EWG news roundup (7/16): Mapping PFAS industrial dischargers, EWG partners with Amazon to highlight clean cosmetics and more

This week, EWG released a new analysis that found a twelvefold increase in the number of suspected industrial manufacturers and users of toxic “forever chemicals” that may be releasing PFAS into the environment, including drinking water sources.

“It’s very troubling that so many companies can and may be dumping their PFAS waste into the air and water, given everything we know about the serious health impacts of PFAS, even at very low levels,” said David Andrews, Ph.D., a senior scientist at EWG. “Federal and public knowledge of where PFAS are being used and released into the environment is woefully inadequate to protect health.”

Amazon announced this week that it would partner with EWG to feature cosmetics and other items that have earned the EWG VERIFIED™ mark through the company’s Climate Pledge Friendly initiative. Through this initiative, Amazon makes it easy for customers to find and purchase more sustainable products.

On Wednesday, Johnson & Johnson announced a voluntary recall of 14 sunscreen sprays that were found to contain benzene, a widely used industrial chemical that is a known carcinogen.

“For 15 years, EWG has warned consumers about the health hazards linked to harmful ingredients that may be used in sunscreens,” said Carla Burns, EWG’s senior director of cosmetic science. “In that time, we’ve seen a substantial rise in sunscreen sprays. More than a quarter of the sunscreens reviewed in the 2021 sunscreens guide are sprays.”

EWG highlighted Duke Energy’s scheme with lawmakers in North Carolina to approve rate hikes on their captive customers. All this while the company’s board of directors approved an increase in its quarterly cash dividend for shareholders.

EWG applauded the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement of a new stewardship program that would seek the removal from the marketplace of certain products containing PFAS chemicals.

And finally, EWG broke down a new study that found many pesticides are harming soil invertebrates and spoke with University of Iowa Associate Professor Silvia Secchi about what it will take to get farmers to comply with “conservation compliance” requirements.

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

Children’s health

POPSUGAR: Finally, A Baby-Safe Mineral Sunscreen I'm Even Excited to Slather On

The Environmental Working Group's list of safe sunscreen options for babies and kids is dominated by sunscreens with active mineral ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, so finding a quality mineral sunscreen has been a priority in my search. While a large number of studies haven't been able to find evidence that zinc-oxide and titanium-dioxide nanoparticles can penetrate the skin in significant amounts, there also isn't enough research to understand how they could harm cells and organs if they do make it into our bodies. Reprinted by MSN

EWG VERIFIED™ joins Amazon Climate Pledge Friendly

Amazon: Climate Pledge Friendly makes it easier to shop more sustainably

“We are delighted that Amazon has selected the EWG Verified mark to include in its effort to feature more sustainable products as a way to protect our climate,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “When Amazon shoppers see the Climate Pledge Friendly badge on a product that has earned the EWG Verified mark, they will immediately know that, in addition to meeting our industry-leading benchmarks for health, it is also one of the products identified as more sustainable on Amazon.”

Cosmetics & Toiletries: Amazon Adds EWG Verified Label to Select Product Listings

As part of its Climate Pledge Friendly program, Amazon will feature products bearing the EWG Verified label. Products that hold one or more of the EWG certific­ations that are part of the program receive a Climate Pledge Friendly badge as well. The program currently has more than 75,000 products across categories featured as more sustainable. Reprinted by Global Cosmetic Industry.

HAPPI: EWG Verified Products Added To Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly List

“The EWG VERIFIED mark is recognized as the gold standard for health and transparency,” said Carla Burns, EWG’s senior director of cosmetic science. “EWG has long verified cosmetics and other personal care products, and recently expanded into household cleaners, baby diapers and ingredients.

HBW Insight: EWG Announces Another Reason To Become ‘EWG Verified’: Amazon.com (subscription – see PDF attached)

Cosmetic products with “EWG Verified” status are being highlighted on Amazon as offerings that help to “preserve the natural world.” Consumers can look for Amazon’s “Climate Pledge Friendly” logo on product listings and visit product pages for more information on supporting certifications.

Retail Dive: Amazon expands products sold under sustainable labeling program

With the new certifications — EWG Verified, Regenerative Organic Certified, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Safer Choice and Animal Welfare Approved — Amazon is expanding its selection of products recognized under its Climate Pledge Friendly program, which identifies approved sustainable products across grocery, household, beauty and other product categories.

