Since 2009, InvestigateWest’s journalism has directly led to a healthier, safer and more transparent Pacific Northwest, including two first-in-the-nation state laws to protect the environment and workers’ health.
What you’ll find below is a sampling of the ways that our journalism organization has made an impact.
Exhausted at School
Our investigation into toxic road pollution and its effects on children’s health at school found nearly 30 public schools and more than 120 day cares within 500 feet of major roads in Washington, where health researchers say traffic pollution can aggravate asthma, increase absenteeism, and harm developing immune systems. The series prompted Seattle Schools to begin notifying all principals of unhealthy air days and advise them to keep children indoors for recess. The district also announced new plans to upgrade a decades-old ventilation system at John Marshall Junior High to better protect student health. Using InvestigateWest’s reporting and methodology, newsrooms in San Diego and Ohio replicated our story, finding dozens of schools in the danger zone and equally lax oversight about where facilities get built.
Lifesaving Drugs, Deadly Consequences
Following a InvestigateWest investigation into the health hazards faced by health care workers who handle chemotherapy drugs, the State of Washington passed two new laws, creating an occupational cancer registry and mandating regulations governing how toxic drugs are handled in the workplace.
Sexual Assault at Reed College
Our stories dissecting Reed College’s failed system for bringing sexual-assault predators to justice led to the end of its once-secret system of prosecuting sexual assaults through a college Honor Code system. The work was a key part of an award-winning collaboration with the Center for Public Integrity and NPR.
Washington became the first state in the nation to ban toxic asphalt sealants — made from cancer-causing industrial waste — that have been spread over vast swaths of the nation’s cities and suburbs after InvestigateWest published the first in-depth national reporting on the material.
Northwest Detention Center
On the eve of publication of this groundbreaking package, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement initiated negotiations with Tacoma safety officials to draft a safety plan for detainees and employees, a requirement ignored for nearly a decade. Three immigrants featured in the series who were facing deportation have had their expulsions delayed or have been given extra time to stay in the country while their immigration cases are reviewed. Moreover, a local official who helped the detention center’s private contractor win required approvals began pursuing efforts to ensure that detainees released from the facility receive transportation and housing assistance.
Duwamish River Clean-Up
Following InvestigateWest’s series of stories on the shortened life expectancies and heightened health risks in South Seattle, a local nonprofit credited InvestigateWest’s reporting with helping it land a $100,000 to assess environmental threats that most affect people’s health; prioritize the importance of these health threats; and look for ways to reduce or eliminate those risks.
Boeing’s Lobbying Campaign
Our revelations on lobbying by Boeing and its allies around Washington’s fish consumption rate, a variable used to set water quality standards in the state, spurred a spate of editorials and reporting by other news outlets, elevating the issue to the point that the new governor, Jay Inslee, stepped in and appointed a special panel of advisors. Meanwhile, a coalition of environmental groups cited our reporting in launching legal action against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in July 2013 seeking to compel EPA to step into the process and force the state to act.
Prescription for Abuse
Our investigative report — and the KCTS Television documentary based on our reporting — brought attention to the serious issue of prescription drug abuse. It was part of a national wave of reporting that ultimately led to a Senate Committee inquiry and the dissolution of the Big Pharma-funded American Pain Foundation. After the local broadcast premiere, the organization Safe Call Now received calls from two police officers seeking treatment, and a hospital in Ohio requested a copy of the program to use for staff training.