STEPPING IN WHEN GOVERNMENT ABANDONS ITS ROLE
OUR WORK IN 2018 GOT PEOPLE TALKING.
A LOT OF THEM.
Never before in the decades-long history of EWG have we seen such an attack on the role of government as a bulwark against the forces that harm our health and the environment. In 2018, as EWG took the lead in fighting back against these encroachments, you were eager to know more and to do more to play your part.
Seemingly every day, we find ourselves up against assaults on the protections put in place to safeguard our air, our water, and our children from contaminants that can lead to long-term harms.
Against this backdrop, the role of EWG has never been more essential – and you’ve shown us how much you value what we do to investigate what goes into your food, personal care and cleaning products, and tap water. What we do isn’t always glamorous, but you know you can rely on us to inform you when something is safe – and when it’s not.
And you know you can rely on us to fight for you on Capitol Hill and beyond, whether that means lobbying lawmakers to stand with communities with contaminated water when they vote and require companies to clean up toxic chemicals like PFAS, or working hand in hand with big-box brands to make their products safer.
Our essential role in the national discussion about health and the environment is widely recognized in the country’s most influential media. This year EWG was quoted or featured 36 times in leading traditional and digital media.
We could not have accomplished these things without you because, in the end, quite simply, YOU are what makes all of this possible.
WHAT YOU MADE POSSIBLE IN 2018
‘BREAKFAST WITH A DOSE OF ROUNDUP?’
You were outraged to find that you could be feeding your kids glyphosate and other weedkillers in their morning cereal.
860,000 people participated in our action campaigns protesting federal regulations on pesticides and other harmful policies and legislation. And we published 754 social media posts and 41 articles and blogs relating to Children’s Health.
‘WHY DO TAXPAYERS SUBSIDIZE RICH FARMERS?’
You wanted answers to questions about disastrous national policies affecting your family’s health and the environment, like farm subsidies paid to “city slickers.”
EWG’s work was mentioned 34,300 times in the press – including 36 times in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.
‘DECADES OLD CHEMICALS, NEW ANGST OVER DRINKING WATER’
As EWG drove PFAS into national headlines, you became more concerned and more engaged over threats to public and environmental health caused by PFAS contamination – and more determined than ever to hold polluters accountable.
In 2018, we published and updated our maps showing PFAS detections. You conducted 2.8 million searches of the Tap Water database this year alone – for a total of 7 million all-time searches.
‘DISGRACED EPA HEAD SCOTT PRUITT RESIGNS’
Concerned about ethical issues involving Trump administration officials, you supported EWG as we led the way in exposing misconduct that affected Americans’ lives and health. EWG played a critical role in the effort to remove Pruitt as head of the EPA.
We issued 165 press releases and statements to help you stay abreast of the most important developments affecting you and your family.
‘HAVE YOU MET THIS COW? SHE'S DELICIOUS’
Again and again, you turned to our consumer guides and research reports for information you can trust about the products you use.
You visited our website 26.4 million times, and 856,546 of you followed us on all our social media platforms – 695,925 (and growing) on Facebook alone.
‘CRAYONS … TEST POSITIVE FOR ASBESTOS’
To support EWG’s advocacy, you stepped up to make donations large and small. Without your help, EWG could not do the important work it does to create a healthier planet for yourself and our children.
Low-dollar online donors contributed more than $2,969,794 in 2018.
‘THE TRUTH ABOUT TALC, PARABENS, AND 8 OTHER CONTROVERSIAL MAKEUP INGREDIENTS’
You helped move markets in 2018, with increased awareness about what’s in the products you use every day, not just personal care products but foods and cleaners, too.
We published 19 research reports and 234 articles in 2018.
EWG has placed the health of children at the forefront of its work since the organization was founded. In 2018, we drew on the talent of a dedicated team of writers and editors to launch our Children’s Health Initiative, with its own website. EWG followers demonstrated their huge and growing interest in issues relating to Children’s Health, with one of our Children’s Health blog articles among the highest performing of all EWG stories.
