks wear a HEPA grade face mask!

Mark Luhman

They do here in the Phoenix are you can be find if someone drive across you vacant lot to much cause a dust problem, my employer faced a $50,000 fine a piece of land they own, which one day may be another branch location, the funny part of it the county monitor who wrote up the citation did not do a proper property assessment, He/she did even know that the property that had the problem of people trespassing by driving on it, was two parcels and that my employer only owned one of the parcels.
Yet as I drove back from work the Salt river which is dry most of the time had five very large dust devils on it on hot sunny day pushing dust thousand of feet into the air. I suppose if the EPA get their way we will end up with a huge tax bill to pave it over like the LA river is in Los Angeles.
Fortunately the city/county does not get penalized from the EPA when a dust storm is the cause of pushing the limit over on dust in the air, It does require paper work to be submitted to the EPA when a dust storms do occur.


They wanted to apply the same rule to farming and it got shot down. I would not hold my breath though, soon the Enviro Lawyers will force farmers to have massive dust collectors over the plowing, seeding, and harvesting operations to collect all of this “dust” and you will have the privilege of paying at least twice as much for any agriculture product, produce and beef included. $20/lb Hamburg is coming – soon to a grocer near you.


They have already proposed regulating farms to prevent them from creating any dust.

“Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”, Phil Jones, PhD, Director, Climate Research Unit, February 2005


I grew up in the 1960’s in the Eastern US. I can remember when one could SMELL Pittsburgh 50 miles away from the city. I believe we are well into diminishing returns in pollution regulations. We have gotten all the “low hanging fruit”. The air the water and the land are all much cleaner now when I was a child. I can remember actually swimming in Chesapeake Bay with foams of various colors and dead fish floating on it. Any additional improvements at this point are going to be small and come at enormous cost.


Except for some large California cities like LA and San Diego that have admittedly local and apparently unresolvable issues because of location.


Even so, it is not NEARLY as bad as it was in the 1960’s. Ok, have you been behind a car of that era? Notice the exhaust smell? Now imagine the entire freeway filled with those and no A/C so the windows are down. Also, people had an incinerator in their back yard and burned their trash in many communities. And finally, while they might complain about how many days a town exceeds air quality standards, the problem is that the standards keep changing. We would have no problem at all meeting 1985 standards today. And I am not convinced that the tightening standards have benefited anyone.

Jim from Maine

I grew up in Maine, down wind from a paper mill in the 50’s. We painted the two sides of the house that faced the mill about every other year due to it yellowing.
I’d like to know the particulate count in the average home. We have a dog and 3 cats. Do I need to post air quality warning signs to guests?…issue a HEPA mask?
These people are just bat$hit crazy, and need to be shut down.


crosspatch, back in the 80s-90s, driving northwest in the summer for business meetings towards Charleston, WV, I could smell the acetone thru the haze 30 miles away.
Now, given enough elevation, I can see the Blue Ridge 70+ miles away to the east on clear days even in the summer….


You could wash your car in the evening and then have to dust it off the next day!

Thanks, Steve Goreham.
This totalitarian nightmare reads like bad science-fiction, but is not.

Bubba Cow

“The American Cancer Society announced that 53,000 people died each year of second-hand smoke. The evidence for this claim is nonexistent.
In 1998, a Federal judge held that the EPA had acted improperly, had “committed to a conclusion before research had begun”, and had “disregarded information and made findings on selective information.”
The reaction of Carol Browner, head of the EPA was: “We stand by our science; there’s wide agreement. The American people certainly recognize that exposure to second hand smoke brings a whole host of health problems.”
Again, note how the claim of consensus trumps science. In this case, it isn’t even a consensus of scientists that Browner evokes! It’s the consensus of the American people.
Meanwhile, ever-larger studies failed to confirm any association. A large, seven-country WHO study in 1998 found no association. Nor have well-controlled subsequent studies, to my knowledge. Yet we now read, for example, that second-hand smoke is a cause of breast cancer. At this point you can say pretty much anything you want about second-hand smoke”.
Michael Crichton Caltech Michelin Lecture – January 17, 2003

Originally excerpted from a NCS website.

