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EWG News Roundup (2/28): EPA Opens Multiple Criminal Probes of PFAS Polluters, Trump’s Toll on Children’s Health and More

In the News
Friday, February 28, 2020

The Environmental Protection Agency is pursuing criminal inquiries into corporations that manufacture the toxic fluorinated chemicals called PFAS., according to Bloomberg Environment. In an update to its 2020 PFAS Action Plan, the EPA included details about the new probes, stating it “has multiple criminal investigations underway concerning PFAS-related pollution.”

“For decades, these and other corporations have knowingly and maliciously contaminated our drinking water, food supplies and the blood of virtually every person in the U.S. with these toxic chemicals, and EPA knew it and did nothing,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Holding polluters criminally accountable is hardly the calling card of the Trump administration. That is why the public must demand EPA pursue all legal actions against 3M, Chemours, DuPont and other corporate bad actors responsible for any crimes committed in the craven pursuit of profits over human health.”

Late last week, California lawmakers reintroduced the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, A.B. 2762. If passed, the bill would ban 12 toxic ingredients, such as mercury and formaldehyde, from the beauty and personal care products Californians use every day.

“More than 40 other nations protect their citizens from harmful cosmetics,” said Susan Little, EWG’s senior advocate for California government affairs. “But the U.S. has done little to ensure consumers are not exposed to unsafe ingredients in personal care products. A.B. 2762 would prevent cosmetics manufacturers from adding some of the most toxic chemicals to cosmetics sold in California.”

The Trump administration's rollback of a wide range of environmental and public health regulations puts children at risk, according to a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

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

Children’s Health

Asbestos.com: Revlon Named in Talc-Mesothelioma Lawsuit

Those findings were released by the Environmental Working Group, which had commissioned the testing as part of a larger investigation of children’s toys.

EPA Criminal Investigations of PFAS Polluters

The Hill: EPA is conducting multiple criminal probes tied to ‘forever chemicals’

PFAS contamination has been found in every state but Hawaii, according to data from the Environmental Working Group.

NBC Connecticut: EPA Opens Criminal Investigations into PFAS

“The sad reality is that PFAS chemicals are all around us,” Melanie Benesh, a legislative attorney with the Environmental Working Group, said.

Trump Administration Farm Bailouts

Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette: Trump signals more farmer aid

According to the Environmental Working Group in Washington, Arkansas farmers received $298.4 million in tariff-relief payments between Jan. 1, 2019, and Oct. 31, 2019.

Animal Agriculture

Successful Farming: What Farmers Can Lear From The Hog Nuisance Suits In North Carolina

Dustin Moskovitz, a cofounder of Facebook, funds the animal liberation side. Fred Stanback, a business partner of Warren Buffett, funds the environmental side, including the Environmental Working Group and Waterkeepers.


St. Louis Post Dispatch: Troy Williams: Legislation would harm Missouri vets sick from asbestos-caused cancer

Asbestos-related deaths have devastated thousands of Missouri families, with more than 4,700 residents dying between 1999 and 2017 from diseases triggered by asbestos exposure, according to a recent analysis of federal mortality data by the Environmental Working Group Action Fund.

Body Burden

Dai Manuel: 3 Harmful Toxins You May Be Encountering Every Day

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), up to 420 carcinogens are found in the average person at any given time

California PFAS Ban Bill

Sierra Sun Times (Truckee, Calif.): California State Senator Introduces Bill to Ban Forever Chemicals in Firefighting Foam in California

“The removal of PFAS from firefighting foam is long overdue. Our firefighters don’t need it, and our health certainly doesn’t. Since PFAS-free foams are already on the market, it makes sense to use them instead of their toxic counterparts,” said Susan Little, Environmental Working Group’s Senior Advocate for California Government Affairs.

Cleaning Products

CNN Underscored: Blueland’s nontoxic cleaners can save money, space and even the planet

Blueland's ingredients are all on the EPA Safer Chemicals Ingredients List, and none is on the Environmental Working Group Restricted List. Reprinted by The World News

The Good Men Project: Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products: Now They’re Everywhere

The non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) looked into the ingredients lists of more than 2,000 cleaning supplies commonly available on store shelves across the country and found that hundreds of them contain substances linked to serious health problems.


Health: Kelly Ripa Just Declared This All-Natural Deodorant Her Favorite – and It’s Mine, Too

Each base is then paired with a unique combination of essential oils that have been safety-verified by the Environmental Working Group

The Zoe Report: Michelle Pfeiffer’s Henry Rose Fragrance Line Is Clean, Genderless, & Cat Woman-Approved

Originally, Pfeiffer had the grand idea of creating one scent that was verified by the Environmental Working Group (she claims she "selfishly" went without perfume for 10 years because she couldn't find one free of toxins and chemicals).

Spectrum News NY: Taking Action to Protect Yourself From Potentially Harmful Chemicals in Beauty Products

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit that has created their own label to further clarify the safety of cosmetics and cleansers to the consumer. 

