EPA is proposing once again to tighten the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for PM2.5 for the reasons summarized by EPA, below. What is PM2.5 and does it kill people?
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.
But there’s more
There is much more relevant evidence pertaining to PM2.5 and death, and none of supports the EPA’s claims.
1. Deadly air pollution incidents in the 20th century
There were three air pollution incidents in the 20th century associated with deaths (1) in 1930, 100 people died in the Meuse Valley, Belgium (100 deaths); (2) in 1948, 20 people died in Donora, Pennsylvania; and (3) in 1952-1953, as many as 13,000 died in London, England. EPA and others claim these incidents as proof that PM2.5 kills. These claims are false.
In none of these incidents was PM2.5 blamed for deaths by contemporaneous authorities. In all three instances, the deaths were attributed to acidic industrial gases trapped in the local atmosphere by atmospheric inversions. The markedly high death toll in London is likely the result of confounding by a severe influenza epidemic that occurred that particular winter.
So it is these specific, extreme and rare circumstances (uncontrolled acidic industrial emissions amid a temperature inversion) that are required for deadly air pollution incidents to occur. This hypothesis is bolstered by the extreme PM2.5 pollution that often occurs in places like China and India today.
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.
2. Coal miners don’t die earlier
If PM2.5 is the killer that EPA claims it is, it stands to reasons that PM2.5 should kill people who have very high exposures to it, like coal miners and diesel workers. Until recently, coal miners in the US were permitted to be exposed on a career basis 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, 52 weeks per year for 20 or so years to 150 times the amount of PM2.5 as is in average US outdoor air. Yet coal miners, despite whatever health problems they might develop, have the same life expectancy as the average worker. That is true for diesel workers as well.
3. The Smoking Paradox
The ultimate slayer of EPA’s PM2.5 claims is smoking. None of what follows is meant to encourage smoking, but facts are facts.
When smokers inhale, they inhale a lot of PM2.5. If you live in the US and inhale average air, you will inhale about 240 millionths of a gram of PM2.5 every day. And EPA claims that is a potentially deadly dose of PM2.5.
Now if you are a smoker, not only will you inhale that 240 millionths-of-a-gram every 24 hours, but for every filtered cigarette you smoke, you will inhale and astounding 8,000 to 10,000 millionths-of-a-gram in the five minutes or so it takes to smoke a cigarette. But no one dies from smoking a single cigarette. The PM2.5 exposure is even higher for a marijuana joint, on the order of 100,000 millionths-of-a-gram. We give sick people medical marijuana. Have you ever heard of one of them dying from smoking a joint? No.
Speaking of sick people, it apparently is not unheard of for some elderly and sick people who require oxygen to continue to smoke against doctors’ orders. As it turns out, they can continue smoke for years and the greatest risk to them is that they ignite their oxygen and set themselves on fire. But that is obviously not a PM2.5 problem.
Research published recently in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that smokers who quit smoking by age 40 or so, have normal life expectancy. That is, these limited smokers can expect to live as long as someone who has never smoked.
For a mental image of what this means, a nonsmoker will inhale approximately two sugar packets worth of PM2.5 over the course of his 80-year life expectancy. A limited smoker, on the other hand, will inhale about a 4-pound bag of sugar’s worth of PM2.5. But both the nonsmoker and the limited smoker will have the same life expectancy of 80 years! If PM2.5 is a killer, as per EPA, how can that possibly be?
EPA is aware of this paradox and has no credible answer for it. One of EPA’s PM2.5 researchers once took a crack at the paradox and concluded that PM2.5 was only deadly at low levels of exposure (like in outdoor or indoor air), but not at high levels (like from smoking). That is, of course, an absurd explanation. It is well established and uncontradicted toxicology principle that toxicity increases with greater exposure.
What about the body counts?
Mentioned earlier was the claim that PM2.5 kills eight million people around the world annually. If PM2.5 doesn’t kill anyone, where does this number come from? It is the result of dishonest epidemiologists.
Recall that epidemiologic studies are really just statistical studies that produce mere correlations between exposure and disease. But these correlations are useful only for determining whether there is a likely statistical relationship between exposure and disease. Not only do they not establish causation (recall EPA’s admission in court), these correlations also can’t establish the risk of disease based on exposure. The reason for the latter point is that populations studied in epidemiology tend not to be representative samples of the population.
What the body count calculators do is wrong pretend that the correlations represent risk, which is then applied to a population to produce the body count estimate. In epidemiology, this inherently flawed process is called “attributable risk.” It is pure statistical malpractice.
