Environmental Filament Project : Metals Testing Laboratory Report

Environmental Filament, Project:
Metals Testing Laboratory Report


Clifford E Carnicorn
Aug 21 2017

A unique form of “environmental filament” material has long been under study at Carnicom Institute. Those familiar with the work here know that the early history of study involves a refusal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to examine that material, and those events are well documented on this site. Many readers are also familiar with the biological components that have accompanied this sample type and the similar refusal by any authoritative agencies to acknowledge the realities of these environmental and health dangers to the public.

This paper will present the data from a high level analytical chemistry examination of this same sample type for metals content. The method of examination is that of inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP MS) The testing procedures conform to requirements at the detection level of parts per billion (ppb, or mg/kg). The original observation of the sample is airborne. A low power microscopic image of a second collected sample (identical in nature to that analyzed in the laboratory) follows immediately below:




The test results show the clear presence of numerous metals, frequently to excess levels:



Clifford E Carnicom
Aug 21 2017

A Point of Reckoning : Part I

A Point of Reckoning:
Part I

Clifford E Carnicom
Aug 19 2017
Edited Aug 21 2017
Edited Aug 25 2017

Note: Carnicom Institute is not offering any medical advice or diagnosis with the presentation of this information. CI is acting solely as an independent research entity that is providing the results of extended observation and analysis of unusual biological conditions that are evident.  Each individual must work with their own health professional to establish any appropriate course of action and any health related comments in this paper are solely for informational purposes.

C:\Users\Clifford\Documents\Carnicom Institute\A Point of Reckoning\Part I\hepa_rain_equivalency-02.jpg

A general equivalency between the organic nature of materials collected with the use of HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) air filters (indoor and outdoor) and a series of concentrated rain samples has been established. This conclusion is based upon the use of infrared analysis, microscopic examination, and visual examination of the materials. The inherent similarity between the historically designated “environmental filament” and the filaments known to be clearly associated with the so-called “Morgellons” condition must also be accepted as a part of this analysis.

This more recent work has been conducted over a period of roughly two years with careful repetitions and redundancies. Fundamentally, the conclusion is logical but nevertheless sweeping in impact; what is in the air is in the water. Furthermore, what is in the air and the water has an important relationship to marked changes in health that affect the general public. What is in the air and in the water is in our bodies.  This state has developed in a global and ubiquitous sense for more than two decades, and we must now all share some responsibility to acknowledge and proclaim our condition on the planet.

The details of the methods will only be briefly summarized here; they involve long term sample collection and a variety of laboratory analyses over extended time. The photographs below will demonstrate the essence of comparison.

The similarity of the infrared plots reveals to us that the basic organic structure of the extracted materials from the air filters and the rain samples are the same. The details of molecular structure inherent within the plot will be reserved for future discussion; the signature aspect of infrared spectroscopy is sufficient at this point to advance the argument.

In addition, microscopic examination reinforces that the air and rainfall biological filament samples are identical. There is little doubt that this biological equivalency is also at the root of the infrared analysis of organics mentioned above.

Additional notes on some of the details of sample types and preparation follow at the end of this report.

C:\Users\Clifford\Documents\Carnicom Institute\A Point of Reckoning\Part I\HEPA-0006.jpg C:\Users\Clifford\Documents\Carnicom Institute\A Point of Reckoning\Part I\HEPA-0023.jpg

Representative “environmental” filaments collected on indoor HEPA Air filter
(blue to left, red to right).
Analysis of the filaments demonstrates properties that are common with filaments
that have been collected from the concentrated rain sample. These filaments are
also representative of those that are associated with the “Morgellons” condition.
The background mesh network (white filaments) is the HEPA air filter itself.
Magnification Approx 150x.

Indoor – Outdoor HEPA Air Filter Comparisons:
Representative “environmental” filaments also collected on an outdoor air HEPA filter
under forced air.  These filaments were collected within a 24 hour exposure  to a new
filter element.  Results are identical between indoor and outdoor exposures.
Magnification Approx 150x.

C:\Users\Clifford\Documents\Carnicom Institute\A Point of Reckoning\Part I\Rainfall Concentrate Analysis 1500x Aug 15 2017_4.jpg

Magnification Approx. 1500x

C:\Users\Clifford\Documents\Carnicom Institute\A Point of Reckoning\Part I\Rainfall Concentrate Analysis 5000x Aug 15 2017_2.jpg

Magnification Approx. 5000x.

Filaments collected from rainwater concentrate sample.
Analysis demonstrates properties that are common with filaments collected in the HEPA air filter.
The filaments also demonstrate these same properties that are
associated with the “Morgellons” condition.


Observed skin that exhibits symptoms
characteristic of the Morgellons condition.
Filament sample recorded (one of several)
within a portion of the skin condition shown
to the left. Magnification approx. 150x.

C:\Users\Clifford\Documents\Carnicom Institute\A Point of Reckoning\Part I\hepa_ir_02.jpg

Infrared Plot of HEPA Air Filter Extract

C:\Users\Clifford\Documents\Carnicom Institute\A Point of Reckoning\Part I\rain_ir_02.jpg

Infrared Plot of Rainwater Concentrate Sample

Infrared plots to compare the organic nature of the
HEPA air filter extract against the organic nature of the rainfall concentrate.
The samples contain organic materials that are fundamentally of the same nature.

Additional notes:

HEPA Filter(s):

HEPA filters are air filters that are quite effective at trapping materials to the micron size level. They have an interesting history and origin, as they were developed as a part of the Manhattan Project in the 1940’s to trap radioactive materials. This filter type is now in common use and affordable. There is a fair amount of usage of HEPA filters in the history of Carnicom Institute (CI) research, as they are a very effective means of collecting air particulates.

They are also used in commercial aircraft. One of the ironies of the aerosol investigations over the last two decades is that a ready source of sample collection material has always existed; the difficulty is that of access to the samples. CI has long advocated that designing any single aircraft test for sampling the atmosphere is an inefficient, deficient, unnecessary and expensive approach to acquire information about the state of pollution in the atmosphere. This singular test approach has been advocated fruitlessly by several parties over the course of time. The situation is that a massive collection of particulate samples already exists for examination and analysis, but that access to it is not forthcoming. On a hearsay basis, there is information to indicate that the disposal of the filters is carefully controlled (potentially designated as radioactive?).

It is also of interest to mention that, at a very early point of the research, I was given anonymous access in confidence to such a filter from a commercial airliner, along with a laboratory test of the filter for certain metallic elements. That individual remains unknown but he remains deserving of thanks from all of us. To my knowledge, there is no similar test by a member of the public since that time, apparently due to the access issues mentioned above.

That particular filter did show unusual levels of barium in the test results (and calcium to my recollection), and it was one of the harbingers of testing for atmospheric metals that was to follow. At the time of receipt, no laboratory facilities of any kind were available to CI and the physics of the aerosol operations were unknown to the level acquired during subsequent research over the years. Credit is also overdue to AC Griffith, now deceased, for his early role in stimulating interest in the electromagnetic aspects of the aerosol issue. The interplay between ionizable materials and electromagnetics subsequently became a dominant theme of CI research, and the contributions of both of these individuals are to be recognized in that history.

In the case of the current research, two indoor and one outdoor HEPA filters have been examined.  The indoor filters were exposed to long term collection (6-12 months) and the outdoor filter is exposed under short term forced air conditions. Laboratory testing depends upon the sensitivity of the instruments employed and with that sensitivity comes cost. One of the methods of compensating for decreased sensitivity is to allow for an increased time of collection. This is the preference here. As such, one indoor filter was allowed to run its course for approximately 6 months, and the second indoor filter ran close to one full year. All filters are operated approximately 20 feet above ground level. The history of work includes the use of additional outdoor HEPA filters.

Some of the larger pollutants, e.g., the filament samples, can appear quite readily subject to the microscope. The longer term goal in this project was to collect the micron size material that is invisible to the eye until sufficient mass has been collected. This is the source for chemical and spectroscopic testing in this case.

Sample preparation for instrument use is one of the greatest demands in the laboratory environment. It consumes far more effort and time than most people recognize, other than by those involved in the field. In the case of infrared (IR) spectrometry, water is the bane of the testing process and is generally to be avoided in all respects. The HEPA particulates in this case have been dissolved into ethanol, which is a suitable solvent for the preliminary overview that is covered here. The evaporation of the solvent on a suitable substrate will allow the formation of a film which is well suited to infrared spectroscopy. The IR spectra acquired serves two primary purposes:

  1. It serves as a unique fingerprint of the compound(s) in solution
  2. It serves as a useful tool for introductory examination of the molecular structure of the compound(s) in solution

In the case of this paper, the emphasis is only upon the signature aspect of the spectra, as the purpose here is to compare to sampling from a different environment, namely, that of rainfall. This comparison is what is shown above and the point of equality or high similarity is made in the process.