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

NBC Today: My makeup lasts all day long thanks to this ‘shine control’ primer

The standout ingredient in the serum is rice protein, which is a skin-conditioning agent, according to the Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by Lady Click

Poosh: 10 Apps That Make Adulting a Little Less Stressful

EWG/Skin Deep: A free app that gives you access to a database that ranks ingredients in skincare and beauty products so you can avoid dangerous chemicals and toxins.

Who What Wear: I Never Thought I’d Love Organic Makeup—Until I Found These 10 Products

"'Clean beauty' is a much better term for the consumer as the products are non-toxic and still effective," cosmetic chemist Ginger King told Allure. last year. "'Non-toxic' means free from undesirable ingredients listed by the Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by Design OutfitsYahoo!

Bangor Daily News (Maine): Candle making is trickier than you think

According to the Environmental Working Group, companies that manufacture personal care products are not required to disclose the ingredients in trade-secret formulas like fragrances. 

The List: Surprising ingredients found in face powder

Fortunately, the finished product resembles none of these things, and what you'll notice is the distinctive pink result that has a lengthy history in the makeup industry. Beyond that, the Environmental Working Group notes little risk in this alternative substance.

Montgomery Advertiser (Ala., USA Today): ‘Under protected:’ Women ingest hair products’ toxins every day. For black women, it’s worse

According to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit focused on health and environmental safety, women use an average of 12 health and beauty products a day that contain more than 164 chemicals. Reprinted by other USA Today affiliates

Wit & Whimsy: How to Get Started in Clean Beauty

Fragrance (not essential oil derived), SLS, PEG, Parabens and anything that involves a silicone! If you see three letters followed by a number- take a deeper look. We love using EWG’s Skin Deep resource, too!

Dark Waters Movie

Encore: RUFF WATERS: Star-powered film screening shines a light on Wilmington’s water crisis

Additionally, a report by the Environmental Working Group earlier in the year placed Brunswick County in the top spot in the nation for toxins found in tap water.

Unilad: We’re All Being Used In ‘Massive Human Experiment’, Warns Lawyer Who Fought Chemical Giants

A recent study from the Environmental Working Group found that out of tap water samples from 44 places in 31 states across the US, only one location had no detectable polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS (which includes PFOA and PFOS).

EPA Regulation of PFAS in Drinking Water

Inside EPA: Proponents Of Stricter Waste, Water Rules See Mixed Success From EPA

The preliminary determination “shows that an avalanche of public pressure and overwhelming science is finally forcing EPA to act,” argued Environmental Working Group attorney Melanie Benesh in a Feb. 20 statement.

The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.): NC is crawling toward stricter rules about two kinds of forever chemicals

In a prepared statement following the EPA statement, Melanie Benesh, the legislative attorney for the Environmental Working Group, said, “States should not wait for the EPA to act. Reprinted by The Charlotte Observer (N.C.)The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.)

One Green Planet: Finally, EPA to Regulate PFAs in Drinking Water!

But it’s a step in the right the direction, and it would not have happened but for a bipartisan sense of outrage,” said Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group’s senior vice president for government affairs, in a statement.

Traverse City Record Eagle (Mich.): Michigan environmental, health advocates react to federal PFAS announcement

“It’s decades too late but it’s better late than never,” said Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group’s senior vice president for government affairs. 

Union of Concerned Scientists: EPA Might Finally Regulate PFAS But the Process Matters

A recent EWG analysis tested drinking water across the country for 30 different PFAS chemicals and found that on average, each sample had six or seven different compounds present. Reprinted by EcoWatch

WAMC (Albany, N.Y.): EPA Inches Toward PFAS Drinking Water Regulation

The EPA has proposed a so-called regulatory determination to set a national drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS, emerging contaminants found in Hoosick Falls and Newburgh, respectively. Melanie Benesh is legislative attorney with the Washington D.C.-headquartered Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by WBFO NPR (Buffalo, N.Y.)WSHU (Fairfield, Conn.)

WBFO NPR (Buffalo, N.Y.): EPA inches toward PFAS drinking water regulation

Melanie Benesh is legislative attorney with the Washington D.C.-headquartered Environmental Working Group. She says it could be years, however, before EPA sets final, enforceable standards, if at all.

WTAP (Parkersburg, W. Va.): Update: EPA says it will propose PFOFA, PFOS standards

Republican West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito issued a statement welcoming the announcement, as did the Environmental Working Group. The EWG, however, added it could take years for the new standards to be implemented.

Farm Subsidies

Geographical (U.K.): The future of food: what will it take to create a sustainable future?

According to the Environmental Working Group, an American research and activist organisation, each year the US government provides $13bn in subsidies for factory-farmed meat and intensive crop operations that produce just six harvests: corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton, rice, and peanuts: the majority of which is then fed to livestock. In the EU, €39bn was spent on subsidies in 2010, over 40 per cent of the EU budget. 


Dr. Greene: No Chemicals – Just A Little Roundup

This year, the Environmental Working Group found glyphosate in Cheerios, Nature Valley, and Fiber One products.