The first national Great American Smokeout was held in 1977.
During the next 25 years the Smokeout was celebrated with rallies, parades, stunts, quitting information, and even “cold turkey” menu items in schools, workplaces, Main Streets, and legislative halls throughout the US.
The Great American Smokeout has helped to spotlight the dangers of tobacco use and the challenges of quitting, but more importantly, it has set the stage for the cultural revolution in tobacco control that has occurred over this period.

It is one of the greatest “Cash Cows” ever ……. and they will fight tooth n’ nail to preserve it.


“At this point you can say pretty much anything you want about second-hand smoke”.
In that case; second-hand smoke is the cause of global warming! Aided by CO2 of course 🙂


The so-called “study” that resulted in California’s CARB issuing diesel particulate regulations that now require filters on diesel exhausts that catch fire and burn up vehicles was discovered to be phony, too. The “researcher” literally bought his “PhD” on the Internet. The UC Berkeley professor that exposed it was fired.

The fact remains, …… that the daily inhaling of diesel exhaust is surely ten (10) times more dangerous to one’s respiratory system, …. especially young children and senior citizens, …. than is the inhaling of burning biomass (tobacco) smoke, ….. yet cigarette smoking is legally banned in most all public places ….. and absolutely banned on all Public School property to which 80% to 95% of the enrolled students are transported “to & from” every day via diesel powered School Busses …. and are thus “forcibly trapped” and subjected to inhaling diesel exhaust for 1.5 to 3+ hours each and every school day. And no one really cares about those children unless someone lights up a cigarette within 25 yards of them.


“The fact remains, …… that the daily inhaling of diesel exhaust is surely ten (10) times more dangerous to one’s respiratory system, …. especially young children and senior citizens, …. than is the inhaling of burning biomass (tobacco) smoke,”
It would be very helpful if you could cite a peer reviewed study(ies) that supports this ’10- times more dangerous’ claim. Otherwise it remains a baseless claim inserted only to make a political point – the same as the warmists

Why in the world would it be necessary for me to cite you a peer reviewed study(ies) that attests to the fact that MILLIONS of children ride diesel powered School Busses twice each day when schools are in session?
Do you actually believe those same MILLIONS of children are inhaling cigarette smoke for up to 3 hours each and every school day?
Bruce, humans have been inhaling gawd awful amounts of burning biomass “smoke” ever since they first “invented” the use of fire for cooking their food and keeping their body warm.
And it has only been during the past 100 years or less that a small percentage of the world’s population of people have been living in a non-biomass burning “smoke free” environment.
If tobacco smoke was as dangerous as the dummies claim ….. then there would not have been enough native Americans left alive to “show & tell” Sir Walter Raleigh how to “smoke” it.


“Why in the world would it be necessary for me to cite you a peer reviewed study(ies)…”
To anyone but a fanatic the reason to cite a correct and believable reference is obvious. Statements like ‘x is ten(10) times more than y’ scream for independent source verification especially since the validity of you argument depends on the answer. You answered the question though. Thank you!

George Devries Klein, PhD, PG, FGSA

The problem is that nearly all the major environmental concerns of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s have been solved, so EPA to justify its existence has to delve into the esoteric, irrelevant environmental issues of the day. A sunset law on this agency would have prevented that.


You mean to tell me it requires an act of Congress to make the EPA show its work? Who wrote the original law in the first place, giving them authority without requiring accountability? Oh yeah, that would be Congress. Act of Congress or no act of Congress, expect the status quo to be maintained.

Bubba Cow

actually Richard Nixon authorized EPA

Mike Henderson

Executive order. Those are what should be banned.

