Award-winning environment reporter Marla Cone is leaving the Los Angeles Times to join the ranks of nonprofit journalism, becoming the top editor of Environmental Health News starting today.

Cone, whose work at the L.A. Times includes a series of articles highlighting the environmental threat posed by brominated flame retardants and investigations into the health of ocean ecosystems, will spearhead an expanded news operation dedicated to producing original, investigative journalism on environmental health issues.

For too long, environmental health issues have received little attention from major media organizations, Cone said.

“It’s a very complex, very nuanced beat requiring deep understanding of science,” she said, noting that health reporters often wind up covering these stories as reporters and editors on the environment beat choose to focus on classic issues like climate change, oil drilling, and endangered species.

“Editors misjudge how important these issues are to consumers,” Cone said.

Environmental Health News will continue to point its readers to journalism and scientific reports produced by other organizations, Cone said, but a redesign of the website that went live this morning will enable editors to feature original reports produced by Cone’s team.

Today, EHN has a piece by Cone on the health problems still plaguing Vietnam War vets, and another on the prevalence of feminized toads in agricultural areas of Florida.

In addition to original reporting by Cone and freelance reporters, Cone said EHN will start publishing opinion pieces by scientists working in the area of environmental health. On the site today is a piece by Carnegie Mellon University’s Terry Collins about green chemistry.

Cone said EHN will pursue content-sharing relationships and joint reporting projects with newspapers and other media organizations.

The nonprofit model of journalism is not new, but it got a major boost earlier this year with the launch of ProPublica.org, a news organization dedicated to producing hard-hitting investigative journalism. Run by former Wall Street Journal editor Paul Steiger, ProPublica has recruited some of the top investigative reporters in the country.

EHN was founded in 2002 by Pete Myers, who remains as publisher of the publication. Myers’s nonprofit Environmental Health Sciences also publishes DailyClimate.org.

Cone is the author of Silent Snow, a 2005 book exploring how industrial chemicals are poisoning the arctic.

Cone’s last major project for the L.A. Times was published on Sunday — a look at the science behind “green chemicals.” It can be read below:

Products derived from natural, nontoxic ingredients — once seen as fringe — are now mainstream