The EPA invented PM2.5 as the most toxic substance known to man that is, any inhalation can result in death as soon as hours. Or, alternatively, PM2.5 may kill you after a lifetime of (unavoidably) inhaling it. No other substance known to man works this way and there is no body of science to support these claims. The EPA’s own courtroom admission undercuts its claims about the epidemiology and its own human experiments fail to provide any support to the motion that PM2.5 causes adverse health impact, let alone kills.
The EPA has refused for decades to produce the data so independent scientists can try to replicate its epidemiologic studies. The agency has essentially ignored the results of a large well-conducted epidemiologic study that directly contradicts its own. All real-world data contradict EPA’s claims and the smoking epidemiology demonstrates quite clearly just how ludicrous EPA’s claims are.
Though the EPA and other health and regulatory agencies around the world claim that PM2.5 kills as many as 8 million people every year, these claims are based on statistical malpractice. Moreover, no one has ever produced for medical examination a single body of someone allegedly killed by PM2.5. With so many millions allegedly killed, one would think as least one body could be produced somewhere.
The bottom line is that the claim that PM2.5 causes death is the most demonstrable science fraud of our time.
Epilog: The EPA PM2.5 railroad continues
In 1996, the EPA’s CASAC concluded that the agency had not demonstrated that PM2.5 kills anyone. Over the next 23 years, the EPA rigged the CASAC review process so that such a conclusion wouldn’t be drawn again. But it did happen again. In 2019 after CASAC had be purged of its political bias, CASAC concluded that EPA’s health claims from PM2.5 were without a scientific basis.
But when the Biden administration took control of EPA, the Trump CASAC was summarily dismissed and CASAC was restocked with agency cronies who readopted the view that PM2.5 kills. Based on the rubberstamp of the new CASAC relying on the same old junk science, EPA has just proposed to further tighten PM2.5 standards in the US, allegedly to prevent as many as 9,200 premature deaths per year.
A lawsuit filed against the EPA in October 2021, alleges that the Biden EPA illegally formed its CASAC panel. Although the federal judge ruled against the lawsuit on its merits in August 2022, the lawsuit is on appeal. The judge decided that EPA had the leeway to establish CASAC anyway it chose.
The issue on appeal will likely come down to whether Congress intended for the EPA to be able to conduct legitimate peer review before setting standards or whether Congress intended for CASAC peer review to be a rubber-stamp process of whatever the EPA desires.
The case will likely be decided after the EPA finalizes its current rulemaking. But if the EPA loses the case, it’s rulemaking could easily be undone since the advice of a CASAC is required by law. So the Biden EPA proceeds down its current pathway at some risk.
A fuller recounting of the PM2.5 saga is presented in Mr. Milloy’s book, “Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA” (Bench Press, 20126) with many updates at JunkScience.com.
Mr. Milloy is a senior legal fellow with the Energy and Environment Legal Institute and publisher of JunkScience.com.
repeal epa authority.
Put an adult in charge of EPA.
Exactly. Or more precisely, repeal and replace the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act shoved through Congress by the large Democrat majority. It’s what gives Executive Branch agencies (unconstitutional) power to create regulations (law) with no debate, no vote from representatives of the citizens, no accountability, and no democratic mechanism to reverse those regulations. The Founders intended lawmaking power to reside solely with the elected representatives of the citizens and they explicitly stated that in the Constitution. An administrative procedure act consistent with the Constitution would require federal agencies to submit proposals for regulations that affect citizens to Congress for debate and a vote. Lobby your representatives to fix this anti-democratic travesty.
People in the least industrialised countries: South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tuvalu, Uganda, Yemen etc (the UN’s list) will inherit the planet when the rest of us extinct. Good luck to them.
Planned Populationhood through Choice, dysfunction, and social progress.
“We give sick people medical marijuana. Have you ever heard of one of them dying from smoking a joint?”
“Medical Marijuana” the only drug in the U.S. pharmacopoeia where the dose is a cigarette.
Steve you should have 4 up ticks I inadvertently hit the down on way to reply.
When I was a child my dad used to blow cigarette smoke in our ears to help with pain from earaches. He used unfiltered Camels.
We must do more to fight the bureaucratic state.
First, eliminate public employee unions. These unions have too much power over the elected officials responsible for oversight.
Second, limit how long bureaucrats can serve, especially in senior positions. (I’m looking at you, Fauci). Set a maximum federal employment length, such as 45 or 50 years, and a mandatory retirement age, such as 70 (whichever comes first).
Next, sunset all agencies. Authorize for a limited time only. Because this never seems to work, require each agency to justify its existence. Has it fulfilled the goals of its charter? If so, get rid of it. If not, just get rid of it anyway because it’s run by losers.
