The Daily Caller attempted to generate outrage about the Environmental Protection Agency's research by stating that it “tested deadly pollutants on humans,” without noting that the EPA followed strict regulations to protect the consenting research subjects. The research was done to inform regulations on the harmful pollutants that the Daily Caller has suggested should not be further regulated.
On April 2, a Daily Caller article titled “Report: EPA tested deadly pollutants on humans to push Obama admin's agenda” claimed that the EPA has been “conducting dangerous experiments on humans.” The article, hyped at the top of the Drudge Report, failed to mention that the Inspector General report on the matter found that “The EPA followed applicable regulations” including obtaining approval from a biomedical Institutional Review Board and informed consent forms from all of the subjects before exposing them to the pollutants.
The article, written by Daily Caller reporter Michael Bastasch, also claimed that the agency “conducted tests on people with health issues and the elderly, exposing them to high levels of potentially lethal pollutants, without disclosing the risks of cancer and death.” However, the three studies with consent forms that did not alert subjects “to the risk of death for older individuals with cardiovascular disease” only examined healthy adults and adults with mild to moderate asthma, thereby not placing them at risk. The Inspector General report did conclude that the EPA should include long-term cancer risks for some of the pollutants studied, which it had initially excluded because an EPA manager “considered these long-term risks minimal for short-term study exposures.” The Daily Caller left out that the EPA accepted the report's recommendation to rectify this and all of the other recommendations from the report.
The news site further distorted the report by mentioning that one person was “hit with” pollution concentrations above the approved target, without mentioning that the EPA followed approved safety protocol in the situation. According to the report, the “protocol stated that an exposure was to be shut down if particulate concentrations exceeded 600 [micrograms per cubic meter] for over six minutes” and “real time data from the exposure chamber showed that the exposure session was shut down six minutes after the first concentration of 600 [micrograms per cubic meter] was recorded.”
The Daily Caller has previously downplayed the lethality of the key pollutant at hand, particulate matter, even running an opinion piece in 2012 that claimed it is “rarely considered a killer by physicians or toxicologists.” However, the news site is now stating unequivocally that it is “dangerous” and “deadly” in an attempt to attack EPA regulations on it.
The EPA follows extremely strict regulations for the use of human subjects in research, which have been conducted for about 40 years. For instance, the report notes that after a subject developed a migraine during the study, the EPA “revised the consent forms to exclude future human subjects with a history of migraine headaches from participating in the study.” The Institutional Review Board, which approved EPA's study, requires “avoidance of using human subjects if at all possible.” However, for controlled scientific studies, human subjects are often necessary. The results will be used to inform EPA's regulations under the Clean Air Act, which help reduce exposure to pollution nationwide.