Fox's "Doctor" Ablow Dismisses Threat From Coal Plants


Fox News contributor and psychiatrist Keith Ablow misinformed viewers by dismissing EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson's statement that limits on air pollution from coal-fired power plants benefit those who suffer from asthma. Indeed, it is widely accepted among public health professionals that pollution from these plants exacerbates asthma symptoms.

Fox's Ablow Falsely Suggests There's "No Evidence" Linking Asthma To Burning Of Fossil Fuels

Identifying Himself As "A Doctor," Ablow Claims Tying Coal Plants To Asthma Is "Pseudo-Science." From Fox Business' Follow The Money:

ERIC BOLLING: I watched this testimony. I saw it. I saw Lisa Jackson tell us why we needed more regulation, we needed less drilling and all because, I don't know, she pointed out asthma.


KEITH ABLOW: I'm a doctor, right, so the data matters to me and I object to using pseudo-science to justify political agendas. And that's what happening here is that you've got people saying, hey, it's causing asthma -- the drilling and the use of fossil fuels. There's no evidence of that, you can't make a compelling case for that. And so that's the way that we end up with bad ideas justifying good ends. And everybody thinks well wonderful let's spend $400 billion to prevent asthma. It could be the lizard causing asthma just as well. [Fox Business, Follow The Money, 6/15/11]

Jackson: Clean Air Rule Will Prevent "120,000 Cases Of Childhood Asthma Symptoms." During her June 15 testimony before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson stated that proposed limits on mercury emissions and toxic air pollution from power plants will prevent an estimated "120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms," among other health benefits. She opened her testimony by stating: "I know this subject very personally because my son is one of the more than 25 million Americans battling asthma." [, 6/15/11]

Health Experts Agree Coal Plant Emissions Cause Asthma Attacks

American Lung Association: Pollutants Released By Coal-Fired Power Plants Cause Asthma Attacks. From a report by the American Lung Association titled "Toxic Air: The Case for Cleaning Up Coal-Fired Power Plants":

The smaller particles, those produced by fossil fuel combustion such as coal-fired power plants, (otherwise known as fine particles or PM2.5) worsen asthma and bronchitis, cause heart attacks and strokes, and increase the risk of premature death.


Reducing emissions of these hazardous air pollutants will also cut emissions of other harmful pollutants. The same equipment needed to clean up the 84 hazardous emissions also lowers other harmful air pollutants, including sulfur dioxide, fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and nitrogen oxides. Each of these three makes breathing difficult, causes asthma attacks and increases the risk of emergency room and hospital visits. [, March 2011]

American Academy Of Pediatrics: Children With Respiratory Diseases Are Vulnerable To "Adverse Effects Of Air Pollution." From the June 15 testimony of Dr. Jerome Paulson on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding the new Clean Air Act standards:

Because the lung is in direct contact with the air, children with underlying or chronic respiratory diseases are even more susceptible to the adverse effects of air pollution. In individuals with cystic fibrosis, elevated levels of particulate matter and ozone are associated with an increased risk of exacerbations and decline in lung function. For children with asthma, the most common chronic disease in childhood, ozone levels--even those below current EPA standards--are associated with increased respiratory symptoms and the need for rescue medication. School absences, emergency room visits, and hospital admissions are all directly associated with ambient air pollution. In a prospective cohort of children living in southern California, children with asthma living in communities with increased levels of air pollution (especially particulates, nitrogen dioxide, and acid vapor) were more likely to have bronchitis symptoms. The same mix of air pollutants was also associated with deficits in lung growth (as measured by lung function tests). [Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, 6/15/11]

Harvard Study: Emissions From 9 Coal Plants Cause Extra Risk Of "14,000 Asthma Attacks" Per Year. From a press release on a 2001 study by environmental scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health:

Air pollution from nine older coal-burning power plants in Illinois contributes to particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide exposure over a large region. Using a state-of-the-art computer model that shows how weather patterns disperse the material, Harvard School of Public Health environmental scientists John Spengler and Jonathan Levy estimated the impact of the nine power plants on air pollution levels and health in sections of nine Midwestern states.

Citing evidence from studies of the health effects of air pollution, Spengler and Levy were able to estimate that current emissions contribute an annual extra risk of 300 premature deaths, 14,000 asthma attacks, and over 400,000 daily incidents of upper respiratory symptoms among the 33 million people living within 250 miles of the geographic center of the plants.

