New study spotlights biggest Pruitt scandal — every polluted breath our kids take

New study spotlights biggest Pruitt scandal — every polluted breath our kids take
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Amid the ever-churning chaos of alleged scandals surrounding Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittInterior chief Zinke to leave administration EPA to pursue final 'science transparency' rule in 2019 Trump administration to unveil strategy for fighting lead exposure MORE, it’s easy to forget the biggest scandal of them all: The fact that his policies are quite literally choking all of us — especially children.

According to a new study published Friday in in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, soot pollution — the kind of tiny, dangerous, particulate matter for which Pruitt has lessened protections within the past year — is particularly harmful to extremely young children. 

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Researchers found that for children younger than age two — even extremely short exposure to soot particles like those created by burning fossil fuels such as coal — oil and natural gas increases the kinds of respiratory infections that are a leading cause of sickness and death.

 

This is precisely the kind of important, peer-reviewed research the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has traditionally used to help guide its work protecting Americans from harmful pollutants in our air and water.

This seems like the kind of science the Scott Pruitt wants the EPA to ignore.

In his never-ending push to please the polluters he’s charged with regulating, Pruitt frequently likes to assert that he’s simply trying to create regulatory certainty and transparency.

And it is extremely transparent precisely what kind of regulatory certainty he’s peddling — virtually no regulation at all.

To help achieve his nefarious goal, Pruitt wants Americans to somehow swallow the absurd idea that the EPA should not be allowed to consider some of the most rigorous, long-term, peer-reviewed studies conducted by leading independent researchers simply because the EPA cannot review all of the researchers “raw” data.

In the case of this recent study on how soot pollution sickens and kills our youngest children, that undisclosed data would include the identities and health histories of the nearly 150,000 people in the study. Of course, the law we know as HIPPA correctly makes it illegal for the researchers to release this kind of personal health information.  

This, of course, is par for the Trump administration course: If you don’t like the facts, no matter how conclusive or damning they might be, just ignore them and play through.

Ignoring the facts documented in the new air pollution study will clearly come at a great cost — not to the polluting corporations burning fossil fuels — but to the health of millions of Americans left with no choice but to breathe those harmful fossil fuel emissions.

Among the studies’ most alarming findings is the fact that one of the viruses frequently triggering these respiratory infections is the most common cause of hospitalization in the first two years of life in the United States.  

Even by Trump administration standards, it is nothing short of diabolical that we have solid, peer-reviewed science offering new insight into why many babies are ending up in the hospital (according to the recent study) and Scott Pruitt wants to prohibit the EPA from even considering that research. 

Pruitt’s illegal soundproof phone booth, exorbitant air travel and protection expenses and housing gifts from people in the industries he’s supposed be regulating leave no doubt that he’s ethically unfit to run the EPA.  

But these pale in comparison to his disgusting attempt to manipulate long-accepted principles of independent scientific research and basic rules of privacy and decency in order to allow children to be poisoned by air pollution.   

Robert Ukeiley is a senior attorney in the Center for Biological Diversity’s environmental health program.