In 2003, the US Chamber of Commerce published a position paper, “A Scientific View of the Health Effects of Mold”. The theme of the paper, which was specifically written to be shared with judges, is that “the notion that toxic mold is an insidious secret killer” is only being claimed because of “trial lawyers, media and Junk Science” and is unsupported by actual scientific study. The concept being promoted is that those who are claiming to be seriously ill from exposure to contaminants in water damaged buildings should be viewed as liars out to scam insurers and/or susceptible to hysterical hype they read in the media and on the internet.
In 2012, a non-profit advocacy group, Global Indoor Health Network (GIHN), who holds themselves out as helping those environmentally injured who can get no help because of the above noted hateful spin in science by the US Chamber et.al., just furthered the Chamber’s concept that the sick are hysterical liars who are only claiming serious illness because they believe everything they read in the media and the internet, and then spread the hype to frighten others via internet urban legends while trying to get money. GIHN did this with reckless disregard for the truth by using an overstated spin in the opposite direction of the Chamber’s as the theme of their 2012 Position Statement based solely on the title of an article out of Ghana, Africa by an unnamed author.
The Ghana article title claims poor indoor air quality is proven to cause half of the illnesses in the world (50%), based on zero information in the article (or anywhere else) to support the claim made in the title. As such, just like the US Chamber made the theme of their position paper that people are imagining mass amounts of illness that do not exist based on hysterical media hype, so has the “advocacy for the sick” non-profit, GIHN, in their position paper.
GIHN is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Their stated mission is to “proactively participate with others in the public and private sector to promote accurate health policy, strive for consistent guidelines, and advance education and awareness to ensure healthy indoor environments for individuals and families around the globe.” According to their website, “Our worldwide network of scientists, physicians, researchers, indoor air quality experts, attorneys, teachers, injured workers, advocates and others are working together to promote healthy indoor environments in homes, schools and businesses. We have united to share our collective knowledge, expertise and life experiences to advance the understanding and awareness of this very important public health issue.”
It was recently brought to GIHN’s attention and then to public light (upon their refusal to correct) that the group committed scientific fraud in their 2012 Position Statment by basing the theme of their paper on the grossly exaggerated claim that the EPA has stated “indoor air pollutants cause (not contribute to, cause) 50% of illnesses globally.” That is ridiculous that poor indoor air quality (IAQ) causes half of the world’s illnesses and even more ridiculous that any Environmental Protection Agency, anywhere in the world, would make such a unproven statistical claim. NONE have! Nor have any who study the Global Burden of Disease (GBD).
Again, GIHN got that scientific fraud – the theme of their paper – from an erred title of an article out of Ghana, Africa by an unnamed author. As such, they are serving to provide harmful and undue credibility to the US Chamber’s scientific fraud that all claims of serious illness from poor IAQ are only being made because of trial lawyers, media hype and Junk Science. Additionally, GIHN is casting doubt on the accurate information within it’s paper and it’s references regarding serious problems by overstating the global impact of the problems. Much of this accurate information being discredited by GIHN’s promotion of misinformation has come from years of hard work and research by physicians, scientists, advocates and investigative journalists not affiliated with GIHN.
