Exactly one year ago today, we published our first post here on The Pump Handle. It’s been an eventful year, to say the least.
By far, our most popular post was David Michaels’s “Popcorn Lung Coming to Your Kitchen? The FDA Doesn’t Want to Know,” which publicized the first reported case of bronchiolitis obliterans in a consumer and the pathetic reaction from public health agencies. Of course this is just one piece of the larger butter-flavoring story, which we’ve been following since our inception, mostly focusing on OSHA’s superficial responses to a hazard that’s robbing workers of their lung capacity.
We’ve also kept ourselves busy advocating for drug-safety reforms at FDA; considering ways to improve occupational health and safety in the U.S.; monitoring White House attempts to seize more control over regulatory agencies; weighing in on the conflict-of-interest issues surrounding the bisphenol A risk assessment; and criticizing the CPSC for its lackluster response to lead-tainted toys and other unsafe products. As tragedy unfolded at the collapsed Crandall Canyon mine in Utah, we explored the problems that contributed to the disaster and ways to keep miners safer.
Then there are the subtler things that may not get a lot of attention but that profoundly affect public health. Industry groups routinely claim that the science is too uncertain or that it’s the wrong kind of science, and then they put forth their own studies designed from the start to show that their products aren’t harmful. Positive-sounding concepts like “data quality” and “risk assessment” get twisted into tools for delaying or quashing regulation of dangerous products.
There’s no doubt that the next year will bring more challenges and outrages for those of us who care about public health. With elections coming up, the public health community also has an opportunity to ask candidates whether they support science-based regulation, strong federal agencies that will put health and safety ahead of corporate wishes, and investment in a resilient public health infrastructure.
Thanks to all of our readers, commenters, contributors, and other supporters who’ve joined us for our first year in the blogosphere. Here’s to another interesting year!