Progressive Grocer: Amazon Adds Sustainability Certifications

EWG Verified, which means that the products reduce chemicals of concern and support companies committed to using safer ingredients. The mark is backed by the Environmental Working Group’s scientific expertise and years of research into chemical safety and the effects of exposure to toxic chemicals on human health. Reprinted by Chain Store Age; Specialty Food

New PFAS map finds almost 30,000 suspected industrial dischargers and EWG PFAS conference

Denver Post: PFAS “forever chemicals” may seep into Colorado’s water from 501 sites, analysis finds

An interactive map by EWG shows industry sites that are known to or are suspected of making, using, or discharging PFAS. Colorado’s 501 is more than twice the number in each of seven other Rocky Mountain states, and more than the 193 facilities that voluntarily disclosed their storage and use of PFAS chemicals in a 2020 Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment survey. Reprinted by Brush News Tribune (Fort Morgan, Colo.); Freeads World News; Greeley Tribune (Colo.); WN.com; and 1 additional outlet.

Bloomberg Law: EPA Asks Industry to Stop Making, Importing 600 PFAS (subscription)

The agency’s chemical’s chief, Michal Ilana Freedhoff, announced the request as well as plans for a regulatory testing program at a webinar hosted by the Environmental Working Group. The organization has focused on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, since 2001.

Politico: Lawmakers, Biden officials vow action on PFAS

At an inaugural conference pegged to issues around per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, EPA Administrator Michael Regan vowed to "follow the science" on the chemicals and offer a strong federal partner to local governments. Hosted by the Environmental Working Group, the event served as a testament to how much attention the chemicals have garnered from policymakers. Reprinted by Greenwire

State Impact: PFAS report identifies hundreds of Pa. manufacturing sites

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group compiled the recent report, which maps potential pollution sites. In Pennsylvania, those include businesses such as paper mills and metal shops as well as sewage treatment plants and dump sites. Reprinted by WESA (Pittsburgh, Penn.).

Inside EPA: EWG Analysis Estimates Nearly 30,000 Potential Industrial PFAS Dischargers (subscription)

A new analysis of government data conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) projects that nearly 30,000 industrial sites may be using, making or releasing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) -- a number much larger than previously identified estimates

WSHU Public Radio (Fairfield, Conn.): Report: Use Of PFAS Chemicals Linked To Health Problems Is Widespread

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), an advocacy organization, released a report on Wednesday revealing that more than 40,000 industrial and municipal sites are known to use PFAS across the country. It’s part of a push to clean up the so-called forever chemicals. Those are chemicals that are linked to cancer and serious health problems. They have been found in groundwater on Long Island.

Johnson & Johnson recalls sunscreen sprays

Houston Chronicle (Texas): Johnson & Johnson issues voluntary recall on popular sunscreens

The Environmental Working Group releases a safety guide for sunscreens each year, detailing which products are potentially dangerous based on their ingredient list.

Prevention: Johnson & Johnson Recalls Tons of Neutrogena Sunscreens Over Contamination Concerns

If you’re worried about any of the sunscreens you own, you can scope out consumer watchdog websites like the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which has a detailed breakdown of the ingredients and potentially harmful chemicals in a massive array of beauty products. Reprinted by MSN and Yahoo.

Yahoo!: Johnson & Johnson recalls 5 aerosol sunscreens. Experts urge caution when using spray sunblock.

On its website, the Environmental Working Group — a nonprofit that researches contaminants in consumer products — warns against them. "Sunscreen sprays pose an inhalation risk and may not coat the skin enough to ensure proper protection," the organization writes, adding that the FDA has "proposed that all spray .... be tested to ensure they cannot be inhaled deep into the lungs."

Black farmers and Covid-19 relief payments

Green Entrepreneur: 3 Women Who Are Trailblazing Social Equity Programs

In 2020, 98% of COVID-19 emergency funding by the federal government went to white farmers. The non-profit, Environmental Working Group calculated that the average white farmer received $3,398, whereas the average Black farmer received $422.

California PFAS bills

Crescenta Valley Weekly: News from Sacramento – Viewpoint

Though I certainly follow environmental policy pretty closely even I was stunned to learn of the prevalence of toxic PFAS chemicals in juvenile products, a fact that was brought to me by the environmental research and advocacy nonprofit the Environmental Working Group. In response, I put forward AB 652, a measure sponsored by the Environmental Working Group that would prohibit the sale of many juvenile products made with intentionally added PFAS chemicals.

Cleaning products

Global Citizen: 5 Everyday Chemicals Harming Your Health & the Planet — and How to Avoid Them

Groups like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) have useful resources to help with this and various community groups around the world are organizing for stronger health and environmental standards.

Climate change

Food & Environment Reporting Network: USDA wants to make farms climate-friendly. Will it work?

