Researcher Claims To Have Evidence One Of EPA’s Most Successful Clean Air Rules Is Based On Fabricated Data

By Michael Bastasch – Re-Blogged From

One of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) longest and most successful air pollution standards is based on a taxpayer-funded study plagued by “data fabrication and falsification,” according to a veteran toxicologist.

Toxicologist Albert Donnay says he’s found evidence a 1989 study commissioned by EPA on the health effects of carbon monoxide, which, if true, could call into question 25 years of regulations and billions of dollars on catalytic converters for automobiles.

“They claimed to find an effect when there wasn’t one,” Donnay told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “They even fabricated the methods they used to get their results.”

“They were spinning this to give EPA what they wanted and commissioned,” Donnay said. “They reported results that could not have come from human beings.”


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EPA gave “primary consideration” to 1989 study put together by the Health Effects Institute (HEI) to replace a previous 1981 study that relied on fabricated data.

In 2011, EPA did what it’s done since 1971 and left the carbon monoxide standard unchanged at 9 parts per million measured over an 8-hour time period and 35 parts per million over 1 hour.

And why not? EPA’s been wildly successful in reducing carbon monoxide over the years. Levels were 85 percent below EPA standards in 2016, making it the second-most reduced air pollutant, according to agency data.

“Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas emitted from combustion processes” that can cause serious health effects and even death at extremely high levels, according to EPA.

Accidental carbon monoxide poisoning kills between 400 and 500 people a year, according to government data.

Here’s a poster of the research Donnay presented at the 2015 Society of Toxicology meeting:


Credit: Albert Donnay

Dr. Aronow

But Donnay said his research shows the HEI study is full of “scientific fraud” that should be investigated by EPA and HEI.

“If you commission someone to replicate a fraud, you have to commit fraud to do it,” Donnay told TheDCNF when discussing the results of his reanalysis.

In 1983, EPA realized its carbon monoxide standard was based on “questionable, perhaps falsified, research” conducted by Dr. Wilbert Aronow in the 1970s, The New York Times reported at the time.

The Federal Drug Administration found Aronow had been falsifying drug trial evidence for patients at a Veterans Affairs hospital in the Los Angeles area. EPA also used Aronow’s research.

The agency acted quickly to replace Aronow’s fraudulent data, funding a massive human exposure study with HEI — a research group funded funded by EPA and the auto industry.

HEI put together a study to test human carbon monoxide on men with coronary artery disease, observing how long they could exercise before they succumbed to angina after being exposed to the gas. HEI hired three teams from different universities to help with the research.

The HEI study was published in 1989 and cost $2.5 million to finish. The New England Journal of Medicine also published the study in 1989, and medical journal Environmental Health Perspectives published the study two years later.

Environmental Health Perspectives declined to further comment on Donnay’s request. Neither HEI nor the New England Journal of Medicine responded to TheDCNF’s request for comment.

HEI researchers, unsurprisingly, found that “low levels of carboxyhemoglobin [carbon monoxide] exacerbate [angina] during graded exercise in subjects with coronary artery disease.”

EPA heralded the HEI study, and relied on it to promulgate its 1994 carbon monoxide standard.

EPA has leaned on it to keep its outdoor carbon monoxide in place ever since. The agency gave the HEI study “primary consideration” in its 2011 review of carbon monoxide regulations.

Donnay joined a lawsuit brought by environmentalists to challenge EPA’s carbon monoxide decision. The courts ruled against activists, so, in 2014, Donnay decided to reanalyze the landmark study EPA had relied on all these years.

“I was eager to challenge that ruling,” he said.

‘Extensive Evidence Of Data Fabrication’

First Donnay would need the raw data HEI researchers used in their study, but that proved more difficult than expected.

HEI president Daniel Greenbaum told Donnay raw data for the HEI study was “discarded” in 2008 since neither EPA nor any other researchers questioned its results.

So, he pulled together raw data from the three journals where the HEI study was published, and relied on some raw data featured in a HEI annual report from 1985.

In 2014, Donnay was finally ready to present his re-analysis. He “found extensive evidence of data fabrication and falsification,” he wrote in a draft abstract presented to his University of Maryland advisors.

“The most obvious evidence of deliberate scientific fraud in the HEI study is that Allred et. al. printed two different sets of summary results in their HEI report and a third in their New England Journal of Medicine article that came out the same week,” Donnay told TheDCNF.

“In neither of these versions do they explain how they ended up with different sets of results, or even acknowledge that they did,” he said.

“Looking at what they chose to include and exclude tells you they are hiding something,” he said.



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