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EWG News Roundup (4/20): Nonstick Chemicals in Drinking Water, Farm Pollution Throughout Midwest and More

In the News
Friday, April 20, 2018

This week, EWG updated our 2017 report on fluorinated chemical pollution in drinking water nationwide. EWG and researchers at Northeastern University have discovered 94 pollution sites in 22 states – up by 42 from our previous analysis. We’ve mapped all 94 locations.

EWG also released a report that details increased drinking water contamination in Midwestern states. The pollution largely stems from insufficient conservation requirements for farms, and large-scale farms failing to adopt measures to keep manure and fertilizer out of tap water sources. Using satellite imagery, EWG has found excessive erosion and runoff on highly erodible farm land where conservation practices should have been in place.

Speaking of agriculture policy, on Wednesday the House Agriculture Committee marked up the first draft of its 2018 Farm Bill: It is egregiously bad for farmers and all Americans. The bill, in its current form, would roll back pesticide safeguards and expand loopholes for those who are looking to take advantage of the farm subsidy program. The proposed bill would also empower millionaires and city dwellers to get in on the farm subsidy action.

Flak for Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt’s lavish spending also dominated headlines this week. First, the Government Accountability Office found Pruitt violated two federal laws by not informing Congress of the $43,000 he spent on his now-infamous private phone booth. The GAO report triggered yet another investigation into Pruitt by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

“Among Trump’s cabinet of grifters, the competition over who can waste more taxpayer money is stiff, but Pruitt is in a league of his own,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “The Pentagon’s purchase of $640 toilet seats during the Reagan administration now seems like bargain shopping next to Mr. Pruitt’s graft.”  

Congress is beginning to demand that Pruitt answer for his ever-growing list of scandals. On Monday, the head of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, John Barrasso, R-Wyo., demanded answers on last week's discovery that Pruitt was using four different EPA email addresses. Later in the week, key democrats from the House Energy and Commerce Committee called upon the EPA head to testify under oath during a congressional hearing next week.

“It’s about time Congress insisted Scott Pruitt raise his hand and testify under oath,” Cook said. “So far he’s just given them the finger.”   

As of Thursday, 170 members of Congress, including 131 representatives and 39 senators, have signed a resolution calling on Pruitt to resign.

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

Draft Farm Bill

The Fence Post: The Hagstrom Report – Reactions mixed over draft farm bill

Environmental Working Group Senior Vice President Craig Cox — "Every farm bill is an opportunity to meet some of America's biggest challenges, such as reducing hunger, promoting healthy diets, supporting family farmers and reducing farm pollution."

High Plains Journal: Conaway introduces the House Republican version of farm bill 

Anne Weir Schechinger, senior analyst for economics at the Environmental Working Group, said, “The proposed bill completely exempts all ‘pass-through entities’ from this income limit. Pass-through entities include partnerships, joint ventures and limited liability corporations, among other businesses.

The Progressive Farmer: Different Takes from Farm Groups on Farm Bill Introduction 

Environmental Working Group: “Every farm bill is an opportunity to meet some of America’s biggest challenges, such as reducing hunger, promoting healthy diets, supporting family farmers and reducing farm pollution. But the 2018 House Farm Bill largely misses these opportunities. Instead it creates new barriers to anti-hunger assistance, fails to close farm subsidy loopholes and weakens important environmental safeguards," said Craig Cox, senior vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources at EWG. 

Polluted Runoff

Mother Jones: The GOP House’s Farm Bill Would Gut a Key Conservation Program

Which is too bad, because as a new report from Environmental Working Group shows, the kind of practices promoted by the CSP need to be dramatically expanded to stop widespread soil erosion and water pollution in Midwestern farm country. 

The Gainesville Sun: Opinion -- Robert Knight: Putting a price on clean water

A common contaminant in groundwater in Florida and worldwide is nitrate nitrogen. The non-profit Environmental Working Group estimates that 5.3 million Americans are receiving nitrate-tainted water above health guidelines from their public utilities.

Storm Water Solutions: Report Finds Farm Runoff Damages Midwest Drinking Water

A new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is failing to enforce a 1985 Farm Bill provision that was designed to prevent soil erosion and manage polluted runoff. The EWG investigation used satellite imagery to monitor erosion throughout Midwest farm lands and found that 60% of the pathways of highly erodible land under the compact in Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa and Illinois were unprotected and nearly half were scarred by gullies.

Water Quality Products: Report Finds Farm Runoff Damages Midwest Drinking Water

A new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is failing to enforce a 1985 Farm Bill provision that was designed to prevent soil erosion and manage polluted runoff. The EWG investigation used satellite imagery to monitor erosion throughout Midwest farm lands and found that 60% of the pathways of highly erodible land under the compact in Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa and Illinois were unprotected and nearly half were scarred by gullies.

