An Online Database Reveals Health Hazards

March 2009
Nieman Reports;Spring2009, Vol. 63 Issue 1, p68
The article examines the use of a database maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by reporters at the nonprofit organization Center for Public Integrity. The reporters, including a specialist in computer-assisted reporting and the examination of electronic information, obtained the electronic government records in the database through the Freedom of Information Act. The database revealed that incidents of health damage to humans and pets linked to pyrethroid and pyrethrin based insecticides, thought to be safer than other insecticides, had increased dramatically from 1997-2007. The center's reporting on this issue has resulted in the EPA beginning its own investigation into the effects of the insecticides.


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