Our EWG VERIFIED™ efforts at building partnerships from the ground up paid off as we collaborated with the huge national brand Proctor & Gamble on the company’s upcoming release of two VERIFIED products, the first to be sold in big box stores. The products marked a breakthrough win for clean beauty and EWG’s pathbreaking efforts to change the market. In 2018, we lay the groundwork for EWG VERIFIED Cleaners, successfully launched in the following year.
Our investigation into the pesticide glyphosate, showing that it can be found on many of the oats products Americans eat every day, got massive media attention. We began work on the data and quality analysis and control necessary to update one of our flagship products, the Tap Water database. We released a groundbreaking report projecting that more than 100 million Americans have drinking water contaminated with the toxic fluorinated family of chemicals called PFAS. This report has been referred to in countless media and forms the basis for much of our continuing PFAS investigative and government affairs work.
We found ourselves at a transformational moment in energy policy. Through expert analysis and data-driven research, we began work to advance gains made in the clean energy economy and lay the groundwork for our Next Level Energy website, launched in 2019.
Although noteworthy, these accomplishments represent just a fraction of EWG’s many accomplishments in 2018 – lobby visits, legislation, digital outreach, partnerships, blogs and articles, and so much more.
SEE WHAT PEOPLE WERE TALKING ABOUT
The research of our Investigations team forms the basis for much of the critical work that we do to lobby lawmakers and change markets. In 2018, we built the capacity of the team with three new members. We’re proud of the Investigations team’s output, both in quality and quantity.
‘EWG ESTABLISHES HEALTH BENCHMARKS FOR PESTICIDE’
We published a report establishing a health benchmark for glyphosate and released “Breakfast With a Dose of Roundup?”, detailing the levels of the weedkiller in popular breakfast cereals. We built on this work with additional testing and reports and used it as a jumping-off point for advocacy and fundraising.
Working with our partners at Northeastern University, EWG continued to update our PFAS contamination map. Using our unique GIS capabilities, we established ourselves as a national voice advocating for the cleanup of PFAS chemicals and pressing Congress to hold polluters accountable.
With our focus on safe drinking water for the most vulnerable, EWG also established a benchmark for the weedkiller atrazine and released “A Harmful Weedkiller Taints Tap Water for Millions in U.S” report.
In 2018, we released the 15th anniversary edition of the Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce™, an EWG flagship product.
‘EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE CLEAN BEAUTY MOVEMENT’
The still-new EWG VERIFIED™ program reached a milestone, with the first two VERIFIED products ready to launch in big box stores.
We developed the framework for EWG VERIFIED Cleaners, reproducing the success of EWG VERIFIED for personal care products. We sought and received feedback about the new program from select companies and drafted the final document.
Building on our previous successes with our consumer guides, we added 4,000 products to Skin Deep®, half of them from top trendy brands, and about 500 cleaning products to EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning. Our work resulted in a new conversation encouraging manufacturers to stop using the ingredient oxybenzone, a hormone-disrupting chemical.
For some time, every story and investigation we produce has had at its heart the question “How does this affect kids?” In 2018 we committed ourselves even further to that orientation and perspective with the launch of our Children’s Health Initiative, which formalized our longstanding commitment to the health and safety of the country’s youngest citizens. With the contributions of a core team of dedicated writers and editors, we posted 41 articles, reports, and blogs about Children’s Health.
We continued our push to hold manufacturers accountable with our expansion of EWG VERIFIED into baby and children’s care products. To do this, we first had to define our standards in this area and then developed and launched the program.
All of our teams play an important role in advancing our mission to protect children’s health, from our legislative efforts focused on lead levels in schools and lead testing, tracking and reporting to our work on pesticides such as glyphosate and the potential impacts of cellphone radiation.
We advocated for cosmetics reform legislation to ban chemicals in personal care products that are most harmful to children’s health and began to see a shift in public opinion about the need for manufacturers to be held accountable.
