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EWG News Roundup (1/25): Unilever Takes a Huge Step Toward Ingredient Transparency, Bipartisan Reps Form PFAS Task Force and More

In the News
Friday, January 25, 2019

This week, EWG applauded the personal care products giant Unilever for following up on it's promise to provide customers with information about the fragrance ingredients across all 15 of their cosmetic brands.

About this development, EWG co-founder and President Ken Cook issued this statement:

EWG applauds Unilever for making good on its commitment to improve transparency in personal care products. By breaking open the black box of fragrance chemicals, Unilever has raised the bar for transparency across the entire personal care products industry – and beyond. It may not happen overnight, but Unilever’s decision to trust consumers with basic facts about their products will place enormous pressure on the rest of the market to respond, and make it very difficult for other companies to continue to shield their fragrance ingredients from consumers.

EWG also gave props to a bipartisan group of lawmakers, who this week unveiled a task force to address the national water contamination crisis caused by the family of toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS. The task force, established by Reps. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), plans to bring PFAS cleanup to the forefront of the House agenda.

The prolonged government shutdown has stretched beyond a month now, and the enormous public and environmental health toll is worsening by the day. This week EWG joined a letter penned by 280 public interest groups calling on President Trump to end this shutdown before irreparable harm is done.

We’re in the throes of flu season, and over on our Children’s Health site we broke down some simple tips to help keep kids from catching the bug.

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

Government Shutdown

YubaNet: Shutdown Is ‘Extortion, Plain and Simple,’ Say 78 Groups

A coalition of 78 public interest organizations today sent a letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and U.S. Senate Republicans demanding that they reopen the government immediately, amid a partial government shutdown that is harming families and communities all across the country as well as our environment and economy… Earthjustice,
Earthworks, Economic Policy Institute, Endangered Species Coalition, Environmental Working Group…

PFAS Bipartisan Congressional Task Force

Detroit News: Kildee, House lawmakers launching PFAS task force

An estimated 16 million people in 33 states and Puerto Rico have PFAS-contaminated tap water, according to research by Northeastern University and the Environmental Working Group. 

NPR StateImpact (Pennsylvania): Pa. might set maximum limits on a toxic chemical in drinking water. Some ask: What’s there to decide?

Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that advocates for tighter PFAS rules, said the new group shows that the issue transcends partisan politics. “It’s time for Congress to stop new PFAS chemicals from going on the market, require monitoring to determine the extent of the current crisis, and make the investments necessary to clean up the mess,” the group said.

NBC6: WTAP (Parkersburg, W.Va.): UPDATE: Congressional task force to study PFAS

he Environmental Working Group, an organization also interested in the issue, believes more people than reported are affected by the chemicals. “We think that number is closer to 110 million Americans that have some kind of PFAS chemical in their drinking water,” says Melanie Benesh, Legislative Attorney for the EWG. “It does go beyond the C8 or PFOS from the first generation of these chemicals.”

Unilever Fragrance Disclosure

Chemical Watch: Unilever discloses fragrance ingredients in Europe, US

President and co-founder of U.S. NGO the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Ken Cook, said: “By breaking open the black box of fragrance chemicals, Unilever has raised the bar for transparency across the entire personal care products industry – and beyond. It may not happen overnight, but Unilever’s decision to trust consumers with basic facts about their products will place enormous pressure on the rest of the market to respond, and make it very difficult for other companies to continue to shield their fragrance ingredients from consumers.”

Agribusiness Bailout

The Record Herald (Washington, Ohio): Abuse of ag trade aid costs U.S. taxpayers

However, a recent report from the Environmental Working Group highlights two major flaws: 1) Some farming operations are receiving excessive payments because they are taking advantage of loopholes, like having numerous absentee managers or family members claim “active personal management.” 2) Some of these payments are going to individuals who do not live or work on the farm.


The Hill: EPA declines to step up reporting on asbestos imports and use

An alarming report from two nonprofits — the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) — shows asbestos imports rose by nearly 2,000 percent between July and August 2018. The biggest spike was last August, when the U.S. imported 272 metric tons of raw chrysotile asbestos, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Commerce Department.  


HealthDay: How to Safely Use Plastic Containers in Your Microwave

According to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, other chemicals, even replacements for BPA, haven't been tested enough to know if they're truly safe. Reprinted by U.S. News & World Report.


Forbes: Clean Beauty Can Be A Dirty Business: Beautycounter, Sephora And P&G Are Changing That

Consider that nearly 70,000 products are listed on the “Skin Deep” database of cosmetics operated by the Environmental Working Group, a 25-year-old organization that tracks and rates chemical safety in cosmetics. Of the 70,000, EWG has verified just 1,250 do not carry chemicals of concern (what it deems hazardous or ingredients that have not been thoroughly tested).

Romper: Made Of Is The Organic Baby Product Line You've Been Waiting For — & It's At Target

Which means these baby care products will all be certified to the NSF organic standard (meaning the way the product is processed and constructed promotes food safety and organic standards), Environmental Working Group (EWG) verified, and “Gluten Free Certified.” Why you need a baby wipe to be gluten free is beyond me, but I’m still pretty excited. Oh, and they’re also pediatrician certified, vegan, non-GMO and dermatologist tested, and made in the USA. So you know — worth it.