Rainfall Sample:

Rainfall presents even greater difficulties in the sample prep arena. The sensitivity issue discussed above is front and center, and the solution to the problem in this case is to acquire a greater volume of rainfall. Adequate sample volume is definitely an issue, and fortuitous periods of rain will be required.  Non-detrimental evaporation and condensing of the sample will require a fair amount of patience, but it can be accomplished. The samples of this paper were collected in 2016 and were condensed to roughly 5% of their original volume.The organic materials were then removed from the water using a non-polar solvent extraction method for subsequent infrared analysis.  Additional extensive studies were completed on these samples in the previous year, and they have been recorded in a series of papers on this site.

Clifford E Carnicom
Aug 19 2017
Edited Aug 21 2017
Edited Aug 25 2017

Born Clifford Bruce Stewart
Jan 19 1953

Carpinteria Crystal

Carpinteria Crystal

Clifford E Carnicom
Sep 25 2016

An environmental crystal sample sent to Carnicom Institute from a concerned citizen has been analyzed as to its nature.  The ground sample was received three years ago and it has been held in custody since that time.  Circumstances are now more favorable toward establishing the identity or nature of inorganic compounds, and thus the opportunity to do so in this case has been exercised.  The sample originates from the Santa Barbara – Carpinteria region of the country.  The sample is well documented, clean, and has been collected and transported in a careful fashion.

One of the reasons for the interest in the sample is a repetition of events.  The citizen reports that similar appearing materials  have occurred within the same coastal housing district on multiple occasions over a period of many years.  In addition, the findings of this study may have relevance to a paper presented earlier on this site.  The interest in devoting time to sample analysis is directly related to the the frequency and pattern of appearance.

There are also several occasions of crystal samples collected or received over the years that have not received proper attention due to insufficient resources and means for investigation.  The majority of these cases, to my recollection, resulted from air filtration systems.  These deficiencies have likely delayed our understanding of various forms of pollution that likely surround us, and this will remain the case until full and sufficient resources are devoted to these types of problems.  It is the opinion of this researcher that the regulating environmental protections agencies have an obligation to this end and that it has not been well served.

This particular sample has the following appearance:


Environmental Crystal Sample Material Received in 2013


The purpose of this paper is not to debate the origin or delivery method of the sample; the information available is insufficient to fully detail those answers.  It can be stated in fairness that the observer witnessed heavy aerosol  operations over the region in the early hours of the day of collection of the sample.  The density and activity level of the operations was stated to be high.

The purpose of this paper IS to call attention to what may be a repeating type of material that has potentially important environmental consequences, particularly if they are found to exist in aerosol or particulate form within the general atmosphere.  The sample type is also fully consistent with many of the analyses and postulates that have developed within the research over the years.  The specifics of that discussion will follow within this paper.

The sample has been evaluated using multiple approaches.  These include, but are not limited to:

  1. Electrochemistry techniques, specifically differential normal pulse voltammetry.
  2. Solubility analyses
  3. Melting point determination
  4. Density estimates
  5. Microscopic crystal analysis
  6. Qualitative reagent tests
  7. Conductivity measurements
  8. Index of refraction measurements

The results of these analyses indicate that the dominant component of the material is that of potassium chloride, a metallic salt form.  There are indications that the sample does contain more than one component, but any further investigation will have to take place at a later time.   Every physical and chemical form has implications, applications and consequences, especially if they occur in a manner foreign or unexplained to the environment.  The material shown above is of no exception to those concerns.  It may be the case that the appearance of this material in an unexplained manner and location is of no consequence; prudence, however, would suggest that we are obligated to seek out that which has no accountable explanation.  This premise is at the very heart of any forensic investigation, and environmental science and pollution control are also subject to that very same demand.



A brief bit of historical perspective on this topic could be helpful.  A search on this site on the subject of crystals will bring up a minimum of eight additional papers that are relevant; there are likely to be more.  These papers range in date from 2001 to the current date, so from this standpoint alone there is a repeating issue involved here.

A search on this site for historical presentation on potassium issues produces at least three papers on the subject.  There is reason to consider, therefore, that potassium (and related) chemical compounds may be worthy of examination with respect to geoengineering as well as biological issues.

Within this combined set of close to a dozen or more papers on the subjects, two will be mentioned further at this time.

The first will be that of another sample, also of a crystalline nature, received in 2003 from the same specific region of the country.  The title of that short report is “Additional Crystal Under Examination” (Jun 2003).  There are three points of interest in comparison between that and the current report:

1. Two generally similar and unaccountable sample forms appear in similar locations over a 10 year period, and a public interest in identification of the nature of the material remains over this same prolonged period.

2. The report in 2003 is reasonably brief with a limited microscopic examination offered.  The topic is mentioned more in the sense of an anomaly and a curiosity as there is no basis at the time for an in depth study of the materials; in addition, resources to do so at the time are non-existent.

3. The third will be the comment regarding the lack of water solubility of the first sample.  The importance of this observation will be the fact that the samples, although visually similar, have important differing chemical properties.  The conclusion is that multiple material types are expected to be subject to investigation over the course of time.

The second will be that of a laboratory report received in the year of  2005.  The title of that paper is “Calcium and Potassium” (Mar. 2005).  The importance and relevance of this paper can be understood from the opening paragraph:

A laboratory analysis of a rainwater sample from a rural location in the midwestern U.S. has been received.  This lab report reveals extremely high levels of potassium and calcium within the sample. Comparative studies have been done and they show that the calcium concentration is a minimum of 5 times greater, and that the potassium level is a minimum of 15 times greater than that which has been reported1 in the polluted skies of Los Angeles, California.

It will also be noticed that several health and environmental concerns with respect to aerosolized potassium salts are enumerated in that latter paper.  Attention should also be paid to the intriguing discussion of electromagnetic effects and impacts that must be considered with the chemistry of potassium and related ions.

Potassium chloride has common uses as well, such as a fertilizer or as a water treatment compound; there is, however, no cause given to think that it is being used in such fashions at this location and setting at this time.



Let us now bring ourselves back to the current moment.  The relevance and direction of those papers have borne themselves out over time, and the urgency of responsibility upon us is as imposing as ever.  We do not have the luxury of another 20 years to conclude on such an obvious state of affairs.

There are at least three immediate applications or consequences of the existence of aerosolized potassium chloride upon the atmosphere that should be mentioned.

1. Heat Impacts

2. Moisture Impacts

3. Electromagnetic Impacts

With respect to heat impact, potassium chloride is highly soluble within water.  When it does dissolve, it absorbs heat from the water, and the magnitude is significant.  Potassium chloride has actually been used as a cold pack commercially for this same reason; it is also readily available and relatively inexpensive.  It therefore can potentially be used to influence atmospheric thermodynamics, and this is one of many leads of investigation to pursue.

On the flip side of the equation, potassium chloride in a solid state has a rather low specific heat, especially relative to that of both air and water.  This means that, depending upon the state of the surrounding atmosphere, that it can also possess the capability to heat the atmosphere, rather than to cool it.

Furthermore, potassium as a metal in its elemental form also has a lower specific heat than air and once again this may allow for a net heating impact upon the atmosphere, depending on states of being, location and interaction with other elements or compounds.

The point of this discussion is that metallic salts of any kind DO have an impact upon the heating dynamics of the atmosphere, and that this process can be both complicated and variable.  You cannot place anything into the atmosphere without having an effect in some fashion, and it is a mistake to oversimplify and overgeneralize as to what those changes will be.  The location of placement of aerosols is another matter also, as has been discussed extensively on this site.

We are, therefore, not permitted to remain ignorant of the impacts that foreign and contaminating materials have upon the environment; heat dynamics are only one of many aspects of that we are forced to confront when the atmosphere is altered in ANY significant fashion.

There are, of course, many other environmental consequences from the addition of ionizable metallic salts into the environment.  These include plant life and agriculture, for example.  Readers may also wish to become familiar with a discussion regarding soil impacts as presented within the paper “The Salts of Our Soils” (May 2005).

As far as moisture is concerned, heat and moisture are obviously very closely related subjects.  One of the trademarks of the salt genre is that of absorbing moisture.  Some salts attract moisture so strongly that they are hygroscopic, meaning that they can draw moisture from the ambient atmosphere.  The observation of this phenomenon is quite remarkable; one can start with a solid and watch it change to an eventual liquid form.  Calcium chloride and strontium chloride are both good examples of this class of materials.

Locking moisture up in this fashion will most certainly increase the heat in the atmosphere; water is one of the greatest cooling compounds that exists on the planet.  It is impossible to separate heat and moisture impacts when dealing with aerosolized metallic salts; it is certain that there will be an impact upon the atmosphere,  environment and health.  It is difficult to predict a favorable outcome here.

Lastly, there may still be some that will ridicule the notion of electromagnetic impacts of ionized metallic salts upon the atmosphere and the environment.  I think such an approach might ultimately be foolhardy.  This tenet was brought forth early in the research of this organization, and the premise remains as strong as when it is originated.  For those that care to repeat the enterprise, there are measurements to support the hypothesis, and they only continue to accumulate.