Owen in GA

It was later codified in the Clean Water and Clean Air acts, so Congress ratified the Nixon executive order.
The real problem is Congress needs to ban the words “The Secretary Shall Determine” or its linguistic equivalents from appearing in any bill. Pretty much when that is in a bill you have just delegated things which should be Congress’ responsibility to handle to an unelected and unaccountable bureaucrat. Regulations wind up having the force of law, and should be required to be passed by Congress and signed by the President so they will have to defend those regulations at the next election.


And now for the rest of the story – all he really did was combine several already agencies (that already existed) that had conflicting rules and regulations and put them under one “umbrella” so that the rules were easier to follow. It was NOT his idea or invention. Where would we be if he had not combined them and we had 3 times as many rules and regulations that did not agree with each of the other agencies and you got the “agency shuffle” every time you tried to build a power plant, or just build a building. You could get approval for the construction BUT NOT the operation of a new power plant. You could build a manufacturing plant but not discharge any waste heat into the nearby ocean.


“The real problem is Congress needs to ban the words “The Secretary Shall Determine” or its linguistic equivalents from appearing in any bill. ”
Second that motion. That make congress meaningless and impotent. Even the SCOTUS can do nothing about those clauses. And it is in the ACA over 500 times (I quit counting after I got to 500), Making it an outline so that the president can do whatever they desire and still follow the law. Want Single Payer? It is in there.


Totally out of control. Is there no oversight of the conduct of federal agencies?


Congress has no teeth with a Panty waste DOJ doing Obama’s bidding.



More junk science that the believers promote as the gospel truth



John F. Hultquist

Stress is considered something to be avoided. Yet, everything the EPA does causes stress in those who must deal with it, except maybe for those on the payroll.
The solution is so simple it need not be stated.


This brings up the obvious question of “How many premature deaths have been caused by the EPA. The answer is hundreds of thousands of lives each year. More than 50% of the US population (not counting illegals) would be alive at least one more year if the EPA didn’t exist. I cite the numerous Harvard/MIT/Columbia studies which prove that is the case. Unfortunately these studies are considered ‘sensitive’ and cannot be released for public comment because of HIPPA rules.


Look at the number of deaths in England in the winter due to the fact they could not afford to heat their home. All from environmental and CO2 reduction.


“NERA Economic Consulting estimates that the Clean Power Plan will cost US citizens some $400 billion in compliance costs over the next 15 years. ”
We should consider ourselves lucky if this is all it costs us. My guess is this estimate is short by at least an order of magnitude.


Excellent posting!
This is another huge scam in the making from the usual, shroud-waving suspects.
As other commenters have pointed out, having grown up and gone to school in the 1950s, somehow we survived the pea-soup fogs, the unabated smoke and particulate emissions of cement works, gas works, coke works, coal fired power stations, tens of thousands of open fires, steam railway engines. Oh yes, and cars and lorries. Back then almost all the vehicular traffic between London (and the North of the UK) and the Channel ports had to drive up & down the A2 trunk road which went smack past our school. No Motorways, no real alternative routes. Even in the 50s, the road was like a car park moving at perhaps 5 miles an hour for most of the day. And the stuff that came out of the tail-pipe back then really was bad!
OK, those kids (and adults) that did have asthma or respiratory problems WERE in trouble. Thousands did die in the famous ‘pea soup’ fogs of that period. The bodies were there to be counted and the cause of death was given on the death certificate. I can’t imagine it did much for the long term health of any of us.
But those were the days when a battle against pollution was needed. And eventually it was won in modern developed societies. Still plenty to do in places like Delhi, Mandalay and Beijing.
Later on, in the 1990s I was working on a large and controversial project involving a lot of earth moving. One of the ‘hot topics’ that the NIMBYs were protesting about, was the likely problems of dust. Both ordinary dust that you can collect in dust monitors and measure. And control, largely by wetting down haul roads. But also ‘fugitive’ dust, at that time, mainly PM10 particles (10 microns) which could be measured with special fancy monitors, hugely more expensive. Back then, there was talk about PM2.5s, but they were even more expensive and difficult to reliably measure. So we talked to the boffins that had been commissioned to do a big study for The Opencast Executive (which carried out most of the surface mining of coal in the UK, back then).
Every time there was an application for a new, or an extended coal pit, you could be sure that there would be wild claims about people dying of exposure to ‘fugitive’ dust. So a big team of real scientists and doctors were set on to examine and measure the real evidence. Looking at real people and examining real death certificates and carrying out real studies on alleged and real effects. They also did a big study on the real people most exposed to dust (normal and ‘fugitive’) and the exhausts of the big diesel trucks and earthmovers. That is, on the guys who drove the plant and worked in the surface mine.
The conclusions? Firstly that those workers showed NO signs of unusual levels of respiratory problems, asthma, and the rest. They were notably healthier than corresponding cohorts of workers in most other industries. (Probably more fresh air!). Secondly, the ‘fugitive’ dust when measured at the site boundary was little different than that measured a mile away or ten miles away. In fact, whilst you could find some dust particles that MIGHT have come from the site, the majority were clearly not and, in some cases, could be ascribed (by microscopic examination) and for example, to dust storms in the Sahara!
Needless to say, these convincing and well conducted studies, even back then, didn’t come up with the ‘right’ answer that we had to all go back to be hunter-gatherers and hope that those running the World Government would occasionally let ordinary folk have a few crumbs from their table. So I guess they have been thrown behind a filing cabinet somewhere.
Unless you can come up with really scary fairy stories, you won’t get published (or employed) nowadays!