They found that applying existing emission control technology to the older plants could reduce the annual mortality risk by approximately 200 premature deaths per year, along with 2,000 fewer emergency room visits, 10,000 fewer asthma attacks and 300,000 fewer daily incidents of upper respiratory problems. They also determined that recent fuel switching and emission controls adopted by a subset of the power plants reduced the mortality risk between 1998 and 2000 by 80 premature deaths per year. [Harvard School of Public Health, 1/3/01]

HHS: Sulfur Dioxide Concentrations In Air - "Primarily" From Burning Coal - Can Cause Respiratory Effects In "Sensitive Asthmatics." From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services "Toxological Profile For Sulfur Dioxide":

Sulfur dioxide in the air results primarily from activities associated with the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil) such as at power plants or from copper smelting.


Sulfur dioxide emission from fuel combustion have come primarily from coal burning, with coal combustion producing 96% of the electric utility emissions.


Additionally, exercising asthmatics are sensitive to the respiratory effects of low concentrations (0.25 ppm) of sulfur dioxide.

For comparative purposes, typical outdoor concentrations of sulfur dioxide may range from 0 to 1 ppm.


In summary, the available data indicate that sensitive asthmatics may respond to concentrations of sulfur dioxides as low as 0.1 ppm. Healthy nonasthmatics respond to higher concentrations of sulfur dioxide (≥1.0 ppm). Factors that can exacerbate the respiratory effects of sulfur dioxide include exercise and breathing of dry or cold air. Animal data support the human data on respiratory effects of sulfur dioxide. [, December 1998]

Meet Keith Ablow, Pseudo-Scientist

Ablow: WI Protesters Are "Parasitic And Need To Be Identified As Such ... I'm Speaking Like A Scientist." From the June 15 edition of Fox Business' Follow The Money:

KEITH ABLOW: And what you see in the streets of Wisconsin is a glimpse of what happens when people who are drugged by too many entitlements have to go into detox --

ERIC BOLLING: You know what it is, doc?

ABLOW: -- they won't accept it --

BOLLING: This right there that you're seeing -

ABLOW: -- and they get violent in the streets in their language

BOLLING: -- Ann Coulter was here, Ann Coulter was here, this is the demonic left-wing mob. That's exactly what she outlines in the book.

ABLOW: These are people who want to take and take and take with no regard for the body politic, the whole of the organism. They are therefore parasitic and need to be identified as such, that's all. I'm not even judging them, I'm speaking like a scientist here. [Fox Business, Follow The Money, 6/15/11]

Ablow: "From A Psychological Standpoint" Obama's Speech After Birth Certificate Release Is "Curious," Contained "Rambling Series Of Excuses." From the April 27 edition of Fox Business' Follow The Money:

KEITH ABLOW: Well, if you listen to the speech, and you don't get into the forensic pathology related to the document itself, from a psychological standpoint, it's a curious speech. He doesn't say one in a billion people, one in a million will find fault with this because there are outliers for everything -- he says 25 percent of people might have a problem. That's a very curious sort of calculus. Like, why? Why would only the majority of Americans consider this to be sufficient evidence of his birth? I wasn't interested in looking at the birth certificate so much until the speech, which was proceeded by a huge rambling series of excuses about why we shouldn't look at it too closely. I've got big issues to contend with, the country's has business to do -- it sounded like Ford pardoning Nixon, right? [Fox Business, Follow The Money, 4/27/11]

Asked About Increase In Suicides, Fox's Dr. Keith Ablow Mentions Obama Appearing On "YouTube And The Daytime Talk Shows." From the October 20, 2010, edition of Fox Business Network's Follow the Money:

ERIC BOLLING: Recessions happen, we get that. But with the duration of this one, or at least the duration of the high unemployment numbers -- is that driving people to the brink, if not further? You know, suicides are up, if I'm not mistaken.

KEITH ABLOW: It's -- yeah and it's not just unemployment, it's underemployment, as it's called, or marginal employment. It's people doing things that in their hearts they wish that they didn't have to, just to put bread on the table. It's looking at your president who's on YouTube and the daytime talk shows, saying what's going on here? Does this guy even get it? [Fox Business, Follow The Money, 10/20/10]

Posted In
Environment & Science, Energy
Fox Business
Keith Ablow
Follow the Money with Eric Bolling
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