Chapel Hill Scandal-EPA, UNC at center of human experiments
by Stephen Poole
Special to the FP
Type in “UNC Scandals” into an Internet search engine, and you’ll see mega-gallons of digital ink spilled over sundry misdoings related to “academics” and the school’s various athletic programs. Scores of musings on these controversies appear in “papers of record” such as the Raleigh News & Observer, the Greensboro News & Record, and the Winston-Salem Journal.
But what you won’t see in any of these respected print publications is the tale of ongoing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) experiments being conducted at the self-billed “Southern Part of Heaven.” These studies—purportedly aimed to determine safe levels of a range of “particulate fine matter”—have resulted in the documented emergency treatment of a test participant for cardiac arrhythmia the agency says could be caused by the experiment. News of this “unfortunate” result led to the filing of a Federal lawsuit to halt the tests based on a litany of violations of universally accepted—and Federally mandated—standards regarding medical studies on humans.
That lawsuit was tossed out by a Federal judge earlier this year on the basis that the group filing the action, the American Tradition Institute, did not have legal standing because it had not been directly harmed by the testing.
But Matthew Cipparone, who participated in the testing 2011, did have legal standing. On March 8th of this year, Cipparone filed a Federal Tort Claims Act seeking $2 million in compensation for damages suffered from inhaling materials the EPA itself had previously proclaimed were “directly causal to dying sooner than you should.”
The problem for North Carolinians, aside from the troubling fact that these experiments are continuing, is that all the major newspapers in this state have ignored this story.
The problem for the EPA? Regardless of how it finally answers the question as to the toxicity of this “particulate fine matter,” it is guilty of one of two things: lying to Congress and the people it represents, or conducting human experimentation that violates almost every moral, medical, and legal code constructed in the aftermath of the Nuremberg trials following World War II.
At the heart of this story is something called, in shorthand, PM2.5. The EPA elaborates on its Web site:
Particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) pose a health concern because they can be inhaled into and accumulate in the respiratory system. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) are referred to as “fine” particles and are believed to pose the greatest health risks.
Because of their small size (approximately 1/30th the average width of a human hair), fine particles can lodge deeply into the lungs.
So PM2..5—which we will refer to as PM for the sake of convenience—is apparently some bad, bad stuff. How bad? Former EPA head Lisa Jackson elaborated the dangers in a September 22, 2011 hearing of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee when she said, “Particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick. It’s directly causal to dying sooner than you should.”
This view is reiterated time and time again by the EPA. When Lisa Jackson stepped down as administrator of the agency, she was replaced by Gina McCarthy. In a February 2012 letter to House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, McCarthy wrote, “these studies [of PM] have not observed a level at which premature mortality does not occur.” In other words, the EPA has said for years that PM always causes premature death.
Whoa—that is bad. Surely you wouldn’t want to ask someone to ingest material that causes premature death…unless your agenda is to shut down any facilities that produce PM regardless of the health effects.
Simply put, if you can prove PM causes thousands of premature deaths through a variety of illnesses, then you can close countless facilities that provide energy and other services essential to the productivity of this nation because they produce this incredibly toxic substance.
But there’s a sticky wicket here: numerous laws—international, federal, and state—prohibit testing people with something as deadly as the EPA claims PM to be even if you inform them of the risks. Just one of the requirements for studies involving human experimentation is that participants must be informed of the dangers they’re undertaking by their participation.
That’s not what the EPA has done in its studies of the effects of PM it has conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the past nine years. It never told the participants that PM has no “safe threshold” or of the risks of asthma attacks, cancer, and other debilitating consequences (including death) that might result from inhaling artificially high concentrations PM—all effects they ultimately use as justifications for decreasing the amount of PM in the atmosphere.
Now, it’s true that the EPA told potential subjects in a 2004 consent form that “elderly people, particularly those with underlying cardiovascular disease, are at increased risk for getting sick and even dying during episodes of high air pollution.” What they didn’t tell them is that the air they would be breathing contained PM (dubbed “ultrafine particles” in the form) concentrations at least 20 times higher than in the air they breathed on a daily basis around Chapel Hill, or how such concentrations stacked up in terms of “high air pollution.”
