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WNCN Investigates

Patient seeking $2 million in EPA human experimentation case

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

A Durham man has filed a complaint against the EPA seeking more than $2 million in the case some are calling "illegal human experimentation."

Matthew Cipparone is claiming monetary damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act for his personal injury, including past and future lost wages, future medical expenses, and pain and suffering as a result of his participation in EPA studies.

Cipparone participated in EPA experiments in 2011 at the agency's labs at UNC's School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.

The complaint was submitted to EPA on March 88th but remained confidential until it was released to WNCN on Wednesday.

The experiments came under fire last year when public health advocate Steve Milloy with the American Tradition Institute filed a lawsuit against the EPA, alleging its physicians exposed unhealthy patients to lethal toxins to see what would happen.

Milloy is one of several attorneys representing Cipparone who declined WNCN's request to interview Cipparone.

Milloy maintains North Carolina-licensed doctors parked a truck next to the labs at UNC and pumped diesel exhaust into a chamber where patients, including Cipparone, unknowingly inhaled potentially lethal fumes for up to two hours.

"They are treating human beings as laboratory animals – as guinea pigs," Milloy previously told WNCN.

EPA has publicly stated fumes like those inhaled during the experiments can cause premature death.

According to the complaint obtained by WNCN, prior to commencing the experiments Cipparone claims he asked EPA staff about the substances he would be inhaling. The medical testing staff at the EPA Human Testing Facility refused to disclose this information to him. Instead, the complaint says the staff "assured Cipparone that the air mixture was similar to that found in major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles or New York."

Another participant, Landon Huffman previously told WNCN a similar story.

"(The staff) convinced me that what I was doing was harmless. That I was breathing air from outside," said Huffman.

According to the Cipparone complaint, he is not a smoker nor has he had a history of asthma. But since the experiments he "has continued to experience a severe and persistent cough and symptoms consistent with asthma. On at least five occasions since EPA exposed him to diesel exhaust ozone and other harmful substances, Cipparone has experienced coughing spells so severe that he has vomited."

The EPA responded to the complaint in a written statement to WNCN, saying "We have received the claim and are evaluating it."

Earlier this month, the experiments caught the attention of Republican state senators who are sponsoring Senate Bill 187. If the bill becomes law as written, beginning July 1 the experiments would be banned and become a felony.

The EPA previously told WNCN it does not comment on pending legislation.

The EPA Office of the Inspector General is in the midst of a several month long investigation requested by Congress.

In late January, the North Carolina Medical Board closed its investigation into the doctors at the center of the controversial experiments.

Charlotte Huffman

An award-winning journalist with an investigative edge, Charlotte has driven legislative change with reports on workplace safety concerns and contaminated groundwater. Contact our Investigative Team anytime HERE. More>>

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