EWG 2015
Annual Report
This is what EWG has been doing for over 20 years. And in 2015, when we made this our mission statement and adopted a new logo, it became official. This is what we fight for every day at EWG.

It is this mission that inspires you, and everyone in our community, to use our educational tools, databases and apps, join us to shape health-protective policies, and support our work.

Maybe you want to eat healthier food with fewer pesticides, or avoid GMOs. Maybe you have a daughter who is starting to use makeup, and you want to make sure it doesn’t contain chemicals that will affect her hormones. Or maybe you live near a fracking well and need information to keep your family safe.

Whatever brings you to EWG, we know you want to live a healthier life in a healthier environment. You know your environment isn’t just your backyard or your local park; your environment is the water that you drink, the food you put on the table, and the products you put in and on your body. And these environments greatly impact your health.

Environmental Working Group

EWG is turning 20!

Environmental Working Group (EWG) is grateful to the tens of thousands of individuals who supported our work in 2011. We had a banner year. From our toxics work to farm policy and consumers' right-to-know, you helped us achieve so much. Thank you for being in our corner again this year.

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We provide you with educational tools and resources so you can make healthier choices, and we push for healthier policies and healthier markets. We give you knowledge about and access to healthier food, healthier agriculture, healthier energy, and healthier everyday products.

At EWG, 2015 was another memorable year, with notable policy wins, advances in consumers’ understanding of their health, and markets moved toward greater ingredient disclosures and healthier products. Our online and media campaigns reached millions of people directly, via email and social media, as well as through our website, blogs and apps. We motivated hundreds of thousands of people to act: signing petitions, engaging with policymakers and key stakeholders, and sharing our work far and wide.



In 2015, we saw a surge in interest from both the media and consumers hungry for stories related to public health and the environment. We were prominently featured in the news and on social media, and were shared among friends more than ever before.

Our 2015 Guide to Sunscreens was featured in more than 50 news stories – in major publications including TIME, CBS, CNN, Yahoo! News and Cosmopolitan – and achieved more than 3 million online visits. We broke records for both audience and social media activity, including more than 27,000 shares and 32,000 likes on Facebook. Our social media campaign for the sunscreen guide reached more than 2.6 million people on Facebook alone.

We also saw a tipping point in market change, with announcements from major corporations like Revlon, Kraft, Hershey, Nestlé, McDonald’s, Subway and Chipotle – addressing consumer concerns about chemicals in cosmetics, food additives, food coloring, antibiotics in meat, and GMOs – in a faster and more profound way than we could have predicted. These accomplishments show the importance of your support to the environmental health movement at this critical moment in history.

EWG’s biggest wins from 2015 include:

BLOG POST EWG launched its new personal care verification program – EWG VERIFIED™

EWG’s new verification program is the next step in our work to help consumers identify the safest products in the personal care product market, and avoid potentially harmful chemicals and contaminants commonly found in consumer goods.

BLOG POST EWG rattled the nail care industry

A groundbreaking study by Duke University and EWG scientists found that a potentially hormone-disrupting chemical, triphenyl phosphate, or TPHP, is present in many brands of nail polish and migrates almost instantly into users’ bodies, including those of vulnerable teens and preteens.

BLOG POST California added BPA to Proposition 65

In a major win for public health, BPA was added to California’s Proposition 65 list of toxic chemicals in 2015. Three EWG staff members testified at the committee hearing in May 2015, emphasizing the strong body of evidence against the potent endocrine disruptor and its toxicity to the female reproductive system. The state has since set a guideline for warning labels on items that contain the chemical – a move that will likely trigger more manufacturers to remove BPA from their products.

BLOG POST EWG inspired major food companies to remove chemicals of concern

Several food manufacturers and restaurants have announced plans to remove concerning chemicals from their products. For example, Subway announced it will sell food free of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives by 2017; Panera announced it would remove EWG’s “dirty dozen” additives from its food by 2016; Nestlé announced plans to remove artificial colors from its candy; and Campbell Soup Co. announced it will remove artificial colors and flavoring ingredients from all its products by the end of 2018.

BLOG POST Minnesota passed new buffer law

Minnesota’s new law, which required grass “buffers” to be planted between cropland and the state’s rivers and streams, was an innovative and important step toward cutting pollution from farm operations. Momentum for this new law can be traced back to EWG’s 2014 report “Broken Stream Banks,” documenting the weak enforcement of an existing buffer rule in southern Minnesota, where only 18 percent of Minnesota rivers and stream banks had the full 50 feet of required buffers. The report spurred a great deal of interest from the media and state agencies, and opened the door for EWG to participate in discussions leading up to the new law.