The Organic & Non-GMO Report: Tested Clean certification aims to differentiate organic and conventional foods in the market

Research by the Environmental Working Group has determined that 0.011 mg is the upper safety limit for glyphosate exposure.

New PFAS Testing Report 

Sierra: America’s Overwhelming PFAS Problem

According to the Environmental Working Group, as many as 110 million Americans may be drinking PFAS-contaminated water, and over 99 percent of US residents have some variant of PFAS in their blood.

Coastal Review Online (N.C.): School Boards Eye Filtration to Remove PFAS

She said that after an Environmental Working Group report on PFAS in drinking water came out last fall, volunteers collected more than 2,000 signatures asking for an alternative water source for students in both school systems.

The Community Word: Study: toxins pervasive in drinking water

Illinois may not have the worst contamination of PFAS “forever chemicals,” according to a new study by the Environmental Working Group, but the toxic compounds are present in water systems and groundwater in Peoria, Galesburg, Bloomington and the Quad Cities.

Dayton Daily News (Ohio): Dayton wants in-house water testing for ‘forever chemicals’

Sometimes called “forever chemicals,” PFAS have been a national source of concern because they build up in the human body and never break down in the environment, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Mother Nature Network: Why we can’t run from ‘forever chemicals’

There are at least 118 PFAS chemicals produced in volumes in excess of 25,000 pounds per year, according to a report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). 

WHYY PBS: Two more wells show possible PFAS contamination near Dover Air Force Base

PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down naturally in the environment. Earlier this year, the Environmental Working Group issued a report claiming PFAS contamination in drinking water is far more prevalent than previously reported.

News 5 Cleveland (Ohio): What you need to know about ‘forever chemicals’ and our drinking water

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has long advocated for tough federal standards for PFAS and related chemicals, far lower than the EPA’s suggested guideline of 70 parts per trillion.

12 WBOY (Clarksburg, W. Va.): WVU researchers find a link between a common chemical and tooth decay

A study done last month by the Environmental Working Group found that PFAS contamination is found widespread in rainwater, and EWG scientists explained that PFAS are likely detectable in all major water supplies in the U.S.

Nitrate in Tap Water

Eat This, Not That!: 20 Ways Your Home Could Be Giving You Cancer

The headlines made national news just last year: Nitrate pollution in U.S. drinking water may be the cause of 12,594 cases of cancer, according to a peer-reviewed, "first of its kind national analysis" by the non-profit Environmental Working Group and researchers from Northeastern University. Reprinted by MSN

EWG Guide to Seafood

Shape: What is The Blue Zone Diet? A Nutritionist Explains

If you eat seafood, take advantage of a resource like the Environmental Working Group’s seafood guide

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

The Beet.: Ask The Expert: When Should You Buy Organic Food Versus Conventional?

The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 are two lists that perpetuate the skepticism over the organic versus conventional debate. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization that analyzes a combination of the USDA’s test data with their own tests to determine the types of fruits and vegetables containing the largest amount of pesticides.

Go Banking Rates: 50 Terrible Ways To Try and Save Money

The EWG has identified the “dirty dozen” foods that have the most pesticides when nonorganic: strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery and potatoes. Reprinted by Medical Health News

Mom Blog 365: What Organic Foods to Buy and What To Ignore

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), apples are the  “dirtiest” or most pesticide-contaminated fruit in the grocery store, and one of 12 commonly-eaten fruits and veggies that consistently carry high traces of chemical pesticides, even after they’ve been peeled and pulped for your baby. 

Real Farmacy: Watermelon Effectively Hydrates, Detoxifies, & Cleanses the Whole Body on a Cellular Level

Conventionally raised watermelon ranks number 32 out of 48 veggies and fruits’ pesticide residues with the Environmental Working Group (EWG). So it’s not too bad, but not quite good enough to make it into their clean 15.

Tampa Bay Parenting: Moms To Know: Alexa Schuman of Uprooted Wellness

Avoid purchasing any conventional fruit + veg from the EWG Dirty Dozen list – this is the best place to start buying organic!

Thrive Global: “Intermittent fasting 1-2 times a week” with Yeral Patel and Dr. William Seeds

I prefer that my patients eat organic (especially if their fruits and veggies are on the EWG’s “dirty dozen” list), and recommend my patients eat grass-fed meats as the hormones in meat can wreak havoc on the body.

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

Men’s Health: Why SPF 100 Sunscreen Isn’t as Great as You Think It Is

Theoretically, yes. But the real-world answer is that it’s a little more complicated. The Environmental Working Group points out that super-high SPFs don’t actually block out that many more skin-damaging rays. Reprinted by Pulse93.5 WTAX (Springfield, Ill.)

Tap Water Database

Dr. Axe: Tap Water Toxicity: Widespread Contamination Impacting Millions

Using data from municipal water supplies all over the United States, Environmental Working Group found widespread tap water toxicity, including known and suspected cancer causers.


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