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

Blog Post | Public Health

Back to School: Asbestos in Crayons | Anna Low-Beer

This back to school season, be sure that your children's school supplies and toys are safe. A new Environmental Working Group report shows that some popular crayon brands contain asbestos fibers. Read on to see which ones and what else you need to know about asbestos regulation.

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Blog Post | Public Health

A Soggy Statement from Subway | Anya Vanecek

Subway recently made a statement about their antibiotics policy. Here's where they fall short.

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Blog Post | Public Health

A Fresh Celebration | Anya Vanecek

How do you get a major chain like Subway to celebrate public health? You keep the issue fresh in their minds.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Meet the [antibiotic-free] Chef: Hosea Rosenberg, BlackBelly | Anya Vanecek

Recently, I sat down with Chef Hosea Rosenberg, owner of BlackBelly restaurant in Boulder, CO, to find out why antibiotic-free meat was as good for business as it is for public health.

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Blog Post | Public Health

A Lot Can Happen in Two Years | Carli Jensen

On the second anniversary of the Executive Order on Chemical Safety and Security, we’re no safer than the day it was issued. There have been over 420 chemical disasters that caused 81 deaths and over 1,600 hospitalizations since April of 2013, and time is running out for the Environmental Protection Agency to take action to protect our communities, children, and workers from dangerous chemical plants.

 

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

Popular Magnets Still Pose Danger if Swallowed

Small, but powerful magnets used in magnetic building toys and magnetic jewelry cause serious injury and death from swallowing. The Consumer Product Safety Commission should revisit this hazard and reconsider asking manufacturers to put prominent and very visible warnings labels on all products both for children and adults that contain these magnets.

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Media Hit | Public Health

Fox News: The Most Dangerous Toys of 2011

Each fall, public safety experts from U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), the federation of state public interest research groups, browses toy stores across the country looking for potentially dangerous toys. Despite the stringent regulations imposed on toy manufacturers in the United States, these experts never fail to find a handful of items on store shelves that appear innocuous, but actually pose toxic, choking, strangulation or excessive noise hazards to children.

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

Survey Finds Toxic or Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves

Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, according to U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s 26th annual Trouble in Toyland report.This morning U.S. PIRG, joined by Commissioner Robert Adler from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Ivan Frishberg, a parent, released the report. It reveals the results of laboratory testing on toys for lead and phthalates, both of which have been proven to have serious adverse health impacts on the development of young children. The survey also found toys that pose either choking or noise hazards.

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Media Hit | Public Health

CBS News: Watchdog Warns of Toy Dangers as Holidays Near

Shoppers awaiting this week's traditional kick-off of the holiday shopping season should find plenty of safe toys for children, but consumer advocates say some dangers still lurk.

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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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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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Report | VPIRG | Public Health

Hidden Hazards

Polymer clays are a form of modeling clay that have become popular in recent years among children, adolescents and adult craftspeople. Unfortunately, these clays contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC) mixed with phthalate plasticizers. While the phthalate plasticizers make the clay soft and workable, they are also associated with potential health risks. Phthalates as a class of chemicals have been implicated in birth defects, reproductive problems, nerve system damage and other negative health effects.

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

Antibiotic Resistance Marker Genes in Genetically Engineered Foods

Many genetically engineered crops on the market currently contain antibiotic resistance marker genes because of the imprecision of the gene insertion process. Scientists use these genes to determine whether a gene has inserted itself into a target organism. As a result of incorporating these antibiotic resistance genes, these crops threaten the already growing problem of antibiotic resistance, which the world medical community acknowledges as a serious public health concern.

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

Raising Risk 2001

The science of genetic engineering, particularly as applied to agriculture, is radical and new. Contrary to popular belief, the technology is not very precise. As a result, genetic engineering raises a host of ecological and human health concerns that have not been adequately addressed. Despite this, on tens of thousands of acres across the United States, although the exact amount is not publicly available, experiments with genetically engineered crops are being conducted in the open environment with little oversight and public notification.

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Report | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

Weird Science 2000

Genetic engineering permits scientists to manipulate genetic materials in ways that were once inconceivable. But the technology relies on methods that result in haphazard insertion of genetic elements into a plant's genetic code. This in turn may lead to disruption of complex gene interactions and unintended, potentially catastrophic results. It is a technology that has the power to transform food and the food supply in ways not possible with traditional breeding. Genetic engineering is very different, very powerful and worth a great deal of caution.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Food

Who Flipped the Antibiotics Script? | Steve Blackledge

The "cold-blooded capitalists" have made strides for public health, while the "heavy-handed government" sit on those hands. Consumer power is changing the antibiotics script.

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Blog Post | Public Health

4 Tools to Keep Us Healthy | Anya Vanecek

You can’t take food safety for granted, but you can protect yourself from illness with these 4 tools.

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Blog Post | Public Health

It's a Lot of Chickens | Anya Vanecek

All spring long, companies have been making commitment to help save antibiotics, by ending the use of antibiotics on their chicken flocks. But, what does this all mean? A lot of birds.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Notes from the Chemical Safety Board Public Meeting | Carli Jensen

 I attended a public meeting of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, or “CSB.” This meeting couldn’t have come at a better time.

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Blog Post | Public Health

"Closer to Our Customers" | Steve Blackledge

Mr. Easterbrook, if you want to improve your relationship with customers - and stock values - trumpet your antibiotic-free commitment proudly.

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