VW Beetle engine; image courtesy of Stephen Hanafin, via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes made.
VW Beetle engine; image courtesy of Stephen Hanafin, via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes made.

Discovery of Deceptive Monkey Research on Nitrogen Oxides. The New York Times’ Jack Ewing reports on continued discoveries on the diesel scandal. Now, we learn that VW and other automakers colluded in a deadly deception to cover up the harm of diesel emissions of nitrogen oxides.

“FRANKFURT — In 2014, as evidence mounted about the harmful effects of diesel exhaust on human health, scientists in an Albuquerque laboratory conducted an unusual experiment: Ten monkeys squatted in airtight chambers, watching cartoons for entertainment as they inhaled fumes from a diesel Volkswagen Beetle.

German automakers had financed the experiment in an attempt to prove that diesel vehicles with the latest technology were cleaner than the smoky models of old. But the American scientists conducting the test were unaware of one critical fact: The Beetle provided by Volkswagen had been rigged to produce pollution levels that were far less harmful in the lab than they were on the road.

The results were being deliberately manipulated.

The Albuquerque monkey research, which has not been previously reported, is a new dimension in a global emissions scandal that has already forced Volkswagen to plead guilty to federal fraud and conspiracy charges in the United States and to pay more than $26 billion in fines.

The company admitted to installing software in vehicles that enabled them to cheat on emissions tests. But legal proceedings and government records show that Volkswagen and other European automakers were also engaged in a prolonged, well-financed effort to produce academic research that they hoped would influence political debate and preserve tax privileges for diesel fuel.

The details of the Albuquerque experiment have been disclosed in a lawsuit brought against Volkswagen in the United States, offering a rare window into the world of industry-backed academic research.” 1,2

Monkeys; image courtesy of Aalokmjoshi, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0, no changes made.
Monkeys; image courtesy of Aalokmjoshi, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0, no changes made.

1975 Deceptive Monkey Research on Nitrogen Oxides. In 1975, the EPA held a Scientific Symposium at which an oil industry-funded researcher, Dr. Harold N. MacFarland, Director of Toxicology, Gulf Oil Corporation, reported testing monkeys for the health effects of inhaling nitrogen oxides. He noted that monkeys could be exposed to nitrogen oxides at many times the ambient levels being considered by the EPA before pulmonary function changes were found. 3

I asked him about his research. He said they used only “the best monkeys money could buy.” The monkeys had been selected to be in prime physical condition so as not to confound the study. I mentioned that people are often susceptible because they often are not in prime physical condition. And, I mentioned that people range in age from infants to elderly. And, that people have to breathe under many conditions e.g. pregnancy, injuries, and illnesses that make them more vulnerable to pollutants.

Then, I asked about the pathogens he used to test for health effects after exposure to nitrogen oxides. (Nitrogen oxides decrease the ability of the body to protect against common pathogens.) He said no pathogens were used. No dose – no response, no problem.

I asked EPA to submit questions to each presenter to:

  1. Address the requirements of the Clean Air Act that ambient air quality standards should be set to protect the health of all susceptible groups;
  2. State their view on adequacy of the air quality standards;
  3. Justify their view based on health, economic and or technological grounds;
  4. Identify sources of financial support 3 at p. 729

EPA dismissed my 1975 request as “not relevant to scientific research findings.” 3 at p. 730-731

Our Health, Safety and Happiness Today

To this day, we continue to need transparency and truth to have trust in government, corporations, and the media.

Hopefully today more people recognize the validity of my 1975 questions to their health, safety and happiness.

As I wrote in Legal Reader, people have powers to protect themselves. 4

But there is a long history of people not acting effectively to protect our health and safety and happiness. In my Legal Reader article on “50 years of “Legal” Climate Change” I documented many landmarks. 5

I went on to trace the violent roots of Republican policies in a Legal Reader article on Republican Racketeers. 6

As I write this on the day of Trump’s 2018 State of the Union Address, the Trump Auto Air Pollution Early Death Clock, based on MIT estimates, is approaching 55,000 early deaths in the U.S. since President Trump took office. 7  [Editor’s note: this story is being published the day after the State of the Union Address.]


  1. 10 Monkeys and a Beetle: Inside VW’s Campaign for ‘Clean Diesel’
  2. German Carmakers Criticized for Emissions Research on Monkeys
  3. Scientific Seminar on Automotive Pollutants
  4. Power of People to Protect People
  5. 50 Years of “Legal” Climate Change
  6. Republican Racketeers: Violent Roots of Republican Policies
  7. Trump Clocks

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