Morgellons : Biofilm Production

Morgellons : Biofilm Production

by

Clifford E Carnicom
April 24, 2017

 

The existence of biofilm within the microbial growth characteristic of the “Morgellons” condition has been established with certainty.  A method of reliably extracting the biofilm from the body and testing the biofilm for the principal components has also been developed.  The work here is an extension to earlier work that has been presented.  

Biofilms are a highly effective defensive measure by microorganisms to ensure their survival.  The encasement of the microorganism within a shield of mucus or slime material creates a highly impervious shield to dispersal or elimination of the bacterial or microbial form.  Biofilm removal is generally a costly and difficult process under the best of circumstances; industrial processes (e.g. pipeline efficiencies) and water treatment are two examples of where challenging environments for removal exist.  The existence of biofilms is an especially important topic with respect to human health, and they are commonly associated with chronic conditions that are difficult to ameliorate.  There are some beneficial biofilms within the body, however, many of them contribute to disease by evading the immune system and allowing the proliferation of harmful microbial species within.  According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 80% of all chronic infections are associated with biofilms.

 

5

Biolfim sample under examination developed 
from vitamin biochemical extraction techniques. 

1

2

 

3

4

Biofilm images under low power microscopic examination (~20x).

.

The production of the biofilm shown above has been verified to result directly from the growth of the microorganism (CDB) that has been established as the root source of the “Morgellons” condition.   This has been accomplished with the use of culture techniques that are, in turn, based upon the use of the biofilm.  The culture equivalency has been established with the use of visual and physical properties of growth, microscopic observation, and visible and near infrared spectrometry.  In addition, a sensitive test method for nitrite detection and concentration has been developed, and it has been applied to the cultures with success.  Blood, urine, body fluids, and solutions in general can now be tested for nitrite concentrations. The existence of nitrites in this specific microbial growth has now been established as one of several significant markers of the existence of the microorganism.  

In addition, the composition of the materials as biofilm has been confirmed by chemical analysis, in addition to the visual and physical properties.  The biofilm is known to be composed of both polysaccharides and amines; these are each hallmark components of biofilm composition.  

In the course of this work, additional sensitive colorimetric tests have been developed to test for protein existence and concentration; these methods exceed the sensitivity of the Biuret reagent method by roughly one order of magnitude.   These methods may also be applied to body fluids and other solutions in general.  The colorimetric tests that have been developed are of high value in enhancing general laboratory procedures that are commonly in use and need.

 

biofilm_600

Visible light spectrometry techniques applied to 
the analysis of the biofilm composition.

 


The existence of biofilm with a direct connection to the Morgellons condition exists as one of the most important health issues to recognize and contend with.  As mentioned above, biofilms are commonly associated with chronic health conditions and pathology and their removal or reduction presents special and complex challenges.  The methods and discoveries of this paper yield a pathway toward the mitigation of the some of the symptoms and effects that are known to accompany biofilm production within the body.

Clifford E Carnicom
(born Clifford Bruce Stewart, born Jan 19 1953)

Morgellons : A Supplemental Discussion

Morgellons : A Supplemental Discussion

by
Clifford E Carnicom
Jan 21 2017
Edited Mar 08 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.

 

This paper will bring forth a series of additional health related suggestions and topics for further research with respect to the “Morgellons” condition.  The emphasis will be upon specific nutritional or therapeutic supplements that may be worthy of additional study and investigation by the health communities and professions, and how these may relate to the symptoms expressed within the condition.  It is important to mention that each of the items or topics mentioned results directly or indirectly from the laboratory research that has taken place at the Institute over a period of several years.  The details of that research will be too complex to elaborate on here, but the nutritional and supplement topics will at least be brought forth to the public for investigation and discussion.

There are three prerequisites for engaging further with the content of this paper:

The first is to be familiar with correspondence that has been delivered to a variety of individuals that have contacted the Institute over a period of several years on the Morgellons issue.  This correspondence follows immediately below.

Greetings from CI,Thank you for writing to Carnicom Institute about your health situation.