Sadly, none of this would have come to light except for the fact that Steve Milloy, a fellow at the American Tradition Institute (ATI) and founder of the Web site JunkScience.com, came across a 2011 document entitled “Case report: Supraventricular Arrhythmia Following Exposure to Concentrated Ambient Air Pollution Particles” published in Environmental Heath Perspectives. From Milloy’s website atepahumantesting.com we read this synopsis:
The Case Report described a 58-year old woman with a personal and family history of heart disease [who] “presented” herself to the EPA’s Human Study’s Facility in Chapel Hill, NC to participate “in a study requiring sequential exposures to filtered air and concentrated ambient particles” (CAPs).
The study subject was then exposed by inhalation (in a sealed chamber wearing a mask through which she inhaled air containing the particles) to CAPs at a level of 112 micrograms per cubic meter. The type of CAP she was exposed to was identified as 563912/cc.
Twenty-three minutes into her exposure, she developed “atrial fibrillation that quickly organized into atrial flutter.” The experiment was immediately stopped and she was “transferred” to the University of North Carolina Medical Center, during which her heart spontaneously reverted back to a normal sinus rhythm.
Such a result should have come as no surprise since the EPA had long been “cherry-picking” subjects who were prone to this type of setback. Numerous newspaper ads run by the EPA sought people who were “over weight and out of shape,” whose “triglycerides, cholesterol, blood sugar, or blood pressure were a little high,” and “older adults with asthma.”
After reading the case report—which concluded the arrhythmia could have been caused by exposure to “air pollution including particulate matter”- Milloy filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all documents related to EPA human testing. What he discovered was rather shocking, to say the least.
To expose subjects to PM in the test chambers located at UNC, the researchers collected “diesel exhaust…from an idling truck parked outside” the test building, then “diluted” the exhaust with “filtered air and introduced [it] through piping into an exposure chamber.” The justification for this crude technique— that “this study will provide [for society]valuable new information on the effects of PM exposure”— hearkens back to past vilified medical experimentation.
As Milloy points out, “All human research rules developed since World War II prohibit treating human beings like guinea pigs — i.e., testing presumed toxins on them to see what happens without chance of personal health benefit.” Indeed, about the only personal benefits test subjects received were monetary compensation ($12 per hour) and routine medical testing.
Some might argue that EPA’s obfuscations and often vague statements might have led the Institutional Review Board at UNC—the body that signs off on such testing taking place at the school—to be confused as to the potential lethality of the tests. Milloy isn’t buying it. “Although the EPA researchers didn’t disclose everything they should have to the UNC Institutional Review Board, they disclosed enough to give the IRB pause,” says Milloy. “The IRB could not have been justifiably confused. Keep in mind that even after one subject was hospitalized because of the experiment, UNC failed to call for a time out on these experiments.”
After scouring the documents uncovered by his FOIA request, Milloy filed a lawsuit in September 2012 on behalf of ATI demanding EPA halt the tests.
In January, that suit was tossed out by Federal judge Anthony Trenga of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia because he stated that ATI had no standing. Equally disturbing is the fact that the North Carolina Medical Board, which was investigating three of the doctors directly involved in the experiments, abruptly closed that investigation without any explanations. (Milloy notes that half of the members of the NCMB—including its president—either graduated from or currently work at UNC Chapel Hill.)
But Cipparone’s $2 million claim has brought the entire affair back into the spotlight, and the EPA is now squarely in a truth-telling dilemma. “EPA lied to someone—either the study subjects or the public—about the safety or danger of PM2.5,” Milloy says. “And the entire record of this affair demonstrates that corruption and dishonesty are rampant in government-funded science.”
As a graduate of Wake Forest University, Stephen Poole emerged from that institution as a zombified collectivist incapable of critically analyzing the socialist shibboleths with which he’d been indoctrinated. After awakening to the untenable nature of his “beliefs,” he’s now an individualist who believes in truly free markets, Constitutionally limited federal government, the eminence of personal liberty, and unalienable rights granted by God.