For those that seek conventional sources, one need look no further than a document that traces back to the 1990’s, entitled “Modeling of Positively Charged Aerosols in the Polar Summer Mesopause Region” (Rapp, Earth Planets Space 1999).  A very specific reference of the ability of potassium in combination with ultraviolet light to increase the electron density of the atmosphere will be found there.  There are other elements that share in this remarkable physical property, and they have been discussed within this site for many years now.  Reading the patents by Bernard Eastlund may also be insightful.  The ability of moisture to ionize many metallic salts is also to be included within the examinations that are required to take place.

It is difficult to ignore and discount the fundamental heat, moisture, and electromagnetic impacts upon the planet when metallic salts are artificially introduced into the atmosphere.  It would not be wise to do so.  The case for investigation, accountability and redress is now strong, and each of us can make the choice as to how to best proceed.  It seems to be a simple matter to want to protect and ensure the welfare of our gifted home, as our existence depends upon it.  Clarity and unity of purpose would seem to be an end goal here; I hope that each of us will seek it.

Regardless of the origin of this particular sample (which is unlikely to ever be known exactly), this report points to the requirement of identifying repetitive and unknown contaminants in the environment.  The responsibility for this process does not fall either primarily or exclusively upon the citizens; this population has neither the resources or means to perform or satisfy the requirements of identification, evaluation and assessment.  Entrusted agencies that exist specifically for protection of the welfare of the common environment (e.g., air, water, soil) and that are funded by these same citizens ARE required to do so.  In this vein, I will once again repeat the closing statement from above:

Clarity and unity of purpose would seem to be an end goal here; I hope that each of us will seek it.


Clifford E Carnicom

Sep 25 2016


Supplemental Discussion:

Approximately a dozen methods of investigation have been used to reach the conclusions of this report.  These will now be described to a modest level of detail to assist in portraying the complexities of analyzing unknown environmental samples.  This description will further the argument that the citizenry is not realistically expected to assume this burden and cost; contamination and pollution are at the heart of existence for publicly funded environmental protection agencies and entities.  It is recommended that the public seek the level of accountability that is required to reduce and eliminate persistent and harmful pollution and the contamination of our common environment.

1. Voltammetry:

The methods of differential pulse voltammetry have been applied to the sample.  The methods are quite useful in the detection of inorganics, especially metals and trace metal concentrations.  The results of the analysis are shown below:


Differential Normal Pulse Voltammetry Analysis of Crystal Sample

The analysis indicates a minimum of two chemical species to consider.  The first of these is a suspected Group I or Group II element (-2.87V).  The most probable candidates to consider will be that of calcium, strontium, barium and potassium.  The other will be the consideration of  the chloride ion ( +0.63V and +1.23V).

At this point of the investigation, our strongest prospect will therefore be an ionic metallic salt crystalline form, most likely involving a subset of Group I or II of the periodic table.  The most likely candidate will, furthermore, be a chloride form of the salt.

2. We can then proceed to solubility tests.  Four candidates from above will now be considered, along with two additional candidates resulting from the chloride prospects:

calcium chloride
strontium chloride
barium chloride
potassium chloride

lithium chloride
cesium chloride

With respect to the first set of four, the solubility tests applied (i.e., water, methanol, acetone, sodium bicarbonate, acid, base) eliminate all but potassium chloride for further examination.

This reduces the primary set of consideration to that of:

potassium chloride
lithium chloride
cesium chloride

We now attempt to confirm the existence of the chloride ion in a redundant fashion.  A qualitative chemical test (HCl, AgNO3) is then applied to the sample in aqueous solution.  The existence of the chloride ion is confirmed.  The set of three candidates remains in place.

The next method applied to the sample is the determination of the melting point of the presumed ionic crystal form.  Ionic metallic salts have generally high melting points and this does present some difficulties with the use of conventional equipment and means.

The methods of calorimetry were adapted to solve this particular problem.  The methods were also applied to a control sample of potassium chloride, as well as two additional control compounds.  The results of the control and calibration trials produced results within the range of expected error (~ < 5%).

The melting point of the crystal form was determined experimentally by the above methods as approximately 780 deg. C.  The melting point of potassium chloride is 770 deg. C.  This result is well within the range of expected experimental error (1.4%).  During the process, it was noticed that an additional minority compound does exist within the sample, as a small portion of the sample does melt at a much lower point (est. 300-400 deg. C.) The minority compound would require separation and identification in a further analysis.

The melting points of lithium chloride and cesium chloride are 605 deg. C. and 645 deg. C., respectively, and they are thus eliminated from further consideration.

These results narrow the list of candidates specifically to that of potassium chloride.

An additional controlled test of conductivity of the salt in solution was applied.   The result of that test indicates agreement in conductivity with a known concentration solution of potassium chloride.  The error in that case was also well within the expected range of experimental error (0.6%).

In addition, further tests involving density determination, index of refraction, visual and microscopic crystal analysis further substantiate the identification of the crystal as being primarily that of potassium chloride.

Pollution, Concentration and Mortality

Pollution, Concentration and Mortality

by Clifford E Carnicom
Mar 19 2016

A preliminary analytical model has been developed to estimate the impact of increased concentrations of atmospheric fine particulate pollution (PM 2.5) upon mortality rates. The model is a synthesis between an analysis of measured pollution levels (PM 2.5) and published increased mortality estimates. The model is based, in part, upon previous investigations as published in the paper “The Obscuration of Health Hazards : An Analysis of EPA Air Quality Standards“, Mar 2016.

Models for both concentration levels and visibility have now been developed; for a related model in terms of visibility, please see the paper entitled Pollution, Visibility and Mortality, Mar 2016.

Preliminary Concentration -Exposure – Mortality Model

A substantial data base based upon direct field measurements of atmospheric fine particulate matter in the southwestern United States during the winter of 2015-2016 has been acquired. The measurements reveal clear relationships between the quality of air, the PM 2.5 concentration levels, visibility of the surrounding territory, and the existence or absence of airborne aerosol operations.

The field data shows that repeated instances of the PM 2.5 count in the range between 30-60 ug/m3 is not unusual in combination with active atmospheric aerosol operations; visibility and health impacts are obvious under these conditions. The PM 2.5 count will inevitably be less than 10 (or even 5) ug/m3 under good quality air conditions.

Additional studies based upon this acquired data may be conducted in the future. Numerous published studies make known relationships between small increases in PM 2.5 pollution and increased mortality.

 meter44Measured PM 2.5 Count, 44 ug/m3.

As an example of use of this model, if the PM 2.5 count is 44 ug/m3 as shown in the above example, and if the number of days of exposure of this level is approximately 50, then the estimated increase in annual mortality is approximately 17%. This is an extreme increase in mortality, but under observed conditions in various locales it is not beyond the range of consideration.  It is thought that reasonably conservative approaches have been adopted within the modeling process.

The field data that has been collected and this model further highlight the serious deficiencies in the current Air Quality Index (AQI) as in current use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In light of the current understanding of the health impacts of small changes in PM 2.5 counts (e.g, 10 ug/m3), a scale that gives equal prominence to values as high as 500 ug/m3 (catastrophic conditions) is an incredible disservice to the public. Please see the earlier referenced papers for a more thorough discussion of the schism between public health needs and the reporting systems that are in place.

This researcher advocates the availability of direct and real-time fine particulate matter concentration levels (PM 2.5) to the public; this information should be as readily available as current weather data is.  Cost and technology are no longer major barriers to this goal.


operation-01Active Aerosol Operation
City of Rocks, Southern N.M.

operation-02Demonstration of the Impact of Aerosol Banks Upon Visibility.
Concentration Levels and Subsequent Visibility Changes
Directly Impact Mortality.

As an incidental note, it may be recalled from earlier work that there is a strong conceptual basis for the development and application of surveillance systems that are dependent upon atmospheric aerosol concentrations. This application is only one of many that have been proposed over a period of many years, and readers may refer to additional details on this subject within the research library. Documentaries produced by this researcher (Aerosol Crimes, Cloud Cover) during the last decade also elaborate on those analyses. The principles of LIDAR apply here.

Current field observations continue to reinforce this hypothesis. Observation in the southwest U.S. indicates that two locale types appear to be preferred targets for application: these include the large urban areas and the border region between the U.S. and Mexico. These locations, considered in a joint sense, suggest that both people and the monitoring or tracking of those same people within an area may be a technical and strategic priority of the project. A citizen based systematic and sustained nationwide monitoring system of PM 2.5 concentrations over a sufficient time period can clarify this issue further.

The recent papers on the subject of air quality are intended to raise the awareness and involvement of the public with respect to environmental and health conditions. There are very real relationships between how far you can see, the concentration levels of particulates in the atmosphere, and ultimately our mortality. It is our responsibility as stewards, as well as in our own best interest, to not deliberately and wantonly contaminate the planet.