Stage I of the Morgellons Research Project, the online health survey, is now complete.  A vast storehouse of information for health professionals is now availableBase results are posted on the website.  In addition, CI has taken the initial steps in developing a public platform to network health practitioners and the public. To learn more about the Community Health Professional Network,

CARNICOM INSTITUTE
COMMUNITY HEALTH PROFESSIONAL NETWORK

We recommend that you visit our website and read Clifford’s papers relevant to the Morgellons condition. Carnicom Institute cannot give out medical advice, but there is much to be gleaned from the research that may be of benefit. With this in mind, here are some suggested research papers to study:

Numbers 14, 15 and 17 on this paper (Morgellons : A Thesis) – especially No. 17.

Also study anything you see related to iron and amino acids, for example: Amino Acids Verified
(The first paragraph may be helpful to study.)

Please find and review”Carol’s Smoothie” on the Media Resources Page, and the external link with a focus on nutrition; proper nutrition has a direct relationship to the research that has been presented.

We have a search box on the site at the top of the research listing at:

Search for anything written related to iron, protein, amino acids, glutathione, NAC, antioxidants, vitamins a, b, c, d,e, across the board, enzymes, gelatin, oxidation of the body (smoking would seem to be a serious and undesirable complication of matters), collagen, liver, and detox. Reading about them could offer insights into their role in maintaining health.

Listen to Mark Kilcoyne’s webinar with Mr. Carnicom.

Please see the recent paper (Morgellons : A Working Hypothesis) particularly the third section on mitigating strategies. Pay special attention the thyroid, metabolism, and halogen substitution on the thyroid and iodine are discussed.

We recommend that you watch Clifford’s youtube videos with the late Dr. Gwen Scott, naturopathic doctor.  She refers to several treatments that may be helpful.  There is also a paper from her on our site in the research papers section presents a series of suggestions on the subject.

Although there have been several important discoveries in recent months, the recommendations here represent a substantial body of research that may be of benefit.

Carnicom Institute

 

[2] The second is to be familiar with ALL of the health related research of Carnicom Institute as it has been presented on this site.

[3] The third requirement is to be familiar with and knowledgeable of the results of the Carnicom Institute Morgellons Symptom Survey results.  This database contains information from approximately 1000 participants from across the globe over a one year period, and it is readily available (including a summary report) on this site.  It will be of continuing interest to correlate the results of that survey with research conducted by Carnicom Institute and others, as well as with the activity that manifests within the CI Community Health Professional Network (CHPN).

CARNICOM INSTITUTE
MORGELLONS RESEARCH PROJECT:

PRIMARY SYMPTOM SURVEY RESULT
(Summary Report)

MRP SYMPTOM SURVEY RESULT
(18 Sections)

CARNICOM INSTITUTE
COMMUNITY HEALTH PROFESSIONAL NETWORK

 

Only with these three requirements being met can the information that follows be understood in its proper context.  Mention of any supplement does not mean that one automatically begins just ‘taking a supplement’.  The reason that the health disciplines and the health professionals (including, I might add, the nutritionists) exist is so that we can learn from them and that we can be helped.  Too little information and understanding can often be as damaging as total ignorance, as difficult as that may be to realize at times. As I have mentioned, it is not appropriate to expect any ‘silver bullets’ from Carnicom Institute with respect to health discussions; the issues are complex and they can pose additional risks if they are oversimplified.  The Carnicom Institute Community Health Professional Network (CHPN) has been established as an offering for a reason; it is to stimulate the professional discussion which must now take place. It is the purpose here to raise topics and questions that deserve study; it is not to establish premature conclusions on issues that are only slowly coming to light.

That being said, with all of the caveats and prerequisites made clear, let us compile a list.  If an items exists on the list, it means that an interest in the topic or subject evolved from various avenues and methods of research over a period of recent years.  It also may well have some bearing on the health implications and impacts from the Morgellons condition; time and proper study will eventually resolve that case.  “Taking” a particular supplement is not the business at hand here, but the role of that particular supplement with respect to human health and nutrition is.  Again, as always, each individual is responsible for consulting the health professional or consultant of their choice to reach decisions about their own particular situation and needs.  Carnicom Institute is not in that business, but there is tremendous interest here in the role that these supplements assume in human health, both to deficiency and excess for that matter.  The role of the nutritionist will become increasingly important as the proper studies take place; this list is simply an offering on the table of particulars that may have a disproportionate influence or bearing on the Morgellons condition, in particular.  This is all in addition to the prerequisites stated above,  and this combined pool of analysis should provide some suitable fodder for developing strategies in the future.

