Safeguarding Public Health

Special interests have recently launched attacks against public health and safety rules at the federal and state levels. Our Safeguarding Public Health Program advocates for safeguards that make our food, drugs, medical devices and other products safe for us and our families to use.  

Critical Safety Protections At Risk

We’re fortunate to live in a time when we can walk into a store and feel secure that the food, drugs, and other products for sale are safe to use. We’re able to do this thanks to all the public health and safety protections that we have in this country.

However, special interests — such as the chemical industry, pharmaceutical industry, medical devices industry and food industry — have recently launched strategic attacks against all public health and safety rules at the federal and state level. Opponents of consumer safety are engaged in a systematic effort to discredit the very idea that government protections hold any value for our society. Additionally, policy initiatives seeking to dismantle public health protections are constantly being introduced in Congress.

U.S. PIRG is defending consumers against these attacks, so that we can continue to live in a safe and healthy environment. Our Safeguarding Public Health Program advocates for protections and rules that make sure our food, drugs, medical devices and other products are safe to use.

Over the last 40 years, U.S. PIRG has fought for and won numerous public health and safety protections. Most recently, U.S. PIRG successfully campaigned to give the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) new authority to keep lead out of children’s products and allow the CPSC to establish new tools to inform consumers about dangerous products. We also helped pass the Food Safety Modernization Act, which gave the FDA new authority to act quickly when unsafe food is discovered.

Read our latest series of reports on the importance of public health and safety rules.

As the U.S. and the European Union begin negotiations on a major new trade agreement, we need to ensure that it doesn’t weaken or destroy critical public health rules. Send a message to the President, and ask him to defend our consumer protections.

Issue updates

Senate panel approves tighter oversight of compounding pharmacies but bill is under fire

Public health and consumer advocacy groups are attacking Senate legislation designed to tighten oversight of specialized pharmacies such as the one at the center of this past fall’s deadly meningitis outbreak, saying it does not adequately address health risks.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health, Health Care

New Report Documents a Decade of Safety Violations by Compounding Pharmacies

The contaminated drug that caused last fall's fungal meningitis outbreak and killed 55 people is just the tip of the iceberg of an industry-wide problem, according to a new U.S. PIRG report. The meningitis outbreak was simply the latest and deadliest in a long line of errors and risky practices by compounding pharmacies.

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Report | U.S. PIRG | Public Health, Health Care

Prescription for Danger

Compounding pharmacies are increasingly behaving like pharmaceutical companies by producing drugs in bulk, despite the fact that they are not inspected or regulated like the pharmaceutical industry. Due to this lack of oversight, many compounding pharmacies have not adhered to safe manufacturing practices, and shown little regard for consumer safety. According to an analysis of warning letters sent to other compounding pharmacies by the FDA from 2002 to 2012, there is a long history of violations that have in many cases led to unnecessary illness, injury, and even death.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

Texas Fertilizer Plant Tragedy Reminder of Need for Better Chemical Safety Rules

Wednesday night’s tragedy at the West Fertilizer plant is a catastrophic reminder of the threat posed by hazardous chemicals used in thousands of facilities across the nation, and the need for us to take every step to prevent the recurrence of such tragedies.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

Consumers Need Stronger Public Health Protections to Ensure Compounded Drugs Are Safe

Our drug approval system for medicines manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry and regulated through the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act is the one of the strongest and safest in the world. However, for the last 20 years the rapidly evolving compounding pharmacies industry has been successful in thwarting regulations at every opportunity.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

House Committee Approves Flawed Chemical Security Legislation

Nearly ten years after the September 11 attacks, it is unacceptable that millions of Americans are still living under the threat of chemical disaster. The Department of Homeland Security has repeatedly asked Congress for the authority to require the highest risk chemical plants to convert to safer alternatives to eliminate or reduce the consequences of a terrorist attack.  We are dismayed that the Committee’s vote today allows the threats to public safety and security posed by these facilities to persist.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

As House Committee Takes Up Bill to Weaken Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), Consumer, Health, and Safety Groups Press Members to Put Kids First

As the House Energy and Commerce Committee prepared to consider H.R. 1939, the Enhancing CPSC Authority and Discretion Act of 2011, a coalition of consumer, health, and safety groups said lawmakers should put kids first and reject the bill because it would weaken the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), a vital law that keeps unsafe toys and products off the shelves.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