Clifford E Carnicom
Mar 19, 2016

Pollution, Visibility and Mortality

Pollution, Visibility and Mortality
Clifford E Carnicom
Mar 12 2016

A preliminary empirical model has been developed to estimate the impact of diminished visibility and fine particulate pollution upon mortality rates.  The model is a synthesis between an analysis of measured pollution levels (PM 2.5), observed visibility levels and published increased mortality estimates.  The model is based, in part, upon previous investigations as published in the paper “The Obscuration of Health Hazards : An Analysis of EPA Air Quality Standards“, Mar 2016.



Preliminary Visibility -Exposure – Mortality Model

Air pollution has many consequences.  One of the simplest of these consequences to understand is that of mortality and the degradation of health.  It would be prudent for each of us to be aware of the sources of pollution in the atmosphere, and their subsequent effects upon our well being.  Measurement, monitoring and auditing of airborne pollution is within range of the general public, and the role of the citizens to participate in these actions is of increased imperative.  The role of public service agencies to act on behalf of public health needs and interests has not been fulfilled and we must all understand and react to the consequences of that neglect.

This particular model places the emphasis upon what can be directly observed with no special means, and that is the visibility of the surrounding sky.  Visibility levels are a direct reflection of the particulate matter that is in the atmosphere, and relations between what can be seen (or not seen, for that matter) and the concentration of pollution in the atmosphere can be established.  The relationships are observable, verifiable and are well known for their impacts upon human health, including that of mortality.

All models are idealized representations of reality.  Regardless of variations in the modeling process, it can be confidently asserted that there are direct physical relationships between particulate matter in the atmosphere, the state of visibility, and your health.   There are, of course, many other relationships of supreme importance, but the objective of this article is a simple one.  It is : to look, to be aware of your surroundings, to think, to act, and to participate. The luxuries and damage from perpetual ignorance can not be dismissed or excused.

The call for awareness is a fairly simple one here.  I encourage you to become engaged;  if for nothing else than the sake of your own health.  When this has been achieved, you are in a position of strength to help others and to improve our world.  This generation has no right or privilege to deny the depths of nature to those that will follow us.



Models are one thing, real life is another.  It is time to assume your place.


Clifford E Carnicom
Mar 12, 2016

The Obscuration of Health Hazards :

The Obscuration of Health Hazards:
An Analysis of EPA Air Quality Standards

Clifford E Carnicom
Mar 12 2016

A discrepancy between measured and observed air quality in comparison to that reported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under poor conditions in real time has prompted an inquiry into the air quality standards in use by that same agency. This analysis, from the perspective of this researcher, raises important questions about the methods and reliability of the data that the public has access to, and that is used to make decisions and judgements about the surrounding air quality and its impact upon human health. The logic and rationale inherent within these same standards are now also open to further examination. The issues are important as they have a direct influence upon the perception by the public of the state of health of the environment and atmosphere. The purpose of this paper is to raise honest questions about the strategies and rationales that have been adopted and codified into our environmental regulatory systems, and to seek active participation by the public in the evaluation process.  Weaknesses in the current air quality standards will be discussed, and alternatives to the current system will be proposed.

Particulate Matter (PM) has an important effect upon human health.  Currently, there are two standards for measuring the particulate matter in the atmosphere, PM 10 and PM 2.5.  PM 10 consists of material less than 10 microns in size and is often composed of dust and smoke particles, for example.  PM 2.5 consists of materials less than 2.5 microns in size and is generally invisible to the human eye until it accumulates in sufficient quantity.  PM 2.5 material is considered to be a much greater risk to human health as it penetrates deeper into the lungs and the respiratory system.  This paper is concerned solely with PM 2.5 pollution.

As an introduction to the inquiry, curiosity can certainly be called to attention with the following statement by the EPA in 2012, as taken from a document (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2012,1) that outlines certain changes made relatively recently to air quality standards:

“EPA has issued a number of rules that will make significant strides toward reducing fine particle pollution (PM 2.5). These rules will help the vast majority of U.S. counties meet the revised PM 2.5 standard without taking additional action to reduce emissions.”

Knowing and studying the “rule changes” in detail may serve to clarify this statement, but on the surface it certainly conveys the impression of a scenario whereby a teacher changes the mood in the classroom by letting the students know that more of them will be passing the next test.  Even better, they won’t need to study any harder and they will still get the same result.

In contrast, the World Health Organization (WHO) is a little more direct (World Health Organization 2013, 10) about the severity and impact of fine particle pollution (PM 2.5):

“There is no evidence of a safe level of exposure or a threshold below which no adverse health effects occur. The exposure is ubiquitous and involuntary, increasing the significance of this determinant of health.”

We can, therefore, see that there are already significant differences in the interpretation of the impact of fine particle pollution (especially from an international perspective), and that the U.S. EPA is not exactly setting a progressive example toward improvement.

Another topic of introductory importance is that of the AQI, or “Air Quality Index” that has been adopted by the EPA (“Air Quality Index – Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia” 2016).  This index is of the “idiot light” or traffic light style, where green means all is fine, yellow is to exercise caution, and red means that we have a problem.  The index, therefore, has the following appearance:

There are other countries that use a similar type of index and color-coded scheme.  China, for example, uses the following scale (“Air Quality Index – Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia” 2016):


As we continue to examine these scale variations, it will also be of interest to note that China is known to have some of the most polluted air in the world, especially over many of the urban areas.

Not all countries, jurisdictions or entities , however, use the idiot light approach that employs an arbitrary scaling method that is removed from showing the actual PM 2.5 pollution concentrations, such as those shown from the United States and China above.  For example, the United Kingdom uses a scale (“Air Quality Index – Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia” 2016) that is dependent upon actual PM 2.5 concentrations, as is shown below:

Notice that the PM 2.5 concentration for the U.K. index is directly accessible and that the scaling for the index is dramatically different than that for the U.S. or China.  In the case of the AQI used by the U.S. and China (and other countries as well), a transformed scale runs from 0 to 300-500 with concentration levels that are generally more obscure and ambiguous within the index.  In the case of the U.K index, the scale directly reports with a specific PM 2.5 concentration level with a maximum (i.e., ~70 ug/m^3) that is far below that incorporated into the AQI index (i.e., 300 – 500 ug/m^3).

We can be assured that if a reading of 500 ug/m^3 is ever before us, we have a much bigger problem on our hands than discussions of air quality.  The EPA AQI is heavily biased toward extreme concentration levels that are seldom likely to occur in practical affairs; the U.K. index gives much greater weight to the lower concentration levels that are known to directly impact health, as reflected by the WHO statement above.

Major differences in the scaling of the indices, as well as their associated health effects, are therefore hidden within the various color schemes that have been adopted by various countries or jurisdictions.  Color has an immediate impact upon perception and communication; the reality is that most people will seldom, if ever, explore the basis of such a system as long as the message is “green” under most circumstances that they are presented with.  The fact that one system acknowledges serious health effects at a concentration level of  50 – 70 ug/m^3 and that another does not do so until the concentration level is on the order of 150 – 300 ug/m^3 is certainly lost to the common citizen, especially when the scalings and color schemes chosen obscure the real risks that are present at low concentrations.

The EPA AQI system appears to have its roots in history as opposed to simplicity and directness in describing the pollution levels of the atmosphere, especially as it relates to the real-time known health effects of even short-term exposure to lower concentration PM 2.5 levels.  The following statement (“Air Quality Index | World Public Library” 2016) acknowledges weaknesses in the AQI since its introduction in 1968, but the methods are nevertheless perpetuated for more than 45 years.

“While the methodology was designed to be robust, the practical application for all metropolitan areas proved to be inconsistent due to the paucity of ambient air quality monitoring data, lack of agreement on weighting factors, and non-uniformity of air quality standards across geographical and political boundaries. Despite these issues, the publication of lists ranking metropolitan areas achieved the public policy objectives and led to the future development of improved indices and their routine application.”

The system of color coding to extreme and rarified levels with the use of an averaged and biased scale versus one that directly reports the PM 2.5 concentration levels in real time is an artifact that is divorced from current observed measurements and the knowledge of the impact of fine particulates upon human health.

The reporting of PM 2.5 concentrations directly along with a more realistic assessment of impact upon human health is hardly unique to the U.K. index system. With little more than casual research, at least three other independent systems of measurement have been identified that mirror the U.K. maximum scaling levels along with the commensurate PM 2.5 counts. These include the World Health Organization, a European environmental monitoring agency, and a professional metering company index scale (World Health Organization 2013, 10) (“Air Quality Now – About US – Indices Definition” 2016) (“HHTP21 Air Quality Meter, User Manual, Omega Engineering” 2016, 10).

As another example to gain perspective between extremes and maximum “safe” levels of PM 2.5 concentrations, we can recall an event that occurred in Beijing, China during November 2010, and that was reported by the New York Times in January of 2013 (Wong 2013) .  During this extreme situation, the U.S. Embassy monitoring equipment registered a PM 2.5 reading of 755, and the story certainly made news as the levels blew out any scale imaginable, including those that set maximums at 500.

