PM2.5 junkscience?

Statistical evidence that PM2.5 below EPA standards is a senior citizen killer.  Really?  Healthday has an article Rise in Deaths Even When Smog Is Below EPA Standard: Study

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, June 3, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Death rates among people older than 65 appear to be affected by air pollution, even when the air they breathe meets current standards, researchers say.In the study, Harvard researchers looked at Medicare recipients in the New England region. The investigators found that death rates among seniors were linked to levels of a type of air pollution called “fine-particulate matter” — even in places where air pollution levels were below those recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).No evidence exists for a “safe” level of pollution, said senior report author Joel Schwartz, a professor of environmental epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. Instead, “we need to focus on ways that lower exposure everywhere all the time,” he cautioned.
So, what was this groundbreaking research?  All I could find was the advanced publication in Environmental Health Perspectives Using satellite based aerosol estimates, the authors found:
Results: PM2.5 was associated with increased mortality. In the cohort, 2.14% (95% CI: 1.38, 2.89%) and 7.52% (95% CI: 1.95, 13.40%) increases were estimated for each 10 µg/m3 increase in short- (2 day) and long-term (1 year) exposures, respectively. The associations still held for analyses restricted to low-concentration PM2.5 exposures. The corresponding estimates were 2.14% (95% CI: 1.34, 2.95%) and 9.28% (95% CI: 0.76, 18.52%). Penalized spline models of long-term exposure indicated a higher slope for mortality in association with exposures above versus below 6 µg/m3. In contrast, the association between short-term exposure and mortality appeared to be linear across the entire exposure distribution.
No data from autopsies showing deaths from PM2.5.  Loose associations with any level of PM2.5.  No study of the younger folks to see if there was any affect.  And 2% per 10 ug effect?  The available information doesn’t include things like lag time from some exposure to death or how they separated confounding factors.
Do you really think any  concentration of PM2.5 kills us codgers?  The longer I hang around, the more I notice my age group disappearing for any number of reasons.  I bet you could find statistical significance between death rates of Medicare eligible and loud hand claps.  This study seems to be different from other, likely more rigorous, PM vs Mortality studies.
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6 responses to “PM2.5 junkscience?

  1. gonewiththewind

    This is so simple to understand. It has to be true or sold as true so that the EPA can acquire more control, to save the elderly don’tcha know.

  2. No data from autopsies, why? Show me the bodies.

  3. You can find a correlation between any two things if you torture the statistics enough.

  4. Did not EPA’s illegal human experiments fail to show such correlations?

  5. I’m conflicted. The Malthusians think that the earth is dying because there are too many humans and on the other hand they think we are killing old people with air pollution. Which is it?

  6. Cynics like me would like to see the health improvements from the measured improvements in ambient PM10. For the operating monitors in NY there was a 15 ug/m3 decrease from 2003 and 2005. Data at http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/air_pdf/2015plannosites.pdf

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