Exposing Toxic Chemicals in Drinking Water, Food, Toys – and People
A Timeline of EWG-Commissioned Laboratory Tests
EWG commissioned tests of supermarket milk for the fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS as reports of dairy farm contamination across the nation surfaced. All 10 samples were analyzed by an accredited, independent laboratory for 30 different PFAS. None of the chemicals was present above the detection limits, but more testing of milk and other foods is essential to ensure that the U.S. food supply is safe from contamination.
PFAS Contamination of Drinking Water Far More Prevalent Than Previously Reported: New Detections of ‘Forever Chemicals’ in New York, D.C., Other Major Cities
Laboratory tests commissioned by EWG have for the first time found the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS in the drinking water of dozens of U.S. cities, including major metropolitan areas. The results confirm that previous studies have dramatically underestimated the number of Americans exposed to PFAS from contaminated tap water.
Alert: Tests Find High Levels of Asbestos in Children’s Makeup Kit
The notorious carcinogen asbestos has been found in a talc-containing eye shadow in a children’s toy makeup kit, according to laboratory tests commissioned by EWG. The lab found that every gram of the eye shadow in the Princess Girl’s All-in-One Deluxe Makeup Palette tested contained more than 4 million asbestos fiber structures. The toy makeup palette is marketed by IQ Toys and sold on the company’s website and on Amazon and Ebay. (Note: The product was removed from both websites after our report appeared.)
EWG PRESS RELEASE: Alert: Tests Find High Levels of Asbestos in Children's Makeup Kit
Popular oat cereals, oatmeal, granola and snack bars come with a hefty dose of the weedkilling poison in Roundup, according to independent laboratory tests commissioned by EWG.
REPORT, FEBRUARY 2019: PGlyphosate Contamination in Food Goes Far Beyond Oat Products
REPORT, AUGUST 2019: Breakfast With a Dose of Roundup?
EWG Tests Detect Cancer-Causing Pesticide Dacthal on Kale
Nearly 60 percent of kale samples sold in the U.S. were contaminated with residues of dacthal, a pesticide the Environmental Protection Agency considers a possible human carcinogen, according to EWG’s analysis of 2017 Department of Agriculture test data. EWG-commissioned tests of kale from grocery stores found that on two of eight samples, dacthal residues were comparable to the average level reported by the USDA.
San Francisco Tap Water Tests: Pesticides Not Detected
EWG commissioned tests of San Francisco’s tap water because of public concern about potential pesticide contamination. EWG distributed sample kits to eight households and one office location, and all samples were tested by SimpleWater. No pesticides were detected in any of the samples. The results confirmed test results published by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
EWG Study: Smarter Seafood Choices Can Lower Mercury Exposure for Parents and Their Future Children
In this study, 20 American women between ages 27 and 49 with relatively high mercury levels followed the guidance of EWG’s Seafood Calculator to choose low-mercury seafood options. At the end of three months, participants’ average level of mercury, as measured in samples their hair, decreased by nearly a third. More than half of the women saw their individual mercury levels drop by at least 25 percent.
Collaborative Research Project: Many Fast-Food Wrappers Still Coated in PFCs, Kin to Carcinogenic Teflon Chemical
Scientists from nonprofit research organizations, including EWG, federal and state regulatory agencies and academic institutions, collaborated to test samples of sandwich and pastry wrappers, french fry bags, pizza boxes, and other paper and paperboard from 27 fast-food chains and several local restaurants in five regions of the U.S. They found that of the 327 samples used to serve food, collected in 2014 and 2015, 40 percent tested positive for fluorine.
EWG study enrolled 254 women who eat at least two meals of seafood, fish or shellfish every week and measured the amount of mercury in their hair to assess how much mercury was in their bodies. Tests revealed that almost 30 percent of study participants had too much mercury exposure, according to Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for pregnant women. Much of their exposure was tied to fish species like tuna and to sushi.
Tests Find Asbestos in Kids’ Crayons, Crime Scene Kits
Samples of four brands of children’s crayons and two kids’ crime scene fingerprint kits contained deadly asbestos fibers, according to tests commissioned by EWG Action Fund. The toys, purchased at national retail chains or through online retailers, were tested by two government-certified laboratories, using state-of-the-art equipment. The results are significant, because even trace exposure to asbestos can cause cancer and other lung diseases.
