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EWG News Roundup (1/29): Solvay Fails to Report PFAS Risk, Coalition Stages Hearing to Hold Duke Energy Accountable and More

Friday, January 29, 2021

For years, Solvay Specialty Chemicals failed to report testing showing the health hazards of one or more of the fluorinated “forever chemicals” known as PFAS. This week, EWG petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to fine the company for multiple violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act.

“Solvay may have hindered the EPA’s ongoing PFAS assessments and put public health at great risk,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “We suspect that Solvay deliberately kept these damning toxicity studies from the EPA – a serious violation of federal law that requires companies to immediately report any evidence they uncover that a chemical may pose a substantial health hazard.”

This week, EWG documented the history of the unique PFAS exposures firefighters are susceptible to through their occupation – through the firefighting foam and firefighting clothing and gear made with PFAS.

President Biden made a sharp break from the policies of the Trump administration by issuing an ambitious series of executive orders to combat the climate crisis, embrace science and foster environmental justice.

“Confronting the existential threat of the climate crisis and the inequities it foists on low-income communities and communities of color is now a top priority of the federal government, a shift that is long overdue,” said Cook. “Today’s actions are a serious and much-needed down payment on limiting greenhouse gas emissions, but much more investment is needed to effectively counter the climate crisis.”

And finally, on Friday, a coalition of public interest, environmental and economic justice organizations staged the first-ever hearing to examine Duke Energy’s policies and practices, which have polluted and financially punished its low-income ratepayers and communities of color throughout its vast six-state service area.

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

Children’s Health

The Oprah Magazine: The Best Sunscreen for Kids and Babies, According to Dermatologists

We've said it before, but it's so important, we'll say it again: Sunscreen should be a non-negotiable element of any skincare routine—and, yes, that includes kids and babies. In fact, according to the Environmental Working Group's report on the best sunscreen for kids, "a few blistering sunburns in childhood can double a person’s lifetime chances of developing serious forms of skin cancer."

Indy Week: EPA Rejects N.C. Environmental Groups’ Petition for "Forever Chemicals" Study 

“Medical practitioners in our region know we were overexposed to PFAS but lack the guidance and support on how to offer preventive medical care,” said Donovan, who lives in Brunswick County. A study last year by the national Environmental Working Group found that water from a drinking fountain in a Brunswick County elementary school contained the highest level of PFAS detected in the country.

Parents: The Best Sunscreen for Babies in 2021

The sunscreen contains mineral zinc oxide and a base of certified organic sunflower oil for easy application. Not to mention it's biodegradable, reef-friendly, and certified cruelty-free. No wonder it received such high ratings from the Environmental Working Group!

Biden’s PFAS Policy

Inside EPA: Citizen Coalition Urges Biden To Tap PFAS ‘Czar’ To Oversee Federal Actions

Others who signed the letter include Environmental Working Group legislative attorney Melanie Benesh; the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Senior Strategic Director Erik Olson; and Earthjustice attorney Eve Gartner.

Market Watch: Environmentalists optimistic about increased PFAS regulation under new administration

More than 200 million Americans could have PFAS in their drinking water, according to an estimate from the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy and research organization. A recent Harvard University study found that exposure to these chemicals can increase the severity of COVID-19 in people who have contracted it.

EPA Petition to Fine Solvay $400 Million

Bloomberg Law: EPA Urged to Fine Solvay $434 Million Over PFAS Test Results

The Environmental Working Group petitioned the EPA on Tuesday to assess $434 million in civil and criminal fines against Solvay Specialty Chemicals for allegedly failing to report animal and human tests showing the health hazards of PFAS.

NJ Spotlight News: Company kept details on new ‘forever chemicals’ hidden for years, advocacy group tells EPA

Environmental Working Group, a national nonprofit, said Solvay Specialty Polymers of Gloucester County violated the federal Toxic Substances Control Act by failing to report its finding that the chemicals posed a substantial risk to human health or the environment as soon as it got the test results in June 2005.

