Thanks to a report by The Guardian last week, we now know the major oil companies knew all about fine particulate matter and the health risks associated with it for decades, but instead of doing anything about the problem, they poured money into disinformation campaigns orchestrated by the likes of Charles Koch’s Heartland Institute and the American Petroleum Institute. For a timeline of the actions taken by the oil industry to cover up their knowledge of air pollution and health risks, please see The Guardian’s source article.
“The fossil-fuel industry was sowing uncertainty to maintain business as usual, and in all likelihood they were collaborating with other groups, such as the tobacco industry,” said Carroll Muffett, head of the Center for International Environmental Law. “When you look at these historical documents in context it becomes clear that the oil and gas industry has a playbook they’ve used again and again for an array of pollutants. They used it around climate change but absolutely we are seeing it around PM2.5 as well. It’s the same pattern.”
Yes it is very much a reminder of exactly the tactics used by the cigarette companies years ago. And unfortunately in most cases governments are not going to be of help of at in exposing this as they've been lobbied, are receiving a lot of money, or are trying to cover their embarrassment. Once again it rests on media companies to investigate and expose these issues. As I commented last week, there is an interesting correlation between the freedom of the press in countries that relates to that country's level of democracy too.
See Big Oil’s Lies About Pollution Health Risks Contributed To Millions Of Deaths
For decades, major oil companies have known about the health risks from fine particulates but worked diligently to keep that knowledge secret.