06.13.2013 0

EPA’s unethical human testing

By Richard Manning

“Informed consent is at the heart of ethically engaging in any kind of human testing.”

National outrage over the federal government’s abuse of power has seemingly hit critical mass over the past month as news about the Internal Revenue Service engaging in political targeting, government spying on AP reporters, the pending government prosecution of a Fox News reporter, and the revelation that the National Security Agency has likely been collecting data on every one of us has dominated the news.

Ignored in all the conversation about abuses is perhaps one of the most heinous of them all.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s continued practice of exposing human subjects to extreme levels of particulate matter and other toxins in tests designed to justify expanded air quality regulations.

Subjects in EPA studies conducted at the University of North Carolina were allegedly exposed to up to 21 times of the legally allowed fine particulate matter (microscopic soot particles) in tests that left at least one previously healthy man still wheezing for air two years later.

Shockingly, the EPA warns on their website that:

 Particle pollution – especially fine particles – contains microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can get deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems. Numerous scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to a variety of problems, including:

  • “premature death in people with heart or lung disease,
  • “nonfatal heart attacks,
  • “irregular heartbeat,
  • “aggravated asthma,
  • “decreased lung function, and
  • “increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing.

“People with heart or lung diseases, children and older adults are the most likely to be affected by particle pollution exposure. However, even if you are healthy, you may experience temporary symptoms from exposure to elevated levels of particle pollution.”

In addition, the EPA has gone so far as to claim that particulate matter can kill within hours of exposure even at typical levels found outdoors.

These dire warnings have been used to justify an extremely aggressive regulatory regime , and stand in stark contrast to the consent forms that North Carolina test subjects signed where the description of the risks of inhaling this “deadly” particulate matter state, “During the exposure to the concentrated air pollution particles, you may experience some minor degree of airway irritation, rough, and shortness of breath or wheezing. These symptoms typically disappear 2 to 4 hours after exposure, but may last longer for particularly sensitive people.”

The consent form continues stating, “Air pollution particles may induce an inflammatory reaction that can last for 24 hours after exposure and may increase the chance of you catching a cold.”

Dr. William Hurlbut, a consulting professor on neuro-biology at Stanford University teaching courses on bio-ethics, and a past member of the President’s Council on Bio-Ethics expresses the importance of proper informed consent asserting, “Informed consent is at the heart of ethically engaging in any kind of human testing.”

Why is this important?

If the EPA has been conducting tests using substances they have determined to be potentially lethal, and they are not telling their human guinea pigs about the danger, they are breaching the fundamental underpinning of using human test subjects.

Attorney Steve Milloy, a fellow with the American Tradition Institute, has led the effort to expose the human testing scandal within the EPA.   After federal court recently found that ATI did not have standing to sue the EPA over the standards, Milloy has begun the process of filing a civil suit against the Agency on behalf of a test subject who became ill in the wake of testing.

Milloy makes the case that the EPA cannot have it both ways.

On one hand the EPA has written draconian regulations based upon the scientific claim that extreme harm and even almost immediate death may be caused by inhaling a small amount of particulate matter, while on the other hand, they are assuring human test subjects that the harm done to them will be virtually non-existent.

In fact Milloy takes it further asserting, “When you put all the pieces together at the end there are two outcomes, EPA scientists have either committed crimes or if they haven’t done that, all their regulatory programs have been based upon scientific fraud, and they ought to be done away with.”

Largely in response to Milloy’s work on this issue, the EPA’s Inspector General is auditing the human testing activities with results expected to be reported as early as December of this year.

Additionally, Milloy is aggressively seeking data from other research Universities around the country which have been conducting wide ranging human tests on behalf of the EPA involving exposure to chlorine gas (a chemical weapon from World War I), subjecting children to large doses of diesel exhaust, and exposing subjects to carcinogens, all seemingly without divulging the potentially life threatening consequences.

The results of Milloy’s inquiries and potential lawsuits will either show that the EPA’s regulatory regime is based upon fraudulent science, or  that the Agency has engaged in a massive unethical human testing program that willfully subjects it’s study participants to lethal substances on a wide scale, dwarfing anything encountered in our nation to date.

The EPA testing programs are just another example of the ends justify the means philosophy that permeates big government in 21st century America.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is the Vice President of Public Policy and Communications for Americans for Limited Government.

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