Pournelle’s Iron Law of bureaucracy is mostly why taxes keep going up and half your neighbors now work for gov’t.
“First, eliminate public employee unions.”
In Wokachusetts, public employees are incredibly well paid- far more than most other people.
The US constitution only allows military appropriations for 2 years over the fear of the military becoming too powerful.
Time to institute that for all federal expenditures. Let every new House of Representatives have a vote on all spending. The current Rep house would have the final say on all expenditures. Entitlements would no longer be entitlements.
It would only take one cycle to eliminate all welfare programs, and just return that “priority” to the state level.
THEN, people would have a choice to move elsewhere when they determine that their state is too “kind” to the worthless leaches on society.
Safety net, yes, free stuff for drug addicts and those who refuse to work, not so much.
Just think of all the Democrat campaign workers who will lose their high paying “nonprofit” jobs dealing with “the drug problem” or “the homelessness crises” etc. All funded by federal money and all the management making 6 figure incomes.
Nixon establishing EPA as a separate agency was malevolent. It led to the “special prosecutor” effect, where nothing can ever be clean enough, or the agency loses its reason for existence.
Dual-use regulatory agency.
Thanks for an excellent article.
As a retired electric utility engineer, I was always skeptical of the EPA PM2.5 Regulation. The only purpose I saw was that of Forcing all Coal fired power plants to shut down. The previous EPA Emission limit was already less than the surrounding typical concentration in the atmosphere. Lowering it to 2.5 basically turned every coal fired power plant into a HEPA Filter. The only way to get that low would require Electrostatic Filters the size of a warehouse with fans like that in a wind tunnel on inlet and for the stack.
A weapon to use in Obama’s “War on Coal”.
The EPA PM2.5 standard is a huge load of crap.
Those giant particles are easily caught by modern air pollution control systems.
Almost all of the particles of wood burning and coal burning power plants are less than 1.0 micron, one thousands of a millimeter. They are not caught, or partially caught, by modern pollution control systems
They are invisible, which is politically convenient, but, medically, they enter your lungs, and your bloodstream and will reside in your tissues forever.
These particles are toxic and will give you cancer, just as cigaret smoke
These particles are especially harmful for pregnant woman, young children, and already sickly people, and older people, because they decrease lung capacity, put more stress on your heart, etc.
It is fitting that this story is so close to the GM laying of half its employees. BAILOUT MOTORS: GM Gutting Half Its U.S. Workforce – PJ Media
When I talked to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (Los Angeles/Orange Counties) about emissions of renewable fuels, the head of the science section stated that it was his goal to eliminate all industries in the LA/OC basin to save the population from NOx emissions that were causing thousands of deaths. I was dumbfounded that this could be the goal of a government agency. And, how would he get paid as there would be no tax revenue to support his position. How short sighted!
The goal of Government and all NGO’s is to destroy the economy and they are doing a right good job of it as GM so aptly shows.
A problem with GM is their steering wheels don’t fall off.
Half a million Americans die each year from cigarettes. It only takes 2 years to kill as many Americans as have died in all the wars the US has ever been involved with. Why would the EPA be chasing a ghost when the elephant is already standing in the room?
Wars without borders accounts for several million and planned parenthood accounts for a hundred million more.
Of course, if you’d read the article you would have seen this.
Of course I read it. Cigarettes kill, not PM2.5. Most of my ‘elders’ died from smoking. Even the ones that didn’t smoke, themselves. Are you doubting that half a million Americans die each year from smoking?
How do you evaluate that? I mean, if you show that they have not died from PM2.5, (as Steve fairly conclusively shows), what have they died from? There must be a separate cause. What is it?
Actually its lung cancer. In the UK they are trying the same trick to stop cars and everything else. The London ULEZ is trying to use this kind of data. Reading the scientific papers suggests that no one has analysed the actual make up of many things called PM2.5s, the diesel ones of course being activated carbon. This is not dangerous or even carcinogenic, and every paper just takes the just size as being dangerous. If you live in a desert you breath loads of PM2.5 every time the wind blows. Your body has an excellent mechanism to remove them from your lungs via mucus transport into the throat. Tobacco tar is carcinogenic over a very long period, see the inside of a smokers lungs on PM. There are no PM2.5s there…just black gloopy tar over the entire insides.
Either you missed the point or you did not understand what you read: what is being discussed is PARTICLES in the air, NOT cigarette smoking. Smoking only come to the articlees argument because of the higher exposition of smokers to PARTICLES.
I am a non-smoker after almost 40 years of heavy smoking. With the natural consequences of that in diseases, quality of life, etc.
But I know that those deleterious effects of smokong ARE NOT caused by the particles of smoke: there is a plethora of very nasty things, NASTIER things, in cigarette smoke than particles; and those nastiers things are the cause of health problems and deaths.
