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Exposing The American Lung Association's Questionable 2019 Air Quality Report

Updated on May 17, 2019
Robert Kernodle profile image

For over fifteen years, I was an aerobic exercise instructor and an avid physical fitness leader, with an intense focus on healthy lungs.

Based on my understanding of the most current facts, The American Lung Association has done a questionable job of representing the state of the air for the United States, in its latest report.

Standards of Integrity for Charitable Organizations

Before explaining why I have come to the previously stated conclusion, I want to point out the formal expectations of a charitable organization.

According to The American Lung Association (ALA) website:

  • As a Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance Accredited Charity, the American Lung Association values financial accountability and is committed to transparency with our donors and the general public.

According to the BBB Standards For Charity Accountability - Truthful Materials statement, the organization must:

  • Have solicitations and informational materials, distributed by any means, that are accurate, truthful and not misleading, both in whole and in part.

Misleading Statements

State of the Air 2019 is a 167-page document, whose opening summary attempts to set the tone of a study about the health effects of increased pollution caused by current changes in the climate. On page 4, we find the following:

  • The “State of the Air” 2019 report adds to the evidence that a changing climate is making it harder to protect human health. The three years covered in this report ranked as the hottest years on record globally. High ozone days and spikes in particle pollution zoomed, putting millions more people at risk and adding challenges to the work cities are doing across the nation to clean up.

This claim about evidence is unfounded. The American Lung Association focuses on a mere three years of data, within a span of thirty-seven years of data collected by The Environmental Protection Agency that clearly shows huge reductions in both ozone pollution and particle pollution for the United States.

The minimum number of years of data required to even begin speculating about climate effects would be thirty years. Clearly, on the scale of time required to discuss climate, there have been monumental reductions in pollution across the board in the United States.

The proper perspective on this scale, then, is that air quality in the United States has improved remarkably during a period of supposed alarming climate change. The American Lung Association, thus, does not even consider the correct time frame to discuss a climate connection, let alone provide any evidence of a causal connection between the current climate and pollution.

Adding insult to injury, The American Lung Association erroneously exaggerates a global warming trend of less than one degree, in an attempt to causally relate temperature to pollution in the United States. The so called warmest years on record differ by mere tenths of a whole degree, thus making any claim of increasing temperature invalid, by way of this statistically insignificant amount.

If ALA researchers cite an insignificant increase in temperature, then how can they cite increased temperature as a cause of increased pollution? They cannot. Doing so suggests negligence in gathering information correctly. If ALA researchers obscure a period of 37 years of drastic decreases in pollution, then how can they properly represent a period of three years (within this 37 years), where a small pollution spike might have occurred? They cannot. Doing so suggests lack of sufficient care, at best, and willful disregard of facts, at worst.

37 Years of Dramatically Improving Air Quality in the United States

United States Environmental Protection Agency Ozone Air Quality Graph
United States Environmental Protection Agency Ozone Air Quality Graph | Source
United States Environmental Protection Agency Carbon Monoxide Air Quality Graph
United States Environmental Protection Agency Carbon Monoxide Air Quality Graph | Source
https://www.epa.gov/air-trends/lead-trends
https://www.epa.gov/air-trends/lead-trends | Source
United States Environmental Protection Agency Nitrogen Dioxide Air Quality Graph
United States Environmental Protection Agency Nitrogen Dioxide Air Quality Graph | Source
United States Environmental Protection Agency PM10 Air Quality Graph
United States Environmental Protection Agency PM10 Air Quality Graph | Source
United States Environmental Protection Agency PM2.5 Air Quality Graph
United States Environmental Protection Agency PM2.5 Air Quality Graph | Source
United States Environmental Protection Agency SO2 Air Quality Graph
United States Environmental Protection Agency SO2 Air Quality Graph | Source

100 Years Of Remarkably Stable Global Temperatures

Global Temperature Data Plotted To Exaggerate Warming of a Degree or Less
Global Temperature Data Plotted To Exaggerate Warming of a Degree or Less | Source
Global Temperature Data Plotted To Represent Statistically Significant Change (None)
Global Temperature Data Plotted To Represent Statistically Significant Change (None)

Emotional Appeal vs Rational Assessment

Continuing on page 4 of the ALA report, we read the following:

  • More must be done to address climate change and to protect communities from the growing risks to public health.

This statement is an appeal that does not follow from any of the research presented in the rest of the report. The statement simply appears to be inserted into the flow of information about effects of pollution on human health.

While information on pollution seems well researched, a statement of appeal does not summarize any information relating pollution to today's climate. The statement is merely an emotional plea, scientifically disconnected from the facts, pointed out previously.

Misrepresented Facts

On page 5 of the ALA report, we find:

  • The “State of the Air” 2019 report shows, again, that climate change makes it harder to protect human health.

