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Big Sugar’s Burning Problem

Investigating how regulators have allowed the sugar industry to burn crops at the expense of poor communities of color in Florida’s heartland.

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The Smoke Comes Every Year. Sugar Companies Say the Air Is Safe.

To harvest more than half of America’s cane sugar, billion-dollar companies set fire to fields, a money-saving practice that’s being banned by other countries. Some residents say they struggle to breathe, so we started tracking air quality.

Other Entries

“They Deserve to Be Safe”: Candidates Call on Florida to Investigate the Health Effects of Sugar Cane Burning

Voters in Florida's biggest sugar-cane-growing region will soon select their likely representative in Congress. Some candidates are calling on officials to further research industry practices after a Palm Beach Post/ProPublica investigation.

“A Complete Failure of the State”: Authorities Didn’t Heed Researchers’ Calls to Study Health Effects of Burning Sugar Cane

Health officials in Florida’s sugar belt failed to act on recommendations to study the health impact of cane burning, despite decades of internal research and complaints from residents.

We Reported on Pollution From Sugar Cane Burning. Now Federal Lawmakers Want the EPA to Take Action.

Citing a Palm Beach Post/ProPublica report on the burning of cane fields, leading members of Congress have called for the EPA to investigate air monitoring in Florida and to change national pollution standards.

Hay humo todos los años. Las compañías azucareras dicen que el aire es saludable.

Para cosechar más de la mitad de la caña de azúcar de Estados Unidos, empresas multimillonarias prenden fuego a los cañaverales, una práctica para ahorrar dinero que está prohibida por otros países. Algunos residentes dicen que les cuesta respirar, así que comenzamos a estudiar la calidad del aire.

Testing the Air to Tell a Story: How We Investigated Air Pollution Near Florida’s Sugar Fields

A look at the community engagement and citizen data-collection that made our major investigation in the Florida Glades come to life.

Sugar Companies Said Our Investigation Is Flawed and Biased. Let’s Dive Into Why That’s Not the Case.

ProPublica and The Palm Beach Post published an investigation into the air quality in Florida’s heartland, where more than half the country’s cane sugar is harvested, often by burning the fields. Sugar companies challenged our reporting. We respond.

“They’re Trying to Make It So We Walk Away”: It’s About to Get Harder to File Lawsuits Saying Sugar Harvesters Poisoned the Air

Some residents in a rural farming community say sugar harvesting is poisoning the air. The Florida Legislature just passed a bill that would make it harder to sue.

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