An after statement within the article that references the World Health Organization standards may be the lasting impression that we should carry forward from the horrendous event, where it is stated that:

“The World Health Organization has standards that judge a score above 500 to be more than 20 times the level of particulate matter in the air deemed safe.”

Not withstanding the fact that WHO also states that no there is no evidence of any truly “safe” level of particulate matter in the atmosphere, we can nevertheless back out of this statement that a maximum “safe” level for the PM 2.5 count, as assessed by WHO, is approximately 25 ug / m^3.  This statement alone should convince us that we must pay close attention to the lower levels of pollution that enter into the atmosphere, and that public perception should not be distorted by scales and color schemes that usually only affect public perception when they number into the hundreds.

Let us gain a further understanding of how low concentration levels and small changes affect human health and, shall I daresay, mortality. The case for low PM 2.5 concentrations being seriously detrimental to human health is strong and easy to make.  Casual research on the subject will uncover a host of research papers that quantify increased mortality rates with direct relationship to small changes in PM 2.5 concentrations, usually expressing a change in mortality per 10 ug / m^3.  Such papers are not operating in the arena of scores to hundreds of micrograms per cubic meter, but on the order of TEN micrograms per cubic meter.  This work underscores the need to update the air quality standards, methods and reporting to the public based upon current health knowledge, instead of continuing a system of artifacts based upon decades old postulations.

These papers will refer to both daily mortality levels as well as long term mortality based upon these “small” increases in PM 2.5 concentrations.  The numbers are significant from a public health perspective.  As a representative article, consider the following recent published paper in Environmental Health Perspectives in June of 2015, under the auspices of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences(Shi et al. 2015) :




with the following conclusions:




as based upon the following results:




Let us therefore assume a more conservative increase of 2% mortality for a short-term exposure (i.e., 2 day) per TEN (not 12, not 100, not 500 per AQI scaling) micrograms per cubic meter.  Let us assume a mortality increase of 7% for long term exposure (i.e, 365 days).

Let us put these results into further perspective.  A sensible question to ask is, given a certain level of fine particulate pollution introduced into the air for a certain number of days within the year, how many people would die as a consequence of this change in our environment?  We must understand that the physical nature of the particulates is being ignored here (e.g., toxicity, solubility, etc.) other than that of the size being less than 2.5 microns.

The data results suggest a logarithmic form of influence, i.e. a relatively large effect for short term exposures, and a subsequently more gradual impact for long term exposure.  A linear model is the simplest approach, but it also is likely to be too modest in modeling the mortality impact. For the purpose of this inquiry, a combined linear-log approach will be taken as a reasonably conservative approach.

The model developed, therefore, is of the form:

Mortality % Increase (per 10ug/m^3) = 1.65 +. 007(days) + 0.48 * ln(days)

The next step is to choose the activity level and time period for which we wish to model the mortality increase.  Although any scenario within the data range could be chosen, a reasonably conservative approach will also be adopted here.  The scenario chosen will be to introduce 30 ug/m^3 of fine particulate matter into the air for 10% of the days within a year.

The model will therefore estimate a 3.6% increase in mortality for 10 ug/ m^3 of introduced PM 2.5 materials (36.5 days).  For 30 ug/m^3, we will therefore have a a 10.9% increase in mortality.  As we can see, the numbers can quickly become significant, even with relatively low or modest PM 2.5 increases in pollution.

Next we transform this percentage into real numbers. During the year of 2013, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 2,596,993 people died during that year from all causes combined (“FastStats” 2016).  The percentage of 10.9% increase applied to this number results in 283, 072 additional projected deaths per year.

Continuing to place this number into perspective, this number exceeds the number of deaths that result from stroke, Alzheimer’s, and influenza and pneumonia combined (i.e, 5th, 6th, and 8th leading causes of death) during that same year.  The number is also much higher than the death toll for Chronic Pulmonary Obstructive Disease (COPD), which is now curiously the third leading cause of death.

We should now understand that PM 2.5 pollution levels are a very real concern with respect to public health, even at relatively modest levels.  Some individuals might argue that such a scenario could never occur, as the EPA has diminished the PM 2.5 standard on an annual basis down to 12 ug/m^3.  The enforcement and sensitivity of that measurement standard is another discussion that will be reserved for a later date.  Suffice it to say that the scenario chosen here is not unduly unrealistic here for consideration, and that it is in the public’s interest to engage themselves in this discussion and examination.



The next issue of interest to discuss is that of a comparison between different air quality scales in some detail.  In particular, the “weighting”, or influence, of lower concentration levels vs. higher concentration levels will be examined.  This topic is important because it affects the interpretation by the public of the state of air quality, and it is essential that the impacts upon human health are represented equitably and with forthrightness.

The explanation of this topic will be considerably more detailed and complex than the former issues of “color coding” and mortality potentials, but it is no less important.  The results are at the heart of the perception of the quality of the air by the public and its subsequent impact upon human health.

To compare different scales of air quality that have been developed; we must first equate them.  For example, if one scale ranges from 1 to 6, and another from 0 to 10, we must “map”, or transform them such that the scales are of equivalent range.  Another need in the evaluation of any scale is to look at the distribution of concentration levels within that same scale, and to compare this on an equal footing as well.  Let us get started with an important comparison between the EPA AQI and alternative scales that deserve equal consideration in the representation of air quality.

Here is the structure of the EPA AQI in more detail (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2012, 4) .


 AQI Index AQI Abitrary Numeric  AQI Rank PM 2.5 (ug/m^3) 24 hr avg.
Good  0-50  1  0-12
Moderate  51-100  2  12.1-35.4
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups  101-150  3  35.5-55.4
Unhealthy  151-200  4  55.5-150.4
Very Unhealthy  201-300  5  150.5-250.4
Hazardous  301-500  6  250.5-500


Now let us become familiar with three alternative scaling and health assessment scales that are readily available and that acknowledge the impact of lower PM 2.5 concentrations to human health:


United Kingdom Index U.K. Nomenclature PM 2.5 ug/m3 24 hr avg.
1 Low 0-11
2 Low 12-23
3 Low 24-35
4 Moderate 36-41
5 Moderate 41-47
6 Moderate 48-53
7 High 54-58
8 High 59-64
9 High 65-70
10 Very High >=71


Now for a second alternative air quality scale, this being from Air Quality Now, a European monitoring entity:


Air Quality Now EU Rank Nomenclature PM 2.5  Hr PM 2.5 24 Hrs.
1 Very Low 0-15 0-10
2 Low 15-30 10-20
3 Medium 30-55 20-30
4 High 55-110 30-60
5 Very High >110 >60


And lastly, the scale from a professional air quality meter manufacturer:


Professional Meter Index Nomenclature PM 2.5 ug/m^3 Real Time Concentration
0 Very Good 0-7
1 Good 8-12
2 Moderate 13-20
3 Moderate 21-31
4 Moderate 32-46
5 Poor 47-50
6 Poor 52-71
7 Poor 72-79
8 Poor 73-89
9 Very Poor >90


We can see that the only true common denominator between all scaling systems is the PM 2.5 concentration.  Even with the acceptance of that reference, there remains the issue of “averaging” a value, or acquiring maximum or real time values.  Setting aside the issue of time weighting as a separate discussion, the most practical means to equate the scaling system is to do what is mentioned earlier:  First, equate the scales to a common index range (in this case, the EPA AQI range of 1 to 6 will be adopted).  Second, inspect the PM 2.5 concentrations from the standpoint of distribution, i.e., evaluate these indices as a function of PM 2.5 concentrations.  The results of this comparison follow below, accepting the midpoint of each PM 2.5 concentration band as the reference point:

PM 2.5 (ug/m^3) EPA AQI UK EU (1hr) Meter
1-10 1 1 1 1
10-20 2 1.6 1 2.1
20-30 2 2.1 2.2 2.7
30-40 2 2.1 3.5 3.2
40-50 3 3.2 3.5 3.2
50-60 3 4.3 3.5 4.3
60-80 4 5.4 4.8 4.9
80-100 4 6 4.8 6
100-150 4 6 6 6
150-200 4 6 6 6
200-250 5 6 6 6
250-300 5 6 6 6
300-400 6 6 6 6
400-500 6 6 6 6


This table reveals the essence of the problem; the skew of the EPA AQI index toward high concentrations that diminishes awareness of the health impacts from lower concentrations can be seen within the tabulation. 

This same conclusion will be demonstrated graphically at a later point.