BLOG POST EWG fought for substantive chemical policy reform

In 2015, Congress passed the first overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act since its enactment in 1976. But both the House and Senate versions of the bill fell far short of what was needed to protect the health and safety of the American people from toxic chemicals. Understanding that this was a tough battle in Congress, EWG worked around the clock with our environmental champions, supporters and the media to shape the conversation around what real reform looks like. EWG prioritized protecting public health, especially that of vulnerable populations, and the environment from the hazards toxic chemicals pose. EWG employed many strategies to shift the conversation.

EWG educated the public through 25 informative blog posts, collected 44,000+ petition signatures through educational action alert emails, got supporters to make more than 1,000 calls to legislative offices, provided in-depth policy analysis to suggest ways to strengthen the bills under considerations and offered expert testimony, held 150+ meetings with policymakers and their staffs, and collaborated with a wide range of groups on ways to secure greater protections against toxic chemical exposures.

BLOG POST Major furniture manufacturers stopped using chemical flame retardants

Thanks to EWG’s research and advocacy on flame retardant chemicals, California enacted a key policy change in the state’s fire safety standards. This change eliminated the legal requirement for furniture manufacturers to add flame retardant chemicals to their sofas and sectionals. As of Jan. 1, 2015, furniture manufacturers are required to label furniture to clearly indicate whether or not each piece contains chemical flame retardants. Thanks to these revolutionary changes, consumers suddenly have mainstream options for flame retardant-free furniture.

BLOG POST California legislation introduced for cleaning product transparency

In February 2015, new legislation was introduced in California that would require manufacturers to fully disclose the ingredients used in household cleaning products. EWG staff are now working to educate lawmakers in California about the public health risks associated with many cleaning product ingredients and the need for greater transparency in labeling.

BLOG POST EWG fought for GMO labeling

Although versions of the anti-GMO-labeling bill, widely derided as the DARK Act, passed both the House and Senate, they were kept out of the year-end “omnibus” spending bill, thanks, in large part, to highly effective educational and advocacy efforts of EWG’s government affairs team.

BLOG POST Glyphosate classified as a “probable carcinogen”

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, classified glyophosate as a “probable carcinogen” and, in doing so, focused the attention of the public, journalists and government regulators on the environmental harms of the herbicide. The ruling had an immediate impact on the heated policy battle over labeling foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients, or GMOs. That’s because glyphosate is used in massive amounts by major agricultural companies to grow GMO corn, soybeans and other crops that turn up in most foods Americans eat. In EWG’s unique 2015 analysis and report “Glyphosate Is Spreading Like a Cancer Across the U.S.,” we created a compelling interactive graphic demonstrating just how extensively American agriculture has adopted the “probable carcinogen” weed killer.



In 2015, EWG’s environmental health program completed and published a staggering amount of work, including investigative reports and data analyses on toxic chemicals and environmental health, for example:

Your support also allowed us to participate in major collaborations on flame retardant research and mercury body burden research; complete online action campaigns related to our research reports; and keep our educational tools, consumer databases and apps up to date.

EWG’s publications from 2015 include:

BLOG POST 2015 Guide to Sunscreens – Released May 2015

EWG released its ninth annual sunscreen guide, giving shoppers an easy-to-use, searchable online database to find the healthiest, most effective sun protection products. EWG’s 2015 Guide to Sunscreens found that 80 percent of the 1,700 products analyzed contained potentially harmful ingredients or offered weak protection from dangerous ultraviolent radiation, or both. The guide, released May 19, has logged over 1.2 million unique visitors and 4.4 million page views, and has been featured on numerous news sites including Yahoo! Health, CNN.com and TIME. Our Facebook posts about the guide were seen by more than 2.7 million people and subsequently shared and/or liked 55,000 times.

BLOG POST Guide to Perfluorochemicals – Released May 2015

Per- or poly-fluorochemicals, also known as PFCs, constitute a multibillion-dollar family of chemicals that are widely used to make water-, grease- and stain-repellent coatings for a vast array of consumer goods. According to Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, PFCs contaminate the blood of virtually every American alive today. They are found in animals in the most remote parts of the world, and lab tests have found that they are even passed to babies in the womb. Exposure to PFCs has been associated with kidney and testicular cancer, high cholesterol, abnormal thyroid hormone levels, pregnancy-induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia, obesity and low-birth weight. EWG released a new consumer guide to help people avoid these toxic chemicals, found in waterproof jackets, running shoes, microwave popcorn bags and pizza boxes. See the guide here.

BLOG POST Skin Deep® updates – Released September 2015

We continued to update EWG’s Skin Deep® database with new cosmetics and personal care products, brands and formulations. We also reviewed and updated the science behind our review of triphenyl phosphate, or TPHP, an ingredient found in nail polish and nail treatments. The most recent science indicates that TPHP could disrupt the endocrine system and contribute to obesity. These findings are now reflected in the Skin Deep® ingredient and product scores.

