EWG News and Analysis
The latest from EWG’s staff of experts >>
EWG News Roundup (2/12): Black-Owned-Brand Filter Added to Skin Deep® Database, EWG Calls on EPA To Ban Brain-Damaging Pesticide and More
“It is long past time for better diversity and inclusivity in the personal care products market, particularly in clean beauty,” said Nneka Leiba, EWG’s vice president of Healthy Living Science. “One important way to support Black-owned businesses, especially those offering safer products to minority populations, is to buy their products.”
On Tuesday, the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee voted to confirm Michael Regan as the next administrator of the EPA. The full Senate will vote in coming days on Regan’s nomination to head the agency.
“We applaud the committee for its action today and urge the full Senate to vote quickly to approve Regan’s nomination,” said EWG Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber. “The damage done to the agency and its mission during the past four years will be one of the biggest challenges facing the Biden administration, which is why it is so important Regan is sworn in and can get to work immediately.”
On Monday, a number of senators reintroduced the Justice for Black Farmers Act, the most ambitious legislative proposal ever developed to address historic and ongoing discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture against Black farmers.
Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, two members of the House Agriculture Committee attempted to derail a provision in the budget reconciliation bill that would eliminate all federal farm debt held by Black farmers.
And finally, EWG highlighted the Pentagon’s refusal to comply with state drinking water standards for toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS and explored whether Land O’Lakes’ new agricultural carbon credits market will actually help combat the climate crisis.
Here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.
We combined our existing knowledge and experience, online research, and information from the Environmental Working Group to choose 10 pregnancy-safe shampoos for a variety of hair types.
Heavy Metals in Baby Foods
This can be prohibitively expensive, so parents should focus on buying organic versions of the fruits and vegetables on the Environmental Working Group’s “dirty dozen” list.
Scott Farber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, said that "this is yet another example of the Food and Drug Administration's failure to protect our families from the chemicals and contaminants in food."
Yet, according to the Environmental Working Group, there is only one FDA guideline for baby food, which sets a limitation on arsenic levels in infant rice cereal (even this limit, many experts consider to be too high to protect against adverse effects). Otherwise, the FDA doesn’t have any standards on baby food and toxic metals.
The Justice for Black Farmers Act
The National Black Farmers Association and the Environmental Working Group issued a joint statement applauding the legislation. “By providing new oversight and accountability within the USDA, the Justice for Black Farmers Act will help address the roots of the USDA’s racist history,” the statement said in part.
Biden’s Agricultural Policy
The Environmental Working Group lauded the vote by the committee, in a statement on Tuesday. "Michael Regan's performance before the committee shows he will bring the experience and commitment to environmental and public health protection that is required to lead the EPA," EWG Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber said.
Biden’s PFAS Policy
Environmental groups also welcomed the decision. Olga Naidenko, vice president of science investigations for the Environmental Working Group, backed EPA's "renewed focus" on the work of its career experts.
"There really are very few people who bring the deep understanding of chemical safety law and chemistry that Michal Freedhoff does," said Scott Faber, who leads the Environmental Working Group's government affairs efforts.
Giving a range for the PFBS safe daily dose “does not serve the interest of communities. It gives too much discretion to cook the books and calculate less protective safety thresholds,” says Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney for the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy group.
Citing data collected by the Environmental Working Group, Biden's plan says, “it is estimated that up to 110 million American's drinking water could be contaminated with PFAS.”
It's wise to check labels on cleaning products for what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calls signal words. Danger indicates the most harmful formulas, followed by warning and caution. To learn about its Safer Choice seal, see the EPA's website. For other terminology, check out the Environmental Working Group's Label Decoder.
As reported by the Environmental Working Group, disinfectants that contain ammonium compounds have been linked to asthma and fertility issues; soaps with triclosan may affect thyroid function and cleaners made from ammonia or chlorine bleach are harmful to the environment and air you breathe.
