AEI Scholar Joel Schwartz Releases Study in Response to Union of Concerned Scientists' Report on California Air Pollution

In a recently released study, Burying Evidence: The Union of Concerned Scientists' Unscientific Claims about Air Pollution and Health, AEI visiting fellow Joel Schwartz--a former executive in charge of the California state agency charged with evaluating the state's vehicle emissions inspection program and making policy recommendations to the governor and the state legislature--responds to the Union of Concerned Scientists' (UCS) report Digging Up Trouble: The Health Risks of Construction Pollution in California, which asserts that air pollution from construction equipment in California kills more than a thousand people each year and sickens hundreds of thousands.

Schwartz demonstrates that:

  • Airborne particulate matter (PM) does not kill animals in laboratory studies, even at levels many times higher than ever occur in the air we breathe. Recent studies with asthmatic human volunteers found no evidence of harm from PM--or diesel smoke specifically--even at levels a few times greater than occur in the most polluted cities.
  • UCS bases its findings on results from a much weaker type of study design called an "observational" epidemiological study. Researchers have shown that observational studies tend to give false indications of risk even where no risks in fact exist, thus returning invalid results.
  • Studies sponsored by the California Air Resources Board have shown that emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), one of the main pollutants from construction equipment, reduce ozone levels in California.
  • Additional evidence further undermines the study's findings. For example, in California and the nation, hospital visits for asthma are lowest during July and August, when ozone levels are at their highest, suggesting that ozone is not be a major cause of asthma exacerbations.
  • Finally, the UCS study includes everyone in a county as breathing air that violates federal pollution standards even if only a single county pollution monitor violates the standard. For example, 99 percent of San Diegans breathe air that meets the federal eight-hour ozone standard; only a single rural monitor violates the standard. UCS, however, counts all 3 million San Diego County residents in its "dirty air" tally.

UCS states that it "stands out among nonprofit organizations as the reliable source for independent scientific analysis," yet Schwartz demonstrates that the findings in Digging Up Trouble are unreliable and based on flawed methodology and analysis.

Joel Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected] or 916.203.6309. For additional media inquiries, please contact Veronique Rodman at [email protected] or 202.862.4870.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine

What's new on AEI

Holder will regret his refusal to obey the Constitution
image 'Flood Wall Street' climate protesters take aim at their corporate allies
image 3 opportunities for better US-India defense ties
image Is Nicolás Maduro Latin America's new man at the United Nations?
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 29
    MON
  • 30
    TUE
  • 01
    WED
  • 02
    THU
  • 03
    FRI
Thursday, October 02, 2014 | 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Campbell Brown talks teacher tenure

We welcome you to join us as Brown shares her perspective on the role of the courts in seeking educational justice and advocating for continued reform.

Friday, October 03, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Harnessing the power of markets to tackle global poverty: A conversation with Jacqueline Novogratz

AEI welcomes you to this Philanthropic Freedom Project event, in which Novogratz will describe her work investing in early-stage enterprises, what she has learned at the helm of Acumen, and the role entrepreneurship can play in the fight against global poverty.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.