Therefore, the supplemental, “Supplement” List:

[1] Any of the supplements that are known to improve bone, joint, and cartilage functions.  This includes supplements such as glucosamine, MSM, hyaluronic acid, collagen, gelatin, and the like.

[2] Supplements which improve skin, nail and hair functions, such as biotin and collagen.

[3] The immensely important role of antioxidants and their precursors (e.g., vitamin C, NAC, alpha lipoic acid, glutathione, etc.) will not be repeated in depth here, but it will be mentioned.  It will be remiss to neglect the extensive discussions on this topic that have taken place.

[4] The role and importance of the B vitamins in human health.  There are particular interests in B-2 and B-12 that are at the investigative level.  Neural aberrations are also a topic of study here.  There are variations in the composition of B-2 vitamins as they are commonly sold, and the issues of bioavailability and cyanide complexes also become important here.

[5] The role of enzymes with respect to essentially every biochemical reaction that takes place.  The decline in enzyme production as it relates to aging is also a highly worthy topic.  Examples here include betaine hydrochloride, pancreatin, amylase, protease and bromelain.

[6] The importance of probiotics, such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, in the digestive process, and also the decrease in effectiveness of digestion as it relates to aging.

[7] The benefits from the natural Omega-3 fatty acids can include, as a partial listing,  triglyceride fat reduction (e.g., blood, liver), reduction of stress, anxiety and depression, lowering pain from arthritis, and joint pain, brain and cognitive function, and alleviation of some skin conditions. Additional benefits are stated as well, such as benefits to vision and lowering the risk of heart disease. There are some important chemical differences between some synthetically produced and natural fish oils; it is prudent to be aware of these differences as they did come to light within the research processes.

[8] Coenzyme Q-10 and its role with respect to cognitive, neural and brain function.

[9] Calcium D-Glucarate, and the role that it may have with the reduction or removal of polymer and/or plastic toxins within the body.  This form of toxicity is also of broad based environmental concern with respect to health, and it presents especial difficulties with regard to lever toxicity.  BPA toxicity is also a related topic here.  Enlarged livers and increased adipose tissue appear to be prevalent within modern society. Removal of such compounds from the body is especially difficult, and it would seem to be an area of research in great need.

[10] The role of phosphorus and the effects from its deficiency in the body is an interesting topic of research.  The primary question that arises here is that deficiency is not normally supposed to occur; any normal diet is apparently sufficient to alleviate this concern.  The symptoms of deficiency are, however, of great interest here, especially as they relate to bones, teeth and neural functions.   There are important interactions and relationships between calcium and phosphorus absorption. There is interference to phosphorus absorption in the human body from certain aluminum compounds.  It is also fair to mention here that phosphorus is highly important to bacterial cell membrane structure (phospholipids) as well as DNA production.

[11] The role of the citrate ion is an intriguing and additional topic of research with respect to microbial metabolism.  Citrate ion complexes are commonly available in various forms, such as those joined with either sodium, potassium and magnesium, for example.   The solubility of various citrate complexes, in both water and with pH variability, is to be considered.   The balances and risks of both excess and deficiencies of these various electrolytes and ions in the body is a serious topic of medical and health science, and they are not to be ignored within this research.

[12] Aromatic therapies may also play an important role in our study of this condition.  There are certainly a host of respiratory symptoms that have made themselves known in association with Morgellons.  This is a broad field of study to pursue, along with all the potential health benefits from the essential oils (and the 6000 year history, chemistry and science that accompanies it).  A simple and immediate interest exists with the use of tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) for potential therapeutic purposes.  All essential oils have potential relevance to this topic of health research.

[13] Valerian root is well known to have potential benefits with respect to anxiety, blood pressure, sleep issues, and stress management.  This natural sedative may be of additional benefit in the research that lies before us.

[14] The role of vitamins in general, and their known role as antioxidants.