Now that all air quality scales are referenced to a common standard, i.e., the PM 2.5 concentration), the general nature of each series can be examined via a regression analysis.  It will be found that a logistical function is a favored functional form in this case and the results of that analysis are as follows:

EPA Index (1-6) = 5.57 / (1 + 2.30 * exp(-.016 * PM 2.5))
Mean Square Error = 0.27

Mean (UK – EU – Meter) Index (1-6) = 6.03 / (1 + 5.65 * exp(-.046 * PM 2.5))
Mean Square Error = 0.01

The information that will now be of value to evaluate the weighting distribution applied to various concentration levels is that of integration of the logistical regression curves as a function of bandwidth.  The result of the integration process (Int.) applied to the above regressions is as follows:

PM 2.5 Band EPA AQI (Int.)
[Index * PM 2.5]
Mean Index (Int.)
[Index * PM 2.5]
% Relative Overweight or Underweight of PM 2.5 Band Contribution Between EPA AQI and Mean Alternative Air Quality Index Scale (Endpoint Bias Removed)
1-10 16.1 10.1 +42%
10-20 19.8 15.8 +27%
20-30 21.9 21.6 +8%
30-40 24.1 28.3 -10%
40-50 26.3 35.2 -27%
50-60 28.5 41.5 -39%
60-80 63.6 98.0 -47%
80-100 72.1 110.4 -46%
100-150 211.7 295.0 -32%
150-200 243.7 300.8 -16%
200-250 261.7 301.4 -8%
250-300 270.7 301.5 -4%
300-400 551.8 603.0 -2%
400-500 555.9 603.0 0%


A graph of a regression curve to the % Relative Overweight/Underweight data in the final column of the table above is as follows (band interval midpoints selected; standard error = 4.1%).


EPA Underweight Function Feb 09 2016 - 01


And, thus, we are led to another interpretation regarding the demerits of the EPA AQI.  The EPA AQI scaling system unjustifiably under-weights the harmful effects of PM 2.5 concentrations that are most likely to occur in real world, real time, daily circumstances.  The scale over-weights the impacts of extremely low concentrations that have little to no impact upon human health.  And lastly, when the PM 2.5 concentrations are at catastrophic levels and the viability of life itself is threatened, all monitoring sources, including the EPA, are in agreement that we have a serious situation.  One must seriously question the public service value under such distorted and disproportionate representation of this important monitor of human health, the PM 2.5 concentration.



Let us proceed to an additional serious flaw in the EPA air quality standards, and this is the issue of averaging the data. It will be noticed that the current standard for EPA PM 2.5 air quality is 12 ug/m^3 , as averaged over a 24 hour period. On the surface, this value appears to be reasonably sound, cautious and protective of human health. A significant problem, however, occurs when we understand that the value is averaged over a period of time, and is not reflective of real-time dynamic conditions that involve “short-term” exposures.

To begin to understand the nature of the problem, let us present two different scenarios:

Scenario One:

In the first scenario, the PM 2.5 count in the environment is perfectly even and smooth, let us say at 10 ug/m^3. This is comfortably within the EPA air quality standard “maximum” per a 24 hour period, and all appears well and good.

Scenario Two:

In this scenario, the PM 2.5 count is 6 ug/m^3 for 23 hours out of 24 hours a day. For one hour per day, however, the PM 2.5 count rises to 100 ug/m^3, and then settles down back to 6 ug/m^3 in the following hour.

Instinctively, most of us will realize that the second scenario poses a significant health risk, as we understand that maximum values may be as important (or even more important) than an average value. One could equate this to a dosage of radiation, for example, where a short term exposure could produce a lethal result, but an average value over a sufficiently long time period might persuade us that everything is fine.

And this, therefore, poses the problem that is before us.

In the first scenario, the weighted average PM 2.5 count over a 24 hour period is 10 ug/ m^3.

In the second scenario, the weighted average PM 2.5 count over a 24 hour period is 10 ug/m^3.

Both scenario averages are within the current EPA air quality maximum pollution standards.

Clearly, this method has the potential for disguising significant threats to human health if “short-term” exposures occur on any regular basis. Observation and measurement will show that they do.

Now that we have seen some of the weaknesses of the averaging methods, let us look at an additional scenario based upon more realistic data, but that continues to show a measurable influence upon human health. The scenario selected has a basis in recent and independently monitored PM 2.5 data.

The situation in this case is as follows:

This model scenario will postulate that the following conditions are occurring for approximately 10% of the days in a year. For that period, let us assume that for 13.5 hours of the day that the PM 2.5 count is essentially nil at 2 ug/m^3. For the remaining 10.5 hours of the day during that same 10% of the year, let us assume the average PM 2.5 count is 20 ug/m^3. The range of the PM 2.5 count during the 10.5 hour period is from 2 to 60 ug/m^3, but the average of 20 ug/m^3 (representing a significant increase) will be the value required for the analysis. For the remainder of the year very clean air will be assumed at a level of 2 ug/m^3 for all hours of the day.

A more extended discussion of the nature of this data is anticipated at a later date, but suffice it to say that the energy of sunlight is the primary driver for the difference in the PM 2.5 levels throughout the day.

The next step in the problem is to determine the number of full days that correspond to the concentration level of 20 ug/m^3, and also to provide for the fact that the elevated levels will be presumed to exist for only 10% of the year.  The value that results is:

0.10 * (365 days) * (10.5 hrs / 24 hrs) = 16 full days of 20 ug/m^3 concentration level.

As a reference point, we can now estimate the increase in mortality that will result for an arbitrary 10 ug/m^3 (based upon the relationship derived earlier):

Mortality % Increase (per 10ug/m^3) = 1.65 +. 007(16 days) + 0.48 * ln(16 days)


Mortality % Increase (per 10ug/m^3) = 3.1%

The increase in this case is 18 ug/m^3 (20 ug/m^2 – 2 ug/m^3), however, and the mortality increase to be expected is therefore:

Mortality % Increase (per 18ug/m^3 increase) = 1.8 * 3.1% = 5.6%.

Once again, to place this number into perspective, we translate this percentage into projected deaths (as based upon CDC data, 2013):

.056 * (2, 596, 993) = 145, 431 projected additional deaths.

This value is essentially equivalent (again, curiously) to the third leading cause of death, namely Chronic Pulmonary Obstructive Disease (COPD), with a reported value of deaths for 2013 of 149, 205.

It is understood that a variety of factors will ultimately lead to mortality rates, however, this value may help to put the significance of  “lower” or “short-term” exposures to PM 2.5 pollution into perspective.

It should also be recalled that the averaging of PM 2.5 data over a 24 hour period can significantly mask the influences of such “short-term” exposures.

A remaining issue of concern with respect to AQI deficiencies is its accuracy in reflecting real world conditions in a real-time sense. The weakness in averaging data has already been discussed to some extent, but the issue in this case is of a more practical nature. Independent monitoring of PM 2.5 data over a reasonably broad geographic area has produced direct visible and measurable conflicts in the reported state of air quality by the EPA.

After close to twenty years of public research and investigation, there is no rational denial that the citizenry is subject to intensive aerosol operations on a regular and frequent basis. These operations are conducted without the consent of that same public. The resulting contamination and pollution of the atmosphere is harmful to human health.  The objective here is to simply document the changes in air quality that result from such a typical operation, and the corresponding public reporting of air quality by the EPA for that same time and location.

Multiple occasions of this activity are certainly open to further examination, but a representative case will be presented here in order to disclose the concern.



Typical Conditions for Non- Operational Day.
Sonoran National Monument – Stanfield AZ


Aerosol Operation – Early Hours
Jan 19 2016 – Sonoran National Monument – Stanfield AZ


Aerosol Operation – Mid-Day Hours
Jan 19 2016 – Sonoran National Monument – Stanfield AZ



EPA Website Report at Location and Time of Aerosol Operation.
Jan 19 2016 – Sonoran National Monument – Stanfield AZ
Air Quality Index : Good
Forecast Air Quality Index : Good
Health Message : None

Current Conditions : Not Available
(“AirNow” 2016)


The PM 2.5 measurements that correlate with the above photographs are as follows:

With respect to the non-operational day photograph, clean air can and does exist at times in this country, especially in the more remote portions of the southwestern U.S. under investigation.  It is quite typical to have PM 2.5 counts from 2 to 5 ug/m^3, which fall under the category of very good air quality by any index used.  Low PM 2.5 counts are especially prone to occur after periods of heavier rain, as the materials are purged from the atmosphere.  The El Nino influence has been especially influential in this regard during the earlier portion of this winter season.  Visibility conditions of the air are a direct reflection of the PM 2.5 count.

On the day of the aerosol operation, the PM 2.5 counts were not low and the visibility down to ground level was highly diminished.  The range of values throughout the day were from 2 to 57, with the low value occurring prior to sunrise and post sundown.  The highest value of 57 occurred during mid-afternoon.  A PM 2.5 value of 57 ug/m^3 is considered poor air quality by many alternative and contemporary air quality standards, and the prior discussions on mortality rates for “lower” concentrations should be consulted above.  This high value has no corollary, thus far, during non-aerosol-operational days.  From a common sense point of view, the conditions recorded by both photograph and measurement were indeed unhealthy.  Visibility was diminished from a typical 70 miles + in the region to a level of approximately 30 miles during the operational period.  Please refer to the earlier papers (Visibility Standards Changed, March 2001 and Mortality vs. Visibility, June 2004; also additional papers) for additional discussions related to these topics.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports no concerns, no immediate impact, nor any potential impact to health or the environment during the aerosol operation at the nearest reporting location.



