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 "Health":

"… the researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote in a letter …"

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

"… 1, parts of a long-awaited rule from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration took effect, and regulators say it should close these looph …"

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.

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 "American Chemistry Council":

"… eing declared a known carcinogen. The industry’s chief lobby group, the American Chemistry Council, has persuaded members of Congress that the findings of both the Environme …"

"… e 2011” report, Cal Dooley, president and chief executive officer of the American Chemistry Council, said in a statement titled “The Safety of Formaldehyde is Well-Studied …"

"… fer Sass, a scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the American Chemistry Council’s efforts “a vicious attack on government scientific assessments [mean …"

"… f the 2011 formaldehyde review. Forty-seven assessments are affected. The American Chemistry Council said in its statement that the academy “misses an opportunity to advance …"

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.

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.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Government Accountability Office":

"… into an appropriations bill blocking implementation of the rule until the Government Accountability Office conducted an evaluation of the research underpinning the proposal. The res …"

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 "hydraulic fracturing":

"… pressor stations and pipelines during every step of the process: drilling, hydraulic fracturing, production, and processing. "Unfortunately, the states don't have much i …"

"… t the health impacts of unconventional natural gas development, which uses hydraulic fracturing to extract tightly bound gas. In February, 190 experts from industry, gove …"

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.

Excerpts from this story referencing "pollution":

"… ving is often painful. The community’s travails reveal the human cost of pollution. Keep reading 'Upset' emissions: Flares in the air, worry on the ground …"

"… or of Texas and Louisiana often encounter 'upset' emissions — triggering pollution, health fears. Keep reading Climate plan, coal pushback President Obam …"

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.

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.

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.

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 "Clean Air Act":

"… cases since 2012.     …"

"… felonies, respectively. Each was convicted of five counts of violating the Clean Air Act by emitting coke oven gas from an unpermitted emission source, along with …"

"… d the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. They were acquitted of four Clean Air Act counts. Kamholz, but not the company, was convicted of obstruction of just …"

"… ase proved to be nearly unique: A rare criminal prosecution of the federal Clean Air Act. Prosecutors say the complexity of Clean Air Act cases makes them difficu …"

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 "John Morgan":

"… true-life plight of a California town with poisoned water, state scientist John Morgan was calling claims of a cancer cluster there pure fiction. For the past 1 …"

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 "Erin Brockovich":

"… lent chromium, best known as the toxic chemical compound from the hit film Erin Brockovich, is found in the drinking water of more than 70 million Americans, accordi …"

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.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Labor":

"… ee more workers died in 2011 than in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Worker deaths in 2010 also rose when compared to the previous …"

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 "risk":

"… trophic incidents. It seems that the public just sort of accepts that as a risk of going to work. “We believe people shouldn’t have to risk their liv …"

"… that as a risk of going to work. “We believe people shouldn’t have to risk their lives to get a job.” Stephanie Moulton, a 25-year-old social work …"

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.

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 "Senate":

"… d protected at the workplace," said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee. "And when violations …"

"… with lawbreakers held responsible." Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), chair of the Senate Employment and Workplace Safety subcommittee, said, "Updating our wor …"

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.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Senate":

"… nd health for the AFL-CIO. Though the legislation may make headway in the Senate, its prospects in the House are likely more dim. “The chances of the bil …"

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 "Erin Brockovich":

"… (VI), you may recall, is the same chemical compound featured in the movie Erin Brockovich. That Oscar-winning film did much to raise awareness of chromium pollution …"

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 "Erin Brockovich":

"… earlier. From here, the story is familiar to anyone who saw the hit film Erin Brockovich. The corporate polluter was taken to court. The victims got millions of do …"

"… the wealth.’ " Secrets of the 'Blue-Ribbon Panel' Before the film Erin Brockovich even came out, the state of California was already taking steps to st …"

Toxic clout: how Washington works (badly)

By Bill Buzenberg

How Washington works (badly)

Excerpts from this story referencing "Erin Brockovich":

"… called hexavalent chromium, which gained infamy in the Oscar-winning film Erin Brockovich. The film ends in Hollywood fashion, with the corporate polluter paying $3 …"

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.

Excerpts from this story referencing "American Chemistry Council":

"… shed back, arguing for exemptions or calling the measure unnecessary. The American Chemistry Council has taken one of the strongest positions opposing the rule, saying in a st …"

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 "American Chemistry Council":

"… aths. The chemical industry’s trade association and chief lobbyist, the American Chemistry Council, urged the EPA to wait for more research, a common practice to delay actio …"

"… wait for the results of new studies costing $4 million and paid for by the American Chemistry Council. The EPA decided to wait at the urging of a panel of scientists chosen to …"

"… on the EPA panel. Another scientist who urged the EPA to wait for the American Chemistry Council studies served as a consultant on those studies. “You don’t have to b …"

"… a took office had been a primary author of research articles funded by the American Chemistry Council over the past dozen years. In all, 11 of the 68 members appointed to EPA …"

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 "health insurance":

"… By using contingent workers, the employer can avoid paying for workers’ health insurance and workers’ compensation costs, eliminating incentives to provide safe …"

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.

Even after workplace deaths, companies avoid OSHA penalties

By Chris Hamby

Following jobsite fatalities, OSHA vows crackdowns -- but sometimes collects nothing, a Center investigation found.

'They were not thinking of him as a human being'

By Jim Morris and Chip Mitchell

A chemical discharge in a Chicago-area factory kills a worker — and exposes the dangers faced by temp workers across the U.S.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Labor":

"… d over the past two decades. In 1990, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 1.1 million such workers; as of August 2012, …"

"… ections,” wrote the researchers, with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. In fact, experts say, there’s little incentive for host …"

"… get rid of them when you want, and you don’t pay benefits.” Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers say contingent workers’ injuries are declining. Yet, …"

"… t completed last summer, officials with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries interviewed 53 employers who had used temp workers. Only on …"

Union demands protection for workers, after breast cancer linked to auto plastics industry

By Jennifer Quinn, Robert Cribb, Julian Sher and Jim Morris

A study linking higher rates of breast cancer for women in the auto plastics industry triggers anger among workers.

Excerpts from this story referencing "risk":

"… say. A study that showed women working in those industries have a higher risk for breast cancer raised calls for protection of those workers. And after …"

"… for use in baby bottles in 2010. The chemical is seen to have a negligible risk for adults. A Statistics Canada survey two years ago found that 91 per ce …"

IMPACT: Federal inspectors step up enforcement of rules to prevent black lung

By Chris Hamby

In a recent enforcement blitz, federal inspectors cited more than a dozen mines for problems that could expose workers to the disease.