[15] The existence of nitrites in urine samples represents another potential topic of investigation and research; only preliminary indications of interest exist here.  Should this topic develop further, the role of cranberries and cranberry supplements with respect to urinary tract investigations (UTI) will be examined.  Various potential urinary markers are a current topic of interest.   The relationships between nitrite existence, the oxidation of iron from the ferrous to the ferric state, methemoglobin and carbon monoxide toxicity are to explored further (via Harrison’s Internal Medicine, 16th edition, pp. 598-600).  The studies on the alteration of iron states in connection with the Morgellons condition have been extensively discussed on this site, and the connections mentioned above are deserving of special attention in the research.

[16] Electrolyte balances are to be maintained.  Electrolytes are at the core of current flow within the human body and they are required in balance for proper cell functioning.

[17]  There is interest as to whether the lymphatic system will serve as an additional symptom marker for the detection of inflammation caused by the microbial source of Morgellons.  The lymphatic system serves three primary roles: a) the filtration of harmful microorganisms, b) the absorption and transport of fats and lipids and c)the drainage of excess fluids from the body tissues.  Overloading of the lymphatic system is expected to produce observable symptoms that are consistent with microbial infections and lipid excess and imbalance.  The high prevalence of enlarged livers and excess fatty tissue within the liver may well relate here.

[18]  It can also be mentioned that the well known reference book, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Phyllis Blanch CNC, contains an important section on immune system support.  The list of supplements mentioned therein is undoubtedly of potential benefit as well within this discussion.  The book is deserving of a general recommendation as well, as it represents a wealth of valuable health information.

[19] It is to be understood that toxicity can occur from any supplements or food consumed in inappropriate amounts; each individual is responsible for seeking counsel from the health practitioner of their choice.

[20] I anticipate easily up to a couple of dozen physical symptom, biochemical, and microbial markers of the Morgellons condition to be evident and apparent as the work in place is properly reviewed, evaluated, and utilized.

 

The list above is not intended to be complete or dogmatic; it never can be as human health is far too complex for such presumptions.  In addition to the prerequisites stated, however, hopefully it can provide some leads of investigation and research for the future.  All mentions above are of an investigative nature, however, and each of them has some basis of scientific study over a period of many years within Carnicom Institute.  Please attend to all caveats, seek the the involvement of the professional health community, and may we all move forward and work together to improve our future health and humanity.

Sincerely,

Clifford E Carnicom

Born Clifford Bruce Stewart, Jan 19 1953.

The Magnitude of Morgellons

The Magnitude of Morgellons

by
Clifford E Carnicom
Dec 06 2016

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.

It must now be accepted by the global community that the “Morgellons” condition exists as a verifiable pathological condition. An objective online extensive health survey conducted by Carnicom Institute during this past year involving approximately 1000 participants, with significant international representation, substantiates this claim.  The survey clearly reveals and establishes that the health effects from the Morgellons condition are commensurate and on par with the global influences of such widespread conditions as Lyme’s disease and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.   The demographics of the survey demonstrate a reasonably broad and representative segment of the population.  The symptoms are unique, real, physical, complex, and verifiable. Any measures or campaign to portray the situation as other than above are disingenuous and they are not confronting of the facts or extensive evidence on record.   It will be to the benefit of society when such realities are accepted in good order, and the measures taken to reduce or eliminate the unnecessary suffering that is in place.

A high-level summary of primary symptoms tabulated within the survey is available as follows:

Morgellons Research Project : Phase I
Primary Symptom Survey Results

A more detailed presentation of the survey results is available as follows:

Morgellons Research Project : Phase I
Symptom Survey Results 

The summary presentations above represent only a segment of information collected under the auspices of the survey.  Those health  practitioners and researchers interested in furthering the understanding and education of the Morgellons conditions are invited to apply to participate in the Carnicom Institute Community Health Professional Network (CHPN) available at the following location:

Carnicom Institute Morgellons Research Project : Phase II

Community Health Professional Network (CHPN)

Morgellons Research Project : Primary Symptom Survey Results

Morgellons Research Project : Phase I

Primary Symptom Survey Results

by
Clifford E Carnicom
Nov 05 2016

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.

