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Auto safety agency labors to keep pace

Critics say NHTSA has been slow to address problems. The watchdog says it’s beefing up its staff. Richard and Carolyn Carlson were driving through rural Colorado in February 2005 when they hit a patch of black ice. Their Chrysler PT Cruiser spun backward into an embankment, causing the back of Carolyn’s seat to collapse. She […]

Safety of Beef Processing Method Is Questioned

Eight years ago, federal officials were struggling to remove potentially deadly E. coli from hamburgers when an entrepreneurial company from South Dakota came up with a novel idea: injecting beef with ammonia. The company, Beef Products Inc., had been looking to expand into the hamburger business with a product made from beef that included fatty […]

Toyota found to keep tight lid on potential safety problems

A Times investigation shows the world’s largest automaker has delayed recalls and attempted to blame human error in cases where owners claimed vehicle defects. During a routine test on its Sienna minivan in April 2003, Toyota Motor Corp. engineers discovered that a plastic panel could come loose and cause the gas pedal to stick, potentially […]

That Tap Water Is Legal but May Be Unhealthy

The 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks — and still be legal. Only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, according to […]

Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water, Records Show

More than 20 percent of the nation’s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data. That law requires communities to deliver safe tap water to local residents. But since 2004, the water provided to more […]

Promoting the Car Phone, Despite Risks

Martin Cooper, who developed the first portable cellphone, recalled testifying before a Michigan state commission about the risks of talking on a phone while driving. Common sense, said Mr. Cooper, a Motorola engineer, dictated that drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Commission members asked Mr. Cooper what could be […]

Data point to Toyota’s throttles, not floor mats

Amid widening concern over acceleration events, Toyota has cited ‘floor mat entrapment.’ But reports point to another potential cause: the electronic throttles that have replaced mechanical systems. Eric Weiss was stopped at a busy Long Beach intersection last month when he said his 2008 Toyota Tacoma pickup unexpectedly started accelerating, forcing him to stand on […]

As Sewers Fill, Waste Poisons Waterways

It was drizzling lightly in late October when the midnight shift started at the Owls Head Water Pollution Control Plant, where much of Brooklyn’s sewage is treated. A few miles away, people were walking home without umbrellas from late dinners. But at Owls Head, a swimming pool’s worth of sewage and wastewater was soon rushing […]

Pfizer Broke the Law by Promoting Drugs for Unapproved Uses

Prosecutor Michael Loucks remembers clearly when lawyers for Pfizer Inc., the world’s largest drug company, looked across the table and promised it wouldn’t break the law again. It was January 2004, and the attorneys were negotiating in a conference room on the ninth floor of the federal courthouse in Boston, where Loucks was head of […]

Runaway Toyota cases ignored

Safety investigators dismissed numerous reports of sudden acceleration, then said data were lacking. More than 1,000 Toyota and Lexus owners have reported since 2001 that their vehicles suddenly accelerated on their own, in many cases slamming into trees, parked cars and brick walls, among other obstacles, a Times review of federal records has found. The […]