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Exposť on the Journal: Chemicals In Our Food
Expose on the Journal
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May 23, 2008

There may be a potentially dangerous chemical leaching into our food from the containers that we use every day. BILL MOYERS JOURNAL and EXPOS…: AMERICA'S INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS examine why, even though studies show that the chemical Bisphenol A can cause cancer and other health problems in lab animals, the manufacturers, their lobbyists, and U.S. regulators say it's safe.

In a watchdog series for the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, a trio of reporters focused on Bisphenol A, a chemical contained in many plastics that is also found in 93% of human beings. The problem at issue? Congress ordered the federal government in 1996 to begin testing and regulating certain chemicals suspected of causing cancer and a host of developmental problems. Eleven years later, not a single compound has been put to that test.

You can read the full series "Chemical Fallout" online, plus ongoing coverage of the fate of Bisphenol A. On May 15, 2008, the SENTINEL reported on some new Congressional hearings:

Members of a Senate consumer affairs subcommittee faulted federal agencies for reacting too slowly to concerns that children are exposed to bisphenol A through leaching from common items such as water bottles, baby bottles and the linings of food and baby-formula cans.
More study and more debate is anticipated.

Ask the Reporters
The reporting team who broke the story for the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL "Chemical Fallout," Meg Kissinger, Suzanne Rust and Cary Spivak, were awarded the 2007 Sigma Delta Chi award and the Society of American Business Writers and Editors award for the series. All three reporters will be taking viewer questions about the story and their work as investigative science reporters on The Moyers Blog. Simply add your question and they'll be answering them in the near future.

Meg Kissinger
Meg Kissinger is the Watchdog reporter for healthcare investigations. Kissinger was a finalist for last year's Selden Ring and Investigative Reporter and Editor awards for her reports on the filthy and dangerous housing conditions in Milwaukee County for people with mental illness. That series won the Mental Health America Award for best news reporting. In her 25 years in the newsroom, Kissinger has written about abuses in the nursing home industry, the scam of the door-to-door magazine sales industry and the travails of an oncologist who unwittingly discovered his own end-stage cancer. Kissinger has received awards from the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

Susanne Rust
Susanne Rust is a science reporter at the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. In her five years at the paper she has trekked through the hills of Rwanda to cover stories on civil engineering and AIDS; hacked through the dense foliage of a Ugandan rain forest in search of mountain gorillas; poked around Scotland's Roslin Institute looking for clones; and written about eco-friendly agriculture in Costa Rica. Rust has also been recognized for her reporting on stem cells, including winning a First Place Inland Press Association award for explanatory writing. Before joining the JOURNAL SENTINEL, she pursued a doctorate in biological anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she studied primate communication, evolution and ecology.

Cary Spivak
Cary Spivak is the JOURNAL SENTINEL's investigative reporter focusing on business. Before joining the Watchdog Team as an investigative reporter focusing on business, Spivak was the co-author of the Spivak & Bice column. Prior to launching the column in 1998 with Daniel Bice, Spivak worked on the business desk at the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL as an investigative reporter specializing in casino gaming, the legal industry and financial fraud. During his 30-year career, he has worked on a variety of investigations involving business, politics and law enforcement. Subjects he has probed include a now-disbarred bankruptcy lawyer who pocketed thousands of dollars in fees without doing any work for his destitute clients; illegal property flipping schemes and securities fraud.

Published on May 23, 2008.

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References and Reading:
Local Environmental Conditions

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
An agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ATSDR is committed to using the best science possible to educate, warn, and protect the public from toxic substances and exposure.

Learn About Chemicals Around Your House
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) presents this interactive resource for kids and adults to learn about the chemicals in the various rooms in the house. In addition, the EPA site contains information about; Drinking Water and Health; Teaching Aids; and resources for Concerned Citizens.

Scorecard
Environmental Defense offers tools to get facts on local pollution in your community. Enter your zip code to find out what pollutants are being released into your community — and who is responsible. Also, learn about air pollutants, land contamination, lead hazards, environmental priorities in your neighborhood and more.

Working Group on Community Right-to-Know The Working Group is a DC based coalition of more than 1,500 public interest groups around the country working for more openness in government and industry. The Working Group's Web site publishes a list of industrial chemicals deemed "extremely hazardous" by the EPA.

Environment and Health

Environmental Working Group
Progressive environmental advocacy group that supports a team of scientists, engineers, policy experts, lawyers and computer programmers who analyze data and conduct original scientific tests focused on reforming environmental legislation.

Children's Environmental Health Network
The Children's Environmental Health Network is a national multi-disciplinary project whose mission is to protect the fetus and the child from environmental health hazards and promote a healthy environment. This Web site provides information on the Network, the issue of children's environmental health, and links to sources of information and resources in the field.


National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences provides fact sheets and pamphlets on environmental hazards, such as lead and air quality, and illnesses, such as asthma, facing children in schools. The site includes scientific research and studies on children's health, as well as the latest news and events.

Agencies and Groups

Environmental Protection Agency
The site of the main federal agency charged with safeguarding both citizens and the natural environment contains a wealth of briefings, ways to check air and water quality, updates on all environmental legislation and suggestions for citizen action.

National Environmental Protection Act
NEPAnet Web site allows users the ability to access the complete text of the 1969 NEPA, while also providing shortcuts to popular statutes, such as the Clean Air Act. Other features include access to the Center for Environmental Quality environmental impact analyses, reports, studies and NEPA case law.

Also This Week:

EXPOSÉ ON THE JOURNAL: CHEMICALS IN OUR FOOD
There may be a potentially dangerous chemical leaching into our food from the containers that we use every day. THE JOURNAL and EXPOS… examine why, even though studies show that the chemical Bisphenol A can cause cancer and other health problems in lab animals, the manufacturers, their lobbyists, and U.S. regulators say it's safe.

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VETERAN ORAL HISTORY
Find out how to do an oral history of a veteran for inclusion the National Archives.

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