N.B.: I am NOT advocating smoking, nor dismissing its nefarious consequences. On the contrary, I advocate non-smoking (not being a crusade in a mission, of course; I respect the freedom of everyone making his stupid decisions as I have done). Of the very few decisions in my life that I regret, starting smoking is at the top of the list (with a very far second).
I didn’t miss anything. You missed MY point. That being focusing on particles that have no demonstrated harm vs ignoring half a million dead per year on something they SHOULD be focusing on.
And you are an expert on the elements in cigarette smoke? Ever looked at the smoke of burning leaves? How much of that cigarette smoke is fairly pure Carbon? The dark color of a cigarette filter tip after use? The dark color of the phlegm a smoker coughs up and the dark cooler of a heavy smokers’ lungs.
It is near impossible to burn tobacco (a cellulose) in the form of a cigarette without creating carbon particles just like the black smoke coming from a gas stove burner or Gas Furnace, when the air lever is not set properly. The Cancer causing elements are most likely carried deeply into the lungs as a vapor to the alveoli – the many tiny air sacs of the lungs which allow for rapid gaseous exchange. The same vapor you smell in a room where a person is smoking and on the clothes of a person that smokes.
It has been many years since I learned this so consult a doctor as they will have the newer theories on the cause of lung cancer. But I do not believe that Steve is claiming PM2.5 carbon causes Cancer. In fact, he implies that it does not. Are you implying that carbon does? Strange, I spent thousands of hours breathing air that passed through a carbon filter during my ten years under water on a Nuclear Sub. I am now over 80 and in perfect health.
Please see an ophthalmologist ASAP, because you missed the direction to the cigarette smoking perils: it is in the room three doors to the left of the PARTICLE danger discussion.
In case you did not grasp my /sarc: the argument about the detrimental effects of smoking is NOT in the scope of the post we are discussing.
This is how bureaucracies perpetuate themselves. Rather than declare mission accomplished and disband, define ever more impossible ‘goals’ and then seek enhanced budgets cause the goals are so difficult. EPA’s ‘no thresholds’ doctrine is the penultimate example.
It has been my observation that as technology advances, ever smaller allowable concentrations are then imposed. Thus, the leading edge of technology becomes the standard for doses.
You’re so right Rud.
Has there ever been in recorded history a government departmental organization or section that has reported to its responsible minister that its purpose has been fulfilled, and should be disbanded forthwith?
They just lurch on forever seeking blood from taxpayers just as zombies do.
Everyone needs to read Kafka’s “The Castle”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Castle_(novel)
Rud: Absolutely correct and EPA & DOE are the worst. They have never heard of the law of diminishing returns. Nor have they ever produced a remotely correct cost/benefit analysis. They think nothing of creating regulations that destroy entire industries – case in point – gas ranges.
Sorry, but you are wrong there.
All they do is of create regulations that destroy industries. THEY are liberals, they get pleasure from controlling others.
So True. Many times I have said that if Airlines had the same regulations that were imposed on commercial Nuclear Power Plants they would be unable to get off the ground. E.g. The airliner that crashed in Sioux City, SD 30 years ago, from a ruptured hydraulic line could have been prevented by a “Reverse Flow Check Valve” like the redundant hydraulic systems on a Sub or the safety injection systems on Commercial NPP’s (required by NRC Regs). To this day, to my knowledge, they have still not been added to the hydraulic systems on airlines.
A bit of personal history. For 40 years, I worked stone,the last 20 as a carver of architectural ornamentation. Used a particle mask once–when working some very fine grained Sandstone. (silicosis is not fun) No telling how much tonnage of particulate matter I breathed in, but about 6-8 years ago I started having some shortness of breath–particularly when first getting up in the morning. VA ran some lung function testing on me, and the Dr. said I had the lungs of a 40 year old non smoker. (I was close to 70) Turns out I was a little anemic, and some iron pills fixed me right up. Now I’ve moved to the ranch, and once in a while I need to clean out the chicken coop. Just doing that probably generates more air pollution than my stone carving ever did.
The EPA is subject to congressional over sight, and by ignoring any congressional request for data as in this case should mean the termination of the agency. Same for the FBI who’s director just showed his butt in a congressional hearing–not answering a single question. This country will be regulated to death if we the people don’t toss the entire mess out and take control back.
