New battlefront for petrochemical industry: benzene and childhood leukemia

By Kristen Lombardi

Jarrett McElheney grew up near a cluster of petroleum storage tanks. His parents believe benzene in drinking water gave him cancer.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Center for Public Integrity":

"… Internal memorandums, emails, letters and meeting minutes obtained by the Center for Public Integrity over the past year suggest that BP and four other major petrochemical comp …"

A dozen dirty documents

By Kristen Lombardi and Jared Bennett

Twelve documents that stand out from the Center's new archive

Excerpts from this story referencing "Benzene":

"… 0 summary of the API’s research strategy, drafted by the group’s  Benzene Task Force, explains that the research program “is designed to protect m …"

"… rs of “personal injury claims,” an email exchange among members of the Benzene Health Research Consortium urges deletion of  “the reference to leg …"

Benzene and worker cancers: 'An American tragedy'

By Kristen Lombardi

Previously secret documents illuminate a 10-year effort by petrochemical titans to counteract damning science on the carcinogen benzene.

Excerpts from this story referencing "United States":

"… ican tragedy.” Five million Americans at risk Benzene emissions in the United States have declined sharply since 1987, when federal regulators set the occupati …"

"… ng block.” Benzene ranks 17th among the top 20 chemicals produced in the United States, according to the federal government. The petrochemical industry’s deca …"

Five-state study finds high levels of airborne chemicals near oil and gas sites

By Jamie Smith Hopkins

A study of air emissions near oil and gas wells found strikingly high levels of benzene and other dangerous chemicals in some locations.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Colorado":

"… own said by email. The study monitored air at locations in Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wyoming. It comes amid a growing body of res …"

"… rt skin and upper-respiratory problems than people living farther away. A Colorado School of Public Health analysis published in April found 30 percent more …"

"… ete and more is urgently needed. Researchers associated with the Yale and Colorado studies, for instance, noted that their findings don’t prove that gas pr …"

Black lung disease surges to highs not seen since the '70s, research shows

By Chris Hamby

The likely culprit: a failure by coal mining companies to use readily available tools to control the dust that lodges in miners' lungs.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Coal":

"… Coal dust to improve miners’ health.” Back in 1969, the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act limited the amount of dust allowed in mine …"

Contractor, Hispanic worker deaths up in 2013, BLS says

By Talia Buford

The number of contractors and Hispanic workers who died on the job increased in 2013 even as the overall tally of worker deaths declined.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Health":

"… new tranche of data came on the same day that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a final revised rule requiring employers to n …"

"… gel, executive director of the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health, a coalition of local and state worker safety groups. “That’s one reas …"

National Academy of Sciences agrees with EPA that formaldehyde causes cancer

By David Heath

To the chemical industry's chagrin, a National Academy of Sciences review found that formaldehyde causes cancer.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… hief lobby group, the American Chemistry Council, has persuaded members of Congress that the findings of both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Depa …"

"… d by Robust Science.” Part of the disparity is that in the 2011 report, Congress asked the academy only to critique the EPA’s draft assessment rather tha …"

"… its negative assessment of arsenic over to the academy. At the same time, Congress also insisted that the EPA redo all ongoing assessments to address the cri …"

U.S. announces sweeping reforms to protect coal miners from black lung disease

By Chris Hamby

Surrounded by coal miners, U.S. Labor officials announce reforms including a new rule limiting the disease-causing dust allowed in mines.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Labor":

"… e announcement, which featured testimonials by individual miners, Main and Labor Secretary Tom Perez outlined the details of the long-awaited rule. It redu …"

GAO report again finds black lung proposal supported by science

By Chris Hamby

A new government study supports reducing the dust limit workers encounter in mines; the industry is pushing back against stronger rules.

Air monitoring in fracking areas fails to detect spikes in toxic emissions, new study says

By Lisa Song and Jim Morris

A new study finds that common air monitoring methods are all but useless in capturing intense, short-term emissions from gas development.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Texas Commission on Environmental Quality":

"… articularly problematic because there's little monitoring of any kind. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) — the state's environmental regulator — operates just five perm …"

Top environment investigations from 2013

By The Center for Public Integrity

In case you missed it, here are some of our favorite environment and workers' rights investigations from 2013.

OSHA rule targets worker exposure to silica

By Jim Morris

Citing concerns over the deadly lung disease silicosis and lung cancer, OSHA on Friday proposed a rule to control worker exposure to silica.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Health":

"… to see his grandchildren?” Monforton asked. …"

"… a number recommended by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in 1974. The current limit varies, depending on the silica content of dust …"

California cities seek $1 billion settlement for lead paint-related health care costs

By Lilly Fowler

Lawsuit says lead paint manufacturers should pay to remove old, toxic pigment from affected homes in California.