 

To access the survey results in their entirety, please visit the the following page:

MRP SYMPTOM SURVEY RESULT

To apply for or visit Phase II of the Carnicom Institute Morgellons Research Project, please visit the following page:

CARNICOM INSTITUTE
COMMUNITY HEALTH PROFESSIONAL NETWORK

The following list comprises the top 20th percentile of symptoms that have been compiled in Phase I of the Carnicom Institute Morgellons Research Project survey that has recently completed.  The online survey operated on this site for approximately one year and includes the results of approximately 1000 individuals.  Both short and long version survey results were collected.  The information below is a high level summary and it represents only a small portion of the data that is available via the Institute.

PRIMARY  SURVEY SYMPTOM RESULTS

(Top 20th Percentile):
NO MEDICAL CLAIMS BEING MADE – SURVEY ONLY.

1. Materials or substances emerging from skin

2. Open and/or slow healing lesions

3. Rashes or other skin conditions

4. Itchy scalp

5. Change in the quality of vision (e.g., blurry or fatigued)

6. Unusual & chronic ringing in the ears

7. Unusual dental conditions

8. FATIGUE (6 overlapping sections of survey)

9. Shortness of breath, persistent or excess mucus or sputum

10. Stiffness in joints

11. Constipation, bloating, unusual weight gain

12. Anxiety, nervousness, irritability

13. Headaches, dry eyes & mouth

14. Forget events

15. Reliance on external memory aids (calendar, notes)

16. Loss of train of thought or flow of thread of conversations

17. Difficulty diagnosing, identifiying or explaining the illness

18. Skin problems

19. Associated conditions (diagnosed or examined) :

     a. Lyme’s Disease

     b. Chronic Fatigue

     c. Herpes

Morgellons & Carbon Monoxide

Morgellons & Carbon Monoxide

by
Clifford E Carnicom
Aug 14 2016
(To Be Continued)

Note: I am not offering any medical advice or diagnosis with the presentation of this information. I am acting solely as an independent researcher 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 and they are from my own perspective.

Methods have been developed that confirm the existence of carbon monoxide gas production by the microorganism identified as a source of the “Morgellons” condition.  The existence of this gas as a repeatable and identifiable phenomenon from the metabolism of the microorganism poses a host of serious health implications to consider.

The presence of the gas during growth was first established and identified with the methods of gas chromatography.  Carbon dioxide production is in the majority proportion and carbon monoxide accompanies this in a lower proportion, as is shown below.

CDB CO2_CO Production2

Reference gas chromatogram depicting a comparison between carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide isolated from automobile exhaust and that of the microorganism (CDB).  Retention times correspond and support the identification of both carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide production.

As described in previous papers, the tentative nomenclature for the microorganism has been designated as a “cross-domain bacteria“, or CDB.  This terminology remains in place by this researcher as study continues; all evidence does continue to support the hypothesis of a predominant bacterial origin and nature.

The conclusions regarding the gas as a product of metabolism have been further confirmed with the use of infrared spectrometry.  The carbon dioxide spectrum (gas) presents strong absorbance peaks in the 2100 – 2200 cm-1 wavenumber range.  These peaks have been repeatedly identified within the gaseous samples from the CDB microorganism.

CDB Gas Production CO Segment Average Aug 13 2016 - 13

Infrared spectrum of the gaseous metabolic product from the CDB.  Absorbance in the 2100 – 2200 cm-1 wavenumber range has been repeatedly identified, and is shown above.  This absorbance in this specific infrared range further supports the conclusion of carbon monoxide production by the microorganism.

CO2_NIST_Gas

 Reference spectrum of gaseous carbon monoxide.  Absorbance in the 2100-2200 cm-1 wavenumber range exists as a unique identifying characteristic of the gas.  Source of image : NIST

Gas chromatography and infrared spectrometry methods, applied repeatedly to multiple samples of CDB growth, both support the conclusions of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide production reached in this report.

The concentration of carbon dioxide within the samples is relatively high and easily detected.  The concentration of carbon monoxide is lower, and is at roughly the limits of detection with the instrumentation available.  A first and partial estimate of the carbon monoxide concentration is on the order of 50-100 parts per million (ppm) within the sample volumes examined.  The existence of continuous gas production by the CDB, irrespective of concentrations to be determined in the future, is sufficient to warrant serious health impact investigations.

Additional gaseous production, such as that from hydrocarbons, remains an additional topic of investigation and remains for future discussions.