Chemical and Engineering News: Solvay withheld PFAS toxicity data, group claims

In a Jan. 26 petition, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an advocacy organization, claims that Solvay violated reporting requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by waiting more than 5 years to notify the EPA about potential risks to human health and the environment posed by chloroperfluoropolyether carboxylates.

DuPont and Chemours Agree to $4 Billion to Settle PFAS Lawsuits

Reuters: DuPont, Chemours, Cortiva reach accord to split $4 billion in expenses to face potential liabilities over PFAS chemicals

“There are no federally enforceable limits on any PFAS in drinking water, groundwater or soils, or any requirements to clean up PFAS under the federal Superfund law. Only five states have placed drinking water limits on a handful of PFAS and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has the ability to test for only 29 PFAS in drinking water,” according to an EWG report on Jan.22.

Inside EPA: DuPont, Chemours Reach $4 Billion Settlement Over PFAS Liability

In a Jan. 22 press release, Environmental Working Group, which has long pushed for strict regulation of PFAS, said the $4 billion settlement was reached “long past time” for such companies to pay for PFAS contamination.

Chemanager: DuPont, Chemours and Corteva Agree PFAS Fund

The US has no federally enforceable limits on any of the chemical compounds in drinking water, groundwater or soil, or any requirements to clean up contamination. Only five states have placed limits on permissible levels of a few chemicals, and according to campaigner The Environmental Working Group (EWG), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA has the ability to test for only 29 PFAS in drinking water.

WWay TV 3 (Leland, N.C.): DuPont, Chemours, Corteva reach $4B settlement on ‘forever chemicals’ lawsuits

According to a release by Environmental Working Group, DuPont was for decades a leading U.S. manufacturer of PFAS chemicals, which it used to make Teflon and other nonstick products.

Trump’s EPA

Environmental Defense Fund: EDF, EWG, and Sierra Club Sue over Trump EPA’s Unscientific and Unlawful Decisions on Dangerous Chemical

Today, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Working Group and Sierra Club filed a legal challenge to the deeply flawed assessment of the dangerous chemical 1,4-dioxane issued in the closing days of the Trump Administration by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

Cleaning Products

Reader’s Digest Canada: 20+ Subtle Ways Your House Might Be Making You Sick

It’s not just cold and flu germs that linger on your child’s toys—although that can happen, especially after play dates. But toxic dust can settle on playthings as well. “Make sure to wash kid’s toys and stuffed animals frequently to minimize dust that collects on these surfaces,” says Samara Geller, a senior research and database analyst at Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Martha Stewart: The Best Clean Skincare Products to Try If You're Over 40

Dr. Farhang adds not to equate paraben- or preservative-free, however, with good for you ("Without preservatives, our skin care products can grow bacteria, fungi, and other sorts of nasty stuff that cause bad things to happen such as infections and skin reactions," she says). Instead, take a scientific approach and surf the Environmental Working Group's (EWG's) Skindeep Database for ingredient safety before you buy. 

EWG VERIFIED™: Cosmetics

HuffPost: The Best Body Lotions And Moisturizers For Dry Skin, According To Dermatologists

The moisturizer is also cruelty-free and EWG-verified, which means it has been certified as meeting the nonprofit Environmental Working Group’s safety standards. Reprinted by New Express News.

StyleCaster: The Absolute Best Drugstore Beauty Products Coming in 2021

Two of Herbal Essences Bio:Renew Collections, Birch Bark Extract and Honey & Vitamin E, are getting revamped packaging and an updated formula in the new year. They’re still PETA-certified cruelty-free and meet the clean beauty standards of the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

V Magazine: 9 Clean Body Moisturizers Without Harmful Ingredients

This nourishing body cream is enriched with olive leaf extract to help hydrate and soothe the skin and moringa seed extract for its antipollution properties. EWG Verified™, hypoallergenic and dermatologically-tested, this product also contains a pear and ginger aroma.

Food and Farmworkers

Healthline: Top Chef Meals Review: Pros, Cons, and Who Should Try It

The company uses organic ingredients when possible but follows the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen guidelines to decide which produce must be organic.