BLOG POST Poisoned Legacy/Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) report – Released May 2015

DuPont has long known that PFOA causes cancer, and that it poisoned drinking water with the chemical in the mid-Ohio River Valley, ultimately polluting the blood of people and animals worldwide. Ten years after we helped reveal this knowledge and that DuPont was aware of it, an EWG investigation showed that Americans are still threatened by the chemical and the victims of DuPont’s heinous actions were still awaiting justice. The New York Times and TIME, among others, featured EWG’s report. Our Facebook posts about the report were seen by 667,000 people and were shared and liked 13,000 times. Our action campaign and petition demanding DuPont keep its promises have generated 25,000 signatures. Read the full report here.

BLOG POST Rethinking Carcinogens – Released July 2015

EWG’s analysis, “Rethinking Carcinogens,” took a closer look at the growing scientific evidence that the combined effects of chemicals, which are not carcinogenic on their own, may be a significant cause of cancer. With easily digestible text, EWG’s report connected the dots between current research and cancer development at the cellular level. Read the full report here.

BLOG POST Dirty Dozen: Cancer Prevention Edition – Released August 2015

In August, EWG released its first-ever guide to avoiding 12 harmful chemicals that have been found to disrupt cancer-related pathways – known as cancer hallmarks. Read the full report here.

BLOG POST Nailed: Triphenyl phosphate (TPHP) report – Released October 2015

In partnership with Duke University, EWG found evidence of a suspected endocrine-disrupting chemical, widely used in popular nail polishes, in the bodies of more than two dozen women who participated in a biomonitoring study. The new study raised the prospect that millions of American teen, tween and even younger girls are being exposed to a suspected hormone-disrupting chemical at times when their bodies are rapidly developing and entering puberty. Read the full report here.


In 2015, EWG’s Food & Nutrition program released the following reports and database projects, designed to protect human health and the environment by empowering consumers to choose whole, healthy and sustainably produced foods:

EWG’s Food & Nutrition reports from 2015 include:

BLOG POST 2015 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ – Released February 2015

We released our annual update to this popular guide, listing the 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residue (after washing), to help consumers get the biggest bang for their buck when deciding between conventional and organic produce.

BLOG POST Hidden in Plain Sight – Released May 2015

This EWG report provided consumers with most extensive look at trans fats hidden in supermarket foods to date. The report concluded that at least 27 percent of more than 84,000 foods in EWG’s interactive Food Scores database contain artificial trans fats – manmade, artery-clogging, industrially produced fats that bear part of the blame for the American heart disease epidemic. Read the full report here.

BLOG POST Potassium Bromate report – Released October 2015

Using EWG’s Food Scores database to conduct our analysis, EWG researchers found that potassium bromate – a flour additive that’s been linked to cancer – is found in at least 86 baked goods and other food products found on supermarket shelves, including well-known brands and products such as Hormel Foods breakfast sandwiches, Weis Kaiser rolls and French toast, and Goya turnover pastry dough. Read the full report here.

BLOG POST Propyl Paraben: Food Additive – Released April 2015

EWG researchers found propyl paraben – a preservative linked to hormone disruption and not allowed in food sold in the European Union – in nearly 50 U.S. snack foods, including Sara Lee cinnamon rolls, Weight Watchers cakes, Cafe Valley muffins and La Banderita corn tortillas. These findings are significant because propyl paraben acts as a weak synthetic estrogen and can alter hormone signaling. EWG has launched a social media campaign and online petition to pressure manufacturers who use propyl paraben in food to remove it from their products. Our Facebook posts about the report were seen by more than 1 million people, and were liked and shared 22,000 times. Our action campaign and petition targeted to food manufacturers has generated 13,000 signatures. Read the full report here.

BLOG POST BPA in Canned Food report – Released June 2015

EWG issued a report identifying canned food products packaged in BPA-free cans and those containing BPA. The report was designed to help consumers avoid exposing themselves to this toxic endocrine disruptor. Consumers can search within our report, which lists 252 canned food brands, to find out which companies pack their food into cans coated with BPA-laden epoxy. Users could also sign our petition, calling on more than 75 food brands to remove BPA from their cans. The report was featured by Mother Jones, Yahoo!, The Guardian and TIME, reached more than 1.5 million people on Facebook, and generated 32,000 likes and shares. Our action campaign and petition have generated 53,000 signatures. See full report here.


EWG’s Sustainable Agriculture program released three major data analysis and geospatial monitoring reports in 2015, designed to update the facts on the ground and bust industrial agriculture myths blocking real, long-term reform.

