Monday Briefing

Regulators issue plans to require tobacco industry to disclose toxic chemical ingredients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing that, by April 2013, tobacco companies list on consumer packages the quantities of 20 of the chemicals in their products. The chemicals, all associated with cancer, lung disease and other health problems, include ammonia, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. Separately, the FDA provided preliminary guidance on what companies must do to back up claims that items such as dissolvable or smokeless tobacco are safer than other tobacco products. The actions stem from a 2009 law giving the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products. HealthDay, Winston-Salem Journal, Bloomberg

Hundreds of abandoned uranium mines dot Navajo territory in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, raising public health concerns. From the 1940s through the 1980s, the mines supplied critical materials to the nation’s nuclear weapons program. A five-year, multiagency effort was launched in 2007 to clean up the sites, but most remain contaminated. While officials acknowledge squabbling between agencies as part of the problem, the also cite the complexity and cost of the work. “The government can’t afford it; that’s a big reason why it hasn’t stepped in and done more,” said a Department of Energy spokesman. “The contamination problem is vast.” The New York Times

Safety advocates fault lack of oversight of state bus inspection programs. Records show that three of the deadliest bus crashes in recent years raised questions about the commercial vehicle inspection programs in Texas, Illinois and Mississippi and prompted calls from the National Transportation Safety Board for better oversight. Forty people died in those wrecks. Yet the agency that received the recommendations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, has refused to act. “If you can’t afford to take a plane and have to take a bus, you are going to be subject to second-class safety standards,” said a safety advocate. The Associated Press

Environmentalist campaign blocks construction of new coal plants. In part because of challenges from grassroots activists backed by the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, in recent years 166 proposed coal-fired power plants have been canceled, legally barred or otherwise stopped from going forward in the U.S. The campaign’s success comes in contrast to the failure of Congress in 2010 to pass the cap-and-trade legislation intended to fight global warming. Mother Jones

Researchers report dramatic rise in skin cancer among young adults. A Mayo Clinic study found that, between 1970 and 2009, melanoma increased eightfold among women, and fourfold among young men, ages 18 to 39. The researchers suggested that exposure to sunlamps at tanning salons is largely to blame. “Tanning beds can give you seven times the dose of UV radiation as the sun, but young adults are still going,” said Dr. Jerry Brewer, a Mayo Clinic dermatologist and co-author of the study. Time, USA Today

Plane crash in Siberia kills 31 and underscores Russia’s continuing air-safety problems. The passenger plane, a twin-engine turboprop operated by UTair, went down shortly after takeoff. Twelve survivors were hospitalized. It was the worst air crash in Russia since a plane slammed into a riverbank near the city of Yaroslavl in September, killing 44 people and wiping out an ice hockey team. That prompted Russian leaders to call for improved air safety, but critics today faulted the government for failing to take action. According to the International Air Transport Association, Russia and the former Soviet republics last year had an accident rate almost three times the world average. Reuters, The Associated Press

Recalls: South Florida Produce jalapeno peppers, vanilla cream puffs, chicken apple sausages, fish food, Wegmans pita breads and thin sandwich rolls

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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