Mark Luhman

The funny part with cleaning up the air, is as the air got cleaner the asthma rates went up! Yes I am a Asthma suffer, lived in nice air pollution free rural America most of my live, now I live a filthy city that exceed small particle pollution quite regularly, have not notice much change in my Asthma.

The EPA is a major reason the US wastes close to $2 TRILLION/yr in government rules, regulation and compliance costs (almost $20,000/US household– close to India’s entire annual GDP of 1 billion souls)…
SCOTUS miraculously (and quite by accident, I’m sure) made a rational ruling last week, when it ruled against EPA’s new coal-plant mercury emission standards, which would have cost the US economy $10 billion/yr in compliance costs with virtually NO verifiable evidence of any added health benefits.
SCOTUS ruled that for future EPA standards, they must show some quantifiable health benefit, which exceeds the EPA compliance costs for the EPA standard to be legal.
Given recent SCOTUS rulings, I’m sure this rational ruling will soon be overturned, with SCOTUS ruling the words ‘cost’ and ‘benefit’ actually mean exactly the same thing, thus allowing the EPA to set any new pollution standard they wish…. (No /sarc, I’m serious….)

Neil Jordan

Here’s a technical explanation of the SCOTUS decision:
“. . .Because the only issue before the Court was whether costs had to be considered in some context prior to rulemaking, the Court elected not set any definite parameters for EPA, stating that it will be up to EPA to decide how to account for cost if it determines to reissue the regulation. Thus, if the EPA decides to reissue MATS regulation, which is likely, it will be forced to grapple with the uncertainty left by the majority’s decision, all the while knowing that future legal challenges are on the horizon.”

The sad truth is that even though the rule was struck down, most companies had already taken actions to comply, so the costs have already been incurred.
A symbolic victory, but pretty hollow.


Can those companies sue for those costs?

Nothing I’ve read indicates that is a possibility.


“The size of the relative risk is a measure of the chance that an association is causal.” This is fundamentally incorrect and in fact destroys anything else this blog post tries to contribute. It’s also very disappointing that nobody else here has picked this up yet, as its so very basic.
The size of the relative risk is NOT a measure of the chance that an association is causal. The size/magnitude of RR simply indicates how much more likely an outcome is given a particular exposure. You can then determine whether the RR is statistically significant or not, but that’s a different story altogether.
There are many medical issues with small RRs (on the order of 1.01-1.2) that are highly statistically significant, just as there are some high RRs that turn out to NOT be statistically significant.

