Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "plastics" ...

  • Better Government Association: Recycling in Chicago

    Chicago, long notorious for mismanaging its recycling programs, allows a private city recycling hauler to divert tons of residential plastics and paper into landfills the company owns. The situation creates an unfair system that treats residents differently depending solely on where they live, costing taxpayers twice to handle the same materials and making Chicago the worst city in the nation in terms of its recycling rate.
  • Are Any Plastics Safe?: Inside the Big Tobacco-style campaign to bury the disturbing truth about the products you use everyday

    An investigation questioning the safety of BPA-free plastics used in many common household products that also details the Big Tobacco-style campaign to cover up the facts. Nearly two decades after scientists discovered that BPA, a common plastic additive that mimics the hormone estrogen, is linked to serious health problems, Mother Jones reporter Mariah Blake investigates new evidence that suggests even plastics labeled "BPA-free" may expose us to similar effects. Despite these findings, US regulators continue to ignore the evidence and potentially dangerous plastics are still everywhere-from your baby's bottle to your toothbrush. Blake takes an inside look at the tactics used to keep plastics in our homes despite potential worrisome health effects
  • Chemical Fallout

    "The reporters exposed inept government programs that favor chemical makers over the needs of the public. They detailed conflicts of interest among regulators and uncovered new hidden threats for consumers. The newspaper tested common household plastics billed as "microwave safe" and found toxic levels of chemicals leaching from every item tested."
  • Plastic Planes

    "Plastic Planes is a two-part investigative report that examines Boeing and Airbus's investment in high-tech, reinforced plastics called composites, for the next generation of airplanes. The entire aviation industry has banked on composites for future commercial airplane designs, primarily because these materials are lighter than aluminum - making planes more fuel efficient." The investigation reveals that "both Boeing and Airbus are adopting this material too fast to guarantee its safety."
  • A Body's Burden

    The authors tested a typical family's blood, hair, and urine for the presence of several everyday chemical contaminants known collectively as our "body's burden." The investigation revealed the presence of flame retardants, plastics, metals, PCBs, even the chemical precursors for Teflon and Gore-Tex in each family member, with concentrations in the children often far outpacing those in their parents.
  • The Chlorine Controversy

    Technology Review reports on critics of chlorine, who say that chlorinated pesticides, solvents, plastics and water may be harming people and the environment. Chlorine is used in about 15,000 products, with an estimated $71 billion in annual sales, the review reports. Because chlorine by-products breakdown very slowly, they linger in the environment for years. The controversy continues to rage through legislatures and corporate boardrooms.
  • OMYA and WWII

    This story "traces a Swiss company's collaboration with Nazi Germany during World War II. The story details the problems encountered by Pluess-Staufer AG as a result of its business dealings with Nazi Germany during the war. Its OMYA subsidiary, the world's largest producer of calcium carbonate (a key mineral used in the manufacture of paint, paper, plastics, chemicals and pharmaceuticals) was charged by the French in late 1944 with collaborating with the enemy during the war. It was one of the largest cases of economic collaboration in the Department (state) of the Marne. According to company documents, the fine and 'confiscation of illicit profits' threatened the company's very survival. OMYA and Pluess-Staufer spent 13 years fighting the French decision before losing its final appeal in 1957. In Germany, the company encountered problems as well. The Allies froze Pluess-Staufer's assets in Karlsruhe when it discovered its business partner was a member of the SS."
  • Huntsman's Odessa Syndrome

    The Texas Observer investigates claims that gas odors from the Huntsman Polymers' plastics plant is affecting the health of citizens living in nearby Odessa, Texas. The Observer reveals that the Huntsman plant has had a number of "flares" -- or brief periods of unexpected and unavoidable plant emissions that are not regulated -- in recent years that could be making residents sick. Many residents of Odessa have breathing problems.
  • Anti-microbial Toys

    An investigation of new, anti-microbial plastics in consumer products. The material, "microban" uses the same active ingredient (Triclosan) that is in anti-bacterial soaps. For the past 30 years the FDA has been investigating Triclosan and has NOT found it either safe or effective. Federal authorities are most concerned about the use of Triclosan in and around children. Nevertheless, Triclosan use in soaps and plastics has exploded and is being used in toys. The company that produces the basic chemical has issued a warning about its use around children and the manufacturers of soaps and plastic have never done studies showing it as safe or effective. As a result of the investigation, the EPA imposed a $100,000 fine on Hasbro (the toy company) and ordered the firm to change all of its advertising and packaging which included health claims associated with the use of it's products incorporating Triclosan. The story concludes with a look toward the future: toothpaste makers were planning on introducing products that included Triclosan. These are now on the market. Also, despite manufacturer's claims, germs are becoming immune to the effects of Triclosan.
  • Hormone Hell

    Discover Magazine reports on the effects of industrial chemicals on developing animals. Chemicals in modern plastics and pesticides may cause abnormal hormonal systems, abnormal reporductive organs and skewed sex ratios in animals. The chemicals may also cause odd mating behavior and production of animals that are not entirely female or entirely male.