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EWG’s News Roundup (1/26): Trump’s Failed Toxics Nominee Departs EPA, Pruitt Hangs Propaganda and More

In the News
Friday, January 26, 2018

EWG was relieved to learn that Michael Dourson, the Trump nominee to head the chemical safety office at the Environmental Protection Agency who couldn’t get confirmed, has left the agency. Dourson’s EPA bid failed due to his storied history of working for the chemical industry to dramatically weaken safety standards for toxic chemicals. Following his bid’s demise, he stuck around the EPA as a senior advisor to Pruitt.

“With Dourson’s departure, the public finally gets some good news out of Scott Pruitt’s EPA,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Someone with Dourson’s track record of pushing for dramatically weaker safety standards for chemicals linked to cancer, brain damage and reproductive harm should never have been let in the door at EPA.”

In head-scratching news out of the EPA, banners have popped up throughout the agency’s offices boasting about Pruitt’s “environmental achievements” after a year in charge. EWG took issue with Pruitt’s laughable list of “accomplishments” on behalf of human health and the environment, and offered an alternative list of Pruitt’s and the Trump administration’s lowlights of the past year.

This week, we continued to garner press coverage on our recent report on nationwide radiation contamination of drinking water.

And finally, we counted down five of the most unqualified people emboldened by the Trump administration to rule over the nation’s toxic chemical policy. As opposed to tapping people with scientific backgrounds, the Trump team filled these roles with industry lawyers and lobbyists, and a former banker banned from that industry.

For coverage on these developments and more, here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.

EPA and Michael Dourson

Associated Press: Trump pick who failed to win Senate support is leaving EPA

"Someone with Dourson's track record of pushing for dramatically weaker safety standards for chemicals linked to cancer, brain damage and reproductive harm should never have been let in the door at EPA," said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working GroupReprinted by ABC News, The Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle,  Yahoo! News  and 235 more media outlets.

Radiation in Tap Water

CBS News: Treating contaminated household water costly for cities – and consumers

A report by the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that water supplied by at least some utilities in all 50 states contained a known carcinogen called radium, reports CBS News correspondent Anna Werner. 

Texas Tribune: Why are Texas' smaller utilities not cleaning up drinking water?

The latest, published earlier this month by the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group, identified 37 water utilities serving nearly 25,000 Texans in violation of federal standards for radium — a known carcinogen that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says isn't safe for human consumption at any level. Reprinted by Houston Public MediaTyler Morning Telegraph and four other media outlets.

Voice of San Diego: Lots of Tap Water Meets Federal Clean Water Mandates, But Fails State Safety Goals

The Environmental Working Group, an activist organization based in Washington, D.C., has been trying to raise public awareness about trace contaminants in people’s water. Bill Walker, a spokesman for the group, said it’s a sad commentary that water districts can’t meet these goals.

Detroit Metro News: Report: Southeast Michigan's water is contaminated with carcinogens

Environmental Working Group compiled a zip code-by-zip code database of contaminants reported in the nation's water water supply between 2010 and 2015. The tests are conducted by individual water utilities and the results are public record. EWG assembled the results in an easily searchable database on its website. 

San Angelo Standard-Times (San Angelo, Texas): Brady's struggle with lowering radium levels

A recently published report by the Environmental Working Group brought scrutiny to the town of Brady once again, as data gathered between 2010-15 showed the city's drinking water still was not in compliance with EPA radium limits.

San Antonio Express-News: New study reveals tap water contamination levels in Laredo, South Texas

The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization, used state water records to compile the study. Using those records, the EWG created a searchable map of water utilities. According to the report, 3,513 water utilities serving 22,555,592 people in Texas have detectable levels of radium in the drinking water. More than 170 million Americans drank water that contained levels of radium that put them at risk for cancer between 2010 and 2015, the group said. Reprinted by Laredo Morning News.

CW39 (Houston, Texas): EWG Study: Texas water is most radioactive in the nation!

According to a nonprofit called 'Environmental Working Group,' an analysis of public water systems nationwide revealed 170 million people in the U.S. drink radioactive tap water!


GOOP: Asbestos in Makeup For Kids Is Legal–and Totally Happening in this Country

No level of exposure to asbestos is safe, yet companies are allowed to manufacture goods with it as long as it accounts for less than 1 percent of the product, says Scott Faber, senior vice president of the Environmental Working Group, a public advocacy group in Washington D.C. that we’ve partnered with on numerous occasions to try to influence the lack of regulation in the personal care industry.