PFAS in Drinking Water

Asbury Park Press: PFOA: No one knows how much of the cancer-causing chemical is in our water

PFAS — fluorinated compounds, including PFOA, that are found in food packaging and nonstick products — continue to emerge as a widespread threat to water supplies across the country, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University.

Asbury Park Press: Dangerous Chemical in NJ Tap Water (video)

No state has more people served by unhealthy amounts of PFOA - a manmade chemical that has been linked to cancer and child developmental problems - than New Jersey, according to a new study by the Environmental Working Group. 

MLive: Michigan atop national PFAS site list

The Wolverine state looks like it came down with chicken pox on a new interactive map and report released by the Environmental Working Group, which shows the spreading ubiquity of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance, or PFAS, contamination in the United States.

Michigan Radio: WUOM-FM: Study shows Michigan is the "current hot spot" for the country's PFAS problem

The Environmental Working Group found that the number of known PFAS sites has skyrocketed nationwide since 2016. Bill Walker, the Editor-in-Chief at the Environmental Working Group, says there are still several unknown sites because the EPA isn’t really looking for them. 

Wilmington Star-News: Report says incidents of GenX, other PFAS, nearly doubled in last year

Conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Northeastern University’s Social Science Environmental Health Institute, the report, titled “Mapping the Expanding PFAS Crisis” shows where industrial chemicals, firefighting foam and other pollutants have caused contamination across the country. Last year’s study showed 52 contaminated sites in 19 states, while this year’s update identified 94 sites in 22 states.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting: C-8 Contamination Spreads Around the U.S.

The non-profit Environmental Working Group and a team of environmental health researchers at Northeastern University in Boston developed the map, which tracks publicly-known contaminated sites reported from both EPA testing and state and local agencies.

ABC13: WZZM (Grand Rapids, Mich.): VIDEO

Report says Michigan leads nation in known PFAS sites

EPA and Scott Pruitt  

The Washington Post: Head of Senate committee now seeks answers on Scott Pruitt’s email practices at EPA

But Ken Cook, president of the advocacy organization Environmental Working Group, said Pruitt needs to be more transparent about his operations. “Between his four email accounts and his $43,000 private phone booth, Pruitt is taking all the appropriate steps to keep lawmakers, journalists and the prying eyes of taxpayers from learning what he’s been up to since becoming the head of EPA,” Cook said in a statement.

USA Today: Watchdog finds EPA broke law by spending $43K on Scott Pruitt's soundproof booth and not telling Congress

“The GAO report underscores that Scott Pruitt shouldn’t be trusted with a child’s piggy bank, much less with access to the federal treasury,” said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group.

EPA and Andrew Wheeler 

Chemical Watch: Lobbyist confirmed as US EPA deputy administrator

"Before the Trump administration, it would have been inconceivable that a coal and chemical industry lobbyist with a long history of hostility toward environmental policy, would be the number two at the EPA," said Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook.

2018 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

TODAY (NBC): Avoid produce with pesticides by cooking with the 'Clean 15' fruits and vegetables

Based on close to 39,000 tests of 47 fruits and vegetables, the Environmental Working Group created a 2018 "Clean 15" guide, whose goal is to help shoppers navigate the produce section and reduce their exposure to pesticides in their foods. The "Clean 15" are fruits and vegetables grown which are conventionally found to be least likely to contain pesticide residues according to USDA data. 

NBC News: What a nutritionist wants you to know about pesticides and produce

This week, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released an update to their annual Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists. These lists reveal produce with both the highest and lowest levels of pesticide residue, according to their methodology. The report looks more or less the same as last year’s guide, with strawberries claiming the unfortunate number one spot, edging out spinach and nectarines.

Chicago Tribune: How to be smarter about buying organic

For people who want to start buying some organic foods, Karr and Goldstein recommended the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce and its Dirty Dozen list, which points out which produce is best to buy organically, due to high levels of synthetic pesticides in conventional food. Strawberries, spinach and nectarines top the list.

Chicago Tribune: Which fruit topped this year's Dirty Dozen list (again)?

If you're meandering through the produce aisle searching for the fruits and vegetables likely to have the least pesticide residue, skip the strawberries and head toward the avocados. That's the message some consumers may take from the 2018 Dirty Dozen list released recently by Environmental Working Group (EWG). The non-profit, non-partisan organization says its mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment.