Thrive Global: PURITO: The new face of derma cosmetic products

The products are also cruelty free, a topic that has long been a concern to animal rights groups around the world. PURITO is one of the first derma cosmetics companies to be adopting such a strong stance and achieving EWG certification is a clear recognition of their commitment to the consumer.

EWG VERIFIED™ and Herbal Essences

Premium Beauty News: Organic and natural beauty trends for 2019

In the last few months, Herbal Essences got Environmental Working Group (EWG) Verification label and Natura Brasil products received Leaping Bunny certification. Other labels making headway include Vegan, Halal, Non-GMO, as well as COSMOS and Natrue (natural & organic labels). Reprinted by Professional Beauty.

Food Policy

Eating Well: Celebrity Chef Tom Colicchio Is on a Mission to End Hunger for Veterans

Six years ago, he and Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook co-founded Food Policy Action, an advocacy group that's focused on food safety, nutrition and hunger issues—particularly school lunch programs and hunger among veterans. 

Healthy Living App

Verily: Why (and How) I’m Making the Switch to Non-Toxic Beauty Products

I downloaded the apps “Think Dirty” and the Environmental Working Group’s “Healthy Living” to look up the products I already owned and determine just how toxic each one was. These free apps provide a rating from zero to 10, with zero being completely non-toxic and 10 being the dirtiest.  

Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health

ABC News: A plant-based diet benefits not only humans but the Earth, too: Report

Switching to a plant-based diet is good for human health and the earth. The Environmental Working Group estimated that the carbon footprint of broccoli is nearly 13 times less than beef, and a clinical trial showed that eating it may even help to rid your body of cancer-associated pollutants.

Her Campus: Why I Became A Vegetarian

The Environmental Working Group found that red beef can produce 10 to 40 times the greenhouse emissions of other crops such as corn. They found that the livestock feed necessary for the US requires nearly 167 million pounds of pesticides. The methane produced from cows alone makes up over 20% of the US’s methane emissions.

Monsanto’s Glyphosate

Daily Mail: Toxic and 'cancer-causing' substances including WEEDKILLER found in nappies in France, Government investigation reveals

Campaigners the Environmental Working Group (EWG) claim any more glyphosate than 160 parts per billion (ppb) in cereal is unsafe. But Kellogg's No Added Sugar Granola with Apricot and Pumpkin Seeds, Quaker's Oat So Simple Original Microwaveable Oats, and Weetabix's Oatibix are all said to contain levels higher than EWG's benchmark.

Root & Revel: Toxic Herbicides: Glyphosate Dangers + How You Can Help!

MegaFood–together with the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and several other food and nutrition brands including Ben & Jerry’s, MOM’s Organic Market, Stonyfield Farm, Nature’s Path Foods and Natural Grocers–has petitioned the EPA to ban the use of glyphosate as a desiccant before harvest. 

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Care2: What’s the Difference: Blueberries vs Wild Blueberries?

Most U.S. grown blueberries can have high levels of pesticide residue that could affect the liver, and other body functions. Blueberries are on the top twenty list of crops with the most pesticides from the Environmental Working Group.

The Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.): Food & Drink: How a healthier diet can help our planet

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment, releases a yearly Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce with a list of the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen,” based on testing by the United States Department of Agriculture (ewg.org/foodnews).

Real Simple: 6 Kitchen Tools for Making Healthy Celery Juice at Home in Just Minutes

If you’re interested in trying the light and potassium-, vitamin-, and antioxidant-rich drink or making it a part of your daily routine, there are two easy ways to make celery juice right at home. Once you’ve washed your fresh celery (organic is best—this veggie is one of the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen”), you can throw your stalks in a juicer.

Romper: Is Celery Juice Safe For Kids? Take These Precautions Before You Pour Them A Glass

Interestingly, celery is on the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list of foods high in pesticides, so organic does seem like the way to go, whether you're making the drink for your kid or yourself, or even consuming the vegetable in any form.

1,4-Dioxane in Drinking Water
The Republic (Columbus, Ind.): City utilities authorize test, monitoring wells

The Environmental Working Group, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit working on environmental issues, said that more than a million pounds of 1,4 dioxane was produced in the U.S. or imported to the country in 2015, and 675,000 pounds of the substance has been released into the environment nationwide.

PFAS in Drinking Water

Decatur Daily (Decatur, Ala.): Water woes cause financial strain for West Morgan-East Lawrence

David Andrews, a senior scientist with the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, said there is an increasing body of research indicating that unregulated chemicals like GenX and PFBS cause many of the same health issues attributed to PFOA and PFOS. “The EPA has draft toxicity assessments out for GenX and PFBS," Andrews said, and there are open questions about whether carbon filtration removes the chemicals efficiently. "Reverse osmosis eliminates all of them and is the ultimate standard.”

MLive: Michigan to consider risk from ‘safe’ form of PFAS

David Andrews, senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, said the FTS 6:2 detection is not surprising. “It’s one of the more common replacement chemicals,” Andrews said. “As we understand more about the national contamination in regards to PFOA and PFOS and the entire class of chemicals, we’ll see much more come out (on FTS 6:2),” Andrews said.


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