Writer: Matthew Heller

Transportation Safety

Activist’s Crusade Stalls as Auto Safety Goals Collide

In June, 2007, Mary Kay Kidwell's 17-year-old grandson died while trapped in a car that had plunged into an Indiana lake. The terrible news turned Kidwell into an unlikely activist, determined to prevent the scores of similar drownings that occur in the U.S. every year. Kidwell has lobbied regulators for a window-breaking device to be installed in all vehicles. But in her quest to save people from drowning, Kidwell has run into a competing, long-cherished safety goal: protecting people from being thrown out of their windows during rollover accidents.

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Injuries From Allergic Reaction to Motrin Lead to $10 Million Award

The family of a girl who suffered extensive skin burns and eye damage from an allergic reaction after taking Motrin for a fever has won a jury award of $10 million against the drug's manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson. A Philadelphia jury ruled that J&J failed to warn consumers that ibuprofen, [...]

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‘Gender-Bending’ Chemicals Found in Toys in China

Toy manufacturers are exposing children in China to high levels of industrial chemicals known as phthalates that the U.S. and European Union have banned from children's products, the environmental organization Greenpeace says. Phthalates, the best-known of which is DEHP, are used to soften plastic children's toys. The U.S. Centers for [...]

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Steel Firm Faces $563,000 in Fines for Safety Violations

Federal regulators have cited Mexican-owned steel manufacturer Republic Engineered Products Inc. for seven willful and three repeat safety violations at its Lorain, Ohio, plant, and are proposing penalties of $563,000. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it began an inspection of the plant in November after a worker broke [...]

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Free Drug Program Cuts AIDS Deaths 64%, China Says

The distribution of free anti-AIDS drugs in China has paid off, government scientists report, producing a 64 percent drop in deaths related to the disease. At the same time, the Chinese scientists say patients infected with HIV, the AIDS virus, through sexual contact or from using dirty needles still need [...]

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Report on West Virginia Mine Disaster Faults ‘Reckless’ Management

The ultimate responsibility for the deadliest U.S. mining disaster in 40 years lies with Massey Energy Co., an independent investigator has concluded, calling the company's operation of the Upper Big Branch mine “profoundly reckless.” “The story of Upper Big Branch is a cautionary tale of hubris,” Davitt McAteer, a former [...]

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Discovery of ‘Master Switch’ Gene Could Help Fight Obesity Diseases

British and Swiss researchers who investigated the role of a gene present in fat tissue have made a discovery that eventually might improve the treatment of obesity-related health problems — including diabetes and heart disease, and perhaps obesity itself. In a study published in the journal Nature Genetics, the researchers [...]

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ADHD Drug Study Stimulates Debate Over Heart Attack Risk

Prescription medications used to treat children for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder do not increase their risk of potentially deadly heart attacks or strokes, a new study concludes. But at least one prominent critic says the study — funded by Shire, a pharmaceutical company that makes ADHD medications — is too [...]

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Tobacco CEO Says Australia’s Plain Cigarette Pack Law Would ‘Backfire’

The chief executive of Australia's largest cigarette company has lashed out at the government's proposed plain packaging law, saying it would “backfire” and spur tobacco firms to flood the market with cheap cigarettes. Big Tobacco has predicted a big fight over the groundbreaking law, which would replace customary distinctive logos [...]

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Regulators Shelve Rules to Curb Air Pollution From Industrial Boilers

After encountering stiff industry resistance, the Environmental Protection Agency in February softened a proposal made last year to curb air pollution from industrial boilers and incinerators. Instead, the EPA unveiled new rules that Gina McCarthy, director of the agency's air and radiation office, said “are realistic, they are achievable, and [...]

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Bill Seeks to Restrict Corporate Whistleblowers in Financial Cases

House Republicans have launched a business-backed effort to block corporate whistleblowers from going directly to financial regulators with reports of wrongdoing. At the center of the effort is a bill drafted to amend last year's Dodd-Frank financial oversight law by requiring whistleblowers to report problems internally before going to the [...]

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Early Treatment Cuts Spread of HIV Between Sex Partners, Study Says

In the first large-scale clinical study of its kind, U.S. researchers found that giving AIDS drugs to HIV-positive people relatively early — before their immune systems deteriorate badly — reduces their risk of transmitting the virus to their sexual partners by 96 percent. “This new finding convincingly demonstrates that treating [...]

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Antipsychotic Drugs Endanger Elderly With Dementia, Inspector General Says

Doctors are routinely prescribing powerful antipsychotic drugs to treat elderly nursing home patients with dementia, despite warnings that those drugs could be lethal for them, a government watchdog says. The Food and Drug Administration has approved antipsychotic drugs such as Risperdal and Seroquel for the treatment of such serious mental [...]