Chicago Tribune: The Dirtiest and Cleanest Fruits and Vegetables Ranked (Slideshow)

The annual Environmental Working Group Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce was released April 10 with its "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen," lists that rank the pesticide contamination of common fruits and vegetables. The lists are based on analysis of more than 38,800 samples taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. Reprinted by The Baltimore Sun

Bustle: What Foods Should You Buy Organic? The 2018 “Dirty Dozen” List Is Out, But Don’t Let It Dictate Your Shopping List

As someone living paycheck to paycheck (thank you, student loan payments), I know what kind of bite paying even a small premium for packages of organic produce can take out of your weekly grocery budget. But there are some foods you should try to buy organic, if you can, and luckily, the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) recently released 2018 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce lets you know which "Dirty Dozen" foods you should definitely consider buying organic.

The Guardian: Comment is Free – And the prize for the filthiest fruit goes to…

It turns out that the US Environmental Working Group, which made the announcement, is talking about pesticide residue on produce, which is a bit of a mood killer. Best to go organic, it says. Or “au natural”, as I’ve been asked to stop calling it.

Health: Strawberries—And 11 Other Fruits and Vegetables—Are Loaded With Pesticide Residue

That strawberry shortcake you made for desert last night might have been delicious, but it might also have been loaded with pesticide residue. The Environmental Working Group has put out its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of fruits and vegetables that have the greatest amounts of pesticide contamination—the 15th such list—and strawberries are once again top the rankings.

Reader’s Digest: 50 Everyday Mistakes—and How to Fix Them

According to the Environmental Working Group’s latest “Clean Fifteen” list, nonorganic avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, and frozen sweet peas show little or no signs of pesticides. Save your money for organic versions of more pesticide-laden foods, such as strawberries and apples. Avoid these organic foods that are still junk food.

Yahoo News: Dirty Dozen: These are the fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides

Recent studies conducted by The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed there were 230 kinds of pesticides and pesticide breakdowns present in sampled produce. While these results may be surprising, a non-profit organization known as the Environmental Working Group has analyzed the USDA findings and is here to help. Reprinted by Yahoo! Canada.

CBS6: KAUZ (Wichita Falls, TX): The strawberry has a dirty reputation

But they look so red and delicious. Strawberries again top the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen,” a list of the 12 "dirtiest" fruits and vegetables.

NBC6: WDSU (New Orleans, La.): ‘Dirty Dozen’ 2018: What produce has the most pesticide problems?

Grocery shoppers can breathe easy now that the 2018 “Dirty Dozen” list is out to help guide their fresh produce choices. The Environmental Working Group conducted a survey to discover what produce items were more pesticide free than others.

Care2: And 2018′s Dirtiest Produce Award Goes To…

It’s that time of year again, the time when the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases its annual Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists, based on crop pesticide tests conducted by the USDA.

Easy Health Options: 12 fruits and veggies you need to buy organic (and 15 you don’t)

Luckily, every year, an environmental health advocacy nonprofit called the Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes the “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.” This guide includes the “Dirty Dozen” — 12 foods you should always buy organic. The guide also includes the “Clean 15” — 15 foods that you can probably afford to buy conventional without putting your health in harm’s way.

Global News: The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15: 2018’s list of fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides

If that has you questioning your choices, you may want to consult the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) fourth annual Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list – a list revealing the produce with the highest loads of pesticide residue, and the least, respectively.

Lancaster Online: Cauliflower steps into the spotlight

A produce item with one of the lowest pesticide levels, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Spud: Strawberries Top the Dirty Dozen for 2018 – See What Else Made the List

The lists are compiled by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated protecting human health and the environment.  Their mission is to help consumers make healthier choices for themselves and for the environment through research and education.


The Chalkboard: The Toxic 10: Dangerous Beauty Ingredients To Toss Right Now

Either way, the National Toxicology Program reports that both compounds can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a by-product of the manufacturing process and, according to the EPA, a probable carcinogen in humans. California’s EPA labels 1,4-dioxane a neurotoxicant and kidney and respiratory toxicant. The Environmental Working Group found 1,4-dioxane in 57 percent of baby washes in the US (although as a by-product, it never appears on any labels). To be safe, avoid any product containing the letters “eth.”

The Fayetteville Observer (N.C.): Chemical in Fayetteville’s tap water may cause cancer

But Dr. David Andrews, the lead scientist for the Environmental Working Group in Washington, takes exception to how the PWC characterizes the significance of 1,4 dioxane in the city’s drinking water. Kidney and liver diseases also have been associated with the chemical.

Healthy Babies

The New York Times: Harvey Karp, Baby Mogul

Karp and Montée are environmental activists, and both serve as directors of the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization.