Steve Goreham

Not true Richard.
The Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, published by the Federal Judicial Center, points out that the legal standard for causation should be at least a doubling of risk, or an RR of 2.0:
“…when there is group-based evidence finding that exposure to an agent causes an incidence of disease in the exposed group that is more than twice the incidence in the unexposed group, the evidence is sufficient to satisfy the plaintiff’s burden of production and permit submission of specific causation to a jury.”
This is the agreed hurdle for finding that an association is casual in a court of law. The EPA uses associations with an RR very close to one for their assertions.


“Amanda Brown asserted that between 130,000 and 320,000 Americans died prematurely in 2005 due to small particle pollution, an incredible 6 to 15 percent of total US deaths.” What sort of people would spend a penny based on such rubbery figures. For goodness sake that is a range of 250%.


But people are dying man! Thats the take away!

AndyZ– Not people, man, the CHILDREN, dude! The CHILDREN!! Think of all the poor innocent CHILDREN that are needless dying, man, because some Capitalist Pig wants to buy 100 new jets, man…
Get with narrative, dude.

Yes rubbery. Dying earlier DOES NOT MATTER sometimes. Is it 1% ? probably 0.5%, 0.25% etc.
e.g. The devil says he’ll give you $10m now in return for 1 minutes off your life at the end ..what would you do ?
#1 – The point is how many life days does it take off ? is it like cigarette magnitude ?
#2 – The main study result shows clean air CORRELELATES with an INCREASED life expectancy ..Yes it is NOT about reduced life, nor proving CAUSE. And I am uncomfortable with automatic extrapolations like that, it can too easily become extrapolation on extrapolation and diverge from the real world.
but I’ll do that now. The study talks about 0.61 years increase, ie 1% lifespan increase per 10 μg/m3 cleaner air.
UK cities μg/m3 varies from 14 to 25μg/m3. So a guy in Aberdeen theoretically lives about 0.61 *1.1 = 0.7 years longer than a guy in Nottingham.
– However cleaning Aberdeen air from 14 down to 4μg/m3 to add 0.61 months to peoples lives might not be worth it nor even possible.
(Anyway I guess that if you check life expectancy for those UK cities you’ll find it doesn’t correlate with how clean the air is, since other variables are so influencial)
– I adapted that calculation from David Spiegelhalter. He calculated that since Particle levels in Washington (15 μg/m3) Delhi (84 μg/m3), a guy in Washington lives(84-15)x0.61 years longer = about 4 years. So cleaning Delhi’s air seems worth it.
He puts it as 7 cigarettes a day, that makes the Nottingham/Aberdeen difference as 1 cigarette per day.

Mark Luhman

You said “Anyway I guess that if you check life expectancy for those UK cities you’ll find it doesn’t correlate with how clean the air is, since other variables are so influencial” Most of the time the cities that have a higher pollution rate also has a lower social economic status, the increase of one life time could be as simple as people that have more money take better care of themselves, such as they don’t smoke!


Search the term “sludge magic” and you get an idea how long the EPA has been doing the slight of hand routine. They are bought and paid for by special interest groups. Sadly that is the case for most government agencies.


I like that!!

Leon Brozyna

Don’t let us forget the never ending raining on the planet of meteors and all the particulate matter they bring with them … they can’t be stopped and they’re a crisis without end … a bureaucrat’s perfect power fantasy.

And, as usual, not a single line about the trillions of Bq of particulate uranium, plutonium, cesium, polonium, strontium and a thousand other radioactive cancer-causing particles generating Fukushima-Daiichi cancers across the planet.

Do you have some details on that?

Richard of NZ

These claims always make me grin, shudder and turn away. Many years ago I was engaged in locating and identifying asbestos in an industrial plant, and then monitoring fibre levels during its removal. The regulations for amphibole asbestos were, from memory:
Fibre at least 3 microns long but less than 100 microns.
Fibre a maximum of 2 microns in diameter
Fibre has a length to diameter ration of greater than 3
Maximum exposure (8 hour working day) 0.1 fibre per millilitre of inhaled air.
Serpentine asbestos regs. were similar except for exposure which was 1 fibre per millilitre.
These numbers, which may have changed in the past 20 years, give the lie to the hazards of ultrafine particulates. Asbestos fibres have been known as a health hazard since ancient Greek times, but the official reglations permitted higher exposures than these particulate regulations. Also if the asbestos particulates were smaller than 3 microns by 1 then they did not count as asbestos fibres.