I’m a big fan of architecture- especially fine stone work. I appreciate the hard work of stone workers- whether they’re just muscling around large stone (for walls or buildings) or they’re carvers. A nice feature of stone work is that it lasts for so long. I’ve seen statues in museums in America that are thousands of years old and I can’t help but imagine the worker making it. Unfortunately, I’ve never been to Europe where ancient stone structures and carvings are visible in situ and in the museums. I think of how Michelangelo would look at a large block of stone and imagine liberating a carving from within it. Some of his work remains unfinished with a carving of a human only partially liberated. Something about this fascinates me.
But no patients suffering from PM2.5 exposure in the dust bowl, where tens of thousands were exposed to massive quantities of PM2.5 particulates in every storm.
Oddly, no PM2.5 sufferers are extant from any of the dusty places on Earth, Sahara, Arabia, Afghanistan, Turkey, Australia, Gobi desert, Mexico, The American Southwest, California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, etc. etc.
Thank you Steve!
Excellent write up!
The funny thing about these loony leftists is every one of them would express religiously fervent belief in evolution but ignore the fact that homo sapiens evolved in caves around wood or dung fires breathing this stuff.
I wonder if we were to add up all these potentially ‘saved’ lives if it would be larger than the population? If so, then it would demonstrate that either the claimed savings are false, or that two or more effects must be working together to be a threat.
Saving imaginary lives is a big thrill for bureaucrats.
while damaging the lives of people with their absurd rules and regulations
Single molecule of PM2.5? Must be an unusually large compound.
The quality of “scientists” in international and national environmental bureaucracy is very very low. They got their training and knowledge from the internet supported by some fast talker ex-car salesmen. UNEP just came up with a report on the mercury use in gold mining which stated that mercury is so deadly one molecule could kill. Never heard of the longevity of the Japanese who loves to eat tuna and salmon. The mercury in tuna and salmon especially the large one are in parts per million.
I once examine a student thesis on PM2.5 comparing various package models and using data for a highly polluted Asian city where the main transport vehicles are diesel engine and large number of small enterprises are using diesel engine to back up the unreliable power supply from the grid. The highest value is only 25 per cent of the actual monitoring result.
PM2.5 is not just generated by combustion but it is generated by a wide range of natural phenomena. Salt spray from the ocean , dust from desert land, arid land or open space and even the most green that all greenies admire- the plants and trees exhale PM2.5 together with a wide range of exoteric chemicals. The exoteric chemicals are noticeable if it is aromatic but the non-aromatic portion are much larger.
PM2.5 because of its size is carried out several thousand kilometers by the wind and other atmospheric phenomena. The PM2.5 generated by Saharan desert storm are noted in southeast USA. The least industrialized countries are not free from PM2.5.
It is a common traditional practice throughout the world for people with some respiratory problems to move close to the sea or lake to breathe the PM2.5 from the sea spray.
PM2.5 is an important component in the natural ecological cycle. Without PM2.5 this world will be very humid with very little rain. Life as we know could not exist. PM2.5 is often the core of raindrops .It is the particle that starts the nucleation process, attracting water molecules that gets larger and larger as more water molecules cling to each other making the PM2.5 unnoticeable.
I remember reported in the news that the lead lab technician conducting the research for PM10 health effects revealed that she had been fabricating data from day one. A quick internet search did not give me a hit. Does anyone else remember this?
My employer company had a law suit against Australia’s EPA because they imposed impossible actions to clean up a former car battery recycle plant we acquired, unwanted, in a larger take over around 1990. (We won.)
In preparation I consulted Dr Allen Christophers, a top global authority on Pb poisoning.
His conclusion was that Pb was a poison in high quantities and caused specific conditions like encephalopathy after chewing putty with old lead paint. Tiny amounts like air with leaded petrol did not cause IQ loss in children as claimed by Establishment scientists.
In our research we found abundant fiddled measurements. For example, the estimated weight of child-ingested soil per day ranged over 3 orders of magnitude. Poor chemical analysis was blamed on using glass capillary collection when syringes were better. On and on it went.
I have yet to be convinced of the veracity of the voluminous literature used to claim that ingested trace Pb causes detrimental IQ effects in children. It is full of Mights and Mays weasel words with reliance on numerical IQ scores that have high uncertainties.
Dr Christophers favoured reverse causation, which needs still more attention. That is, the children testing lower IQ scores were already in the less bright group before they ate lead in their diets, not bright enough to believe their Mums when told not to do it.
The whole Pb poisoning meme remains a myth, with poor science perpetuated by bureaucratic comfort-seekers. I would appreciate links to good, plausible research in case I have missed them.
Geoff, I have somewhere, probably in an old computer, a paper on lead poisoning which backs up what you wrote. Unfortunately my chance of finding it again is very low. I think it was published in the fifties.
