Air Pollution/Toxic Exposure

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Unicorns, the Tooth Fairy, and 54.5 MPG

The Obama administration has repeatedly trumpeted its plan to boost the average fuel economy of new cars and light trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by the 2025 model year. In a 2011 White House news release announcing an agreement with automakers to reach the goal, President Obama called it the “the single most important […]

​A two-month composite of nighttime views from a NASA/NOAA satellite shows lights in the Bakken formation burning almost as brightly as those in Minneapolis and Chicago. Part of the light from the Bakken is from gas flares, though most is from electric lighting on drilling and fracking equipment. (Image courtesy NASA/NOAA, Ceres) FairWarining Reports

Crying Foul Over Flaring

Burning Off Natural Gas Called 'Environmental Travesty'

The drilling companies rushing to capture North Dakota’s rich oil reserves often wind up with unwanted natural gas. In other words, they literally have surplus energy to burn. So they do just that, torching vast amounts of the cheap gas — a practice that critics say is tremendously wasteful and a threat to the environment […]

It’s Time to Accelerate the Shift to a Low-Carbon Future

In the struggle to solve the climate crisis, a powerful, largely unnoticed shift is taking place. The forward journey for human civilization will be difficult and dangerous, but it is now clear that we will ultimately prevail. The only question is how quickly we can accelerate and complete the transition to a low-carbon civilization. There […]

Legal Battles Smolder Six Decades After 'the Greatest Health Protection in Cigarette History' FairWarining Investigates

Legal Battles Smolder Six Decades After ‘the Greatest Health Protection in Cigarette History’

It’s hard to think of anything more reckless than adding a deadly carcinogen to a product that already causes cancer — and then bragging about the health benefits. That’s what Lorillard Tobacco did 60 years ago when it introduced Kent cigarettes, whose patented “Micronite” filter contained a particularly virulent form of asbestos.

‘Chemical brain drain’ endangers generations of children

According to some scholars, toxic exposures contributed to the collapse of the Roman Empire. Roman rulers were poisoned by water cisterns and food containers fashioned from lead. These extreme exposures could have gradually made the Patrician families deranged and infertile – leaving no competent leaders to run the Empire. A similar fate seems to have […]


Lead Exposure in Older Homes Means Children “Pay With Their Lives”

Q&A: Authors Say Toll From the Toxic Metal Still Plagues U.S.

U.S. health authorities estimate that about 535,000 children are still at risk of developmental problems due to elevated levels of lead in their blood. In an interview, public health historians Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner discuss the history and scope of the lead problem.

The Radon Threat Is Still With Us

“I AM really sorry to tell you this, but you have less than a 50 percent chance of living for one year and about a 15 percent chance of living for five years.” This gloomy prognosis is delivered each year to thousands of Americans who have been given a diagnosis of lung cancer caused by […]


While Protecting Its Own Citizens from Asbestos, Canada Aims to Keep Selling to Other Countries

Canada, like other countries, has taken steps to guard its citizens from the ravages of asbestos, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people exposed to its lung-scarring fibers. Yet Canadian officials are also trying to revive the country’s flagging asbestos mining industry in order to export the dangerous mineral to the developing world.

Obama Administration Blows Off Resistance to Air Pollution Rules

Even as the Obama administration battles Republican opposition to one of its initiatives to curb air pollution from power plants, it is moving ahead with another effort to reduce emissions by these major polluters. The administration has announced its intention to regulate, for the first time, carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. As the Los […]

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Peril in the West

After Three Decades, Officials Ponder Action on Cancer-Causing Erionite

Mesothelioma, an exceedingly lethal form of cancer, was once thought to be caused only by inhaling asbestos fibers. Then in the 1970s, when astonishing rates of mesothelioma devastated villages in central Turkey, erionite, a mineral even more dangerous than asbestos, was found to be the cause. In the U.S., the Turkish epidemic was portrayed as a distant catastrophe. This ignored a key fact: Erionite deposits are present in at least a dozen western U.S. states. Only now, with new development stirring up remote areas of the West, are officials starting to talk about how to deal with the issue.