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EWG News Roundup (10/19): Teenagers Handling Harmful Pesticides, Trump Shelves Coal Bailout and More

In the News
Friday, October 19, 2018

This week the Trump administration announced its planned full-court press to roll back a number of environmental health safeguards that protect workers and families alike. The President’s Office of Management and Budget released the White House’s list of planned environmental deregulations, which left no stone unturned when it came to slashing programs and policies that protect folks from toxic chemicals in their environment.

One of the proposed deregulations would cut an Obama-era rule that restricted high-school-age kids’ handling of brain-damaging pesticides on commercial farms. The administration plans on dropping the protected age from 18 to 16.

“Letting younger teenagers handle dangerous pesticides fits perfectly with the Trump administration’s war on children’s health protection,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “There are other farm jobs they could do that don’t involve strapping containers of dangerous chemicals on their backs that they will inhale and ingest. But this administration will let unscrupulous farm bosses risk these kids’ health.”  

One positive move from the administration this week was its plan to drop Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s plan to bail out failing coal and nuclear plants. EWG hopes this is a trend that continues with the Trump team veering away from propping up the dying, dirty fossil fuel industry.

Here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.

Farm Bill

Politico: Advocates Rally Around Senate Farm Bill

A variety of food and environmental groups came together Monday to call for a conference report that closely mirrors the Senate legislation, which passed by a vote of 86-11. “It’s time to realize that if we want to pass a farm bill, it has to be bipartisan,” said Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group.

Pacific Standard: Behind the Partisan Fight to Eliminate the Country's Largest Conservation Program

These groups, including NSAC, voiced support for measures in the Senate bill on Monday. "It's time to realize that if we want to pass a farm bill, it has to be bipartisan," Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs for the non-profit Environmental Working Group, told reporters, Politico reports.

Roll Call: Stick With Senate Farm Bill or Extend Existing Law, Groups Say

The Environmental Working Group, Food Policy Action, Food Research and Action Center, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council and Union of Concerned Scientists said no new farm bill is better than one that borrows heavily from a House farm bill that squeaked through on a 213-211 vote with no Democratic support.

Agri-Pulse: Progressive groups: No farm bill better than enacting House provisions (subscription)

But Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, said the provisions would unfairly reward cotton growers.

American Ag Network: Environmental Groups: No Farm Bill Better Than Bad Bill

Other groups participating in the news conference include the Environmental Working Group, Food Policy Action, as well as the National Resources Defense Council. Reprinted by Southeast AgNetSouthern Farm Network and 4 other media outlets.

Brownfield Ag News: Groups say no farm bill is better than partisan House version

Groups involved in the news conference were: The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Food Research and Action Center, Food Policy Action, Environmental Working Group, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Union of Concerned Scientists.

DTN Progressive Farmer: Farm Bill Anxiety – Conaway Determined to Complete Farm Bill This Year, But Acknowledges Several Issues Remain

Groups opposed to SNAP changes, such as the Food Research Action Center, were represented, as well environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Working Group, as well as the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the Union of Concerned Scientists. 

DTN Progressive Farmer: Groups Say Stick With Senate Farm Bill or Extend Current Law

The Environmental Working Group, Food Policy Action, Food Research and Action Center, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council and Union of Concerned Scientists have said relying on an old bill is better than one that borrows heavily from a House farm bill that squeaked through on a 213-211 vote with no Democratic support. The organizations have an interest in the farm bill and champion issues that Democrats and some Republicans are sympathetic to.

The Fence Post: Farm bill panel: Senate bill or bust

Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group said the Senate farm bill would protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, local food programs, and conservation programs while the House bill would cut all of them.

WNAX: EWG Official Expects Farm Bill To Be Completed During Lame Duck Session Of Congress

Farm Bill Conference leaders are working to try and come to some type of compromise on new farm legislation. Environmental Working Group’s Vice President of Government Affairs Scott Faber says his group prefers the Bipartisan Senate version of the farm bill and he thinks that has a better chance of being approved than what the House came up with.

Farm Subsidies

NJ Spotlight: The List: Top Ten Counties in NJ for Federal Farm Subsidies

If New Jersey farmers get this aid at the same rate as they get other farm subsidies, they will receive only a small portion of the funds. The state’s farmers got just $11.7 million in regular subsidies last year, with New Jersey ranked 42nd among the states in the total amount received, according to the Environmental Working Group’s Farm Subsidy Database. Just 8 percent of the state’s farmers got any subsidy.

Department of Justice

Mic: After dire report, Trump administration makes moves that could negatively affect the climate

“Jeffrey Bosson Clark’s blatant hostility toward environmental protection is good news for polluters, but awful news for the rest of us,” Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook said in a statement. “The guy who defended the company that caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history is not likely to aggressively go after corporate environmental outlaws.” 

 Children’s Health

ABC News: EPA scientist on leave says agency effort to protect children from lead has stalled

“The current EPA leadership talks about children’s health, and it is literally that -- just talk,” Olga Naidenko, science adviser for the Environmental Working Group said. “When it comes to action -- such as protecting children from exposure to lead, mercury and harmful pesticides — what we see is administration activities aimed to roll back children’s health protections, not strengthen them.”  Reprinted by Yahoo! NewsWTOP and 23 media outlets.

Cleaning Products

Verily: Cutting Through the Hype: All Soap Is Clean, Right?

In 2010, the International Fragrance Association published a list of all 3,163 ingredients that are often found under the label “fragrance.” However, according to the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment, “1 in 20 [ingredients] earned a ‘high’ hazard score (7-10 of 10), and a full 1 in 6 rated at least a ‘moderate’ hazard score (3-10 of 10).