I have lived in many different places during my life. I can’t say for certain that every place had considerable dust but I do remember indications from many or most of those places. Dust accumulates on every horizontal surface in a short time after cleaning. Sunlight at the right angle relative to my viewing position reveals particles suspended in still air and blowing air definitely brings dust with it. I have memories of these things from before I was old enough to go to school and 70 years later, where I now live in a very small high desert community, about 100 miles from the nearest city, is no different. I am amazed at how quickly the dust bunnies grow under my bed and in other places secure from foot traffic. Where does their substance come from?
Anyway, much of this dust seems very fine, it can only be felt in mass but there is also a scattered gritty feel from larger particles in any significant patch, such as under the bed or in a quite corner. Is there any reason to believe that all the dust that settles on things, on everything, is mostly or entirely composed of larger than the supposed 2.5 micrometers killers?
Under 2.5 microns things tend to float, regardless of their mass. Air resistance is king rather than mass. Over 2.5 microns things tend to fall.
Most clouds and fog are under 2.5 microns. That’s why they are up there.
That is why you have 2.5 micron standard for particulate matter.
Ok, you seem to be saying that the settled dust is mostly larger particles, no?
If that is true, then my question needs to be rephrased.
Since there is so much dust, everywhere, all the time, as evidenced by seeing it floating in the air under the right illumination conditions and finding it continuously settling down on everything, is there any reason to believe that 2.5 micrometers and under particles are not part of the total dust load that seems to almost always be present in the air close to ground level?
If there are 3 micrometers and up sized particles always floating around and settling out, is it not likely that the stuff that is too small to settle out is at least just as prevalent?
The sheer number of smaller particles is enormous. Talking about mass is not the main thing. It’s the particle size distribution and that could depend on geographical location. and level of industrial pollution.
You won’t find ‘death due to particulate matter’ anywhere.
They say increased cancers, heart disease and stroke are the cause of death.
I have one of those LED Head-Lamps I wear while walking when it is dark, mostly so that cars see me. After the City said that you should wear a mask even when outside I saw the droplets of my breath shinning brightly in the light beam. I quit wearing a mask. Several times this spring I have seen very bright “particles” when the temperature is close to the dew point. I know it is not my breath as the sparkles are much smaller than the ones I see when exhaling and I see them when I am not exhaling – floating slowly around like the dust you see in a sunbeam in the house, but much, much, smaller. Makes me think it is water vapor turning into the smallest water droplets.
“Where does their substance come from?” I could be wrong- but I recall reading a long time ago that much of it comes from our skin- and much just drifts down from space.
“As it turns out, they can continue smoke for years and the greatest risk to them is that they ignite their oxygen and set themselves on fire.”
On the few occasions I’ve visited in a hospital I’ve noticed signs, “No Smoking, Oxygen in use”. Now I see “…ignite their oxygen…“. I never knew oxygen itself was flammable. A slip of the tongue/pen/keyboard?
I think it was a slip. O2 is of course not inflammable, but supports combustion. For instance, if you get a spark on a shirt with a very high level of O2 it will ignite.
I agree. But it’s the sort of slip that some ‘educated donkey’ might look at — “That’s wrong”, so the entire article must be wrong. Not good.
Considering the field, this would be quite an accomplishment!
This fraud has a tack seen in other such — hiding the decline. It is unquestionable that atmospheric soot and dust declined rapidly after about 1950, as low-temperature combustion of lump coal and bunker oil was phased out, and as refuse and wood burning was likewise reduced. Most data sources I’ve seen start so late in that cycle that earlier higher levels are invisible.
It seems reasonable to assume that high levels of air pollution and smog will cause, or at least contribute to some form of respiratory disease.
If a person is healthy, with no medical problems, then it’s unlikely that air pollution in the outside atmosphere could be a cause of death, but it could contribute to the death of those with comorbidities.
Fixating on just one aspect of air pollution, such as PM 2.5, is an over-simplification, like fixating on CO2 levels as the cause of the current warming.
People in Thailand are very concerned about air pollution at this time of year. The degree of pollution is measured using the level of PM 2.5 particles, which presumably rises as the general pollution rises.
Here’s a recent news report of the current situation in Thailand.
“According to Public Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Opart Karnkawinpong, the air pollution is mainly caused by PM2.5 dust, smoke from forest fires and the burning of farm waste. He attributed the rise of PM2.5 in the atmosphere this year to increased travel, compared to during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the air pollution-related diseases, there were 583,238 cases of respiratory disease, 267,161 cases of skin infections, 242,805 cases of eye infections and 208,880 cases of stroke.”
I looked up the link claiming that cole workers have the same life expectancy.
However, the conlusion of the article you link to says: «The findings confirm and enlarge upon previous results showing that exposure to coal mine dust leads to increased mortality, even in the absence of smoking.»