Glyphosate on Oats

Forbes: Why Are There Few Organic Oat Milks?

A 2018 EWG study found the chemical glyphosate in many popular oat-based foods. Still, while many oat milks aren't certified organic, some, including Willa's, Pacific Foods and Rise Brewing Co. are, and others like Oatly do third-party testing to guarantee their oat milk is glyphosate-free.

Healthy Living Home Guide

Medical News Today: How to choose the best Nectar mattress

Both Nectar mattresses use memory foam. The Environmental Working Group recommend choosing a mattress that does not contain polyurethane foam.

Medical News Today: 5 of the best mattresses for sleep disorders

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), mattresses that contain conventional materials, such as polyurethane, vinyl, PVC, and chemical flame retardants, may be harmful. 

Insect Repellent

TreeHugger: The 7 Best Natural Insect Repellents of 2021

While science-backed consumer watchdog Environmental Working Group (EWG) found picaridin to have many of the advantages of DEET without the same disadvantages, they recognize that the compound has not been tested thoroughly enough over the long term.

Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health

Live Kindly: The Ultimate Vegan Cheese Taste Test

“So, why choose vegan cheese versus dairy? Well, unfortunately, cheese has a huge negative impact on the planet, according to the Environmental Working Group,” Suresh continues. “It actually is number three in greenhouse gas emissions, behind beef and lamb production.”

PFAS

New York Times: Firefighters Battle an Unseen Hazard: Their Gear Could Be Toxic

“There’s a need to drive PFAS out of everyday products, like food and cosmetics, textiles, carpets,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit group that works on environmental health. “Firefighters are disproportionately exposed, on top of all that.”

PFAS in Water

Bloomberg Law: EPA Sued Over Conclusions About Drinking Water Chemical’s Risks

The Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, and Environmental Working Group asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to hear their case against the final conclusions the Environmental Protection Agency published Jan. 8.

The Guardian: Do you drink bottled water? Read this

According to The Environmental Working Group, as of January 2021, 2,337 locations in 49 states are known to have PFAS contamination in their water systems. Last autumn, Consumer Reports also found concerning levels of PFAS in popular bottled water brands, including Nestlé products from the Perrier and Poland Spring lines, and canned carbonated waters like Bubly and LaCroix, among others.

Dayton Daily News: ‘Forever chemicals’ found in 24 drinking water systems in region

The Ohio and U.S. EPA have not set legal limits for PFAS. But the federal agency is reviewing a proposal to regulate the chemicals in drinking water and should decide this month if it will move forward, a spokesperson said. It’s not clear at this time what a new level might be, but scientists and organizations such as the nonprofit Environmental Working Group say it should be in the teens or single digits.

The State (Columbia, S.C.): Drinking water threatened by harmful chemicals – and SC needs help, senators told

One study by the Environmental Working Group, a national organization, estimates that more than 200 million people could have PFAS in their drinking water. 

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Best Products: 25 Foods You’re Better Off Avoiding, According to Registered Dietitians

Strawberries top the list of the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen foods that are heavily contaminated with pesticides when conventionally farmed. The problem with that—aside from the environmental concerns—is that those pesticides can actually negatively impact your health, too.

Eco Warrior Princess: What Are the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen List of Foods?

Each year, the U.S. Environmental Working Group releases an updated report regarding the pesticide contamination found on the 47 most popular fruits and vegetables being sold in the market.

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

Green Living Mag: Coral Reef-Safe Sunscreens to Consider Amid Hawaii’s Recent Ban

The Blue Lizard Sunscreen reef-safe formula boasts one of the highest safety ratings from the EWG, and is composed of both zinc oxide and titanium oxide—among a number of other active ingredients. 

Tap Water Database

Cheapism: The Dirtiest (and Cleanest) Big Cities in America

Chicago residents are breathing increasingly unhealthy air largely because of a combination of hotter days (caused by climate change) and vehicle emissions, the association said in 2019. Another report the same year by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group found some 20 contaminants in the city's water that were above recommended health guidelines between 2012 and 2017.

 

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