Friday Briefing

Bid rejected to allow more fungicide in imported orange juice. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration turned down a request by Brazil to give its orange juice industry, the world’s biggest, until June 2013 to eradicate carbendazim from its product. Federal regulators began checking imports for the fungicide, which is illegal on citrus in the U.S. but commonly used in Brazil, last month after Coca Cola alerted the FDA it discovered the chemical in laboratory tests. Reuters

Four recent studies provide growing evidence of health risks from coal tar-based pavement coatings. The coal tar product contains far more cancer-causing chemicals than asphalt-based sealants, raising concerns for children who play on or near surfaces covered with the substance. Even though Washington State and various communities have banned coal tar sealants, some 85 million gallons are applied annually in the U.S. The dark black sealants typically are used on parking lots and driveways. InvestigateWest

Gas drilling can taint groundwater, but fracking isn’t the culprit, researchers say. A University of Texas study found that water contamination is wrongly blamed on the controversial drilling technique known as fracking, which involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into underground rock to release gas. The researchers concluded that the problems stem from other aspects of drilling, including casing failures that allow drilling fluids and gas to escape from a well, poor cement jobs and spills on the surface. Time, E&E News

Program to protect chemical plants from potential terrorist attacks draws bipartisan scorn. House Republicans and Democrats are angry over apparent mismanagement of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, or CFATS, initiative. Launched five years ago, the program has received 4,200 site security plans from businesses, but federal officials have yet to approve even one of them. The Washington Post

Deal reached for cleanup of seven mining sites in three Western states. The $10 million agreement, announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, involves sites in California, Oregon and Idaho where mercury, tungsten, stibnite and scheelite were mined. They include the Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine Superfund Site in Clear Lake, Calif., which has been inactive since 1957 but still is polluted with 3 million cubic yards of mine wastes and residues. Lake County (Calif.) News, EPA

Obama administration urges voluntary curbs on auto infotainment systems that can distract drivers. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood proposed steps to limit distractions from such activities as text messaging, browsing the Internet or looking at social media sites. The measures would reduce the time required to use electronic devices, so drivers spend more time with their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Still, the proposal is something of a retreat for LaHood, who previously took a tougher stand on drivers using electronic devices. FairWarning

Indiana barge manufacturer accused of nine workplace safety violations after fatal accident. Jeffboat LLC faces fines of up to $119,000 from the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration in connection with the August accident in Jeffersonville, Ind., that crushed an employee. The latest charges bring to 46 the number of OSHA citations against the company since May 2010, when two other employees were killed about a week apart. OSHA, The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.)

More than 200 former or current soldiers are suing military contractor KBR for allegedly exposing them to a toxic chemical. The U.S. and British soldiers say they were harmed by sodium dichromate, a human carcinogen used at the Qarmat Ali water-injection plant in Iraq. According to the lawsuits, KBR knew about the exposure in April or May of 2003 but did not notify the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers until mid-August. The soldiers’ lawyers say two National Guardsmen have died as a direct result. Houston Press

Few safeguards exist to intercept fake drugs before they make it to your doctor’s office. The problem was highlighted this week by the news that counterfeit vials of the cancer medicine Avastin were brought into the U.S. Critics blame lax oversight of distributors and delays in setting up a still-awaited U.S. drug tracking system. According to drug makers, the fakes increasingly aren’t pills but complicated, expensive therapies like Avastin, which is given intravenously. The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal 

Recalls and warnings: infant TylenolArm & Hammer Spinbrush or Crest Spinbrush electric toothbrushesThe Chili Station beef and turkey chili, Ganz dancing teapots, Tumblekins Toys

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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