I wonder how much he gets paid for these lies?

There is an EPA appointee, Robert Phalen, who is a researcher at UC Irvine. He has said some extraordinary things.

Speaking to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012, Mr. Phalen told the audience: Modern air is a little too clean for optimum health. Mr. Phalen has also argued that the risks associated with modern particulate matter are very small and confounded by many factors. In a 2004 study, he wrote that, neither toxicology studies nor human clinical investigations have identified the components and/or characteristics of [particulate matter] that might be causing the health-effect associations.

No, really, he believes that.

Back in 2012, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS), Phalen claimed American children should be inhaling more pollution in order for their bodies to learn to handle it. According to a write-up on the AAAS official website, Phalen made the point bluntly.

Modern air is a little too clean for optimum health.

The article states further that Phalen described his most important role in science as causing trouble and controversy, and upon feeling an ocean breeze come through his office window, he remarked once again: See, the air is too clean.

This is what it takes to get a government appointment in the era of Trump and Pruitt.


  1. AndrewD says

    Well, there was a story by Murry Leinster where lack of air pollution was a major component. It was one of hos stories about Dr. Colquhun(?) and his Tormal assistant ( but this was a story and not a medical paper.)

  2. davidnangle says

    I bet that pays pretty good. Ideally, I’d like to see his own personal air supply fortified with what Texas corporations want to get rid of.

  3. chrislawson says

    Sometimes I swear the Trump administration is going to turn out to be a performance by Andy Kaufman in various disguises.

  4. kurt1 says

    Maybe he has that new and improved modern air, thats just a little too clean, while the rest of us plebs is still huffing old polluted air. Gotta get me some of that new stuff.

  5. says

    He wouldn’t mind being held down with a bag of asbestos mulch over his head for a couple minutes, then.

    I watched a friend die of mesothelioma from asbestos particles, in 2012. Dan was worth a busload of assholes like Phalen.

  6. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Some of the nominees have claimed that we need to burn more coal so we have more warming–because how can messing with the climate of the only planet we have be a bad thing?
    Here’s my theory: These folks aren’t human. They’re either aliens or lizard people, trying to restore the climate of the Cretaceous.

  7. monad says

    @6 a_ray_in_dilbert_space:
    I know that’s a joke, but if you say instead these folks have forgotten they’re human, I think it would hit the mark exactly.

  8. emergence says

    Okay, beyond just gaping at how glaringly idiotic it is to say that air pollution doesn’t damage people’s health, to the point that he claims that ozone doesn’t irritate the lungs, people who know better need to show the evidence that he’s wrong in detail and confront him with it. A group of toxicologists with actual credibility should make a public statement about this guy and his claims, citing the evidence that he claims doesn’t exist. Any member of the powers that be who has a conscience and the means should go after Phalen about this too.

    I like to use incidents like this to educate myself about subjects that I don’t know the fine details of. Can anyone recommend any resources like books or articles that explain what the research on air pollution actually says?

  9. says

    ah yes, just like how i think we should abolish health insurance and coverage and care and just make everyone low-level sick all the time so we build up an immunity to it…
    It’d probably be less expensive than health insurance.

  10. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Monad@7, Ooh! I think I have a topic for my next dystopian sci fi short story.

  11. Ichthyic says

    In case anyone hasn’t suggested it yet. I’d be happy to hook the tailpipes of a few autos to his office ventilation system.

  12. Ichthyic says

    A group of toxicologists with actual credibility

    preferably from UC Irvine… if there are any legit scientists left there.

    the place always leaned rightwards, even back when I used to live around those parts in the 70s and 80s.

    now? it’s nearly monthly I hear something really stupid coming out of there.

    the entire UC system is in danger of being destroyed by neoliberal ideologues, mostly at the administrative level, but more and more at the level of educator as well.

  13. Mark Dowd says



  14. =8)-DX says

    @Wander #14

    “a subplot of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind?”

    Um, not quite accurate? As a matter of fact, humans there only survive by pulling up clean underground water and it’s all they can use to water their crops, which also need unpolluted soil. The “toxic jungle” however is something they equate with pollution because its spores render their soil and plants toxic, and the air inside the jungle is toxic to humans. The subplot discovery is that the “toxic jungle” has actually evolved over time to sequester and degrade pollutants from the surface into underground vaults of “sand” which are non-toxic. So what was seen as (and still is) a danger to humans, is actually Nature over time removing the stain created presumably through global nuclear war and is humanity’s only chance for salvation in the long run. But that doesn’t mean people can just easily survive in the toxic jungle or eat its fruits.

  15. fusilier says

    Quit my _Analog_ subscription about 1986, so I don’t have an index but ….
    Somebody (Robert Silverberg?) wrote a short-story about a fellow who worked for an extremely reclusive multibillionaire, sort of a combination Koch brothers/Rex Tillerson/J.Paul Getty. The Second-in-Command / Heir Presumptive to the organization was “invited” to a post-funeral event. The protagonist took a scalpel and sliced through the entire cadaver along the midline, and told the Heir Presumptive to push the skin apart.

    Instead of a human being, it was an alien who breathed oxides of sulfur and nitrogen. Heir Presumptive then began to use his money and power to reverse the organization’s policies.

    The kicker was that the protagonist had a brother who earned his living making medical-school models.

    The kicker-to-the kicker was Occam’s Razor.


    James 2:24

  16. mykroft says

    Perhaps he is trying to create the counter-argument to this report that pollution is responsible for one in six deaths worldwide?

  17. davidc1 says

    @3 I have always thought that Andy Kaufman was born at the wrong time ,just think of all the jolly japes he could have gotten up to on the interweb .

    @5 I share your disgust at twats like phalen ,my older brother died from dust on the lungs cased by his job .
    Not pleasant to watch him struggling to breathe ,he was built like a brick s***house and he ended up weak
    as a kitten .

  18. lotharloo says

    I’m sure he next added that “There are way too many species living on Earth. God never intended to create so many different species!”

  19. cheeto says

    Dr Phalen is suggesting the idea that exposure to environmental pollutants can cause changes in the lung and immune response that can lead to Resistance to allergens or potential future chemical insults to the lung. It’s not a completely crazy idea, but it is being written about as if he was pushing the idea pollutants are good for you. I was a toxicology graduate student at UC Irvine and I recall Dr Phalen as occasionally putting forth the idea that a small level of pollutants could strengthen the immune system and provide some level of protection to toxic insult in the lungs