Augusta Free Press:  Earth Talk: Toxic BPA in cans, food storage containers, suggestions for avoiding it

“Evidence suggests the developing fetus and young child are most at risk, but adolescents also appear uniquely vulnerable,” reports the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a leading non-profit research and advocacy group. Of course, the harm isn’t limited to children and teens; adults can suffer the ill effects of a lifetime of bio-accumulated BPA coursing through their veins as well.

Cleaning Products

Shape: Cleaning Products That Could Be Bad for Your Health—and What to Use Instead

Other ingredients to avoid, according to Environmental Working Group (EWG): formaldehyde (sometimes listed as formalin), diethanolamine, triethanolamine, 1,4-dioxane, quaternium-15 and quaternium-24, and sulfuric acid.


CNN: Your ultimate guide to shopping for planet-friendly products this Earth Day

Even your daily skin care routine could benefit from an eco-friendly product (or three). Plenty of cosmetics and skin care companies out there meet high ratings of approval both in terms of being environmentally sound and effective on your skin. Independent testing groups like the Environmental Working Group can help you pinpoint which brands are the most responsible in the ingredients they use.

MORE: 15 Natural Skincare Brands To Help Your Beauty Routine Go Green

Juice Beauty has a huge line of natural skincare and makeup to try, with our favorites being the Green Apple Peel Full Strength Exfoliating Mask and Age Defy Moisturizer. Also in celebration of Earth Month, through April 30 if you purchase its antioxidant serum, the company will donate $1 to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners and $1 to Environmental Working Group (EWG) with every sale!

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Byrdie: Curious About Organic Beauty? These Sisters Know Exactly Where to Start

The Environmental Working Group has a great database where you can search for literally any ingredient, and it'll tell you how hazardous it is on a scale of one to 10. I still use it on the daily because it seems that the list of ingredients in cosmetics is never-ending.

Baby Center: 5 safe toothpaste choices for babies and toddlers

Rachel’s post had me scouring the EWG site for the brands of sunscreen I was using, only to be horrified at the horrible ratings they had received. But EWG also has an amazingly in-depth Skin Deep database that helps us make safe choices for cosmetics, including toothpastes for children. I highly recommend you spend a little time on SkinDeep. The site is easily searchable and extremely organized for tracking down the health ratings for cosmetics we use every day.


The Fashion Spot: Earth Day Awards: The Best All-Natural and Organic Beauty Products of 2018

W3LL People Expressionist Mascara, $21.99 at W3LL People: The mascara is crafted using pure mineral pigments and a botanical blend so it nourishes lashes while extending them out and up. The molded rubber brush coats even the tiniest of lashes and makes it easy to get in hard-to-reach spots. Those looking to try colored mascara will be pleased to know the EWG Verified product comes in four colors plus a mini size.

EWG’s Healthy Living App

The Brainerd Dispatch: Try a phone app to help you make healthy choices at the grocery store

I suggest trying a smartphone app to put help in the palm of your hand. Among the ones to consider are Fooducate, Shopwell, EWG (Environmental Working Group) and FoodFacts. They can help you make healthier choices because they're designed to sort through nutritional information and they rate less processed foods higher than more processed foods.

Healthy Living: Home Guide

Well + Good: Why is long-term weight loss so hard? These scary chemicals are partly to blame

Inspired to spring-clean your space of harmful chemicals? Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Home Guide for tips—and maybe think twice before lighting your favorite scented candle

Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health

The Daily Meal: 25 Lazy Ways to Save the Planet

“Meatless Mondays” are more than just a passing fad. According to the Environmental Working Group, if a four-person family skips the meat and cheese for one meal a week, it’s the environmental equivalent of taking a car off the road for five weeks. Meat and dairy products produce a shocking amount of carbon emissions — even if you can’t quit meat for good, skipping it now and then could make a huge impact. Luckily, plant-based meals don’t have to suck. You might even find your new favorite recipe when you choose to cut back. Reprinted by MSN.

EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens

The Miami Herald: Sunscreen sun protection factor (SPF) testing methods explained

Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) is perhaps best known for its annual sunscreen report, which is released each May around Memorial Day. This report attracts media attention and sometimes scares consumers, resulting in a flurry of emails to me. For example, in May 2016, the big story was that nearly 75 percent of the sunscreens they tested failed to deliver the level of protection claimed on the label or contained “worrisome” ingredients.

National Tap Water Database

Flatland: What’s In Our Tap Water?

And, as it turns out, in July, the Environmental Working Group, released a database that tracks the contaminants in tap water. The database is searchable by ZIP code or utility name.

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