Simple Most: Even Household Products Labeled ‘natural’ Can Contain Harmful Chemicals

In the US, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “does not have the legal authority to approve cosmetics before they go to market,” according to their website. “It has very weak authority to even institute a recall,” explained Sonya Lunder from the Environmental Working Group. “Some of these fixes will only come through Congress.” Reprinted by Madison.comThe Lincoln Journal Star and 29 more media outlets.

Best of This Life: 5 Reasons Why I’m Giving ‘Clean’ Makeup A Try This Year

Between cosmetics, personal care products, and feminine hygiene products, women in the US apply an average of 168 chemicals to their faces and bodies every day, according to new research by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. This statistic is frightening and alarming; it brings into reality how much unfiltered toxins our skin can absorb into our bodies each day, which according to recent studies makes us more at risk of serious health concerns.

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

The Science of Eating: 6 Natural Ways To Color Your Hair At Home + Why You Should Never Use Chemical Dyes

The Environmental Working Group has declared that 400 of the 456 hair colors ranked in the Skin Deep cosmetics database are a high hazard. This means, they contain toxic ingredients that have been somehow linked to cancer, reproductive problems, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity and immunotoxicity as well as allergic problems. This is serious news indeed.

Farm Subsidies Database

The New Yorker: America’s Farmers Are in Crisis, and They’re Looking to Trump for Relief

According to the Environmental Working Group, a D.C.-based nonprofit, the top ten per cent of wealthiest farms received seventy-seven per cent of commodity subsidies between 1995 and 2016. Roughly the same is true of crop insurance, currently the largest component of the farm bill behind SNAP. Reprinted by Long Island Technology News.


Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting: Some States Establish Pesticide Buffer Zones, But None Where Much Is Sprayed: The Midwest 

In Illinois, where the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting is located, there are 31 elementary schools within 200 feet of a corn or soybean field, according to data compiled by the Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by St. Louis Post-DispatchKUNC and 10 other outlets.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Men’s Health: 17 Foods You Should Always Buy Organic

A good place to start, Adamkiewicz says, is with the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) list of produce ranked by how many pesticides are in them, categorized as the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen. The EWG compiles these lists each year based on 36,000 samples of produce collected by the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Romper: How Does Eating Organic Affect Your Kid Later In Life? Here's What You Should Know

Pierson adds, “The Environmental Working Group has put together a 'Clean Fifteen, Dirty Dozen' list, where you can see the list of food stuffs you should really be choosing as organic (usually ones where we are eating the whole food and the outer shell) and a list of clean fifteen that (if there are financial constraints, etc.) you can choose to have non-organically.

Guide to Sunscreens

NYC Epeak: The All-In-One Guide on How to Choose Ocean-Safe Sunscreens Read more at:

For the past ten years, the Environmental Working Group has evaluated sunscreens based on how well they protect you against skin cancer. And whether they contain ingredients that could harm your health. Recently they have found that some of the sunscreen chemicals that are toxic to people may also endanger coral reefs in the oceans.

National Tap Water Database

NBC4: WSMV (Pulaski, TN): 23 utility districts violated drinking water standard in 2017

“That would concern me. It’s over the legal limit, and it’s greatly elevated with respect to a level we think is a goal level,” said David Andrews, a senior scientist with the nonprofit organization, Environmental Working Group. Andrews said EWG supports dropping the federal limit for haloacetic acids even below the current standard of 60 ppb. Reprinted nine times.

The List: How to Find Out if Your Water is Safe – Here's 3 Ways!

If you want a not-profit resource, you can use the Environmental Working Group’s water database. Head to ewg.org/tapwater, enter your zip code, then click on your city to see a list of detected contaminants – including which ones are detected above health guidelines.

Nonstick Chemicals in Drinking Water

ABC13: WZZM (Plainfield Township, Mich.): Group wants to recall two Plainfield Township board member

The township tests for 100 contaminants required by the Safe Drinking Act regularly. Every five years, it tests for unregulated contaminants under the EPA Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR). According to a report from the Environmental Working Group, Plainfield Township municipal wells detected three contaminants, 1,4-Dioxane, hexavalent chromium and PFOS, at unsafe levels in 2015. 


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