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Investigations reveal toxic, unregulated work for migrants

Workers cleaning up Beach Road following devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina September 4, 2005 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Climate change means more such workers will be needed in the future, and currently, many are undocumented migrants facing significant hazards.
Workers cleaning up Beach Road following devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina September 4, 2005 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Climate change means more such workers will be needed in the future, and currently, many are undocumented migrants facing significant hazards.

Disaster cleanup is worth billions in the United States.

A new investigation from the Center for Public Integrity says 15,000 companies are involved in the work of cleaning up after hurricanes and other extreme weather events increasing with climate change.

Many of those workers are migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, is expected to protect workers exposed to toxic chemicals like asbestos and lead, but in the rush after disasters, enforcement can be lax. Workers who move from site to site can be responsible for their own protective equipment, and suffer from chronic illnesses from exposure to toxins.

And it’s not just this industry that poses dangers to immigrant workers.

Earlier this year, 1A talked with Hannah Dreier, an investigative reporter for the New York Times covering the dangers children face in the food processing industry.

Hannah joins Jenn White for an update, along with María Inés Zamudio, an investigative reporter with the Center for Public Integrity.

Update: A spokesperson for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent us the following statement on Friday, October 13th, after this program aired.

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AC Valdez