In a letter sent yesterday to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG), Investigations and Oversight Chairman Paul Broun (R-GA) requested that the Inspector General (IG) review EPA's human research studies involving concentrated airborne particles.
Since 2004, EPA has conducted a series of studies exposing humans to high levels of air pollutants such as diesel exhaust and fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5. Many of the experiments were conducted on unhealthy and elderly adults who, in some cases, were explicitly selected to participate because they suffered from moderate asthma and metabolic syndrome.
Some of the people in these experiments were exposed to air pollutant levels in concentrations over twenty times higher than EPA's daily standard. A 2010 experiment resulted in the hospitalization of a 58-year old woman who developed a cardiac arrhythmia while inhaling abnormally high concentrations of these pollutants.
In his letter, Chairman Broun requests that "the OIG consider and determine whether EPA, as part of its research, followed applicable laws, regulations, policies, procedures, and guidance when it exposed human subjects to concentrated airborne particles or diesel exhaust emissions."
The Administration has equated the lethality of particulate matter to cancer. During a 2011 congressional hearing, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said:
"Particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn't make you sick. It's directly causal to dying sooner than you should."
Administrator Jackson further added:
"If we could reduce particulate matter to healthy levels it would have the same impact as finding a cure for cancer in our country."
"In light of EPA's characterization of health and mortality concerns associated with these pollutants and its execution of experiments that appear inconsistent with these findings, I question the appropriateness of testing humans with high concentrations of pollutants that EPA considers dangerous at any level," Chairman Broun adds in the letter.