I don’t think that dust and PM2.5 are the same thing. Dust can be made up of pollen, bacteria, smoke, ash, salt crystals from the ocean, and small bits of dirt or rock, including sand.
My point is that the author claims that he has evidence that pm2.5 is harmless because of a study in coal workers which he links to. But the study says the opposite.
Now I see that it is the same with the diesel study he links to.
Excellent post, Steve, and very well explained for the layman. I would add that there is at least one more apparent paradox that needs to be resolved if PM2.5 is the deadly killer portrayed by the EPA. We have from China and India, a couple of natural experiments whose results are not consistent with the notion that PM2.5 is a major killer. Both countries ramped up coal usage in the 1990s and then started installing PM2.5 pollution controls in the 2000s. Consequently, the results of calculations available on the World Bank data website indicate that nationwide average exposure to PM2.5 in both countries increased through the 1990s and 2000s, and began declining subsequently. Yet, life expectancies (LEs), which had been improving at least since the 1970s in both countries, continued to improve regardless of whether PM2.5 exposure went up, as it did until the early 2010s or went down (subsequently).
From 1997 to 2011, the annual mean population exposure to PM2.5 increased from 60.7 to 70.5 micrograms per cubic meter, but life expectancy increased from 70.7 to 75.9 yrs. Similarly, for India PM2.5 exposure between these years went from 84.2 to 97.6 but LE increased 62.7 to 67.4 years. Now, we are used to being skeptical of Chinese data, but Indian data is less easily dismissed.
Blind rampant paranoia on epic scale:
From the UK DEFRA (##): Health Effects of PM
Inhalation of particulate pollution can have adverse health impacts, and there is understood to be no safe threshold below which no adverse effects would be anticipated. The biggest impact of particulate air pollution on public health is understood to be from long-term exposure to PM2.5, which increases the age-specific mortality risk, particularly from cardiovascular causes. Several plausible mechanisms for this effect on mortality have been proposed, although it is not yet clear which is the most important.
Sources of PM2.5Human-made sources of PM2.5 are more important than natural sources, which make only a small contribution to the total concentration. Within UK towns and cities, emissions of PM2.5 from road vehicles are an important source
Chock full of weasel words, don’t just love the ‘anticipated‘ effects. Nothing actually measured or recorded. Just like climate science.
And ‘No Safe Threshold‘ – where have we heard that before?
Otherwise it’s exactly like the demonisation of CO2 – chasing after completely the wrong thing, passing the buck, demanding compensation for imagined & exaggerated woe and then, applying The Wrong Fix.
Which will only go to make the original real problem worse
In the case of CO2, Soil Erosion is the problem and is what’s causing the observed effects.
In the case of PM2.5, the observed/imagined/anticipated problem is ill-health from Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD)
It ties together really nicely in that:
the production of sugar is causing the soil erosionthe consumption of sugar is causing the CVDIt’s the same age old problem that consuming all.any drug brings on, junk science and magical thinking
## DEFRA: Department (for the) Extermination (of) Farmers (and) Rural Activities
PS Red blood cells are about 3 times bigger than these things (at about 8 micron diameter) yet they don’t block us up or cause the symptoms mentioned.
“Otherwise it’s exactly like the demonization of ” and radiation levels.
For over ten years I and my siblings took turns looking at our feet in the shoe fitting Xray machine at the shoe store. That was over 65 years ago. My siblings and I have no cancer whatsoever in our bodies.
Well done Steve Milloy! I have been following Junkscience.com for some time now. You need to do more to get your message out. WUWT is a good start. I can’t understand how the EPA can lie right to our face and suffer no consequences. It is infuriating, they are the biggest reason I don’t believe my government anymore. I see the EPA as a criminal organization.
Looks like you need to update Wikipedia on this subject, they have a ton of writing about it :
The research they mention about cognitive decline among older people was quite interesting. Not death, just dementia and the like :
Is this the same EPA that declared CO2 is a pollutant?
The only statement more insane than claiming the life providing molecule CO2 is a pollutant would be to declare water is a pollutant.
Don’t put anything past these EPA clowns, remember thousands of people die each and every year, due to drowning in that deadly water.
rod, don’t give these epa clowns any ideas, next they will be mandating portable scuba gear
The real con job that this article fails to expose is that it is just “premature” death they are claiming. How “premature” ???
If they can show statistically that the average life is shortened by 6 HOURS , they can omit that fact and declare “9,200 premature deaths per year”. That does NOT mean that virtually ALL of those individuals would still have died that very same year , on the very same day : just 6h earlier. ( On average !! )
If you are offered the choice of having the convenience of a time saving device like individual personal transport ( which will have you years of your life in lost time ) or living 6h long as a demented, incontinent geriatric, I know what I’d go for and so would everyone else.