This paper has reviewed several factors that affect the interpretation of the Air Quality Index (AQI) as it has been developed and is used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In the process, several shortcomings have been identified:

1. The use of a color scheme strongly affects the perception of the index by the public. The colors used in the AQI are not consistent with what is now known about the impact of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) to human health. The World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges that there are NO known safe levels of fine particulate matter, and the literature also acknowledges the serious impact of low concentration levels of PM 2.5, including increased mortality.

2. The scaling range adopted by the AQI is much too large to adequately reveal the impact of the lower concentration levels of PM 2.5 to human health. A range of 500 ug/m^3 attached to the scale when mortality studies acknowledge significant impact at a level of 10 ug/m^3 is out of step with current needs by the public.

3. The underweighting of the lower PM 2.5 concentration levels relative to more contemporary scales that adequately emphasize lower level health impacts obscures health impacts which deserve more prominent exposure.

4. The AQI numeric scale is divorced from actual PM 2.5 concentration levels. The arbitrary scaling has no direct relationship to existing and actual concentrations of mass to volume ratios. The actual conditions of pollution are therefore hidden by an arbitrary construct that obscures the impact of pollution to human health.

5. The AQI is a historic development that has been maintained in various incarnations and modifications since its origin more than 45 years ago. The method of presentation and computation is obtuse and appears to exist as a legacy to the past rather than directly portraying pollution health risks.

6. The averaging of pollution data over a time period that filters out short term exposures of high magnitude is unnecessary and it hinders the awareness of the actual conditions of exposure to the public.

7. Presentation of air quality information through the authorized portal appears to present potential conflicts between reported information and actual field condition observation, data and measurement.


In the opinion of this researcher the AQI, as it exists, should be revamped or discarded. Allowing for catastrophic pollution in the development of the scale is commendable, but not if it interferes with the presentation of useful and valuable information to the public on a practical and daily basis.

There is a partial analogy here with the scales used to report earthquakes and other natural events, as they are of an exponential nature and they provide for extreme events when they occur. It is now known, however, that very low levels of fine particulate matter are very harmful to human health. Any scaling chosen to represent the state of pollution in the atmosphere must correspondingly emphasize and reveal this fact. This is what matters on a daily basis in the practical affairs of living; the extreme events are known to occur but they should not receive equal (or even greater) emphasis in a daily pollution reporting standard. It is primarily a question of communicating to the public directly in real-time with actual data, versus the adherence to decades old legacies and methods that do not accurately portray modern pollution and its sources.

It seems to me that a solution to the problem is fairly straightforward; this issue is whether or not such a transformation can be made on a national level and whether or not it has strong public support. Many other scaling systems have already made the switch to emphasize the impact of lower level concentrations to human health; this would seem to be admirable based upon the actual needs of society.

It is a fairly simple matter to reconstruct the scale for an air quality index. THE SIMPLEST SOLUTION IS TO REPORT THE CONCENTRATION LEVELS DIRECTLY, IN REAL TIME MODE. For example, if the PM 2.5 pollution level at a particular location is, for example, 20 ug/m^3, then report it as such. This is not hard to do and technology is fully supportive of this direct change and access to data. We do not average our rain when it rains, we do not average our sunlight when we report how clear the sky is, we do not average the cloud cover, and we do not average how far we can see. The environmental conditions exist as they are, and they should be reported as such. There is no need to manipulate or “transform” the data, as is being done now. A linear scale can also be matched fairly well to the majority of daily life needs, and the extreme ranges can also be accommodated without any severe distortion of the system. The relationship between visibility and PM 2.5 counts will be very quickly and readily assimilated by the public when the actual data is simply available in real-time mode as it needs to be and should be. Of course, greater awareness of the public of the actual conditions of pollution may also lead to a stronger investigation of their source and nature; this may or may not be as welcome in our modern society. I hope that it will be, as the health of our generation, succeeding generations, and of the planet itself is dependent upon our willingness to confront the truths of our own existence.

Clifford E Carnicom
Mar 12, 2016

Born Clifford Bruce Stewart
Jan 19, 1953



“AirNow.” 2016. Accessed March 13. https://www.airnow.gov/.

“Air Quality Index | World Public Library.” 2016. Accessed March 13. http://www.worldlibrary.org/articles/air_quality_index.

“Air Quality Index – Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.” 2016. Accessed March 13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_quality_index.

“Air Quality Now – About US – Indices Definition.” 2016a. Accessed March 13. http://www.airqualitynow.eu/about_indices_definition.php.
———. 2016b. Accessed March 13. http://www.airqualitynow.eu/about_indices_definition.php.

“FastStats.” 2016. Accessed March 13. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm.

“HHTP21 Air Quality Meter, User Manual, Omega Engineering.” 2016.

Shi, Liuhua, Antonella Zanobetti, Itai Kloog, Brent A. Coull, Petros Koutrakis, Steven J. Melly, and Joel D. Schwartz. 2015. “Low-Concentration PM2.5 and Mortality: Estimating Acute and Chronic Effects in a Population-Based Study.” Environmental Health Perspectives 124 (1). doi:10.1289/ehp.1409111.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2012. “Revised Air Quality Standards for Particle Pollution and Updates to the Air Quality Index (AQI).”

Wong, Edward. 2013. “Beijing Air Pollution Off the Charts.” The New York Times, January 12. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/science/earth/beijing-air-pollution-off-the-charts.html.

World Health Organization. 2013. “Health Effects of Particulate Matter, Policy Implications for Countries in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia.”

Environmental Filament Project : An Introduction

Environmental Filament Project :

An Introduction

Clifford E Carnicom
Jul 09 2013

Under current projections, it wll be some months ahead before I will be able to engage fully into the Environmental Filament Project that has been outlined under this site. In the interim, however, an important introduction to what lies ahead can be presented.  Carnicom Institute is now able to display a series of scanning electron microphotographs of a typical sample; they will not be discussed in any detail until I am able to begin the study project.  Those familiar with my work may be aware of my reluctance to use the term nano-technology in association with any environmental or biological samples examined thus far; this has been due to the lack of any electron microscope images that are derived directly from these same samples.  This is no longer the case, and the use of the nano-technology term in association with this material is now fully justified.  The samples shown below are identical to those that the United States Environmental Protection Agency has refused to identify or analyze.    It has taken close to a decade and a half to acquire these images; appreciation is extended to all parties that have helped to make this information available to the public.  Sufficient additional samples have been received, both national and internationally, to support the Institute project plans.  This study will begin as the opportunity affords itself and as parallel work that is underway is completed.  Light microscope images of the same material are also shown below.

Carnicom Institute : Electron Microphotographs of Environmental Filament Sample

Carnicom Institute : Light Microscope (CMOS) Photographs of Environmental Filament Sample

cmos 1 cmos 2

cmos 3

Approximate magnification of original imagery : 6000x

Then and Now

Then and Now

Clifford E Carnicom
June 28 2013

The following is a comparison between stock photography images that predate the year of 1999 and environmental photographs that have been published by the public on the internet after that same date.  The reader can make his or her own determination, from both environmental and health perspectives, as to the source and impact of the significant changes that have taken place.  Please show this page to your children so that they may understand what has been stolen from them.

Pre 1999 Stock Photography Images   Post 1999 Public Internet Images

pre 1     post 1

pre 2   post 2

pre 3   post 3

pre 4   post 4

pre 5   post 5

pre 6      post 6

pre 7 post 7

pre 8 Post 8 pre 9 post 9

pre 10 post 10 pre 11 post 11

pre 12 post 12 pre 13 post 13

pre 14       post 14

pre 16 post 16

pre 17 post 17 pre 18 post 18

pre 19 post 19 pre 20 post 20

pre 21 post 21

I want this sky again

Environmental Filament : False Report

Environmental Filament : False Report
Clifford E Carnicom
Jan 08 2013

It is now appropriate to disclose the circumstances involving a laboratory report on an airborne filament sample that was paid for in the year of 1999.  This report was issued jointly by three separate companies and they shall remain anonymous at this time.  It is now appropriate to present this information as the conclusions of the report are undeniably false.  Whether or not there was intent to misrepresent the facts of the case is not to be discussed in this paper; the purpose is to disclose information that is relevant to the public interest and welfare.  The laboratory was hired and paid significant monies to analyze and identify the very same airborne environmental filament sample that was sent to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during this same time period of 1999-2000.  The failure of the EPA to identify that sample is adequately documented in this site.  This report will chronicle the events that surround this affair. 