From babies to grown adults, wet wipes are used on skin, tables, and pretty much every possible surface. They may be convenient, but the Environmental Working Group points out that the wipes can contain a cocktail of chemicals. Some contain a common preservative called phenoxyethanol that has been linked to eczema and respiratory health problems.
Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database
This plant-based product is so clean and safe that it actually met the impressively high standards of the Environmental Working Group.
"'Clean beauty' is a much better term for the consumer as the products are non-toxic and still effective,” says King. "'Non-toxic' means free from undesirable ingredients listed by the Environmental Working Group.
"Reduce your toxin burden as much as possible, especially the endocrine disrupters such as BPA, parabens, and phthalates," Kang suggests. "Don't forget these can be hidden in your cosmetics as well. The Environmental Working Group has a clean list for almost everything (e.g., cleaning products, cosmetics, food)."
The formula also resists clumping and flaking, which is equally important when sporting larger-than-life lashes. It earns top marks from the Environmental Working Group for ingredient safety.
If you’ve been on the lookout for a non-toxic, clean, vegan and cruelty-free brand, take a look at Yours skincare. Rigorously tested for safety and efficacy, Yours products have been rated safe by EWG and are environmentally sustainable.
Environmental Justice Advocacy
The American Opportunity Accounts Act is endorsed by the Black Millennial Convention, Center for Law and Social Policy… Environmental Working Group…
EWG VERIFIED™: Cosmetics
Our whole line is about making your life easier with good-for-you products—we’re EWG verified!—that look good, smell good and actually work. It’s about you and what makes you feel free!
Food and Farmworkers
Even if Black farmers grew high-yielding crops, the USDA might not update program yields correctly, says Ken Cook, cofounder and president of the Environmental Working Group.
Last month, the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization, called on the EPA to levy civil and criminal fines of more than $430 million against Solvay, saying the documents indicated that Solvay had for several years failed to notify the agency about company studies showing health hazards of the PFAS, as required under federal law.
The alarming findings raise concerning questions, said David Andrews, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group. “What are these unknown PFAS?” Andrews said. “Why were the levels higher in the firefighters’ gear lockers and apparatus bays? The turnout gear used by firefighters may be a more important source of PFAS exposure for firefighters than previously known.”
The Environmental Working Group applauds Minnesota’s effort to develop a comprehensive blueprint for addressing PFAS, but to protect the environment and public health, the state’s efforts to monitor, remediate and prevent PFAS contamination must go further and faster.”
A recent report by the Environmental Working Group cites the latest statistics on PFAS’ reach into everyday American life — drinking water systems serving an estimated 19 million people, in at least 610 locations across 43 states are known to be contaminated with one or more of the thousands of known PFAS compounds.
PFAS in Water
In an interview, Jamie Konopacky, Midwest director for the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, said a core strength of Minnesota's plan is that it works on both the front and back ends of the pollution.
Researchers from the Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University found last year that at least 610 drinking water sources in 43 states were contaminated with potentially unsafe levels of PFAS, estimating that more than 19 million people may be exposed nationwide.
Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™
I know this can be an added expense for folks so if you’re on a budget, start with the EWG’s Dirty Dozen™, and buying humanely raised, no-hormone or antibiotic animal products.
What to eat: Organic fruits and vegetables when possible (especially the Dirty Dozen as defined by the Environmental Working Group ewg.org), grass fed meats, organic poultry, pasture-raised eggs, wild-caught, omega 3 rich fish like wild Alaskan salmon and wild Pacific halibut, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, legumes, and whole grains.
Check the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists to see which foods are most likely to be contaminated, and choose organic whenever possible.
Tap Water Database
You can also try entering your zip code on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Tap Water Database—this will give you information on the legal limits of various chemicals and where your local supply may exceed either those, or EWG’s science-based recommended limits.
Sipping enough water every day is essential to overall health, but it is important to make sure the water you drink is clean and safe. Find out what contaminants are in your tap water (you can check the EWG’s Tap Water Database).