Elia M. Sterling

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Elia Sterling was the eldest of two sons (the other was David) of Theodor D Sterling one of the most notorious scientific dissemblers for the tobacco industry. They ran a business known as TDS Ltd conducting indoor air testing in Canada (and touted their faked results around the world)

When he was old enough, Elia took over and managed the 'industrial hygiene' business while his father ran a computer science department at Simon Fraser University. They both openly provided witness services for Philip Morris and other companies and organisations in the tobacco industry. Elia also came to play an important role in the indoor air conditioning organisation ASHRAE (American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers) which was the defacto standards organisation for Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and therefore for the rate at which office air needed to be exchange in order to limit the irritation of second-hand smoke/ ASHRAE later created European subsidiaries and effectively set the standards of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) required in offices around the world

This is a split entry
See also Sterling Family (Doc Index)
Father & Company Theodor D. Sterling
Brother:     Prof. David A Sterling

The other son, David A Sterling does not appear to have been directly involved in the day-to-day company operations but he assisted the family's core business (which was fundamentally creating propaganda in support of smoking), by conducting some dubious questionnairre research with DJ Moschandreas at a Chicago research establishment, the Illinois Institute of Technology, Research Institute (IITRI). He also provide support for the family propaganda efforts through the Society for Risk Assessment and later (post 1990) as Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Program, College of Health Sciences, Old Dominion Uni, Norfolk, Virginia.

Biography & TimeLine

1979 Apr Theodor D Sterling's Continuing Critical Review of Major Factors in Statistical Studies of Smoking & Health introduces Elia Sterling to the tobacco industry. This is a report on his on-going projects for the industry:

  • He has been getting reactions from papers in the Journal of Occupational Medicine (1976) and Medical Journal of Australia (1977)
  • reactions from article "Does Smoking Kill Workers or Does Working Kill Smokers" in the International Journal of Health Services.
  • He is associated with statistical collection by Dr Stell in UK, Dr Arvin S Glicksman (Brown University) and Dr Harold Perry (Sinai Hospital Detroit). This is a retrospective mortality study to unconfound occupation from smoking effects.

• Research on synergism with Dr James J Weinkam (Simon Fraser Uni)

  • Pollution in Enclosed Space research (cigarette smoke is trivial)
* His own publication in Journal of Environmental Research in 1977. Now supplemented by
* Elia Sterling publication in Journal of Architectural Research
* Talk by Elia Sterling in proceedings of Environmental Design Research in Architecture conference in 1979
  • Kitchen pollution (carbon monoxide) paper in Journal of the Air Pollution Control Association (March 1979). Two studies on pollution effects of gas cookers, one with Lawrence Berkeley Labs.)
*planning a review of subject in Journal of Environmental Research
  • Rewriting paper at editorial request on "Statistical Problems in the Use of Sputum Cytology as a Survey Instrument" for the Archives of Pathology
  • article/review of reversals observed in many studies on smoking and CHD. Using observations of Carl C Seltzer (Peabody Museum, Harvard)
  • Statistical analysis of smoking and occupation - sex, race, income , has provided data for...
* errors in estimating smoking prevalence (misclassification) by Dr James J Weinkam.
* smoking as a function of social variables with Professor Laudon. Preparation for Sur-Gen report in 1980.
  • Research on magnetometric techniques - on the in vitro effect of lung viscosity on magnetite particles with Drs Reinstein, Robinson and Alvin SGlicksman.
  • On-going review of relevant literature and experiments - anticipating factors and variables for future work

He now asked for a three-year renewal of his present research budget. "As before, some of the funding and staff will be divided between Simon Fraser University and the Principle Investigator's needs in cooperating with a widely dispersed group of collaborators." [2]

1981 May 4 Ernest Pepples, the Senior Vice President of Brown & Williamson responsible for science corruption activities has written to tobacco lawyers Shook Hardy & Bacon.

Re:T.D.Sterling and Elia Sterling
In reference to your letter of April 22 1981 on behalf of T.D. and Elia Sterling, we will join in the total funding proposed at $200,000 for the Sterling work. [3]

Alexander W Spears, the VP at Lorillard has sought more information on this project. They plan an "Architectural Stress Information Schedule", which is a questionnaire to collect data on the buildings - number of windows, air-conditioning, etc.

The aim appears to be for Sterling to have some research to discuss at future scientific meetings. He has also introduced them to the new term (which later became a favourite) "Office building syndrome" (sick building syndrome) RJR and B&W have approved the project. Lorillard is of the opinion that the "science" (their quotes) is weak. [[4]

1981 Apr 22 Theodore Sterling has introduced his son Elia as "co-principal investigator" on a $200,000 project to promote the idea of 'Sick Building Syndrome ... initially called the; "Office Building Syndrome" project. This is a

... general term given to a collection of non-specific symptoms about workers in "energy efficient" office buildings have complained.

They hope to get NIOSH data on 50 office buildings where occupants had complained of "uncomfortable working conditions".

A second part of the study would include the office workers union of New York City, and eventually bring them in as allies.

This was a scam. The tobacco industry wanted office building owners and renters to run their air-conditioning equipment at the highest rate, to clear the smoke from the air as much as possible. But during the energy-crisis years when heating and cooling was very expensive, they all resisted increasing the air exchange rate, so workers suffered from second-hand smoke and complained. The ploy the Sterlings were exploiting was that of claiming that the problems came, not from smoke, but from other volatile chemicals in the atmosphere and from viruses and bacteria in the water-cooled ventilation equipment. This became known as SBS - Sick Building Syndrome.

Theodor Sterling has included a CV of his son Elia, who is to be co-principal investigator. Which suggests this was their first association with Elia. [5]

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