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EWG News and Analysis

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EWG News Roundup (7/13): From Russia with Love (for Trump), Rebuilding Trust at EPA and More

In the News
Friday, July 13, 2018

It’s no secret that Donald Trump, who believes asbestos is “100 percent safe,” is a big fan of the notorious carcinogen. Now we know without a doubt the feeling is mutual – and we have pictures to prove it.

This week, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization and EWG revealed that a Russian asbestos producer associated with Vladimir Putin was stamping President Trump’s face on its packaging in celebration of the Trump administration’s decision to scuttle an anticipated ban on any new uses of asbestos.

“Donald is on our side,” said Russia’s biggest asbestos producer.

“Vladimir Putin and Russia’s asbestos industry stand to prosper mightily as a result of the Trump Administration’s failure to ban asbestos in the U.S.,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Helping Putin and Russian oligarchs amass fortunes by selling a product that kills thousands each year should never be the role of a U.S. president or the EPA, but this is the Trump administration. Russia’s interests are Trump’s interests, and any clear-eyed American knows it.”

In the aftermath of former Administrator Scott Pruitt’s exit from the Environmental Protection Agency, EWG laid out ways that acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler can rebuild the public’s trust in the agency.

EWG also analyzed a recent Federal Communications Commission vote to clear the way for the next wave of wireless communications networks, including 5G. There isn’t research yet on the radiation effects of 5G technology, but a 2016 study by the National Toxicology Program found increases in heart, brain and many other types of tumors in its tests of rodents exposed to radiation from 2G and 3G networks.

And on our children’s health site, EWG gave parents advice on reducing their children’s exposure to radiation from mobile devices.

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

Asbestos

The Guardian: Russian mining firm puts Trump's face on its asbestos products

“Vladimir Putin and Russia’s asbestos industry stand to prosper mightily as a result of the Trump administration’s failure to ban asbestos in the US,” said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group. Republished by MSN.

The Washington Post: ‘Approved by Donald Trump’: Asbestos sold by Russian company is branded with the president’s face

“Asbestos was the poster child for why the original law was broken and not working, so now asbestos is an important litmus test as to whether the new law is better,” Melanie Benesh, an Environmental Working Group lawyer, told The Washington Post. “This administration is really responsible for setting the rules and setting the precedent for some of the ways this new law was going to be implemented. As far as we see, they’re taking every step they can to minimize this law and limit this law and not implement it in the way that it was intended.” Republished by the Chicago Tribune.

The Hill: Russian mining firm places seal with Trump's face on asbestos products

“Vladimir Putin and Russia’s asbestos industry stand to prosper mightily as a result of the Trump administration’s failure to ban asbestos in the U.S.,” Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, told The Guardian

New York Post: Russian asbestos company puts Trump’s face on product

“He supported the head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, who stated that his agency would no longer deal with negative effects potentially derived from products containing asbestos. Donald Trump supported a specialist and called asbestos ‘100% safe after application,'” it said, according to a translation from the Environmental Working Group.

EcoWatch: Russian Asbestos Company Makes Trump Its Poster Boy

"Russia's asbestos industry stand to prosper mightily as a result of the Trump Administration's failure to ban asbestos in the U.S.," EWG President Ken Cook said in a press release. "Helping Putin and Russian oligarchs amass fortunes by selling a product that kills thousands each year should never be the role of a U.S. president or the EPA, but this is the Trump administration. Russia's interests are Trump's interests, and any clear-eyed American knows it."

E&E News: Russian asbestos company declares Trump its champion

"Helping Putin and Russian oligarchs amass fortunes by selling a product that kills thousands each year should never be the role of a U.S. president or the EPA, but this is the Trump administration," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "Russia's interests are Trump's interests, and any clear-eyed American knows it."

Common Dreams: Russian Asbestos Company Puts Trump's Face, Seal of Approval, on Pallets of Its Products

"Helping Putin and Russian oligarchs amass fortunes by selling a product that kills thousands each year should never be the role of a U.S. president or the EPA, but this is the Trump administration," says EWG's Ken Cook.

Washington Examiner: Russia's largest asbestos company thanks Trump by using his image

The Environmental Working Group, a U.S.-based environmental activist group, discovered the post on Wednesday, sending out alerts to reporters and its supporters.

Pruitt Resignation

Chemical & Engineering News: Scandal-plagued U.S. EPA chief Scott Pruitt resigns

“The ideological fervor with which Pruitt pursued the destruction of environmental regulations and the agency itself live on in the Trump administration,” says Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook.

Rewire News: Scott Pruitt Is Out as EPA Head. A Coal Lobbyist Takes His Place.

“Scott Pruitt will go down in history as a disgrace to the office of EPA administrator,” Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. “He will forever be associated with extraordinary ethical corruption and the abuse of power for petty personal enrichments. Sadly, the ideological fervor with which Pruitt pursued the destruction of environmental regulations and the agency itself live on in the Trump administration. So while Pruitt is gone, and good riddance, our resistance to all he stood for will continue undiminished.”

