EPA made test subjects breathe through a hose connected to a running van, a violation of medical ethics. But will they be held accountable?
When the federal government violates medical ethics, who holds them responsible?
That’s the question watchdogs are asking after a scientific panel convened to investigate illegal human medical experiments at the Environmental Protection Agency was found to have extensive connections to the agency.
The issue arose when Steve Milloy of JunkScience.com uncovered documents detailing shocking illegal medical experiments on humans conducted by EPA researchers at the “Human Studies Facility” at the University of North Carolina.
The agency wanted to build the case for toughening the Clean Air Act, so they parked a van outside a building, connected a hose to the exhaust pipe, ran the hose through a vent into the wall, and stuck the other end into the mouths of 81 human test subjects.
EPA scientists then measured the toxic levels of pollutants in their test subjects’ lungs.
The Washington Examiner’s Ron Arnold details the horrific tests:
A man — we’ll call him “Subject No. 1” — had a clear plastic pipe stuck into his mouth with his lips sealed around it, while the diesel exhaust from a parked truck outside the gas chamber was mixed with particulate matter and pumped straight into his lungs. The pumped mixture level was 135 times the mean diesel truck emissions exposure in the United States.
Scientists Andrew Ghio, Jon Sobus, Joachim Pleil and Michael Madden, with laboratory director Wayne Cascio, administered this toxic mix of diesel and particulate matter to 41 people. In all, they gassed 81 subjects with various mixes of diesel, particulate and ozone in five different experiments — tagged with the science fiction-like names Omegacon, Xcon, Kingcon, Depoz and Lamarck.
Medical ethics rules, many adopted after the discovery of Nazi medical experiments in concentration camps, prohibit medical testing on humans without informing them of the nature of the test and any potential harm it may bring.
The subjects were never told what they were breathing, or the extreme dangers the tests posed.
“The consent form that volunteers signed for the Omegacon cocktail pumped into Subject No. 1 lacked the warning that particulate exposure can cause death in older people with cardiovascular disease,” Arnold writes.
That lapse in ethics nearly killed one woman, who never should have been a test subject.
“EPA accepted a 58-year old woman with Stage 1 hypertension, premature atrial contractions, osteoarthritis, gall bladder removal and a family history of heart disease. EPA’s scientists were humane enough to turn off the gas when she suffered atrial fibrillation, and hospitalized her overnight for observation,” Arnold writes.
No one was fired or held responsible for the illegal experiments, and then-Administrator Lisa Jackson even defended the scientists during the congressional investigation.
That congressional investigation into the illegal experiments spawned a review of the program by the National Research Council of the National Science Academies.
And that review is now under fire, after it was discovered 13 of the 19 investigators are either on the payroll of, or are funded by, the agency they’re supposed to be impartially investigating, or groups funded by the EPA.
Milloy spells out the disturbing connections in a letter to the NRC:
Chairman Farland is a former EPA deputy assistant administrator for science.
Member Praveen Amar is the principal investigator on EPA extramural research grants worth $2.9 million.
Member Dominic DiToro develops regulatory criteria for EPA.
Member David Dorman is the principal investigator on EPA extramural research grants worth nearly $19 million.
Member Charles Driscoll is the PI on grants worth $7.4 million.
Member Lilnda Greer is an official at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Member Steen Hambur is chief scientist of the Environmental Defense Fund.
Member Philip Hopke is PI on EPA grants worth $17.5 million.
Member Scott Matthews is PI on grants worth $10 million.
Member Joan Rose is PI on grants worth $16.5 million.
Member Gina Solomon is a member of EPA’s Science Advisory Board.
Member Robert Sussman is a former senior policy counsel to the EPA administrator.
Member Deborah Swackhamer is PI on grants worth $6.2 million.
“I am asking you to describe how you will ensure that apparent personal, professional and institutional conflicts of interest on the committee and on the Board on Environmental Studies & Toxicology will not result in a whitewash of the EPA’s unethical, if not illegal experiments on human subjects,” writes Milloy. “EPA appears to have quietly (if not actually covertly) contracted with the National Research Council to rehabilitate the image of the EPA’s human experiments program, which had been criticized in a March 2014 report by the EPA Office of Inspector General.”
The discovery begs a crucial question.
How do you police the government, when the government is financially invested in practically everything?
That question has gained even greater urgency after the Energy and Environmental Legal Institute uncovered documents suggesting the EPA conducted the same illegal experiments in California, but this time on children.
“The EPA-funded experiments were conducted at the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) between 2003 and 2010,” E&E announced in a January 2015 press release.
“Despite that the EPA had concluded inhaling diesel exhaust can cause death within hours and that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) concluded there is no safe exposure to diesel exhaust, the USC/UCLA researchers sprayed diesel exhaust up the noses of 20 children aged 10 to 15 years of age. The purpose of the experiment was to see what happened to the children after the exposures,” E&E states.
“Not only has EPA been caught violating the letter and spirit of virtually every national and international code, law and regulation for the protection of human subjects in medical experiments developed since World War II,” said E&E Legal General Counsel David Schnare, “but they have done so in shocking style, abusing the most vulnerable people of all, children.”
“Compounding the basic villainy of the experimentation itself is that the USC/UCLA researchers failed to warn the parents and children how dangerous EPA and CARB had determined diesel exhaust to be. So there was no informed consent as required by law,” said Schnare.
“It’s clear from the documents obtained that the experiments violated the Nuremberg Code, as adopted by the state of California, and the federal regulations known as “The Common Rule,” which are intended to protect human subjects from rogue researchers,” said Schnare.
E&E reports that after the Institute uncovered the illegal tests, EPA researchers attempted to destroy the evidence.
Given the EPA’s stonewalling and open defense of the North Carolina experiments, and the possibly corrupted scientific review by the NRC, will anything be done about these illegal experiments on children?
Has the time come to abolish the EPA, or at least strip it of all but its legal enforcement functions?
Or should Congress step in and defund the EPA’s creepy, Nazi-era human medical experiments?