The primary purpose of this paper is to disclose the result in preparation for future examinations.  A few historical and leading comments will be made with respect to the health issues that warrant mention, but this topic is obviously deserving of its own discussion in future days.

The finding is, of course, of significance.  However, for those familiar with the history of research on this site, the disclosure should not be one of total surprise.  There is now a record over several years of an ongoing chronicle of reported and expected interference with major systems of the body from the Morgellons condition.  This interference and damage to human health most emphatically concerns all aspects of energy production, oxygen transport, iron utilization and respiration.  It has been reported on continuously for a period of many years now.  What differs in the the current situation is that a primary mechanism for a portion of that harm may be under definition.

I will spare the reader of citing the legacy of work on this site that is completely and totally consistent with a finding of carbon monoxide within the metabolism of the organism; I do, however, encourage that investigation to understand the depth of work that leads us to this occasion.

The most immediate need will be a preview to some of the potential health risks from carbon monoxide in the body.  I would suggest that a focal point of investigation be that of chronic low level exposure and the associated symptoms and conditions that might result. Higher concentration impacts, for a myriad of practical reasons, would not seem to be relevant at this time. Carbon monoxide and human health is serious business no matter how you choose to look at it.   It will also be of interest in our future to compare the low level exposure symptoms with those that will, in due time, become known from the investigative survey (MRP) conducted by this Institute.  The investigations will be complicated further by the broad array of disruptors that been brought forth in the course of the research over many years.

It will also be of interest to investigate those groups of bacteria or related microorganisms that share in the property of producing carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and/or various hydrocarbons within their metabolism.  The commonality of that trait will also be of interest.

Let us look at the latter question first.

To Be Continued

Morgellons : An International Presence

Morgellons:

An International Presence

by

Clifford E Carnicom

Aug 10 2016

In an effort to provide continuing documentation of the Morgellons condition, the following images are provided.   The magnification of the series progresses from approximately 100x to 5000x. The samples originate from the scalp of an individual and multiple examples have been provided under clean and controlled conditions.  The network of filaments, although compact and dense, is completely commensurate with previous samples that have been examined over the years.

The filament networks taken from the skin of the affected individual come from a person that resides in France.  Overwhelming evidence continues to mount that the source of the condition is environmental  in nature, origin and distribution. This most recent example demonstrates the international scope of the this continuing and unaddressed public health issue.

scalp_100-01

Low power image (top lit) of a representative filament network taken from the skin of the individual.  The sample, in general, is difficult to image because of the density of the network.  The samples measure approximately 1 mm in length.  Various microscopy configurations have been used to collect these images. 

Magnification approx. 100x.

scalp_350-01

A silhouette view on the edge of the filament network.

Magnification approx. 350x.

scalp_1500-01

First level of internal detail of filament network becomes visible.

Magnification approx. 1500x.

scalp_5000-01

The complex internal nature of filament network is revealed.  Extensive discussion on the internal structure of the filament form of growth exists on this site.

Magnification approx. 5000x.

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.

 mortality-concentration-days-02
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
by
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.

 

mortality-visibility-days-04

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.

2016-03-06_11.10.49

 

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

Sincerely,

Clifford E Carnicom
Mar 12, 2016

The Obscuration of Health Hazards :

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

by
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:

2016-02-02_11.42.35
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):

2016-02-02_11.51.45

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:

2016-02-02_12.04.02
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) :

 

2016-02-04_16.52.40

 

with the following conclusions:

 

2016-02-04_16.54.29

 

as based upon the following results:

 

2016-02-04_16.55.04

 

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.)
(UK-EU-Meter)
[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)

and

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.

 

clear_01

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

op_01

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

op_02

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

 

op_day-crop

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.

 


Summary:

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.

Recommendations:

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

 

References

“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.”