“More wind, more solar [on farms], that’s going to [have] a really big impact on climate change, rather than trying to sequester carbon in the soil,” says Anne Weir Schechinger, an analyst at the Environmental Working Group (EWG). “The science is not quite there yet on how much those conservation practices can actually sequester.” Reprinted by American Prospect

Skin Deep® cosmetics database

Real Simple: 5 Nontoxic Beauty Brands That Won't Break The Bank

Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group and other eco-friendly surveyors have dug deep into many beauty brands' ingredients lists—to help us decipher which ones really measure up to those "clean" beauty claims. This list of recommendations will help you upgrade your self-care stock to human-friendly and plastic-free alternatives you can actually afford. Reprinted by MSN

Well+Good: A Product Formulator’s ‘1 Percent Rule’ Will Keep You From Buying Skin Care That Doesn’t Work

“The first ingredient is the one that has the most amount in the product, whereas the last one listed has the least," Paul Pestano, senior database analyst at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization that provides information and research on ingredients in its Skin Deep database, previously told Well+Good.

Cover crops report

Storm Lake Times (Iowa): Although growing, cover crops still sparse in BV

“Scientists have known since the Dust Bowl how valuable cover crops are for protecting water, soil and air quality,” said Soren Rundquist, EWG’s director of spatial analysis and lead author of the report. “Cover crops can also alleviate some of the effects of severe storms associated with the accelerating climate crisis. But farmers just aren’t planting them on enough acres to drive these benefits in any meaningful way.”

Farm subsidies

Washington Latest (D.C.): Revealed: the true extent of America’s food monopolies, and who pays the price

Farmers received $424.4bn in subsidies between 1995 and 2020, of which 49% were for just three crops: corn, wheat and soybeans, according to the Environmental Working Group. Corn subsidies are the largest by a long way – $116.6bn – accounting for 27% of the total. Very little corn grown in the US is eaten these days. Instead, more than 99% goes into animal feed, additives like corn syrup used in sugary junk food and, increasingly, ethanol, which produces toxic air pollutants when burned with gasoline.

Catch News: Healthy soil is the real key to feeding the world

Only about 1 percent of Americans are farmers today. Yet most of the world’s farmers work the land to feed themselves and their families. So while conventional industrialized agriculture feeds the developed world, most of the world’s farmers work small family farms. A 2016 Environmental Working Group report found that almost 90 percent of U.S. agricultural exports went to developed countries with few hungry people.

Food additives

Eat This, Not That!: The Worst Guilty Pleasure Foods on the Planet

Banned in the United Kingdom and Canada, potassium bromate is still lurking in some U.S. foods such as pizza, wraps, rolls, breadcrumbs, and bagel chips, according to a 2015 analysis by the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG). The issue? A 1982 study found the dough strengthener induced tumors in rats and led the EPA to conclude bromate is a "probable human carcinogen." Reprinted by MSN

Formaldehyde in hair products

The Daily Beast: Does This OGX Shampoo Ingredient Really Make Your Hair Fall Out?

Carla Burns is the senior director of cosmetic science for the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit group that researches and advocates for consumer protection against harmful toxins. She described DMDM hydantoin as an “irritant.” “Since it is a formaldehyde donor, [DMDH hydantoin] can give off different concentrations of formaldehyde over time,” Burns said. Reprinted byMSN; Yahoo

Safety+Health Magazine: Salon workers, environmental groups petition FDA to ban formaldehyde in hair products, treatments

Then, blow dryers and hair-straightening irons are used, causing the release of formaldehyde gas. WVE and the Environmental Working Group contend FDA has been aware of the hazards since at least 2008 but has failed to act.

Glyphosate on oats

Queensland Country Life (Au.): Glyphosate sparring continues as diverging reports released

Meanwhile lobby groups, such as the US-based Environmental Working Group continue to pressure Bayer, a major producer of glyphosate, to drop the product. The group said Bayer was under pressure due to the vast number of lawsuits it faced in the US with people suing claiming glyphosate caused their cancer, along with the product being banned in a number of European nations. Reprinted byNorth Queensland Register (Au.); Farm Online (Au.); The Land (Au.); Stock & Land (Au.); Stock Journal (Au.)

Insect repellent

Market Watch: I tested 4 gadgets that promise to repel mosquitos so you can sit outside and not get bitten. This $49 device worked best.

The fogger requires a small propane tank (14.1oz or 16.4oz) and Cutter, Black Flag, or Repel insecticide. (The Environmental Working Group offers a great guide on which insecticides it recommends as safe.) Treating the area takes just a few minutes, and people can enter the area just 5 minutes after fogging. Reprinted byMSN; Quality Tech News


E&E News: Face masks emerge as flashpoint in PFAS debate (subscription)

Melanie Benesh, a legislative attorney with the Environmental Working Group, made similar comments. "It's a new iteration of an old argument," she said. "Many chemical companies use CERCLA substances every day. The regulations that we're talking about are not regulating the uses of these chemicals in products."

