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FairWarning Signing Off; Statements by Our Board and Editor

The board of FairWarning, a nonprofit devoted to alerting the public to hazardous consumer products and unjust corporate practices, has decided to dissolve the charitable nonprofit as of Feb. 20, 2021. This step is taken with regret as the small journalism nonprofit has devoted the last 11 years to protecting the public from harms to their health and safety.

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Labor

Women Joining Corporate Boards in Record Numbers After Legislative Push

Amid growing calls for women on corporate boards, California’s 662 publicly traded companies have added hundreds of women to their boards in the past two years. While that’s an impressive jump, the companies didn’t do it because it suddenly struck them as a great idea.

Public Health

Poor Ventilation in Multifamily Buildings May Lessen Benefit of Staying at Home to Avoid Covid 

Lindsey first noticed the symptoms in mid-December. Her wife was even sicker, with a high fever. Testing confirmed they both had Covid. Lindsey knew she had to tell the upstairs neighbors, who also owned the building. When she went to warn them, she was in for a surprise — one with implications not only for her, but also, potentially, for public health messaging and policy nationwide.

Consumer Protection

Potent Rhino Pills Outlast Anything–Even the Arrest of Their Creator

The creator of over-the-counter sex supplements is awaiting sentencing for illegally importing bulk quantities of prescription drugs. But he was just one of many players profiting from the sale of sex pills with hidden drugs.

Consumer Protection

Covid Scams Flourish Despite Efforts of Health and Law Enforcement Agencies

Black Plague tea. Biomagnetism treatment. Ozone therapy. Covid flimflammery is still going strong as frightened consumers seek out and fall prey to sham treatments and cures.

Environment

Which U.S. Cities Get Failing Grades on Parks

Being ranked among the most park-poor cities in America is a fitness test no city wants to flunk. But in 2020 amid the pandemic, the national “ParkScore” ratings issued by The Trust for Public Land took on greater meaning as overcrowding at home and lack of school recess put families in a bind.

Consumer Protection

In Battle Against “the Highway Disease,” Traffic Safety Agency Attacked as Asleep at the Wheel

NHTSA was established 50 years ago to reduce the toll of injuries and deaths on the nation's roads. But even as progress stalled, the agency cut back on key activities as part of the Trump administration's deregulatory crusade.

Environment

Off-Target Pesticide Service Douses Neighboring Properties, People

Alpine Helicopter Service has been implicated in dozens of complaints of crop loss and personal injury when pesticides it sprayed allegedly landed on the wrong targets. Now, the state of California is suing the company and taking a stand on pesticide misuse.

Labor

Under Attack for its Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, OSHA is Playing Catch-up

Early In the pandemic, OSHA drew scathing criticism for a hands-off approach to a crisis that has claimed the lives of hundreds of essential workers. More recently, the agency began ramping up enforcement. Despite the burst of activity, a FairWarning review shows that inspectors are mostly responding to deaths or hospitalizations, as required by law, rather than flagging unsafe conditions before more workers get infected. 

Consumer Protection

Patients Pay Thousands for a Back Pain Treatment Promoted by Exaggerated Claims

For three decades, the spinal decompression industry has promised relief to back pain patients. But stupendous claims of success are not backed up by scientifically rigorous research.

Environment

Presto Chango: How Flood Map Revisions Allow Building in Risky Areas

Across the country, developers regularly use flood map changes to build in vulnerable areas after getting FEMA to approve measures such as elevating homes, building retention ponds and raising the land with fill. But it's not always enough to prevent flooding and increased risks for people nearby.

Consumer Protection

Safety Agency Tied in Knots in Bid to Prevent Harm to Children from Powerful Magnets 

In May, a nine-year old girl was taken to the emergency room after swallowing three powerful magnets that punched holes through her intestines. Such tiny rare earth magnets were to have been banned several years ago to prevent just this kind of life-threatening injury. But the Consumer Product Safety Commission was blocked by litigation that was decided in the agency’s favor just weeks ago.   

Consumer Protection

In the Cannabis Patch, a Patchwork of Safety Standards–and in Some Cases None At All

Although 35 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational or medical use, there still are no uniform standards for regulating potentially harmful contaminants. And with five more states voting this November on whether to allow cannabis for the first time, the problem will only grow. 

Consumer Protection

String of Fatal Poisonings from Ingestion of Toxic Hand Sanitizer Highlights Limits of FDA Powers

Faced with a shortage of the usual active ingredient in hand sanitizer during the pandemic, some companies turned to a toxic alternative -- with sometimes fatal results.