You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.
12 years old
Halloween candy season is officially here, but an investigation by the Washington Post into cocoa farming found that child labor continues to be “an epidemic” in the supply chain of several popular brands, including Hershey, Mars and Nestlé, with some workers as young as 12 years old. According to a 2015 U.S. Labor Department report, more than 2 million children worked in dangerous labor conditions in the areas where cocoa is grown (two-thirds of the world’s cocoa supply comes from West Africa). Companies first signed a Congressional pledge to rid the industry of its worst child labor practices in 2001, with a target date of 2005. They are expected to fail another deadline next year.
5 purebred bulls
There’s a lot of life and death on farms, but the final state of five young purebred bulls at the Silvies Valley Ranch in eastern Oregon still comes across as “an eerie scene.” NPR reporter Anna King says the animals were found “drained of blood and with body parts precisely removed,” including the tongue and genitals carefully cut out. “The bull looks like a giant, deflated plush toy.” So far, there are no credible leads. [NPR]
1 gun-toting dog
Puppies aren’t usually known for being violent, but caretaker Tina Springer was accidentally shot by a 7-month-old yellow Labrador while both were waiting in a car for a train to pass in Nash, Oklahoma. The dog apparently set off a .22 caliber gun located under the vehicle’s console after jumping from the backseat, firing a bullet into Springer’s left thigh. The driver and dog owner, Brent Parks, used a belt as a tourniquet for Springer’s injury until an ambulance arrived. [Enid News]
781 Navajo women
A federally funded study on uranium exposure levels among 781 Navajo women and infants found 26 percent of the people screened had concentrations of the radioactive metal that exceeded levels found in the highest 5 percent of the U.S. population. This is decades after mining for the metal had ended in the Navajo Nation. Information about the study was shared during a congressional hearing in Albuquerque where elected officials are pushing for legislation that would expand the state’s radiation compensation to more residents. [St. Louis Tribune]
$680 million in drugmaker spending
A Bloomberg Government analysis of tax filings and data from the Senate Finance Committee shows hundreds of nonprofit entities receiving more than $680 million from six major pharmaceutical companies last year, more than double the amount donated in 2015. Some of the money went into campaigns against federal legislation aimed at reducing the cost of medicine, as well as education grants and fellowship programs for physicians. [Bloomberg Government]