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EWG News Roundup (5/15): Farm and Food Workers at COVID-19 Risk, EPA Balks at Regulating Rocket Fuel Chemical and More

In the News
Friday, May 15, 2020

This week, EWG broke down how America’s farmworkers are imperiled when it comes to contracting COVID-19. This is due to various factors, including unhealthy work and living environments, and exposure to pesticides, drinking water contaminants and unhealthy air, among others. EWG laid out steps federal lawmakers could take to protect this at-risk population of essential workers.

EWG also mapped meatpacking facilities across the U.S. and found that counties with or near these plants have almost twice the rate of known COVID-19 infections as the national average.

Duke Energy, the country’s biggest investor-owned power utility, is asking the state of Indiana to force residents to pay for energy that was not used because of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Using the coronavirus pandemic to demand that families and businesses pay for electricity they did not use is a cynical exploitation of a public health and economic emergency that has cost Indiana more than 1,400 deaths and more than 600,000 jobs,” said the Duke Energy Accountability Coalition, an alliance of public interest, social justice, watchdog and environmental groups, including EWG, formed to hold Duke Energy accountable for its policies.

On Thursday, the Trump Environmental Protection Agency indicated that it will not impose any limits on perchlorate, a rocket fuel chemical associated with brain damage in infants and young children.

“The science on perchlorate is very clear: It harms infants and the developing fetus,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., vice president for science investigations at EWG. “Once again the Trump EPA decided to ignore the science and side with the chemical industry instead of protecting future generations from perchlorate.”

And finally on Thursday the California Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, A.B. 2762, passed out of the State Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials. The bill bans 12 chemicals from cosmetics, including formaldehyde, mercury, PFAS, long-chain parabens, and phthalates.

“This vote is an important milestone in the history of cosmetics regulation," said EWG President Ken Cook. "For the first time, groups like EWG and the industry’s trade association, the Personal Care Products Council, support legislation to modernize the rules governing these everyday products.”

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

Children’s Health

Ladies Want More: Celebrating Mother’s Day with a Wish for Healthy Babies

Along with advice from greats like Dr. Cowan, EWG has been essential to me as a mother trying to create science-backed products I trust for my own family

Young Parents: 7 FAQs about introducing solids to your baby: What parents should know

If you’re keen on going green, she recommends checking out EWG Shopper’s Guide, which lists the Dirty Dozen (produce with the highest levels of pesticides) and the Clean Fifteen (those that may be worth spending more on, if organic).

AB 2762: California Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act

Global Cosmetic Industry: 'Toxic-free' Cosmetics Act Moves Forward

“We are proud to have joined a broad coalition, including the Black Women for Wellness, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, CalPIRG and the Environmental Working Group, in supporting well-crafted, science-based reforms like AB 2762. Such legislation modernizes California’s cosmetics regulation and also strengthens consumer confidence in the products they trust and enjoy every day." Reprinted by Cosmetics & Toiletries.

HAPPI: California Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act Moves Forward

EWG President Ken Cook echoed the sentiments of PCPC. He commented, “Today’s vote to ban 12 ingredients from cosmetics is just the first step in the legislative process. But this vote is an important milestone in the history of cosmetics regulation. For the first time, groups like EWG and the industry’s trade association, the Personal Care Products Council, support legislation to modernize the rules governing these everyday products.

EWG’s Meatpacking Plants and COVID-19 Map

McClatchy DC: Missouri Rep. Hartzler offers bill to block COVID lawsuits against meatpacking plants

The Environmental Working Group, a national organization that advocates for stricter environmental regulations, released a report Thursday stating that counties within 15 miles of a meatpacking plant experienced a COVID-19 infection rate of 373 cases per 100,000 residents, nearly twice the national average, based on data through May 6. Reprinted by Kansas City Star

HuffPost: Meatpacking Plants Turn To Trump For Backup Against Lawsuits

Counties with or near a meatpacking plant have almost twice the rate of known COVID-19 cases as the national average, according to an Environmental Working Group analysis based on Johns Hopkins University data that was published Thursday.

Iowa Starting Line: Iowa’s Meatpacking Plant Outbreaks Rank No. 1 In The Nation

EWG’s investigation, published Thursday, found “counties with or near meatpacking plants have almost twice the rate of known COVID-19 infections as the national average.”

EWG Press Call with Andrew Zimmern and Iris Figueroa on COVID-19 and Farm Workers Report

FERN’s Ag Insider: Protect farmworkers to assure food supply, say advocacy groups

Farmworkers are “especially at risk of falling ill from Covid-19” because they often work without protective equipment, are exposed to pesticides, and live in crowded quarters, said the advocacy groups Environmental Working Group and Farmworker Justice on Wednesday.

Trump Administration Farm Bailout

The Kansas City Star: Missouri congresswoman takes a federal PPP loan, then balks at further COVID-19 relief

Hartzler Farms Inc. has taken almost $1.2 million in crop subsidies since 1996, according to a database compiled by the Environmental Working Group. That includes more than $375,000 taken during her time in Congress.


Don’t Waste Your Money: The Best All Natural Household Cleaner

The EWG (Environmental Working Group) is another good resource for background on harmful or questionable products.

Interiors Addict: Natural cleaning products: DIY these options!

Commercial oven cleaners are among the most toxic household cleaning products. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends avoiding them altogether.

Cosmetics – Skin Deep

Ask Away: Tips For A Sustainable Beauty & Skin Care Regime

EWG stands for the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit that sets sustainable and healthy standards for our everyday products.

D Magazine: How To Provide Clean Spaces For Employees While Using Non-Toxic Choices

Groups like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and platforms such as Think Dirty are helping to empower and inform consumers about non-toxic personal care products like cleaning solutions, soap, hand sanitizer, lotion, hair, and skincare products.