Chromium-6 – the Erin Brockovich Chemical – Is Widespread in U.S. Tap Water
Tap water from 31 of 35 U.S. cities tested contains hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6, the carcinogenic “Erin Brockovich chemical,” according to laboratory tests commissioned by EWG. The highest levels were detected in Norman, Okla.; Honolulu; and Riverside, Calif.
REPORT: Chromium-6 in U.S. Tap Water
BPA Coats Cash Register Receipts: Tests Find Chemical-Laden Receipts at National Retailers
In tests commissioned by EWG and conducted by a major laboratory, two-fifths of the paper receipts tested were on heat-activated paper that was between 0.8 and nearly 3 percent pure bisphenol A, or BPA, by weight. Wipe tests conducted with a damp laboratory paper picked up part of the receipts' BPA coating, which suggest that the chemical would likely stick to the skin of anyone who handled them. The receipts came from major retailers, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, fast-food restaurants, post offices and bank ATMs.
EWG Study: Classroom Cleaners Release 457 Air Pollutants
EWG commissioned tests of 21 cleaning products that were widely used in schools in California and elsewhere. Products were tested individually by a leading laboratory that specializes in studying air pollution caused by releases from cleaning products. The lab cleaned a model classroom using multiple products at the same time to measure the real-world pollution that occurs when typical assortments of cleaning supplies are used together. As a group, these 21 products released into the air no fewer than 457 distinct chemicals. Six of those airborne substances are known to cause asthma and another 11 are known, probable or possible carcinogens.
Pollution in Minority Newborns: 232 Toxic Chemicals in 10 Minority Babies
Laboratory tests commissioned by EWG have, for the first time, detected bisphenol A, a plastic component and synthetic estrogen, in the umbilical cord blood of American infants. In all, the tests found as many as 232 chemicals in the 10 newborns, all of minority descent. Although the sample is too small to project national trends, the minority cord blood study, commissioned by EWG in conjunction with Rachel’s Network, has produced new evidence that, beginning in the womb, American children are being exposed to complex mixtures of dangerous substances that may have lifelong consequences.
Pollution in 5 Extraordinary Women: The Chemical Body Burden of Environmental Justice Leaders
An unprecedented two-year study conducted by four independent research laboratories in the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands has documented up to 48 toxic chemicals in the blood of five minority women leaders in the environmental justice movement. The study, sponsored by EWG in conjunction with Rachel's Network, a nationwide organization of women environmental leaders, tested the five women for 75 chemical contaminants. The women were all found to be contaminated with flame retardants, Teflon chemicals, synthetic fragrances, the plastics ingredient bisphenol A and the rocket fuel component perchlorate.
Bottled Water Quality Investigation
Comprehensive tests commissioned by the EWG revealed a surprising array of chemical contaminants in every bottled water brand analyzed, including disinfection byproducts, fertilizer residue, and pain medication.
Fire Retardants in Toddlers and Their Mothers
In the first investigation of toxic fire retardants in parents and their children, EWG found that toddlers and preschoolers typically had three times as much of these hormone-disrupting chemicals in their blood as their mothers. Tests conducted for EWG by one of the world’s leading scientific authorities on fire retardants found that in 19 of 20 U.S. families, concentrations of flame retardant PBDEs were significantly higher in 1.5- to 4-year-old children than in their mothers. In total, 11 different flame retardants were found in these children, and 86 percent of the time, the chemicals were present at higher levels in the children than in their mothers.
Teen Girl’s Body Burden of Hormone-Altering Cosmetics Chemicals
Laboratory tests reveal adolescent girls across America are contaminated with chemicals commonly used in cosmetics and body care products. EWG detected 16 chemicals from four chemical families – phthalates, triclosan, parabens and musks – in blood and urine samples from 20 teen girls age 14 to 19. Studies link these chemicals to potential health effects, including cancer and hormone disruption. These tests feature first-ever exposure data for parabens in teens and indicate that young women are widely exposed to this common class of cosmetic preservatives, with two parabens, methylparaben and propylparaben, detected in every girl tested.
Down the Drain: Water Pollution Caused by Cosmetic Chemicals, Cleaning Supplies and Plastics
EWG and East Bay Municipal Utility District researchers analyzed samples of wastewater from residential, commercial and industrial sites in the San Francisco Bay Area. Eighteen of 19 wastewater samples examined contained at least one of three of unregulated, widely used hormone disruptors – phthalates, bisphenol A, and triclosan; two samples contained all three. Despite sophisticated wastewater treatment, these chemicals were detected in treated waters discharged into the Bay.