Just Bobbi: 10 Safe Skin & Hair Products for Kids

I spent the evening reading all of the labels and madly researching ingredients and products using sites like Cosmetic Ingredient Review and the Environmental Working Group to determine what to keep, what to toss, and what to purchase to replace all I’d thrown away, which was basically everything.

Sierra: The Hazardous Chemicals Lurking in Black Hair Care Products

From a business standpoint, there’s certainly incentive to capitalize on the demand for natural black hair care products: in 2016, black consumers spent over $2 billion on hair care products. Yet a study by the Environmental Working Group found that over 70 percent of products marketed for black hair contain dangerous ingredients, compared to 40 percent of hair products that are made for the “general public.”

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Gold Coast Girl: Why I Switched to Clean Beauty and Some of My Favorite Products

Then I discovered this website called the EWG Cosmetics Database where you can look up almost any product. It gives it a score from 1-10 on how safe it is, as well as all the bad chemicals in it. If your product gets a 1-2 then it’s a low hazard. If it gets a 7-10 then it’s high hazard and has a lot of bad chemicals in it.

Endocrine Disruptors

Mother Nature News: 13 hormone-disrupting chemicals (and how to avoid them)

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released one of its "Dirty Dozen" lists, this one with the goal of educating consumers about the worst offenders when it comes to endocrine-disrupters, or hormone-altering chemicals, commonly found in our environment and in our homes. Chemicals that affect or mimic human hormones can cause problems in all of the body's major system, leading to such diseases as high blood pressure, cancer, brain damage and infertility.


Center for Public Integrity: How Washington unleashed fossil-fuel exports and sold out on climate

The center’s advisory board includes Yergin; one current and one former executive from ConocoPhillips; Chinese oil tycoon Fu Chengyu; and Charif Souki, co-founder of LNG companies Cheniere and Tellurian. The board’s industry-heavy makeup has drawn scrutiny from advocacy organizations such as Public Citizen and the Environmental Working Group, which demanded the center disclose its funders in 2015. Reprinted by the Associated Press. 

Common Dreams: White House Drops Scheme to Bail Out Coal, Nukes

“A fundamental of sound energy policy is to avoid picking winners among energy sources instead of letting the market decide. In this case, the White House was hell-bent on picking losers,” said EWG President Ken Cook. Reprint of EWG news release.

Common Dreams: Critics on Guard Against Pro-Coal Agenda Even as Rick Perry's Bailout Plan Proves ‘Too Far a Stretch Even for Trump White House’

“Whether it's a dictator who says he didn't interfere in our elections or that global warming will fix itself, this president will believe almost anything he's told,” noted Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook. “But this scheme to bail out the dying coal industry on the backs of ratepayers was too far a stretch even for the Trump White House.”


Dr. Oz:  What You Need to Know About Flavored Seltzer

So why the secrecy with natural flavors? Using the term allows brands to keep their product labels short, sweet, and to the point, as a single natural flavor can include more than 100 ingredients, including flavoring substances, solvents, emulsifiers, and preservatives, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Moms: 17 Truths About What's Hiding In Baby Food (And 5 Times Moms Don't Need To Worry)

If we look at the ingredients list on baby food, we might see a nondescript item just called "flavor." The Environmental Working Group (EWG) scores foods based on their ingredients, preservatives and processing. Those that have the mysterious ingredient called "flavor" often get dinged in their score because no one knows what that means. Reprinted by Medical Health News. 

Monsanto’s Glyphosate 

California Ag Network: Test Your Products for Glyphosate

In early August, a jury awarded $289 million to a former groundskeeper who claimed that exposure to Roundup® caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This heavily publicized case was quickly followed by a report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which found that 31 out of 45 of the conventionally grown cereals being tested “…had glyphosate levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health with an adequate margin of safety.”

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Bulletproof Blog: How to Start the Bulletproof Diet in 10 Easy Steps

Switch to organic fruits and vegetables. Avoiding insecticides and herbicides goes a long way. Some plants have higher levels of residues than others. You can find a full updated list from the Environmental Working Group.

Dr. Weil: Best Vegetarian B Vitamin Foods

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that protect global and individual health, maintains a database and shopper’s guide on how to choose produce to reduce exposure to toxic pesticides. Learn more: Foods You Should Always Buy Organic: The Dirty Dozen Plus.

EWG's Guide to Sunscreens

Beauty Undercover: SWAG – Cosmos-Certified

Awarded the Environmental Working Group’s highest score (1 out of 10 for safety and efficacy), its hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, water and sweat-resistant, enviornmentally-safe formulas are quickly-absorbed and leave skin with a moisturized matte finish (none of that lifeguard-white cast!).

Go Visit Hawaii: Two sunscreen chemicals to avoid – Oxybenzone and Octinoxate

The Environmental Working Group creates a list of the healthiest mineral -based beach sunscreens. We have tried a number of mineral-based sunscreens. So, far ThinkSport and ThinkBaby brands have proven to be the best all around in terms of safety, absorption, feel, water resistance and price. Reprinted by Blogorama.

PFAS in Drinking Water

Chemical & Engineering News: U.S. airports can stop requiring PFASs in firefighting foams

“This legislation is a critical first step to allow airports to switch to the less toxic alternatives, which are already being used safely and effectively in other countries,” says Melanie Benesh, an attorney for the advocacy organization Environmental Working Group. The U.S. Department of Defense continues to use foams with fluorochemicals because no commercially available fluorine-free products have met military performance specifications.

MLive: Why hasn't Michigan set PFAS limits for drinking water yet?

Nonetheless, David Andrews, a senior scientist at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, which tracks PFAS emergence and regulations, said reducing exposure through rule-setting is a critical step that can happen concurrently with testing efforts.


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