EPA's "Censoring Science" Rule Would Permanently Pollute Our Air and Harm Americans' Health | American Lung Association

This website uses cookies. By continuing you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

EPA's "Censoring Science" Rule Would Permanently Pollute Our Air and Harm Americans' Health

Urgent: Take action for healthy air and sign the petition calling on the EPA to stop censoring science.

This proposed rule attacks sound science and clean air protections.

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a rule to censor the scientific information the agency uses in its decisions—particularly to exclude studies that show the health impacts of air pollution.
  • Under the misleading veil of "transparency," this proposed rule would allow EPA to throw out important studies that rely on confidential patient information.
  • The result: EPA would block its scientists from using the best available health research to set limits on air pollution, inevitably leading to limits that fail to protect health.

EPA already uses transparent science to protect Americans.

  • The scientific research that EPA uses already undergoes a long-established, transparent review process. Research proposals, designs, and findings are all reviewed by independent experts. Once published, the findings are further examined and debated by scientists and by the public.
  • EPA already makes available the scientific studies it relies on to inform policy. Sometimes, studies contain private medical data that legally can't and shouldn't be made public. In those cases, independent review bodies have also examined the studies and weighed in on the research. No legitimate reason exists to exclude those studies' critically important findings.
  • Lobbyists for tobacco and fossil fuel industries have long supported the policy change laid out in EPA's proposed rule, because it will exclude significant studies from consideration in setting regulatory policy, resulting in weaker protections.

Patient privacy must continue to be protected.

  • Researchers who evaluate the health impacts of air pollution often collect sensitive data from participants such as family medical history, geographic location, and personal medical history. Scientists and institutions build in systems to protect this information.
  • The federal government must continue to protect patient privacy by ensuring that patients' sensitive information shared during research studies is never made public—while still ensuring that studies based on these data can inform policy. Patients won't participate in studies if their privacy can't be protected.
  • Simply redacting patients' names is not enough to protect privacy. Even if some patient information is redacted, EPA's proposal would still require enough data points to be made public—such as age, occupation, race and location—that individuals could still be identified.

EPA's proposal would block new efforts to clean up pollution and protect health.

  • Polluters and their allies have tried for decades to undermine the use of key studies that show that air pollution causes premature death to inform policy and drive the cleanup of dirty diesel trucks, power plants and factories.
  • Thousands of lives are saved each year because EPA has been able to use the best science, but more work must be done and this proposal would block progress.

Bottom line:

EPA's proposed rule to censor science would blind the agency to the true health costs of air pollution, leading to policies that fail to protect the public.

Take action for healthy air and sign the petition calling on the EPA to stop censoring science.

Sign Petition

    Page Last Updated: August 1, 2018

    Sign up for updates

    Stay up to date on the latest news and information on the fight for healthy air.

    Red button with telephone
    Ask An Expert

    Questions about your lung health? Need help finding healthcare? Call 1-800-LUNGUSA.

    Get help
    Red button of two hand prints
    We need your generous support

    Make a difference by delivering research, education and advocacy to those impacted by lung disease.

    Button of turquoise LUNG FORCE swirl
    What is LUNG FORCE?

    LUNG FORCE unites women and their loved ones across the country to stand together in the fight against lung cancer.

    Get involved
    Join the fight for healthy lungs and healthy air.
    Donate Now.