I pulled the 6h from the air but it is ridiculously small, and until the EPA or any reports on the subject say exactly what “premature” means, their propaganda is without scientific meaning.
Then by the time the press gets hold of it, the word “premature” disappears and it becomes
Many years ago, a paper looked at illness/deaths in people living downwind from a California (from memory) freeway and “found” a rate higher than surrounding areas. The claim was that air born pm 2.5 in diesel exhaust caused increased deaths. It was very controversial at the time because of some statistical gymnastics involved.
Then there’s this…
Overview: Diesel Exhaust & Health
I gotta be on the fence for this one. PM2.5 will definitely kill me as my asthma is extreme. The percentage of diagnosis of asthma in the US is about 8.2% of the population (including false diagnosis through to brittle). It isn’t that the 2.5 is some kind of murder bullet, it just causes extra sensitization to the other particle ranges. On average yeah its not very lethal on its own and likely the cause of less than 1000 deaths per year total. 2.5 is why I wear a respirator around my neck when I leave the house, its why I put it on while driving much of the time.
See, it’s not the filtered air in the mines that is the problem; its the idiots who produce the “bag o sugar” amounts from their truck exhaust in a year. It still needs monitored and regulated but I doubt its anywhere near as much a problem as pill manufacturers failing to completely clean the hopper before mixing in the next batch.
“A subsequent request from Congress for the data was also rebuffed.”
How can they get away with that? I would think Congress could punish whoever denies the request.
“Have you ever heard of one of them dying from smoking a joint?”
I know some people who almost died laughing after smoking a joint. 🙂
Thank you for the writeup.
I guess no one should be surprised that junk models are also behind this particular mandate…
I am an Air Quality Control Engineer that has worked in the power industry for 40 years, mainly reducing emissions from coal fired power plants. The PM 2.5 regulation were a tremendous challenge to meet. The original method was to install bag houses on the back of the plants. This would be in addition to electrostatic precipitators that were already installed to remove so called larger particles. Well, it turned out those PM 2.5 particulates were aerosols created by the scrubbers that were installed to remove SO2. The solution to that was injection of lime or similar chemical upstream of the newly installed bag houses. Some plants installed wet electrostatic precipitators to remove the aerosols. That was an expensive disastrous rabbit hole.
All of these devices were installed on all of the major coal fired plants in the United States at the cost of billions of dollars. Mercury became the next emission that was regulated. More money spent on mitigation. Then man made climate change with CO2 emissions became the next emission in the EPA Que. That resulted in Utilities deciding to start the shutdown of the coal fired plants. Those billions of dollars were spent to keep the plants operating just in time for them to be shut down. It is appalling what the EPA has done to the power industry.
I believe you will find PM 10 and PM 2.5 to be higher near interstate highways.
So I guess the EPA should ban the use of automobile tires made from petroleum products.
They claim between 1700 and 4200 lives saved per year if they strengthen PM2.5 regulations.
Fentanyl kills in the neighborhood of 100,000 per year. Maybe they are looking at the wrong thing that is killing people. Strengthen the border not PM2.5 Regis.
At a conference I attended several years ago an EPA presenter was asked in the Q and A if there were follow ups on these claims of so many lives saved per year when reducing a pollutant to see if the predictions were accurate. His response “it was not his job”. So there. 🙂
Even the unions of Paris metro workers admit that they don’t suffer from more diseases, not even the maintenance people who literally work on the rails and get the most particulate you can find in Paris: the air of the central metro station, for the commuter, is 20 times worse than the air in the “urban highway” of Paris (le périf’ = the multi lane road circling around Paris), and the levels are rail level are insane (because of all the accumulation of train breaks dust).
They claim it’s a “healthy worker effect” thing.
If anyone in France takes that very effect that seriously, stop bothering us with the fact vaccinated people don’t have real confirmed influenza as much as unvaxxed.
How can the same media carry these two claims?
I agree with most of the statements in this article: especially relevant is the California study of ~ 2M people showing poor association of deaths with pollution levels.
However, the claim thay coal miners vs non-miners have the same life expectancy did not ring true to me (retired physician). His references [2008 Abstract on coal miners & a 2021 study of diesel exposure on miners] both documented associations of numerous illnesses with increasing exposure [not just PM2.5]: non-respiratory disease and pneumoconiosis. This was apparent in those who never smoked as well [2012 study]
But the basic thesis that the EPA is using bad data to regulate the ambient air seems true. They should be forced to open up the books on how they arrive at their conclusions.