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 "Clinton administration":

"… limit set by the 1969 law should be cut in half. In the final years of the Clinton administration, however, reform attempts stalled. The most recent push began in December …"

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 "Congress":

"… ment auditors reached in 2012, answering demands for a study by members of Congress concerned about the rule. And it’s the conclusion the auditors reached a …"

"… d to a request for comment about the study released this week. Members of Congress also have raised concerns about the rule, echoing industry complaints. In …"

"… laims of miners sick and dying of black lung. Since the report, members of Congress and the Labor Department have pushed for reforms to better protect workers …"

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 "Environment":

"… tion, researchers reported Tuesday in the peer-reviewed journal Reviews on Environmental Health. The study was conducted by the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmen …"

"… nvironmental Health. The study was conducted by the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, a nonprofit based near Pittsburgh. A health survey the …"

"… r David Brown, who conducted the study with three of his colleagues at the Environmental Health Project. Stuart Batterman, an Environmental health sciences prof …"

"… nclusions they reached were almost identical to those in a recent study in Environmental Science & Technology that cited a lack of "comprehensive" public hea …"

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 "Coal":

"… ears, helping to defeat the benefits claims of sick miners. Keep reading Coal's doctors of choice A surprising force has helped industry defeat black …"

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 "Buffalo":

"… t in Friday’s conference call. White, a 48-year-old foundry worker from Buffalo, N.Y., said his employer never warned him about the “unseen dangers” o …"

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 "paint":

"… the problem: The companies that made lead pigment used in the old, flaking paint still coating millions of dwellings.  The industry could be on the v …"

"… ts to inspect more than 3 million California homes, and to remove any lead paint hazards that are discovered, at an estimated cost of more than $1 billion. …"

"… tury ago that lead is hazardous, and industry advertisements promoted lead paint as healthy. In 1923, an ad in National Geographic from lead pigment maker …"

"… “Lead helps to guard your health.” The next year, an ad from a unit of paint maker Sherwin-Williams boasted: “Cousin Susie says her 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 "ExxonMobil":

"… model workplace” just missed being covered by the new policy. A fire at ExxonMobil’s oil refinery in Beaumont, Texas, in April injured 12 contract workers, …"

"… nd ensure that a similar incident does not occur again,” a spokesman for ExxonMobil said in a statement. The oil giant has a number of other VPP sites, inclu …"

"… to evaluate these sites as well had not been made. Neither Albemarle nor ExxonMobil would say whether they believed their sites should remain in VPP …"

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 "chemical":

"… nking chromium causes cancer — but it faces powerful opposition from the chemical industry in making its ruling official. At stake is whether regulators wil …"

"… to the American Council on Science and Health, which gets funding from the chemical industry, Morgan is featured on the group’s website, Riskometer.org. He …"

"… ’s website, Riskometer.org. He claims that exposure to a number of toxic chemicals, including known carcinogens such as dioxins and hexavalent chromium, has …"

"… ther a few extra people in a community got cancer from exposure to a toxic chemical. Either the chemical has to be really deadly, or the number of people in t …"

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 "Chemistry":

"… ts assessment of the compound in 2011, even as a trade group, the American Chemistry Council, urged the agency to wait for industry funded studies. Several mem …"

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 "co-worker":

"… Centeno was employed by a staffing agency at the time he was burned. A co-worker wound up driving him to a clinic after a delay of at least 38 minutes. Cen …"

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 "Dow Chemical":

"… oups, such as the American Chemistry Council, and major companies, such as Dow Chemical, pushed back, trying to narrow the scope of the rule or block it entirely. …"

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 "Iowa":

"… they will be safe and protected at the workplace," said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee …"

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 "injuries":

"… sites – not just those they directly employ – and to account for their injuries and illnesses on required logs. Currently, injuries to contractors, who pe …"

"… d to account for their injuries and illnesses on required logs. Currently, injuries to contractors, who perform some of the most dangerous work in many indust …"

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

Excerpts from this story referencing "author":

"… to tell this story that may not have otherwise been told. The blog's author, Deborah Blum, writes: "In a media world in which these kinds of co …"

Tackling the powerful chemical industry

By Bill Buzenberg

Investigation pushes EPA to change policies

Excerpts from this story referencing "Chromium":

"… all government action on Chromium worked on the studies delaying the EPA. Chromium (VI), you may recall, is the same chemical compound featured in the movie …"

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 "correspondent":

"… on ABC News in 1996 to drink some of the yellow water, prompting correspondent Cynthia McFadden to say, “There are those who would say you drinking a g …"

"… irs. “You’re dealing with people’s lives.” Miles O'Brien, science correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, contributed to this story …"

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 "ExxonMobil":

"… l regulation and product ban proposals.” The ACC, whose members such as ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical, Merck and Procter & Gamble are a who’s who of the For …"

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 "Chicago":

"… a temporary staffing agency and was assigned to the Raani Corp. plant near Chicago. The chemical tank he was cleaning doused him with a 185-degree mixture of …"

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 "Secretary":

"… over from the financial crisis.  …"

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.

Excerpts from this story referencing "media coverage":

"… ible filed for bankruptcy.The company’s bankruptcy case drew significant media coverage because of the economic impact on the community. Yet OSHA, which has an of …"

'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 "Bureau of Labor Statistics":

"… has soared 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, the nu …"

"… p;You can 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, new evidenc …"

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 "Canada":

"… ast cancer, and another 1,146 who did not. The researchers, who came from Canada, the U.S., and the U.K., took into account factors like smoking, weight, a …"

"… About 91,000 Canadians work in the plastics trade, according to Industry Canada and — with a 37 per cent female workforce — it has the highest proport …"

"… al exposure limits for BPA — the controversial chemical banned by Health Canada for use in baby bottles in 2010. The chemical is seen to have a negligible …"

"… . The chemical is seen to have a negligible risk for adults. A Statistics Canada survey two years ago found that 91 per cent of Canadians had the substance …"

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.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Mitt Romney":

"… ed by Robert Murray, who has lent strong support to presidential candidate Mitt Romney. A representative for Murray Energy Corp. could not be reached for comment …"

IMPACT: OSHA's 'model workplace' program needs reform, report finds

By Chris Hamby

Companies exempt from some inspections under a special OSHA program should face tighter scrutiny, a report finds, echoing a Center series.

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

"… upational Safety and Health Administration, comes more than a year after a Center for Public Integrity series revealed that deadly accidents and serious safety violations at the …"

GAO report supports science behind black lung rule

By Chris Hamby

Research supports proposal to reduce coal miners’ exposure to dust that causes deadly disease, a GAO report found.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… but the proposal has drawn opposition from some in the mining industry and Congress. Some miners’ advocates worry the rule could die, as previous reform att …"

"… it doesn’t appear that GAO answered the very specific questions posed by Congress.”  …"

Kentucky death case: Another black eye for state workplace safety enforcement

By Jim Morris

Kentucky's deletion of all violations in worker death case criticized by victim's family, feds.

Excerpts from this story referencing "South Carolina":

"… as uncollected penalties in North Carolina and misclassified violations in South Carolina. Kentucky, OSHA found, was taking too long to issue citations and wasn’t …"