Public Health

News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Statement: New FDA plan to reduce toxic metal in baby food falls short

A month after announcing a weak plan to reduce heavy metals in baby food, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new plan Thursday aimed at making baby food safer over the next several years.

Consumers still at risk for harmful over-the-counter drug products of all types because of soft federal regulations.

News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19, Public Health, Health Care

NURSING HOMES STILL DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MASKS, GOWNS, OTHER PPE

A new analysis by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group found that 8 percent of nursing homes nationwide as of Dec. 27 had a critical shortage of surgical-grade N95 masks, which are the best protection against spreading the virus. Additionally, 4 to 6 percent of nursing homes reported shortages in at least one other category of personal protective equipment.

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Public Health

New Report: Toxic waste cleanup efforts lag, putting Texans at risk

A new report finds that only 10 of the nation’s most toxic Superfund sites were cleaned up in Fiscal Year 2020 -- less than one seventh of the annual total in the 1990s. Environment Texas Research and Policy Center found that insufficient funding jeopardized the cleanup of 55 existing Superfund sites in Texas, as well as potential new sites such as the creosote plume underneath the Fifth Ward and Kashmere Gardens neighborhoods in Houston, where two cancer clusters have been discovered. 

“Millions of Texans live near these sites, which have chemicals either proven to cause -- or suspected of causing -- major health problems,” said Catherine Fraser, an associate with Environment Texas. “Congress’ failure to reinstate a Polluter Pays Tax to ensure cleanup at these sites is a choice to prioritize their bottom line over the lives of Americans.”

Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Superfund Unfunded

In 1980, Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), informally called Superfund. The Superfund program was given the authority and funds to hold polluters responsible for cleaning up contaminated waste sites or clean up the sites themselves if no responsible party can be found or afford the cleanup. These toxic waste sites house some of the most “hazardous chemicals known to humankind.” The Superfund toxic waste program protects people from these contaminants and the serious health problems associated with them.

The program was originally funded by a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries, but that tax expired in 1995, and now the money for the Superfund program has come primarily through appropriations from the general revenue. As appropriations have decreased over the past two decades, cleanup has slowed, putting more people at risk for longer from hazardous contamination.

20 Questions to Ask Your Nursing Home during COVID

By | Teresa Murray
Consumer Watchdog

Whether you have a loved one currently in a nursing home or rehabilitation facility, or whether you’re shopping for one, you should arm yourself with a list of questions to gauge how safe the environment is. Here’s a guide to those questions, and the answers you should expect.

End the Nicotine Trap

The U.S. Surgeon General has declared e-cigarette use, commonly known as vaping, among young people an epidemic due to its popularity and health risks. One in 5 high schoolers reported vaping in 2018, a nearly 80 percent increase in one year. An entire generation is at risk of nicotine addiction, and millions of kids are already hooked on nicotine with serious implications for their health and future.

That’s why we’re working to end the nicotine trap now.

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Governor worries about coronavirus spread, advocates offer solution

As the coronavirus continues to spread across Texas and the nation, advocacy groups and health professionals sent a letter today to Governor Abbott asking him to protect state employees by requiring non-essential state employees to switch to telework.

Today, Governor Abbott expressed concern over compliance with his measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Yet as Texans across the state adjust to telework, online school and social distancing there were several reported instances of pressure from state agencies for employees to go into their office or field or take vacation time.

“Governor Abbott must lead by example and deliver a clear message that requiring remote work can save lives,” says Lauren Banister, TexPIRG Associate. “While we don’t know the extent of the problem, we are disappointed to see that any state employee has to choose between their job and public health.” 

Resource | Public Health

Letter to Governor Abbott on Remote Work for non-essential personnel

Today, TexPIRG Education Fund sent a letter to the Governorn, signed by a broad coalition of public health experts and advocacy organizations, asking him to require work from home for all non-essential state personnel. You can download the letter below. 

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