Truthdig: Bye, Scott. Is Donald Next?

Ken Cook, a spokesperson for the Environmental Working Group, told The New York Times, “It’s a safe assumption that Pruitt could be the most hostile EPA administrator toward clean air and safe drinking water in history.” In retrospect, Cook was spot on. 

Pars Today: US environmental chief Scott Pruitt resigns over ethics scandal

The Environmental Working Group, a public health and environment watchdog, called Pruitt “unquestionably the worst head of the agency in its 48-year history.”

ATSDR Study on PFAS Chemicals              

ProPublica: How the EPA and the Pentagon Downplayed a Growing Toxic Threat

Based on this, the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization whose scientists have studied PFAS pollution, has estimated that as many as 110 million Americans are now at risk of being exposed to PFAS chemicals. Republished by CNBCTalking Points MemoAlterNet and The Oregonian. 

The Farm Bill

Watchdog: U.S. Senate farm bill disappoints welfare reform advocates

Other groups, however, contend the Senate bill is somewhat better on the subsidies debate than the House version. Unlike the House bill, the Senate legislation provides some means testing to keep billionaires from receiving farm subsidies, according to the Washington-based Environmental Working Group. 

Superbugs Report/Label Decoder

Mother Jones: Big Pharma Ditches Antibiotic Research When It’s Needed Most

And in a recent analysis of more than 47,000 federal government lab tests of bacteria on supermarket meat, Environmental Working Group found antibiotic resistant bacteria on 79 percent of ground turkey, 71 percent of pork chops, 62 percent of ground beef, and 36 percent of chicken parts. Learn how to properly wash your hands while cooking, people. 

Daily Dose: The dirty truth about your burgers, pork chops, and chicken

The new report from Environmental Working Group finds that supermarket meat is absolutely crawling with filthy little monsters, including many that can’t be treated with conventional antibiotics.

Becker’s Hospital Review: Only 20% of supermarket meats did not contain superbugs in 2015

The Environmental Working Group released analysis showing that nearly 80 percent of meat in U.S.-based supermarkets contained antibiotic-resistant bacteria in 2015.

Health Science Institute: 3 ways to keep killer superbugs off your plate

While this nightmare has reared its ugly head numerous times already, a just-out report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has revealed that up to 80 percent of the meat and poultry found in U.S. supermarkets contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria – those “superbugs” that are fast becoming immune to more and more of the antibiotics in our limited arsenal.

BPA

Nutrition Insight: First-time finding: Risk of BPA on intestinal health found amid rising bowel disease cases

However, despite these findings, the FDA still issued a statement asserting that the study showed “minimal” health hazards. In reaction, the Environmental Working Group said, “This has been the FDA’s posture for more than a decade. Defending the safety of BPA exposures while independent scientists report BPA is toxic to the brain, thyroid and reproductive systems.”

EWG’s Guide to Bug Repellents

Stroller Traffic: Mosquitos and Ticks Got You Worried?

To get the low down on the best lines of defense for littles, we’ve round up the guidelines from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for a primer on all things bug bite prevention.

 Cosmetics

Reader’s Digest: 6 Potentially Toxic Ingredients You’re Using Every Day

Harvard study has also connected paraben build-up in the body with reduced fertility, which is why propyl parabens have been targeted by the Environmental Working Group. Even so, the FDA does not have solid evidence showing that parabens in cosmetics have an effect on human health.

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Hello Glow: Here’s What You Need to Know About Hormones and Acne

Makeup, lotions, shampoo, etc. contain toxic ingredients such as parabens, triclosan, and SLS. Check the products you’re currently using on the EWG Skin Deep website and swap them out for cleaner alternatives. Or, even better, make your own! 

EWG VERIFIED™

My Thoughts, Ideas and Ramblings: Attitude Review and Giveaway

I was extremely impressed to find out these products are EWG VERIFIED. For those of you that are unfamiliar, EWG stands for The Environmental Working Group. When you see the EWG mark on a product, you know it has passed all chemicals of concern and meet their strictest criteria. 

Flame Retardants

Mercola: A Curious Reason to Wash Your Hands

Mitigating factors for risk to organophosphates are age and exposure. Children are not able to eliminate the toxins from their system as easily as adults. Additionally, as noted by the Environmental Working Group: “Flame retardants can build up more in the bodies of younger children than in older kids or adults because they breathe in more air and are exposed to more dust particles relative to their body size than adults. The chemicals, widely used to treat upholstered furniture and even cushioning in baby products, can escape and accumulate in household air, and in dust on floors where toddlers and babies play. Children's frequent hand-to-mouth activity can also increase their exposure.”