This is another unsupported statement, presented as a fact. Again, the three-year period of the report does not constitute a period over which a discussion of climate is even possible. Environmental Protection Agency data over a 37-year period from 1980-2017 shows decisively large decreases in all forms of pollution for the United States. The American Lung Association misrepresents this fact.

Next, we find:

  • While most of the nation has much cleaner air quality than even a decade ago, too many cities suffered increased ozone from the increased temperature and continued high particle pollution from wildfires driven by changing rain patterns.

This statement certainly mentions a significant improvement in air quality from a decade ago, but then it immediately downplays the fact with a judgment that casts it aside, again, as if a long-term trend encompassing the short-term trend means nothing.

Emotions about the short-term trend improperly replace science, which plainly shows these emotions to be shortsighted.

Continuing on page 5:

  • As climate change continues, cleaning up these pollutants will become ever more challenging. Climate change poses many threats to human health, including worsened air quality and extreme weather events. The nation must work to reduce emissions that worsen climate.

Once again, these statements are about climate, while the study encompasses a mere three-year period, which, therefore, disqualifies it as a study about climate.

ALA researchers ignore 37 years, in order to focus only on three, where they can manipulate language in a way to make the short-term emotional experience overpower the long-term real effect. This is not factual research. Rather, this suggests something else, driven by motives other than seeking the truth.

Motives?

Why do ALA researchers neglect considering health effects over the 37-year period of impressive air-quality improvement in the United States?

Why do ALA researchers speculate on worsened air quality, when the long-term trend plainly shows incredibly improved air?

Why do ALA researchers speak of extreme weather events, when real-world data shows decreasing or zero trends in all forms of extreme weather?

And if ALA researchers regard carbon dioxide as a pollutant, then why do they neglect to mention that, between 2005 and 2017, US carbon dioxide emissions fell by 12.4% on an absolute basis and by 19.9% on a per capita basis?

The emergence of such questions suggest a lack of diligence, a biased mindset, a political agenda, or a combination of all three, on the part of the American Lung Association.

Conclusion

The American Lung Association's State of the Air 2019 deceptively sprinkles the phrase, "climate change", into a plethora of otherwise useful information about air quality and human health, displaying not even an elementary understanding of the time frame over which discussions about climate take place.

On this particular occasion, therefore, The American Lung Association falters in upholding standards of integrity for a charitable group that claims to produce sound, ethical reports in the interest of human well-being.

This organization appears to have fashioned its report to endorse the highly controversial issue of human-caused climate change, which makes the report come across more as a contrived, political manifesto than a genuine, public-health resource.

Comments

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    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      Brad 

      2 years ago

      Robert

      I totally agree, and I really didn't consider the improvement in air quality even here in what was once smoggy CA.

      I would add that if their predicted disasters from climate control were real, they are not providing a solution that would be effective. Their only plan is conservation and in an exploding population conservation doesn't work. They are also working to a man made timeline, while nature is unpredictable.

      Tsunamis will do more damage than these climate change disasters.

      Thanks for the information.

    • Robert Kernodle profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Kernodle 

      2 years ago

      MAGA TwentyTwenty,

      ALA is viewing the data in a deceptive manner, which, I suppose could qualify as "fudging".

      Three years does not a climate study make. In fact, ALA appears to overlook the thirty-seven year record of air-quality improvement in the United States that WOULD qualify for a discussion about climate. Trouble is, the global climate alarm narrative preaches bad things are/will be happening with changing climate, whereas air quality improvement during this so called bad-climate phase has been stellar.

      Focusing on this fact would detract from the popular narrative, and to go against the popular narrative probably would risk loosing donors. It's probably less financially risky to ride the alarmist narrative, even if it means distorting the perspective unfairly.

      This shows a lack of integrity that looses my respect for the organization.

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      Brad 

      2 years ago

      Robert

      Excellent expose article.

      "The American Lung Association's State of the Air 2019 deceptively sprinkles the phrase, "climate change", into a plethora of otherwise useful information about air quality and human health, displaying not even an elementary understanding of the time frame over which discussions about climate take place."

      This sounds like the ALA is being more political and than scientific as well as fudging the data.

    • Robert Kernodle profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Kernodle 

      2 years ago

      Funding (i.e., grants) for climate change research seems to be a fairly active, competitive enterprise. It appears to follow the IPCC's exclusive focus on human causes, which underplays or gives insufficient treatment to natural causes.

      I assume that this is part of the money that R Talloni might be referring to.

      Also, blaming humans for current climate change seems to be politically correct, despite evidence to the contrary, which gets concealed, obscured, or vilified.

      ALA appears to be trying to stay politically correct, which does little to maintain my respect for it, which I used to have.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      2 years ago from Chicago

      Well done! Thank you for this needful expose'.

    • profile image

      RTalloni 

      2 years ago

      Thank you for putting this together. What they are doing is following the money and people need to be aware of their motives so their agenda can be seen in perspective. Thank you again for the work it took to post this so people can better think through the issues involved.

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