Toxicologist Albert Donnay has evidence that may cast doubt on the data used to justify a 25-year Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Air regulation concerning catalytic converters for automobiles. Catalytic converts are designed to minimize the output of carbon monoxide (CO), a potentially lethal gas emitted from combustion processes and is deadly if inhaled in excess. The EPA requires catalytic converters in many automobiles sold and built in the United States. As with many air pollutants, CO levels have been monitored and reduced by as much as 85% below the EPA standards in 2016.
The independently funded Donnay presented his findings to the Society of Toxicology in 2015. Donnay claims that in 1989, an EPA-commissioned study by the Health Effects Institute (HEI) laying out the effects of carbon monoxide is flawed because the researchers allegedly “fabricated the methods they used to get [the] results” the EPA “wanted and commissioned.” Interestingly, the 1989 study was commissioned to replace a discredited 1981 study that itself used fabricated data. If Donnay’s findings are true, the science supporting the EPA’s catalytic converter rules could be thrown in doubt.
Donnay contends that “scientific fraud” tainted the 1989 HEI study, just as its 1981 predecessor was proven to include falsified test results, as documented by the New York Times. Nevertheless, the fraudulent study formed the foundation for the agency’s carbon monoxide standard for a full two years longer, until the agency—along with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—finally denounced in 1983. The follow-up HEI study cost $2.5 million to finish, and was used again in 2011 to justify maintaining car regulations under the Obama administration. The Daily Caller points out:
[Donnay] “found extensive evidence of data fabrication and falsification,” he wrote in a draft abstract presented to his University of Maryland advisors [sic]. “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… 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.
Interestingly, Donnay’s academic advisers prevented him from publishing his findings under the school’s name, most assuredly out of fear of the inevitable public backlash.
Roger McClellan, the former chairman of the EPA science committee that used the 1989 study, conceded that the study had some “warts and blemishes.” Whatever the outcome of Donnay’s findings may be, the EPA must be called to account for the potentially flawed basis for its regulations.
CRC Chief Investigative Officer Dr. Steven J. Allen also notes the relationship between dubious evidence and government regulations. Specifically concerning the controversial “Social Cost of Carbon” Allen says,
“It’s a number created by bureaucrats and environmentalists working with scientist-activists. It’s used to justify government activities ranging from the shutdown of coal-fired power plants to the regulation of microwave oven clocks.”