Root + Revel: Natural 3-Ingredient DIY Face Toner

For the skeptics out there (hi! I used to be one of you until my eyes were opened by the Environmental Working Group), I’ve outlined the toxic ingredients for five of the most popular face toners on the market today below.

Cosmetics – EWG VERIFIED

Packaging World: Sugarcane and Corn: ‘Ingredients Matter’ in New Deodorant Packaging

The company, formed in 2017 by two beauty industry professionals frustrated by the lack of high-quality natural deodorant options, offers deodorants and rollerball fragrances that have no aluminum, parabens, synthetic fragrances, or baking soda, and are gluten free, cruelty free, vegan, and EWG (Environmental Working Group) Verified™. Reprinted by Healthcare Packaging

Scary Mommy: Annual Teeth Cleaning Cancelled? 8 Natural, Non-Toxic Products To Keep Your Teeth Healthy & Clean

This toothpaste formula is sans all the bad stuff and is also vegan, Environmental Working Group-verified, and made with 98 percent USA origin ingredients, therefore supporting jobs in the USA.

Duke Energy Accountability Coalition

Friends of the Earth: Public interest groups unite to form Duke Energy watchdog

The Duke Energy Accountability Coalition is a project of Appalachian Voices, Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, the Energy and Policy Institute, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, NC WARN, Ohio Citizen Action and the League of Women Voters of South Carolina.

Meat Eaters Guide

Food Institute Focus: Startups See a Future in Cell-Based Meat

These include multi-drug resistant E. coli, among other superbugs. Such superbugs infest nearly 80% of meat in U.S. supermarkets, according to the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit environmental research organization.


The Hill: EPA won't regulate rocket fuel chemical tied to developmental damage: NYT

“The science on perchlorate is very clear: It harms infants and the developing fetus,” Olga Naidenko, senior science adviser for children’s environmental health at the Environmental Working Group, said when the EPA unveiled its proposal last May.

PFAS Polluters Map

BioCycle: Controlling Industrial PFAS Discharges In Michigan

According to an updated Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis of government data, at least 2,500 industrial facilities across the nation could be discharging PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) into the air and water.

PFAS Tap Water Contamination

Nashoba Valley Voice (Mass.): Outdoor water ban begins Friday in Ayer

A potential cause of the PFAS contamination was discovered by the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit The Environmental Working Group, which claimed in December that fire-fighting foam used at the former Fort Devens contained the chemical compounds. Reprinted by The Lowell Sun (Mass.)

PFAS Pollution from Waste Incineration

Waste Dive: Controversy over incinerator-linked PFAS in New York draws scrutiny from federal lawmakers

And after an April report from the Environmental Working Group found disposal sites owned by Waste Management and others could be leaching PFAS, House lawmakers mounted a push to institute deadlines for the EPA to determine how to regulate industrial PFAS discharges under the Clean Water Act.

Rollbacks of Obama Fuel Efficiency Standards

Planet Watch: Three Big Automakers Pushed For Rollbacks of Obama Era Fuel Efficiency Standards

The Environmental Working Group sent an open letter to the CEOs of GM, Fiat Chrysler, and Toyota.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

Brava Magazine: Quiz: Organic Food 101

The Environmental Working Group has lists of produce with the highest and lowest amounts of pesticide use.

(See Prioritizing What to Buy Organic).

Central Jersey: Eating organic foods could have benefits for one’s health

The Environmental Working Group has a helpful shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce. The guide includes an annual “Dirty Dozen” list of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residue, as well as a “Clean Fifteen” list of conventional produce with the lowest levels of pesticide residue.

Collective Evolution: Non-organic Kale Found To Be Contaminated With Dacthal (Pesticide)

This is why the Environmental Working Group (EWG) advocates buying organic products. Since its inception in 1993, EWG has fought for consumers’ rights to live healthier lives in a healthier environment.

Organic Authority: This Berry French Toast Recipe Calls For Breakfast in Bed

When choosing both frozen or fresh berries, go organic. All berries are heavily sprayed crops. Consult the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen guides for more info.

South Jersey The Central Record: Go organic!

According to the Environmental Working Group’s analysis of test data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 70 percent of non-organically grown produce sold in the United States is contaminated with potentially harmful pesticide residues.

ABC 10 (Sacramento, Calif.): Non toxic sunscreen options | Meg Unprocessed

I showed some clean brands on ABC10 Morning Blend Extra Shot, but you can also check out the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep website to see how your sunscreen rates.

Sierra Club: Which Sunscreens Are Best for the Environment?

Raw Elements has a high Environmental Working Group score, uses USDA-certified organic ingredients and no palm oil or toxic chemical fragrances, and doesn't use animal testing or plastic packaging.

Buzzfeed: 27 Things For Anyone Getting Back Into Running Outdoors

"I found this gem on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website…”

Her World: Is Sunscreen Needed When You #WFH? Here’s A Comprehensive Guide

According to the Environmental Working Group, these three UV filters are also known to have lower toxicity concerns, and so they’re less likely to have lasting effects on your skin.

Sierra: Which Sunscreens Are Best for the Environment?

Raw Elements has a high Environmental Working Group score, uses USDA-certified organic ingredients and no palm oil or toxic chemical fragrances, and doesn't use animal testing or plastic packaging. 

Tap Water Database

Business Insider: The difference between purified, distilled, and tap water, and which is the best choice for drinking

Additionally, you can go on the Environmental Working Group's tap water database to search by your zip code, and you can learn if there are any known contaminants that exceed EWG's health guidelines. Reprinted by MSN


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