The circumstances are generally as follows:

1. A laboratory in the southwestern United States was privately contracted in the fall of 1999 to identify an airborne environmental filament sample.  The nature of this environmental filament has been discussed and researched extensively on this site over the subsequent years.  A portion of this same sample was sent to the EPA for identification as noted above.  The reason for contracting with the private company was because of the failure of the EPA to identify the material.

2. The laboratory report was issued in December of 1999 with joint responsibility of findings between three separate companies.  The report claims to use the results of infra-red spectroscopic analysis and Polarized Light Microscope Analysis on the sample.

3. The final statement of analysis from the contracting laboratory is as follows (names of laboratories redacted).  The conclusions of this report will be discussed in more detail below.

4. At the same time that the laboratory was conducting their tests, I also was conducting my own tests on this same sample material.  The results of that testing process are extensively reported on within this web site.  Certain primary conclusions were being reached on my side about the nature of the material such as size, chemical reactivity, microscopy results, conditions of collection and the like.  Prior to the results being officially released, we were given the subjective information above relaying that the material “could be” a “spider’s web”.  It was quite clear to me from my own analysis that the testing results were inadequate and inaccurate, as it was already evident that the material was not a “spider web”.  The final report claiming to use spectral analysis was then issued, and it was clear to me at this point that a contest of conclusions was in order.  It was equally obvious through any reasoned analysis that the material was likewise not a wool fiber or any other obvious fabric or textile.  Readers familiar with “counter arguments” of the period will also know that a commonly circulated theme by a relatively small group of vocal advocates was that the material was simply a “spider’s web that had fallen from the sky.”… There were also questions that had emerged from the spectral reports themselves.

5. At this point, it was obvious that a rather serious and important conflict of conclusions had developed.  The first conflict arose from the failure of the EPA to identify the material on behalf of the public interest.  The second conflict resulted from paid professional services that provided obvious and conflicting information to my own independent analysis of the material.

6.  A personal visit and meeting with the president of the issuing company was then arranged.  The meeting had three participants: the president of the company, Dave Peterson (a colleague of mine) and myself.  The subject of the meeting was identified ahead of time to all parties as a discussion of the conclusions that had been issued by the laboratory.  It is also a fact that the letter presented below was written by myself prior to the actual meeting and it was held in reserve until the outcome of the meeting was decided.  It is fair to say that I had serious concerns and issues with the professionalism and honesty of the science that was on display by the laboratory.

7. Prior to the meeting, in addition to the letter written and held below, I had also prepared a list of nine line items that substantiated, from my own analyses, why the laboratory results issued were false.  At the opening of the meeting, I expressed my concern that I had some reservations and conflicts with the validity of the report and that I would like to discuss them with him.  It is also true that the atmosphere of the meeting was generally one of unspoken tension and alertness.

8.  I began with my first item of nine on the list.  This issue was simply the point  and question of direct observation, especially under the microscope.  I told the president of the company that the materials did not even look like spider webs under the scope.  In my own analyses, I made extensive study of numerous filament, textiles, hairs and filaments in general, including those of spider webs.  I actually had the serious issue as to whether or not the sample had been properly observed, as it is the starting point of the scientific method.  The president of the company did not contest or agree with or discuss my point of contention in any fashion, there was at most a tacit or implied acknowledgment of this first of nine points.

9. I then proceeded to the second item on my list of nine.  This issue had to do with the size of the filaments.  The size of the filaments is micron to sub-micron in nature, and it does not correspond in any physical or possible way to a hair or a spider web.  My own measurements of spider webs were in the order of seven microns and hair is on the order of 60-100 microns.  The conclusion on the laboratory report simply had no justifiable metric basis.  I again wondered privately whether or not the laboratory had made the effort to even measure as well as look at the filament in any detail.

10. The next event in the meeting was entirely unexpected.  At the end of the second of nine points to be raised, the president of the company immediately halted the discussion and my speech.  The words that were uttered by this individual were the following:

“This meeting is now adjourned.”

11. There was nothing more that was allowed to be said.  The meeting was over as I had reached item two on my list of nine.  At this point, I personally handed the letter that I had written apriori to the President of this company.   Thirteen years later, it is now time to make this correspondence available to the public.  The letter could not be presented until a certain confidence in laboratory results was achieved; this is now in place.

12. The letter written at the time of the meeting in the year 2000 is presented below for the record:

13.  There are additional details that can be discussed.  In the short form, let me assert to you that these airborne environmental filaments, that have been repeatedly observed, reported and collected over the last decade and a half, at a minimum,  are:

a) NOT naturally occurring.

b) NOT a spider’s web or silk.

c) NOT wool (or any other common textile fiber or hair).

14.  They are, however, at least in part, indeed a “proteinacous material”, but that is another story….


Clifford E Carnicom

Jan 07 2013


Additional Note from David Peterson provided on Jan 07 2013:

The reason my signature does not appear on this statement is that I trusted that we were dealing with a legitimate laboratory at the time this document was presented to them. There were inconsistencies in their findings that were sent to us via USPS prior to this that were the reason the face to face meeting needed to take place. I attended this meeting with Clifford Carnicom to address our concerns with their findings, so I was indeed a witness to how the meeting transpired and in retrospect I would have absolutely signed this document when it was presented to them.

David Peterson

(P.S. Dave, thank you, 13 years later…)

Environmental Filament : Keratin Encasement

Environmental Filament : Keratin Encasement
Clifford E Carnicom
Jan 07 2013


It can now be established with a high degree of certainty that the external casing of the environmental filament samples are composed of keratin or a keratin-like material.  This supposition has been in place for a number of years by this researcher; it can now be demonstrated to be the case by direct chemical and spectroscopic means.  Certain ramifications of this finding, in conjunction with earlier work, are as follows:

1.  It is deduced that the environmental filament is not a naturally occurring material. 

2. The filaments contains non-keratin based chemical and biological components within the internals of the filaments.   Considerable information regarding the nature of the environmental filaments is available on this site; this information has been accrued over a period of several years of progressive research.

3. The emphasis upon study of the filaments is to be directed to the sub-micron components (biological and chemical) that are internal to the filaments.  The keratin aspect of structure is to be interpreted as an encasing mechanism only.

4.  The filaments are not hair or spider webs. 

5.  A false laboratory report has been issued in the past regarding the identification of this filament material (to be discussed in a separate report). 

The primary method by which this conclusion has been reached is with chemical and spectroscopic comparison of a known source of keratin with the environmental filament by similiar means.  This comparison has been made possible with the recent advance in methods of chemical decomposition of keratin based substances by this researcher.  Please see the report entitled “Environmental Filament Penetrated” for this discussion and presentation. 

human hair serbian sample
Human Hair Environmental Filament Sample

Spectroscopic comparisons of keratin obtained from human hair and the same substance obtained from the environmental filament casing are shown immediately below; it will be seen that they are essentially identical.  Additional notes and discussion will follow below the spectra.

spectroscopic analysis of keratin

A visual light spectroscopic analysis of keratin obtained from the decomposition of human hair in combination with ninhydrin and heating.  Human hair is composed predominantly of keratin.


spectroscopic analysis of the environmental filament


A visual light spectroscopic analysis of the environmental filament after chemical decomposition and in combination with ninhydrin and heat.  It will be seen that the spectrum obtained is essentially identical to the keratin spectrum above. The keratin of the environmental filament is interpreted as an encasement structure and it does not account for the biological components that have been repeatedly identified within this protein housing.


colored solutions


A photograph of the colored solutions subjected to visual light spectroscopic analysis.  The solutions result from chemical decomposition of keratin based structures, in combination with heat and ninyhdrin.  The solution on the left is derived from the environmental filament sample; the solution on the right is derived from human hair.  Both hues and spectra can vary to some degree by concentration levels within a solution; these examples and spectra indicate a coincidence of relative concentration in each case.



Additional Notes:


Keratin is an especially impervious protein structure.  Observation and study of your own hair is a very good analogy for understanding the hardiness of this particular protein.  During the recent trials of study in decomposition, chemical penetration of hair itself represents an excellent example of the challenge of examination of the environmental filaments and their internals.  Numerous trials were conducted using strong solutions of sulfuric acid, sodium hydroxide, nitric acid, salicylic acid, sodium hypochlorite (bleach), ammonium thioglycolate and others.  All essentially met with failure to the degree needed with the time available.  Although some mild success was achieved with a hair sample, the environmental filament sample remained essentially impervious to almost all methods.  The best success of decomposition has eventually come forth with the use of a commercial hair declogger used in plumbing systems.  This solution is primarily a combination of concentrated sodium hydroxide and concentrated potassium hydroxide.  This solutions is highly caustic. The greater success of this method also becomes  dependent upon the use of applied heat over an extended time period. It was with the use of this method that valid comparisons, both chemically and spectroscopically, could be made.  Considerable work remains before us to acquire the detailed biochemical knowledge of the internal nature of the environmental filaments; this work will continue as the proper resources and equipment avail themselves.