Tertiary Rainwater Analysis : Questions of Toxicity

Tertiary Rainwater Analysis : Questions of Toxicity

 Clifford E Carnicom
Nov 08 2015

ABSTRACT

This paper presents evidence of a chemical signature that exists within an analyzed rain sample that is characteristic of known toxins and pesticides. The method of analysis used is that of mid-infrared spectroscopy. Specifically, certain functional groups involving sulfur, nitrogen, phosphorus, oxygen, and halogens have been identified in the analysis. It is recommended that the investigation be duplicated by independent researchers to determine if an environmental hazard does exist. If these results are verified to be positive, the source of the contaminants is to be identified and eliminated from the environment.

residual_ir4Infrared Spectrum of Concentrated Rain Water Sample
(Aqueous Influence Removed)

The original rainwater sample volume for this analysis is approximately 3.25 liters.  The sample was evaporated under mild heat to approximately 0.5% of the original volume, or about 15 milliliters.  The sample has previously been shown to contain both aluminum, biological components, and a residue that appears to be an insoluble metallic or organometallic complex.  The target of this particular study is that of soluble organics.

The organic infrared signal within the solution is weak and difficult to detect with the means available; it is further complicated by being present in aqueous solution.  The aqueous influence was minimized by making an evaporated film layer on a KCl cell; the transmission mode was used. The signal is identifiable and repeatable under numerous passes in comparison to the reference background.

The primary conclusion from the infrared analysis is that a core group of elements exists within the solution; these appear to include carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, oxygen and a halogen.  The organic footprint appears to be weak but detectable and dominated by the above heteratoms.

As further evidence for the basis of this report, qualitative tests for an amine (nitrogen and hydrogen), sulfates and phosphates (sulfur, oxygen and phosphorus) have each produced a positive test result.  A qualitative test for a halogen in the concentrated rainwater sample has also produced a positive result; the most likely candidate at this point is the chloride ion.  All elements present have therefore been proven to exist at detectable levels by two independent methods.

This grouping of elements is distinctive; they essentially comprise the core elements of many important, powerful and highly toxic pesticides.   For example, three sources directly state the importance of the group above as the very base of most pesticides:

 

“In pesticides, the most common elements are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur and chlorine”.

Pesticide Residues in Food and Drinking Water : Human Exposure and Risks, Dennis Hamilton, 2004.

 

“We can further reduce the list by considering those used most frequently in pesticides: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, chlorine, and sulfur”.

Fundamentals of Pesticides, A Self-Instruction Guide, George Ware , 1982.

 

“Heteratoms like fluorine, chlorine, bromine, nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus, which are important elements in pesticide residue analysis, are of major interest”.

Analysis of Pesticides in Ground and Surface Water II : Latest Developments, Edited by H.J. Stan, 1995.

 

It is also true that phosphate diesters are at the core of DNA structure and that many genetic engineering procedures involve the splitting of the phosphate diester complex.

The information provided above is sufficient to justify and invoke further investigation into the matter.  The sample size, although it was derived from an extensive storm over several days in the northwest U.S., is nevertheless limited and quite finite after reduction of the sample volume.  The residual insoluble components (apparently metallic in nature) are also limited in amount and more materials will be required for further analysis.  The signal is weak and difficult to isolate from the background reference; concentration level estimates for elements or compounds (other than that of aluminum which has been assessed earlier) is another entire endeavor.  Systematic, wide-area, and long term testing will be required to validate or refute the results.  All caveats above aside, it would seem that the duty to address even the prospect of the existence of such toxins in the general rainfall befalls each of us.  It would seem wise that this process begins without delay.

There are a few additional comments on this finding that need be mentioned.

The first of these is the issue of local and regional vs. a national and international scope of consideration.  It is understood that pesticides or compounds similar in nature are a fact of our environment, and that considerable awareness and effort is in place to mitigate their damage over decades of use.  Organic farming and genetically engineered crops are two very divergent approaches to reconciliation with the impact of environmental harm, and they are shaping our society and food supply in the most important ways manageable.  Given that the pesticide industry exists, regardless of our varying opinions of merit or harm, I think that it is fair to say that we generally presume that pesticides are under some form of local control.  Our general understanding is that pesticides are applied at ground or close to ground level and are intended to be applied to a specific location or, at most, a region within a defined time interval.

The prospect, even I daresay, the hint, of pesticide or pesticide-like compounds in rainfall is more than daunting.  It seems immediately necessary to consider what scale of operation would support such toxins finding their way into the expanses of atmosphere and rainfall?  For the sake of the general welfare, I think we should all actively wish and seek to disprove the findings within this report.  I will not hesitate to amend this report if honest, fair and accurate testing bears out negative reports over an adequate time period, and my motive never includes sensationalizing an issue.  This is one test, one time, one place, with limited means and support in the process.  I cannot disprove the results at this time and I have an obligation to report on that which seems to be case, uncomfortable as it might be.  It is not the first time that I have been in this situation, and judging from the changes in the the health of the planet that have taken place, it is unlikely to be the last.  The sooner that the state of truth is reached, the better we shall all be for it in any sense that is real.

