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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.

Consumer Protection

Privacy Fears Rising as DNA Test Companies Shift to New Ventures

As genetic testing companies increasingly engage in medical and pharmaceutical ventures, a regulatory gap in consumer privacy protections is drawing calls for change and even legislative proposals.

Environment

EPA Takes a Back Seat as Citizens Confront the Plastics Industry Over an Insidious Pollutant

The plastics industry has presented itself as a constructive force in battling plastic pollution, while blaming the problem on messy consumers and weak disposal and recycling programs. Whatever the weight of that argument, it falls apart when it comes to tiny plastic pellets, which have escaped into waterways by the countless billions as a result of failures by industry, not consumers.

Environment

The Struggle to Crack Down on a Cottage Industry Sabotaging Vehicle Pollution Controls

Sales of ''defeat devices" that nullify emission controls in cars and trucks have exploded. The EPA estimates that they have been illegally installed on more than 500,000 diesel pickups. That's resulted in hundreds of thousands of extra tons of airborne pollutants that have been linked to higher rates of cancer, heart attacks and strokes. 

Consumer Protection

Safety Advocates Assail Lack of Federal Action on Weak Vehicle Seats

Andrew Warner was driving his family home from a Christmas party near Houston when they were rear-ended. Warner’s seat buckled, slamming backward and killing his infant daughter, Taylor. Seatback failures caused by rear collisions have been injuring and killing people for decades.  Experts say the safety standard for seat strength is so weak that a lawn chair could pass.