Consumer, Health, and Safety Groups Urge Congress to Reject Bill that Weakens the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)

A coalition of consumer, health, and safety groups today called on Congress to reject a bill that would weaken the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), a vital law that keeps unsafe toys and products off the shelves.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

Senator Lautenberg Introduces Bill to Protect Public health, Reform Toxics Policy

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) today introduced the Safe Chemicals Act – a bill to reform the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The Safe Chemicals Act will require safety testing of all industrial chemicals, and puts the burden on industry to prove that chemicals are safe in order to get on or stay on the market.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

A Lower Standard for Lead Poisoning

U.S. PIRG applauds the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning and Prevention of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their important decision to protect the safety and well-being of our littlest consumers: children. The Panel recommended the government lower the threshold of lead in blood that qualifies as lead poisoning in children.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Irresponsible Care

This report analyzes accident data compiled by the National Response Center, the sole national point of contact for reporting oil and chemical discharges into the environment in the United States, for 1990 through 2003.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

The Truth About Toxic Waste Cleanups

The Bush administration has failed to include reinstatement of the polluter pays fees in its budget proposals, and Superfund’s trust fund is now bankrupt. The Bush administration also has under-funded the program, cleaned up fewer toxic waste sites, and forced taxpayers to pick up more of the bill for the cleanups that are happening. In order to deflect criticism of the administration's record on toxic waste cleanups, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has provided confusing, misleading, and even false information to the news media.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Body of Evidence

New evidence indicates that the chemical flame retardant decabromodiphenyl ether (Deca) may threaten the health of Americans. Unfortunately, the story of Deca is not unique. Deca is one of many potentially hazardous chemicals that are in widespread use, due to a failed national policy that presumes chemicals are safe until proven beyond a doubt to cause harm.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Weird Science

Genetic engineering is an imprecise and haphazard technology—something completely different from traditional plant breeding. Since the inception of the technology, biotechnology companies have clearly demonstrated that scientists cannot control where genes are inserted and cannot guarantee the resulting outcomes. Unexpected field results highlight the unpredictability of the science, yet combinations previously unimaginable are being field tested and used commercially.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Raising Risk 2003

There are many potential risks associated with the release of genetically engineered plants into the open environment. And if field experiments are not properly monitored, genetic pollution can result, putting farmers' livelihoods, public health and the environment at risk. Thus our environment is serving as the laboratory for widespread experimentation of genetically engineered organisms with profound risks that, once released, can never be recalled.

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Blog Post | Public Health

HR 4078 - A Bill that will Shutdown all Public Health and Consumer Safeguards | Nasima Hossain

HR 4078 yesterday passed a floor vote in the House. If passed by Congress this bill will shut down the U.S. regulatory system as we know it. Two other equally hazardous bills are rolled into it, H.R. 4607 and H.R. 3862. Combined, these bills will halt or delay virtually ALL rulemaking and public health protections and do absolutely nothing to stimulate the economy or new job opportunities. They would shut down safeguards that Americans take for granted.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Why Are We Still Waiting for Food Safety Rules? | Nasima Hossain

Recently we have all seen or heard about the food scares that have transpired from eating egg salad, spinach and cantaloupe. In fact, the cantaloupe foodborne illness outbreak was one of the worst the U.S. has seen in over 25 years. This Listeria outbreak linked to Colorado grown cantaloupes led to over 29 deaths, with over 139 people infected across 28 states.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Happy 106th birthday to two landmark food safety laws! | Nasima Hossain

This week marks the 106th anniversary of the passage of the Pure Food and Drugs Act and the Federal Meat Inspection Act, two landmark pieces of consumer based legislation which established the modern food protection system as we know it.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Lets Make Smart Regulations About Protecting Consumers, Not Saving Big Business Money | Nasima Hossain

In Cost/Benefit Chief Cass Sunstein’s recent White House Blog Post, Making Regulation Smarter to Save Lives and Money, Sunstein talks about streamlining regulations as highlighted in the President’s recent Executive Order. What the President and Mr. Sunstein should be talking about is a fast and smart regulatory review process.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Maryland set to sign Strong Law on Arsenic in Chicken | Nasima Hossain

Maryland has decided to sign into law a bill this week, against stiff opposition from the poultry industry, making Maryland the first state to end a practice in existence since 1944.

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