The second comment relates to the decline of the bee population.  Bees are an indicator species, the canary in the mine, as it were.  The bees and the amphibians have both been ringing their alarm for some time now, and we best not remain passive about finding the reasons for decline.  A minimum of 1/3 of our agricultural economy, and that means food, is dependent upon the bee population for its very existence.  This is no trifling matter, and we all need to get up to speed quickly on the importance of this issue, myself included.

Suffice it to say that compounds of this nature, i.e, historical pesticides like organophosphates and the purported safer and more recent alternatives (e.g., the neonicotinoids), have a very close relationship to the ongoing and often ambiguous studies regarding bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).  From my perspective, it would seem prudent to eliminate the findings of this report as a contributing cause to the problem as promptly as possible.  If that can not be done so readily, then we may have a bigger problem on our hands than is imagined.

One of the interesting side notes is that the elements and groups identified as candidates for investigation actually seem to overlap between the neonicotinioids and the organophosphates.  This includes the nitrogen groups that characterize the neonicotinoids and the phosphate esters that characterize the organophosphates.  If such a combination were at hand, this would seem especially troublesome as both forms remain mired in controversy, let alone any combination thereof.

The third and final comment relates to the toxicity of these compound types in general.  It is not just an issue about bees or salamanders.  These particular compounds have a history and effects that are not difficult for us to research, and we should become aware of their impacts upon the planet quickly enough.  Many of us already are.  The fact is that organophosphates have their origins as nerve gas agents in the pre-World War II era, and in theory their use has been reduced but hardly eliminated.  Residential use is apparently no longer permissible in the United States, but commercial usage still is.  This raises questions on what real effect any such “restrictive” legislation has had.

The neonicotinoids are promoted as a generally safer alternative to the organophosphates, but they are hardly without controversy as well.  They too have strong associations with CCD in the research that is ongoing.  They also are neuro-active insecticides.

It would seem to me that we all have a job to do in getting up to speed on the source, distribution and levels of exposures to insecticide and insecticide related compounds.  A greater awareness of toxins in our environment, in general, also seems in order.  If our general environment has been affected to a degree that has avoided confrontation  thus far, then we need to face the music as quickly as possible.  I trust that we understand the benefits of both rationality and aggressiveness when serious issues face us, and this may be another such time.  I hope that I will be able to dismiss this report in due time; at this time, I cannot.

Sincerely,

Clifford E Carnicom
Nov 05, 2015

Born Clifford Bruce Stewart
Jan 19, 1953

 

Additional Notes:

The preliminary functional group assignments being made to the absorption peaks at this time are as follows (cm-1):

~ 3322 : Amine, Alkynes (R2NH considered)
~ 2921 : CH2 (methylene)
~ 2854 : CH2 (methylene)
~1739 : Ester (RCOOR, 6 ring considered)
~1447 : Sulfate (S=O considered)
~1149 : Phosphate (Phosphate ester, organophosphate considered)
~1072 : Phosphine, amine, ester, thiocarbonyl
~677  : Alkenes, aklynes, amine, alkyl halide

The assignments will be revised or refined as circumstances and sample collections permit, however, as a group they appear to provide a distinctive organic signature.  A structural model may be developed at a future date.

Some chemical compounds which may share some similar properties to that under consideration here include, for example, (not all elements included in any listed compound; only for reference comparison purposes):

p-chlorophenyl (3-phenoxypropyl)carbamate
N-(1-naphthylsulfonyl)-L-phenylalanyl chloride
2,2,2-trichloroethyl 2-(2-benzothiazolyl)dithio-alpha-isopropenyl-4-oxo-3-phenylacetamido-1-azetidineacetate
cytidine monophosphate
diiodobis(triphenylphosphine)nickel(II)

per :
SDBSWeb : http://sdbs.db.aist.go.jp (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Nov 06 2015)