Daily Hampshire Gazette (Ma.): Lawmakers urge action on ‘forever chemicals’

Manufacturers have used PFAS — per- and polyfluoralkyls — since the 1940s to make products stick-proof, waterproof and stain-proof. But the chemicals are linked to various forms of cancer, reproductive effects, immunotoxicity, colitis and numerous other adverse health effects. According to the national activist and research organization Environmental Working Group, over 98% of Americans have PFAS in their blood. Reprinted by Greenfield Recorder (Ma.)

PFAS in cosmetics

Insider: How to find makeup that doesn't contain cancer-linked 'forever chemicals'

The Environmental Working Group also has an online Skin Deep Guide which consumers can use to search thousands of makeup products to see what chemicals they contain.

KPFA 94.1 (Santa Cruz, Cali.): Terra Verde – Toxic Cosmetics

Terra Verde host and Earth Island Journal Managing Editor Zoe Loftus-Farren discusses the major regulatory gaps surrounding the cosmetics industry and efforts to close those gaps with Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney with the Environmental Working Group, Ami Zota, an associate professor at the George Washington University Milken School of Public Health, and Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy with the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners’ Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

PFAS in water

The Guardian: EPA considers placing limits on ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water

“With over 1,000 PFAS chemicals approved for use in the United States, a chemical-by-chemical approach to setting drinking water limits would likely take many lifetimes,” said David Andrews, a senior scientist with Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by Business Fast; Democratic Underground; Yahoo

The Hill: Equilibrium/ Sustainability — The gentler side of Shark Week

There are 2,337 nationwide sites contaminated with PFAS, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Many of them are near drinking water systems that serve thousands of people and some of them in schools. (There's an interactive map here.) In communities with PFAS contamination there are often clusters of kidney cancers and reproductive, immunological and developmental issues. Reprinted by PressFrom

Ohio Capital Journal: Vote expected soon on expanding regulation on toxic chemicals in drinking water

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that specializes in research and advocacy work around agriculture, pollutants, and corporate accountability, has found PFAS at 703 military sites around the U.S. and estimates that more than 200 million Americans are drinking water contaminated with the chemicals. Reprinted by Ohio Patch; Florida Phoenix; Iowa Capital Dispatch;Louisiana Illuminator; Michigan Advance; Pennsylvania Capital-Star; Progressive Pulse; Virginia Mercury and 7 additional outlets

Seafood guide

Eat This, Not That!: One Major Side Effect of Eating Too Much Canned Tuna, Says Science

The EWG believes including canned light tuna on the "best choices" "lower-in-mercury" category is wrong since skipjack "is a significant source of mercury in women's diets," it says. Based on a food questionnaire, tuna contributed almost 40% of the mercury ingested by participants in the Mercury Policy Project study, the EWG says. Reprinted by Bake Mag; Moring Ag Clips; MSN; Yahoo

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Experience Life: How to Cook With Summer Berries

Buy organic whenever you can. Conventionally grown strawberries top the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Dirty Dozen list and are contaminated with some eight different pesticides on average. Blueberries and raspberries appear farther down EWG’s expanded list of produce that carries pesticide residue.

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

Insider: The 7 best face sunscreens of 2021, according to dermatologists

This could mean paying closer attention to the ingredient lists, as Corinaldesi recommends, or using outside, independent research, such as from The EWG, to vet products. The final decision should come down to a product that becomes a part of your daily routine.

Everyday Health: 6 Steps for Choosing a Clean and Safe Sunscreen

The EWG found more than 250 recreational and 160 daily use sunscreens that meet their standards, so there are plenty of safe and effective options out there. Shoppers on the go can download EWG’s free Healthy Living app to get ratings and safety information on sunscreens and other personal care products.

Hello Giggles: How to Protect Tattoos From The Sun Year-Round

This Eucerin Daily Hydration Body Cream with SPF 30 is a pick from the Environmental Working Group's 2021 sunscreen guide. It provides both UVA and UVB protection and works as a moisturizer to keep skin hydrated and shielded from the sun all at once. Make sure to reapply sunscreen to your tattoos every two hours, as you would for the rest of your face and body.

KTAR (Phoenix, Ariz.): A PSA on SPF: Tips on getting the most protection from sunscreen

The number isn’t directly related to duration of solar exposure but rather the amount or intensity. A higher SPF doesn’t mean you can be out longer without reapplying, either. The Environmental Working Group recommends SPF 30 to 50, adding that any number higher than that is “misleading.” Reprinted by KOLD (Tucson, Ariz.); Tucson Local Media (Ariz.)

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