HomeWashington Letter2019 ▶ Members of EPA CASAC Question Morbidity Impacts of Air Pollution – ATS Responds
Members of EPA CASAC Question Morbidity Impacts of Air Pollution – ATS Responds

This week, the Chair of the EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, Tony Cox, PhD questioned whether particulate matter pollution had a causative impact on mortality.  While Dr. Cox noted evidence to support an “association” between particulate matter air pollution and mortality, he felt that science had not yet shown “manipulative causation” between particulate matter pollution and mortality.  Further, in his draft review of the EPA Integrated Scientific Assessment (ISA) on particulate matter research, Dr. Cox felt the document missed many key studies, including his own publications that question causation between particulate matter pollution and mortality, and felt many of the policy-relevant statements on the health effects of particulate matter pollution in the ISA were based on “unverifiable opinions.” 

In the public comments portion of the CASAC meeting, several leading air pollution researchers pushed back against Dr. Cox’s views and noted the many irregular process steps taken by the CASAC in the development of the draft review document of the ISA.  Kevin Cromar, PhD, spoke on behalf of the ATS and questioned Dr. Cox’s view on air pollution and causation. He further questioned whether the draft CASAC review of the ISA truly reflected the consensus of all CASAC panel members. 

The one area in which all commenters seemed to agree was the need to get further expert advice on how to interpret the available science on particulate matter.  Traditionally, such expert advice is provided by expert review panels convened by the EPA. However, in 2018 the EPA disbanded the committee to provide science advice to CASAC and stated that the seven-member CASAC panel has sufficient expertise to guide the review process. 

Last Reviewed: March 2019