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By Michael Bastasch
The National Academies of Science (NAS) president refused to initiate another review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) handling of experiments exposing human subjects to high levels of air pollutants.
NAS “stands behind the processes that were used to decide to undertake this project, staff the committee, and perform the study,” Marcia McNutt, NAS president, wrote in an email to Steve Milloy, the publisher of Junkscience.com.
McNutt also questioned the quality of Milloy’s evidence against EPA. She asked if “any of the information that you presented that you state the committee ignored peer reviewed?”
“It would have been a violation of policy to include it unless it is peer reviewed. I note that you include a number of links below, none of which would rise to the Academy’s standard of scholarly evidence,” McNutt wrote in an email exchange obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Milloy asked NAS to investigate “conflicts-of-interest and corruption” among NAS committee members who compiled a report at the behest of EPA on the agency’s human testing program.
The publisher said the NAS report ignored evidence he presented along with other scientists detailing how EPA’s human testing program undercut a major claim — that fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, caused premature death.
“If you had even taken a moment to review my testimony to the NAS committee in question, you would have noticed that it is entirely based on official EPA documents and statements from EPA officials,” Milloy wrote in response to McNutt’s email.
“The other chief witnesses (Drs. John Dunn & Stan Young) at the August 24, 2016 public hearing (which was held for the specific purpose of taking our testimony) cited specific EPA documents and peer-reviewed literature in their testimony,” Milloy wrote.
“The other two commenters at the hearing (Dr. James Enstrom and Albert Donnay) also cited peer-reviewed literature,” Milloy wrote. “But the NAS committee inexplicably ignored everything we presented. And now you have as well.”
EPA hired the NAS to review the agency’s testing of air pollution on human subjects. EPA got dinged by their inspector general in 2014 for testing high levels of air pollutants the agency says cause premature death on people with health problems.
The IG found only two of five studies it reviewed “alerted study subjects to the risk of death for older individuals with cardiovascular disease.” EPA publicly says “particulate matter causes premature death.”
Documents obtained by TheDCNF in 2015 showed EPA funded studies that tested air pollutants on children during the early 2000s.
NAS found “EPA’s procedures are consistent with and indicative of ethical approaches to human-subjects research” and provided “unique information” that’s “important for future” air quality regulations.
Continued human studies are “warranted, with improvements in human-subjects oversight, protocols, consent forms, and communication with potential participants during the informed-consent process and improvements in scientific oversight to maximize the potential for the societal benefits of the studies,” NAS ruled.
NAS laid out two stipulations for this approval — “only when a [human] study is expected to provide additional knowledge that informs policy decisions and regulation of pollutants that cannot be obtained by other means” and “when it is reasonably foreseeable that the risks for study participants will not exceed transient and reversible biomarker or physiologic responses.”
Milloy called the report a “whitewash” and asked NAS to take into consideration evidence he and a group of toxicologists presented to the committee to debunk the link between PM2.5 and premature death.
But McNutt said none of that testimony can be considered unless it’s peer-reviewed — even though much of it was.
“I am requesting that you reconsider your decision and conduct a bona fide investigation as requested in my complaint,” Milloy wrote.
“Otherwise the high-minded words of NAS reports like ‘Fostering Integrity in Research’ are meaningless superficialities akin to lipstick on a pig,” Milloy wrote. He copied the committee responsible for research integrity in his email.