GMO Labeling

The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide: USDA under Trump could hide GMOs in 10,000 foods and use confusing terms on labels

Calling it “transparency,” the Trump administration’s proposed GMO disclosure rule could allow confusing labels for genetically modified foods, said Scott Faber, the Environmental Working Group’s senior vice president for government affairs.

Healthy Living: Home Guide

MindBodyGreen: An Explosive Report Just Revealed The Dangers Of This Common Chemical. Here's How To Avoid It

"The majority of mattresses on the market are made from polyurethane foam based on petroleum chemicals, so it can off-gas volatile organic compounds, which can cause respiratory irritation, skin irritation, etc.," Environmental Working Group senior scientist and co-author of the group's Healthy Living Home Guide Tasha Stoiber told mbg earlier this year.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

PureWow: 11 Foods You Should Buy Organic (and 12 You Totally Don’t Have To)

But let’s be real: Organic also means expensive, and we don’t want to spend our whole paycheck in the produce section. Thanks to our friends at the Environmental Working Group, here’s where it’s important to go organic and where you can pinch a few pennies.

Toronto.com: White is in the food rainbow, too

Side note: Get organic potatoes when you can because the conventional varieties tend to be heavily sprayed with pesticides according to the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” guide.

House of Harper: Field Guide to Summer Produce (With a Downloadable Shopping List!)

It’s worth it to keep an eye out for organic strawberries, spinach, nectarines, peaches, cherries, tomatoes, hot chilies and bell peppers. We’ve added a star by these items on our printable list to help you remember. To get the full list of the Environmental Working Group’s dirty dozen and the clean 15 head to their website. 

NaturalHealth365: Conventional apples are drenched with a TOXIC chemical to keep them looking ‘fresh’

Non-organic apples are almost always at the top of Environmental Working Group “dirty dozen” list due to their alarmingly high content of pesticides. Republished by Before It’s News.       

EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens

CNN: Is your sunscreen killing coral reefs?

The advocacy organization the Environmental Working Group claims that the banned ingredients may cause hormone disruptions and allergic skin reactions.

Arizona Republic: The best sunscreen for your kids and the environment

Hawaii "is really pushing the industry to reformulate and find ingredients that are effective and not harmful to people," said Nneka Leiba, Environmental Working Group's healthy-living science director. "We also hope it is the kick in the pants the Federal Drug Administration needs to prioritize reviewing (new) sunscreen active ingredients."

Delicious Living: The case for reef-safe sunscreen

Not surprisingly, oxybenzone is the same ingredient that has been under fire by the Environmental Working Group for its potential health risks, including allergies, immunotoxicity and endocrine disruption.

Mother Nature Network: What is reef-safe sunscreen?

If you're concerned about protecting the reefs when you hit the water, the easiest way to see if a sunscreen meets the regulations is to check the label to see if it contains oxybenzone and octinoxate. The ingredients are widespread and found in many major brands. (You can search by brand in the Environmental Working Group's guide to sunscreens.)

Philly Voice: Two sunscreen ingredients you might consider avoiding if you're concerned about the oceans

No such sunscreen banning legislation has been proposed to protect the shorelines of New Jersey or Delaware (yet), but if you feel the need to take an extra proactive step before you head to the sand and surf, here’s a look at a trio of popular brands with products determined “reef-safe” by the Environmental Working Group

Psychology Today: Does Sunscreen Really Prevent Skin Cancer?

The non-profit Environmental Working Group publishes an annual sunscreen report that rates more than 1,000 sunscreens and 600 moisturizers. The products are labeled on a scale of one to ten based on industry, government and academic data sources and a review of the technical literature on sunscreens. 

Romper: 7 Reef-Safe Sunscreens That Are Better For The Planet & You

If mineral sunscreens work, there's really no reason to use the stuff that's killing the coral reefs, is there? Especially now that it's easier than ever to find reef-safe sunscreens. These are some of the best-selling, highest-rated options available (for more suggestions, check out the Environmental Working Group's 2018 guide to safe sunscreens).

National Tap Water Database 

SafeBee: Water Wellness: How to Select a Water Filter for Your Home

Another good resource is the Environmental Working Group’s Tap Water Database.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting: Water in Appalachia Needs a Trillion Dollar Solution

In recent years, the Environmental Working Group -- or EWG -- a non-profit based in Washington, D.C., published a report that demonstrated a decades-long lack of enforcement on the part of the regulators and revealed that the agency’s “safety levels” might be misaligned to the real-world environmental damage they cause, meaning that in light of the latest research the levels once deemed safe may, in fact, be harmful.

Chromium-6 in Drinking Water

Reader’s Digest: 17 Things You Need to Know About Your Tap Water

It’s called chromium-6, and a recent analysis of federal drinking water data by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), found an unsettling amount of it in sinks across the country. “In the tap water of at least 200 million Americans in all 50 states, chromium-6 has been detected above the minimal risk level,” says David Andrews, PhD, an EWG senior scientist.

 

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