The agriculture team had a banner year, complete with a move to offices in Minneapolis, where the team is well positioned to forge new relationships with lawmakers and partners who can help us implement EWG’s agenda. Our drinking water reports and media, coupled with our conservation database and relentless advocacy on Capitol Hill, succeeded in getting multiple provisions in the final Farm Bill that create new opportunities to use billions in USDA conservation programs to protect drinking water.
Foremost among these was coverage of nitrate contamination of Iowa’s private wells, which received coverage in several national outlets, as well as all major print and broadcast outlets in Iowa. The report documented, for the first time, the widespread and serious contamination of the water Iowa households were drinking.
For the first time in 2018, EWG increased awareness of the subject of toxic algae outbreaks with release of the only comprehensive database and mapping of cyanotoxins in U.S. lakes and reservoirs. This was supported with video and related content, including the launch of a “Bloom of the Week” initiative. We updated and released our interactive map tracking news stories covering outbreaks.
EWG released an investigative piece exposing the stunning lack of enforcement of even the weak regulations currently in force on swine factory farms in North Carolina. The report “America’s Nitrate Habit Is Costly and Dangerous” showed the high cost of treating water to remove nitrate from runoff of fertilizer and manure.
Finally, leveraging local relationships, we used satellite imagery and weather data to show the effect of billions of gallons of manure on people living nearby – mostly low-income people of color – in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.
EWG’s government affairs team accomplished more in 2018 than teams many times its size.
It held more than 700 meetings with legislators and staff and more than 40 with cosmetics companies. It played a major role in positioning EWG as a go-to resource for congressional staff and media and as a leading critic of the Trump administration’s environmental and health policies.
‘FOR THE COSMETICS INDUSTRY, A REGULATORY MAKEOVER AWAITS’
EWG worked with stakeholders to persuade the Food and Drug Administration to end the use of food flavors linked to cancer, and lead acetate in hair dyes. We led efforts to enact the Personal Care Products Safety Act, which requires FDA review of dangerous chemicals in cosmetics. Finally, we led efforts to fight EPA’s illegal implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act, including efforts to underestimate the risks of new and existing chemicals.
‘SHOULD WE BE SCARED OF TEFLON’
Our efforts in 2018 to bring the dangers of PFAS into the national conversation led to significant output in several areas. We published numerous reports on PFAS detections and positioned ourselves as a leading national expert on the application of major environmental public and health laws to PFAS pollution.
EWG led efforts to include critical PFAS reforms in House and Senate versions of the annual defense spending bill. Our maps of PFAS detections, which are being continually updated, are recognized by media and other organizations as the gold standard, as the frequent requests to reproduce them attest.
We released a report that estimates that more than 100 million Americans have PFAS-contaminated drinking water – a number routinely cited in national media.
‘WHY DO TAXPAYERS SUBSIDIZE RICH FARMERS’
EWG released the names and amounts of so-called fairway farmers, millionaires who receive trade war bailout payments from the Trump administration.
‘MS. KARDASHIAN GOES TO WASHINGTON’
The government affairs team in D.C. led the way in fighting for cosmetics reform on Capitol Hill with the introduction of bipartisan legislation in the House and the Senate. Building on relationships among influencers on social media, EWG was featured prominently on an episode of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” and partnered with Kourtney Kardashian on a lobby day on Capitol Hill.
The California Government Affairs team plays an essential role in bringing critical issues to the forefront of the conversation, both nationally and within the state. EWG worked with legislators to introduce numerous bills in the State Assembly and Senate, three of which were signed into law: lead testing in drinking water in child care facilities; mandated reporting of lead testing and risks from lead exposure; and improved reporting of children lead-poisoning risks and lead testing of children.
EWG supported a number of bills that were signed into law, including a ban on flame retardants in children’s products like sleeping mats; plastic straws given on demand only and ingredients on salon products. Finally, the team played a vital role in guiding the developing priorities of incoming California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Five other bills served to boost the profile of important issues, including “green” cleaning in schools; protecting workers form lead poisoning; getting PFAS chemicals out of food packaging and cookware; and requiring the state to ensure that Medi-Cal providers lead-test low income children.