Particulate Matter in Outdoor Air Does NOT Cause Death

Particulate Matter in Outdoor Air Does NOT Cause Death

This is the ultimate fact sheet for debunking what has become the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s most potent regulatory weapon — the claim that fine particulate matter (soot and dust called PM2.5) in outdoor air kills people. This sheet will be updated regularly as needed. This will be Version 1 (September 22, 2016). Please let me know if you have comments/suggestions.


Transparent science conflicts with EPA’s secret science. The EPA’s claim that PM2.5 causes long-term death is grounded in two long-term epidemiologic studies, commonly referred to as the (1) Harvard Six-Cities Study [17] and the (2) “Pope” study [18]. Both studies are controversial for many methodological reasons. But the methodological controversies cannot be resolved because EPA refuses to release and/or refuses to compel release of the mortality data used in the studies to independent researchers for purposes of re-analysis and replication. For results to be considered to be scientifically credible, they must be capable of being independently replicated. In contrast, a large analysis of the recent daily air quality and daily death data from California for 2007-2010 reports no association between PM2.5 and death. [19] The data from the California study are available upon request from the researchers.

But haven’t EPA’s PM2.5 claims been validated by its independent science advisers? No. The group of independent science advisers formed to review EPA air quality science is the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). In 1996, when the CASAC was actually mostly comprised of independent advisers, CASAC concluded that EPA had not shown that PM2.5caused death. While subsequent CASAC panels have ruled in EPA’s favor, these panels are almost exclusively comprised of researchers who receive hundreds of millions of dollars worth of research grants from EPA — and wind up passing judgment on their own work. These more recent CASAC panels can hardly be considered as independent of EPA. The nature of the PM2.5 science has not changed since 1996 — but composition of EPA’s “independent” panels has. [20]

What about claims that PM2.5 from indoor cooking kill people? The World Health Organization (WHO) claims that smoke from indoor cooking kills more than 4 million people die every year. [21] The studies used to support this claim depend entirely on the EPA’s claim that PM2.5 kills people. So the WHO’s claim is not supportable. While many individual researchers (not EPA-related) have attempted to examine whether indoor cooking increases deaths rates, they have so far not been able to link PM2.5 with death. [22]

Conclusion: PM2.5 does not kill anyone. The EPA’s claims of PM2.5 lethality rank among the most nonsensical, fraudulent and readily disprovable scientific claims ever.

Original Article by Steve Milloy

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