How does that work for peoples in Asbest, a city that used to make the stuff, even filled poyholes in roads with it?


considering how SS system will be bankrupt soon shouldn’t we be encouraging shaving a few years off lifespans?

David A

Likely the ACA will take care of that problem.

Man Bearpig

Of course there is the other effect of removing particulates from air … it makes it warmer. So this would be EPA Warming. Particulates are known to cause cooling, so why remove them from the air if it is going to exacerbate the “problem” ?


Air pollution is not uniform across the nation, pollution lowering your life expectancy is a no brainer to anyone working in the hospital field above janitor level. As long as their lowering where it’s at the worst I’m fine with it.

David A

..and your definition of air pollution is?

Mike Maguire

Sunshine + H20 + CO2 + Minerals = O2 +Sugars(food)
EPA definition of pollution:
Sunshine + H20 +POLLUTION +Minerals = O2 +Sugars(food)

Another Ian

In the mulga area of Australia we have a very fine dust (engineer from a leading US machinery manufacturer collecting the dust from an air filter with the comment “We can’t grind it this fine”).
So ought to be an area with an abnormally high casualty rate – of which I have not yet heard. Nor become one after breathing it for a bit beyond three score and ten.


So…. if we live in a vacuum with zero particulates, we’ll live forever?


” if we live in a vacuum with zero particulates, we’ll live forever?”
No, you’d suffer a quick and horrific death. I’m pretty sure their assumptions fall apart quickly once you move away from the center.

Only if you do all of the other “life lengthening” measure.
Use only olive oil – adds 10yrs!
Eat 3oz of chocolate per day – Adds 10yrs!!
Do yoga – Adds 10yrs!!
Meditate – Adds 10yrs!
I’m not sure what value to assign to “live in a vacuum”…


For EPA to make these claims about PM2.5 would require studies involving people exposed to the particles and a control group that isn’t exposed. And both groups would have to be comparable for all other factors that could affect life span and health.
Since PM2.5 is everywhere, the best that could be done is comparing groups at different levels of PM2.5. But people tend to move and their enviroments tend to change, so determining the PM2.5 exposure over a few years much less a lifetime is virtually impossible. And without LARGE comparable groups with detailed exposure histories any conclusion is more of a guess than science.


“…any conclusion is more of a guess than science.”
Could be why they want to keep it secret. Or it’s just my tin foil hat?


What does an agency do once it has lived past its time of usefulness? It makes things up! Rapantly! This is the EPA in todays world.

The Expulsive

I would suggest that the EPA is suffering from its own success in reducing real pollution. Like any temporary tax, it continues long after its mandate has in essence completed, so it has to invent new ways to justify its continued existence beyond maintenance…


>>The agency warns that death may be short-term.
Interesting. What is a short term death?

Steve Goreham

The EPA says one or two days is short-term death. Not credible, but they spew this nonsense before Congress and have gotten away with it up until this point.

Apparently in the Middle East (Syria, Iraq, Libya etc.) there is a lot of PM2.5 – so many premature deaths there… /SARC
What a lot of bollocks.
It is well established that exposing yourself to small amount of dirt and pollution lets your body develop defences against it (the same goes to radiation). That is why it is very good for parents to let their children play in the dirt, crawl on the ground and put stuff in their mouths.
Children who were over-protected tend to get sick from minor infections while kids who were exposed to dirt are much healthier.
What the EPA suggests is to create an over sensitive and weak society. This is a disaster!


Some tribes in Africa actually allow their children to cover themselves and play in animal carp! It has “experts” questioning the western practice of smothering their babies and children in anti-bacterial “products”.