Excerpts from this story referencing "federal government":

"… ot only to give it color, but because it is durable and washable. The federal government outlawed lead paint for household use in 1978, however, due to its health …"

IMPACT: OSHA strengthens rules for 'model workplace' program

By Chris Hamby

IMPACT: Companies exempted from some safety inspections under an OSHA program will face automatic removal after work-related deaths.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Safety":

"… rticularly serious violations. The new policy, issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, comes after a 2011 Center for Public Integrity …"

Clean Air case yields rare criminal convictions in New York

By Sam Pearson

A NY coke plant and its environmental manager, convicted of felony Clean Air violations, await sentencing — as residents push for relief.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Department of Health":

"… ng to a draft health outcomes review published in February by the New York Department of Health, residents living near the plant have been more likely to suffer lung and …"

Cancer-cluster study seeking to debunk 'Erin Brockovich' has glaring weaknesses

By David Heath

An often-cited study finds no cancer cluster in Hinkley, Calif. But it fails to focus on people who drank poisoned water.

Excerpts from this story referencing "U.S. Environmental Protection Agency":

"… ng on rodent studies, but as Morgan says, “We’re not big rats.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached the same conclusion internally as California’s EPA — that …"

EPA adds safeguards to spotlight conflicts on scientific panels

By David Heath and Ronnie Greene

The Environmental Protection Agency announced new steps Friday to help reveal potential conflicts of interest in scientific review panels.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Environmental Defense Fund":

"… erciasepe said in a statement. Richard Denison, a senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, has been outspoken about industry influence at the EPA. Denison praised t …"

OSHA strengthens protections for temp workers

By Jim Morris

Amid reports of high injury rates for temporary workers, OSHA announces new measures aimed at training and safety.

Workplace deaths up slightly in 2011

By Jim Morris

Worker deaths rose slightly in 2011, though the jobsite fatality rate fell, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

Excerpts from this story referencing "ExxonMobil":

"… , a dozen contract workers  were injured when a fire broke out at the ExxonMobil refinery in Beaumont, about 300 miles to the southeast; seven suffered sev …"

Why strong regulatory agencies matter

By Bill Buzenberg

If the Center is doing its job right, then our work should anticipate the news. Unfortunately, that happened with an explosion in Texas.

Excerpts from this story referencing "National Transportation Safety Board":

"… high consequence.” Yet the Chemical Safety Board — modeled after the National Transportation Safety Board — is able to investigate only a handful, and then often takes years more …"

New federal scrutiny in wake of Center and NPR grain bin 'drownings' report

By Howard Berkes

The Justice Department might again consider criminal charges in case reported by Center and NPR.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Haasbach LLC":

"… was unable to save his friends and co-workers. The owner of the grain bin, Haasbach LLC, was initially fined $555,000 but OSHA cut the fine by more than 60 percen …"

"… s that happens this kind of thing is not going to stop," Whitebread says. Haasbach LLC has declined comment given wrongful death and injury lawsuits filed by Pip …"

Bill aims to strengthen OSHA workplace enforcement

By Chris Hamby

Senators propose tighter workplace safety rules, targeting breakdowns highlighted in Center for Public Integrity reports.

Praise from MIT for Center and PBS collaboration on post-Erin Brockovich Hinkley, Calif.

Knight Science Journalism at MIT commends Center and PBS for reporting on toxic cleanup in California

Tackling the powerful chemical industry

By Bill Buzenberg

Investigation pushes EPA to change policies

Excerpts from this story referencing "American Chemistry Council":

"… PA’s delay was caused in part by waiting for new studies paid for by the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s main trade group and lobbyist. And, some of the …"

How industry scientists stalled action on carcinogen

By David Heath

Tens of millions of Americans drink tap water tainted with chromium. But industry pushback has made it hard for the EPA to regulate.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Texas":

"… he industry’s main trade group and lobbyist, hired ToxStrategies Inc., a Texas-based firm with scientists experienced in poking holes in research that li …"

Toxic clout: how Washington works (badly)

By Bill Buzenberg

How Washington works (badly)

House bill targets deadly dust explosions

By Chris Hamby

House Democrats are pushing a bill requiring safety steps to curb combustible dust explosions -- a hazard examined in a 2012 Center report.

EPA unaware of industry ties on cancer review panel

By David Heath and Ronnie Greene

An EPA panel appointed to study hexavalent chromium included scientists who had consulted for industry in lawsuits.

Excerpts from this story referencing "editor":

"… e lawsuit. (Hamilton has since disclosed that he repaid the $100,000; see editor's note below) “That’s completely outrageous,” said Francesca Grifo, …"

Report suggests OSHA safeguard contingent workers

By Chris Hamby

Regulators should launch an enforcement blitz of companies using large numbers of contingent workers, a nonprofit group concludes.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Center for Progressive Reform":

"… or “contingent,” workers, a new report recommends.The report from the Center for Progressive Reform, a nonprofit research and advocacy group, echoes many of the findings of a …"

Labor secretary leaves legacy of worker protections and unfinished business

By Chris Hamby

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis leaves behind a department advocates say increased enforcement but left worker safety rules unfinished.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Obama":

"… olis as “a tireless advocate for all hardworking Americans.” President Obama cited her work in helping working families recover from the financial cris …"

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