EPA’s Own Diesel Crimes Worse Than VW’s

German car maker Volkswagen is pictured on a Golf model at the 66th IAA auto show in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on September 22, 2015. German auto giant Volkswagen revealed that 11 million of its diesel cars worldwide are equipped with devices that can cheat pollution tests, a dramatic …
Daniel Roland/AFP/Getty Images

There is no question that Volkswagen should be in trouble for intentionally rigging its diesel engines to skirt U.S. emissions requirements. But EPA’s own diesel exhaust wrongs put VW’s in the shade.

VW rigged the engine software in some models so that emissions met EPA standards only while the cars were being emissions tested. Under normal driving conditions, the cars emitted up to 35 times more nitrogen oxides than permitted. Yes, this is very bad, but not from a public health or environmental standpoint. The emissions at issue are quite trivial in scale. VW’s real crime is that it gained an unfair advantage over competitors who complied with the rules.

That said, it is quite ironic that EPA is pointing the finger at VW for diesel emissions.

The EPA has for years quietly conducted flagrantly illegal scientific experiments in which diesel exhaust was pumped into the lungs of sick people and senior citizens. As pictured nearby, EPA researchers pumped high levels of diesel exhaust from an idling truck into a gas chamber where an unwitting elderly and/or asthmatic victim sat for two hours inhaling it.

VW Figure 1

How much diesel exhaust were these human guinea pigs forced to inhale? Since EPA has determined that there is no safe level of diesel exhaust inhalation, any inhalation is already too much. But EPA exposed its human subjects to as much as 300 times more diesel exhaust than is typically found in outdoor air. But there’s more.

EPA has concluded that inhaling any amount of diesel exhaust can cause death within hours. As such, these experiments are fundamentally unethical and prohibited by federal laws concerning the protection of human subjects in scientific experiments. These laws emanated from past human experiment horrors including those of the Nazi era and our own Tuskegee syphilis experiments.

Past the problem of their illegal nature, EPA failed to obtain the legally required informed consent from the study subjects. No subject was informed that EPA had determined that inhaling diesel exhaust could cause death within hours. Not only did this failure violate federal law, given that many of the EPA researchers are state-licensed physicians, this conduct also violated state laws concerning informed consent for medical procedures. These latter crimes are felonies.

EPA even experimented with diesel exhaust on children as young as 10 years old.

In an experiment conducted by researchers from the University of Southern California and University of California – Los Angeles, very high levels of diesel exhaust were sprayed up the noses of the children. Once again, informed consent was not obtained from the parents.

Why does EPA conduct these shocking experiments? The reason is even more appalling.

As EPA admitted in litigation with me, it conducts these tests because the agency’s claim about the lethality of diesel exhaust rests largely upon studies that are merely statistical in nature. The human testing is an effort to provide some evidence of biological or medical plausibility for the statistical studies. So, yes, EPA is trying to harm people in order to validate its dubious statistical data.

So as between VW trying to gain an unfair advantage over the competition, and EPA trying to kill people in order to validate its regulations, it would seem that EPA is the actual diesel exhaust villain.

Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com (@JunkScience).


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