Look at the global maps of PM2.5. Why is there anyone alive in the areas that are 5, 10, 20 times the levels allowed in the regulations?

Mike Maguire

Why is it that when you add up all of the deaths that will be or are presumed to be caused by these various “toxins” that the entire population is killed off every year? (speaking of just the USA only)


Unfortunately it’s the way of nuscience. All that matters is that a paper gets published in a pal-review journal, the quality of work and scientific evidence is no longer important. I’m dealing with this same nuscience with the listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken as threatened. Specific research that fits the dogma is obviously cherry picked for regulatory purposes and they get away with it. We must pay tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in regulatory fees per well because some pseudo scientist named Christan Hagen with art degrees published that prairie chickens show a “mean avoidance” to well pads of 300 meters. The paper would fail a statistics 101 class, but that’s the paper that the FWS chooses to use.

Bruce Cobb

Plants emit high levels of pollen, which causes hay fever, and asthma attacks in some, which can be deadly. Therefore, plants need to be banned immediately. For the sake of humanity.


That reminds me, isn’t pollen approximately the same size as the PM2.5? How much of that do people breathe? How can we possibly live with all of that toxic pollen in the air?

Premature death? Working to death to pay for non existent heat in the dead of winter. Wonder why they say ‘dead of winter’?


Well, this legislation is promising. I’d like very much to find out how the EPA decided that Radon inhalation is the second greatest cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoke, and especially how they decided on a mitigation threshold of 4 Picocuries per Liter, while the WHO picked 2.7 and Canada (belatedly) switched from 20 to 5…
Anyone who’s ever tried to make a meaningful measurement of Radon levels in his or her own home must wonder how the EPA, WHO, and Health Canada obtained reliable data on the Radon in private homes. It’s a difficult, slow, and finicky process requiring expensive and fragile equipment that provides dubious results even with the best of intentions.
And in the real world, most homeowners have little incentive to shoot themselves in the pocket book by measuring radon in their home, and certainly none for revealing it’s presence to potential buyers. In states where such measurements are mandatory, I understand the realtors rely on boxes locked in place in the home. But various means of cheating aside, anyone who’s ever taken the trouble to test the same room over three days, three months, three years using a variety of meters can only laugh at the usefulness of the three day test.

@ otropogo July 4, 2015 at 9:00 pm

I’d like very much to find out how the EPA decided that Radon inhalation is the second greatest cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoke,

I am absolutely sure that there are two (2) highly questionable “peas in that pod” …. and the primary one is, to wit:

Lung cancer estimates for 2014
In the United States, tobacco use is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths; this equals about 480,000 early deaths each year.
Besides lung cancer, tobacco use also increases the risk for cancers of the mouth, lips, nose and sinuses, larynx (voice box), pharynx (throat), esophagus (swallowing tube), stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, uterus, cervix, colon/rectum, ovary (mucinous), and acute myeloid leukemia.
Source: American Cancer Society

Given the fact that very, very few autopsies are performed each year in the United States, relative to the total number of deaths, …. me thinks the above claimed statistics are little more than “wild exaggerations” being touted by the funded-interest “fear mongers”.
It is obvious to me that the “fear mongers” have probably been calculating their “fuzzy” statistics via a ”single query” that is included on every Patient Record Form of their healthcare provider(s) …. which asks the patient “Do you smoke cigarettes or have you ever smoked cigarettes?
Thus, … # of deaths …. verses … # of “YES” answers ….. equals …. tobacco related deaths.
If you smoke cigarettes ….. and get run-over by a big truck, ….. then your death is “tobacco related”.

Your death can be “tobacco related” even if you never smoked tobacco. For instance, if the truck that ran over you was delivering cigarettes to a store, then your death would obviously be “tobacco related”

Right, …. never considered that.
The next time you see a healthcare provider and he/she asks you, …. “Do you smoke cigarettes?”, …. just look them straight in their eyes and say, …… “You tell me, ….you are the expert on the dangers of cigarette smoking“.