Bisphenol A – Toxic Plastics Chemical in Canned Food
Independent laboratory tests found a toxic food can lining ingredient associated with birth defects of the male and female reproductive systems in more than half of 97 cans of name-brand fruit, vegetables, soda and other common canned goods. The study targeted the chemical bisphenol A, a plastic and resin ingredient used to line metal food and drink cans.
Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns
In a study spearheaded by EWG in collaboration with Commonweal, researchers at two major laboratories found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood from 10 babies born in August and September of 2004 in U.S. hospitals. Tests revealed a total of 287 chemicals in the group. The umbilical cord blood of these 10 children, collected by Red Cross after the cord was cut, harbored pesticides, consumer product ingredients and wastes from burning coal, gasoline and garbage.
Rocket Fuel in Cows' Milk – Perchlorate
Milk from cows raised in some parts of California may expose infants and children to unsafe levels of the rocket fuel chemical perchlorate, according to unreleased tests by state agriculture officials and independent laboratory tests commissioned by EWG. In the first study to look for perchlorate in California supermarket milk, EWG found it in almost every sample tested – 31 of 32 samples purchased from grocery stores in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Suspect Salads: Rocket Fuel in Winter Lettuce
Lettuce grown in the fall and winter months in Southern California or Arizona may contain unsafe levels of the toxic rocket fuel chemical perchlorate. In the first tests ever conducted for perchlorate in supermarket produce, 18 percent of lettuce samples contained detectable levels of perchlorate. EWG’s tests on retail lettuce confirm studies showing that vegetables grown with perchlorate-contaminated water or fertilizer can take up and concentrate the toxin.
Poisoned Playgrounds: Arsenic in Pressure-Treated Wood
EWG investigations revealed that the "pressure treated" wood in most playground sets, picnic tables and decks contains potentially hazardous levels of the arsenic.
Every Breath You Take: Airborne Pesticides in the San Joaquin Valley
Independent scientific monitoring by EWG found dangerously high concentrations of a partially banned pesticide in the air San Joaquin Valley residents breathe. One-third of ambient air monitoring samples detected the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which the federal government has recently banned for home use as unsafe for children, but which remains the most widely used agricultural insecticide in California.
What You Don't Know Could Hurt You: Pesticides in California's Air
Two years of independent scientific monitoring by EWG detected an array of toxic pesticides drifting into the air Californians breathe – the tip of a 100-million-pound iceberg of hazardous chemicals emitted statewide each year as a result of pesticide use.
EWG Research Detects Toxic Fumigant Methyl Bromide in California Air
EWG carried out a pesticide air-monitoring project in California using an infrared remote sensing device. Tests of the air in neighborhoods adjacent to agricultural fields receiving applications of the toxic soil fumigant methyl bromide revealed high levels of this pesticide.
REPORT, AUGUST 1996: Toxic Farm Fumigants Drifting into California Neighborhoods
REPORT, FEBRUARY 1997: Something's in the Air: Californians Need Greater Protections Against Methyl Bromide
REPORT, AUGUST 1997: Methyl Bromide in Castroville, Calif
REPORT, OCTOBER 1997: Tests Find Methyl Bromide Drifting Into Mobile Home Park
Weedkillers by the Glass
Beginning on May 15, 1995, a network of environmental organizations began testing tap water for weedkillers in cities across the Corn Belt and in Louisiana and Maryland. Samples were collected every three days from homes and offices, then sent to the Iowa State Hygienic Lab and analyzed for the presence of atrazine and cyanazine, two of the most heavily used pesticides in the U.S. The study’s results showed that millions of people in the Midwest have been exposed to one or more pesticides in a single glass of tap water. During peak runoff periods, pesticide contamination levels repeatedly exceed federal health standards and pose significant health risks.
REPORT: Weedkillers by the Glass
Pesticides in Baby Food
To determine the extent of pesticide contamination of baby food, in 1995 EWG tested eight foods – applesauce, garden vegetables or pea and carrot blend, green beans, peaches, pears, plums, squash and sweet potatoes – made by the three major baby food producers that account for 96 percent of all baby food sales – Gerber, Heinz and Beech-Nut. All samples were purchased at retail from grocery stores in three major metropolitan areas – Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco. Sixteen pesticides were detected in the eight baby foods tested, including three probable human carcinogens, five possible human carcinogens, eight neurotoxins, five pesticides that disrupt the normal functioning of the hormone system, and five pesticides that are categorized as oral toxicity category one, the most toxic designation.
REPORT: Pesticides in Baby Food