All the leadership of GIHN had to do to save face and to promote true science over the issue to not mislead the sick and make them look like hysterics, was to acknowledge the error, correct it and move on. Nope! The President of GIHN lied again upon becoming aware of the harm from the scientific fraud and sent out an email to the members that she made “two small errors” and “typos” while continuing to spread the scientific fraud that the EPA finds poor IAQ causes half the illnesses in the world:
From: Cheryl Wisecup <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, Nov 13, 2012 at 7:28 AM
Subject: Revised message—-GIHN position statement (two small corrections)
It was pointed out that I have a typo in my message. In line one of the message, I said “were” instead of “where.” (There were two places where a statement…”) The corrected message is provided below. Message sent to GIHN members on November 13, 2012:
We recently discovered there were two small errors in our paper. There were two places where a statement was inadvertently attributed to an official with the U.S. EPA, but that statement came from an article about a presentation made by a Senior Programme Official in Ghana. [in which the flawed title of the article does not reflect the actual statistical statement made by the Senior Programme Official. The title states “Indoor air pollution causes 50% of illnesses globally”. The actual statistic stated by the official is that indoor air pollutants are among the top five environmental risks worldwide – not that it causes half of all illness in the world. GIHN went with the flawed title for their theme and call to action. They have not corrected this known exaggeration of the truth in their paper.] We have made those two small corrections (on page iii and page 2) and have added a disclosure statement on the top of that page on our website. Although we did not send out any hard copies of our paper and only referred everyone to our website, we will be communicating this change as appropriate. To read the revised copy of the paper, please go to the following link: http://globalindoorhealthnetwork.com/files/GIHN_position_statement.pdf
[The paper still contains the known false marketing theme that “indoor air pollution causes 50% of illnesses globally” and all legislators, physicians and the public should be told this outrageous lie – which would surely make them run from anyone stating this.]
As a reminder, this is a position statement (not a peer-reviewed, published research paper). Our members already know there is a difference between a “position statement” and a “peer-reviewed, published research paper.” However, since my emails are often forwarded to others outside GIHN, I am providing the following explanation.
There is a distinct difference between “position statements” and “peer-reviewed, published research papers.” [and there is also a distinct difference between knowingly lying to conceal past “errors” and telling the truth to correct error that harms the lives and credibility of many whether one is writing a position statement, a peer reviewed paper or living an honest life in general.] There are different criteria for each of these formats. An organization writes and publishes its position statement without outside review. In contrast, peer-reviewed research papers are required to meet specific criteria and are reviewed by outside parties who are credentialed in the subject matter being addressed. As the name clearly states, this is a “Position Statement” for GIHN.
Position statements can be brief and without references, or they can be more formal. For GIHN’s Position Statement, we took a more rigorous approach. We included citations for key statements, facts and statistics. We also included several additional components in the paper such as a Preface, Executive Summary, List of Tables, Introduction, Background, Research Methods, Findings, Call to Action, Bibliography, Appendix A and B, and Biographies and Conflict of Interest Statements for the six authors. We also included 240 references.
When we submit our paper to a peer-reviewed journal, we will follow the more rigorous requirements used for those types of papers. In anticipation of that process, we made sure that our position statement was written only by credentialed experts.
Since GIHN leadership has willfully chosen to mislead those injured by biocontaminants in water damaged buildings and injured by other indoor pollutants, including its own members, to make themselves look like over zealous fools by calling for action that “indoor air pollution causes 50% of illnesses globally” according to an Environmental Protection Agency; we will continue to advise the public of this scientific fraud in health marketing by GIHN; on behalf of the health, safety and welfare of the public.
While poor IAQ is indeed a serious problem harming many lives, it is ridiculous and discrediting to state it is scientifically proven to cause one out of every two illnesses worldwide, 50%. Contrary to the false concept being marketed by GIHN, no EPA study has ever made this finding.
So, if you are informing the public, physicians and legislators as to the seriousness of illnesses caused by poor IAQ, please do not follow GIHN’s directive and make a “Call To Action, Indoor Air Pollution Causes 50% of Illnesses Globally”. Please do not tell legislators, physicians and the public that you think this scientific fraud is a proven fact. It will only serve to discredit all of your words which are accurate and truthful. No EPA spokesman from Ghana or from the United States are corroborated as ever making any such outlandish statistical statement as is claimed in the GIHN position statement for source. There is no research paper which makes the finding indoor air pollutants cause half of the world’s illnesses. How GIHN did this twist of science and appears to be planning to continue on with mass marketing it, is called the “Big Lie Approach.”
November 16, 2012 message from GIHN President to the group’s members continuing to mislead them to aid the US Chamber et. al. to discredit those sickened by poor IAQ as hysterial liars who believe and act on everything they read on the internet, “Thanks again for all you do to spread the truth about this important public health issue.”