Since we broke the story of the first “popcorn lung” case in a popcorn consumer, many new readers have visited The Pump Handle. We’ve been writing about the hazards of diacetyl for years (here and here, for example). If this is your first visit, you might want to know who we are, where our name comes from, and why we are constantly writing about ways the FDA, EPA, OSHA, MSHA, CPSC, and other federal regulatory agencies could better protect our health and environment.
The story of the pump handle dates to the London cholera epidemic of 1854, when John Snow examined maps of cholera cases and traced the disease to water from a local pump. At the time, the prevailing theory held that cholera spread through the air, rather than water, so Snow faced criticism from others in the science community – not to mention resistance from the water companies. He finally convinced community leaders to remove the pump’s handle to prevent further exposure.
The Pump Handle blog is a group effort; our contributors include scientists and public health professionals who formerly worked for the FDA, OSHA, MSHA, DOE and other federal agencies. These agencies are, or should be, the guardians of the public’s health, and many of our posts focus on ways to improve their work. We’ve become an important voice in the public health community’s efforts to reform the FDA, protect coal miners, strengthen OSHA, prevent “popcorn lung”, among other issues.
The Pump Handle is affiliated with the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy (SKAPP) at the George Washington University School of Public Health. SKAPP examines the nature of science and how it is used and misused in government decision-making and legal proceedings. Through empirical research, conversations among scholars, and publications, SKAPP aims to enhance understanding of how knowledge is generated and interpreted. For more information and many publications available for downloading, visit SKAPP’s website www.DefendingScience.org.
If you’re interested in contributing to The Pump Handle, please send an email to thepumphandle [at] gmail[dot] com. If you’d like to subscribe to our weekly email digest, send an email with “subscribe” in the subject line to that same address.