EWG’s Agriculture reports from 2015 include:

BLOG POST Iowa’s Low-Hanging Fruit report – Released February 2015

EWG released a new report using aerial imagery to document how many acres and landowners would be affected if Iowa followed Minnesota’s lead and set a 50-foot buffer standard. The report showed that requiring simple buffer zones between crop fields and streams could move the state two-thirds of the way toward its goal of reducing phosphorus pollution and one-fifth of the way to its nitrogen pollution target, while affecting only a tiny proportion of landowners and a vanishingly small percentage of row-crop acreage. The report was featured by the Des Moines Register, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Politico, in addition to heavy regional coverage. See the full report here.

BLOG POST Boondoggle report – Released April 2015

This data analysis report revealed that from 2000 to 2013, a total of $4.4 billion in federal “prevented planting” crop insurance payouts went to farmers in 94 counties in the iconic Prairie Pothole Region of North and South Dakota – despite attempts by the government to rein in the program’s costs. In the report, “Boondoggle: ‘Prevented Planting’ Insurance Plows Up Wetlands, Wastes $Billions,” EWG analyzed payments under the “prevented planting” coverage option of the heavily subsidized federal crop insurance program. EWG found that the government payouts are so large and frequent that they encourage growers to plow up the seasonal wetlands that make the Prairie Pothole region home to more than 50 percent of North America’s breeding waterfowl. The report included an interactive map to show exactly where the payments went. The report was featured by the Wall Street Journal, Politico and trade publications. See the full report here.

BLOG POST Feeding the World Without GMOs report – Released March 2015

In this myth-busting report, EWG provided numerous solutions to global food insecurity as alternatives to the use of GMOs. Biotech companies and proponents of conventional, industrial agriculture have touted genetically engineered crops – often called GE or GMOs – as the key to feeding a more populous, wealthier world, but recent studies show this promise has fallen flat. To date, genetically engineered crops have not substantially improved global food security. Meanwhile, strategies that take advantage of what we already know about using resources and crops more efficiently have shown potential to double food supplies, while reducing agriculture’s environmental impact. See full report here.


EWG’s Natural Resources program continued its focus on fracking regulation oversight in 2015. We produced two major fracking-related research reports and maintained EWG’s role at the heart of the movement to carefully regulate fracking in California.

EWG’s Natural Resources reports from 2015 include:

BLOG POST Toxic Stew: Fracking Wastewater report – Released March 2015

An extensive review of California state data found that wastewater from hundreds of fracking operations was heavily contaminated with a toxic stew of chemicals known to cause cancer, reproductive harm and nervous system damage. In addition to the known-carcinogen benzene, tests of wastewater samples found chromium-6, lead and arsenic – all listed under California’s Proposition 65 as causes of cancer or reproductive harm – in 35 to 50 percent of the samples. The wastewater also carried, on average, thousands of times more radioactive radium than recommended by the state’s public health goals, as well as elevated levels of potentially harmful nitrate and chloride ions. Because California is the only state to require comprehensive chemical testing of fracking wastewater and public disclosure of the results, the analysis also gives us an idea of what chemicals likely contaminate wastewater nationwide. Grist, Politico, CBS San Francisco, and several other local and trade publications featured the Toxic Stew report, and EWG’s Facebook post about the report reached an audience of 100,000. Read the full report here.

BLOG POST California’s Toxic Fracking Fluids report – Released August 2015

In 2015, EWG completed its analysis of California drilling company disclosure data, mandated by the state’s new fracking regulations. We found that the fluids used for hydraulic fracturing in California oil wells contain dozens of hazardous chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption and reproductive system damage, and have the potential to contaminate drinking water, air and soil.

Of the chemicals added to fracking fluid in California, 15 are listed under the state’s Proposition 65 as known causes of cancer or reproductive harm, 12 are listed under the Clean Air Act as hazardous air pollutants known to cause cancer or other harms, and 93 are associated with harm to aquatic life.

This analysis provided a fuller picture of the process by revealing what is pumped down fracking wells, the likely origin of some contaminants in wastewater, and the array of hazardous chemicals used, stored or transported at fracking sites. It demonstrated why other state governments must require drilling companies to disclose the chemicals they are deploying, and underscored the urgent need for independent oversight of drilling in California and elsewhere. Read the full report here.



We did all of this and more thanks to your support. And with you by our side, we will continue to be your champion for environmental health, watch over the production of your food and everyday products, advocate for healthier policies and a more sustainable agriculture system, and give you easy-to-use tools to bring healthy living within reach.

At EWG, we promise to stand by your side and never stop helping you live a healthier life in a healthier environment.