EWG news roundup (7/30): Historic bipartisan infrastructure deal includes billions to clean up ‘forever chemicals,’ California begins lead testing in child care facilities and more

This week, EWG applauded a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators for their $550 billion infrastructure deal that includes billions of dollars to clean up the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.

“No one should have to worry about the safety of their water,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs. “The funding proposed in the bipartisan infrastructure bill will provide an important down payment on what’s needed to filter PFAS out of our drinking water.”

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday released preliminary results from its industrial toxics release reporting program. The results show that the chemical industry is taking advantage of a Trump-era loophole that is likely allowing companies to underreport industrial discharges of PFAS chemicals.

According to a new report by the Defense Department’s inspector general, DOD has responded too slowly to the threats to military service members posed by PFAS .

On Monday, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) introduced the Food Chemical Reassessment Act of 2021, which, if passed, would require the Food and Drug Administration to meaningfully review the safety of food chemicals. EWG broke down how this legislation would reduce certain health risks in U.S. food.

And finally, this week regulators in California launched their most health-protective program to date testing drinking water for lead in licensed child care facilities throughout the state, issuing new guidelines that also require significant reductions in lead detected.

“Lead is a neurotoxin that can permanently damage young children’s nervous systems,” said Susan Little, EWG’s senior advocate of government affairs in California. “Even small amounts of lead can lower a child’s intelligence, cause behavior and learning problems, slow growth and harm hearing. Lead doesn’t belong in the drinking water children use in child care centers, or anywhere.” 

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

Department of Defense Inspector General report for PFAS

Associated Press: Audit: Military personnel unprotected from toxic chemicals

“Some of highest detections anywhere in the world been found in groundwater" at military installations, said Scott Faber, the Environmental Working Group's senior vice president for government affairs. That means personnel “were drinking extraordinarily polluted water for much longer than they should have been, in violation of the department's own policies.”

E&E News: ‘Bombshell’ report: DOD failed to protect troops from PFAS

The report represents the first time the department’s inspector general has acknowledged that DOD failed to act when it knew the risks of contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, said Scott Faber, the Environmental Working Group’s senior vice president for government affairs. "This is a bombshell," Faber said.

Inside EPA: DOD Inspector General Finds Numerous Flaws In Military’s PFAS Response
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) points to these findings in a July 27 press release, with Scott Faber, the group’s senior vice president for government affairs, saying “DOD understood the health risks posed by toxic PFAS for decades but failed to act to protect service members.”

MLive (Mich.): Pentagon failing to study firefighter PFAS exposure, says internal audit

“This report should alarm our service members and their families,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, which is lobbying for strong PFAS regulations in Congress. “DoD understood the health risks posed by toxic PFAS for decades but failed to act to protect service members.

Santa Fe New Mexican: Report: Military’s flawed oversight of toxic chemicals increased risks to personnel, public

“The IG report actually only scratches the surface,” said Scott Faber, vice president of the nonprofit Environmental Working Group based in Washington, D.C. He said military leaders “failed to act in violation of their own policies.”

DOD Military PFAS Testing Disclosure Act

E&E News: Senate bill seeks to publicize military PFAS testing data (subscription)
The bill has already won praise from some environmental groups active on PFAS issues. Scott Faber, senior vice president for the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement that the legislation "will give our defense communities the information they deserve."

National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2022

E&E News: House panels take up NDAA with climate, PFAS issues in play (subscription)

The bill also includes $15 million to extend an ongoing PFAS health impact study. The military used firefighting foam with PFAS, which contaminated sites around the nation. “Our service members and military communities living near these polluted bases deserve swift action by the Defense Department. That will take deadlines and that will take greater resources," said Scott Faber, senior vice president for governmental affairs at the Environmental Working Group.

Johnson & Johnson spray sunscreen recall

The Every Girl: The FDA Is Investigating Sunscreen, So We Asked Experts What It All Means

Of those, oxybenzone is receiving the most press, as the Environmental Working Group, an organization of scientists and policy experts, cited studies that state it can be absorbed into the bloodstream and has been found in breastmilk, blood, urine, and more bodily fluids and can disrupt the endocrine system.

PFAS industrial discharges map

Chicago Sun-Times: Dangerous ‘Forever Chemicals’ Found In Drinking Water Of Thousands Of Illinois Residents

“If they’re dropped into a volcano, they will fall apart. Otherwise, they are very stable,” said David Andrews, a senior scientist with the Washington-based advocacy organization Environmental Working Group. “That’s why we need to keep testing water [and] cleaning up contamination.”

Forbes: Cleantech Company 374Water Touts PFAS-Eliminating Technology That ‘Makes Toxic Sludge Turn To Water’

So-called toxic “forever chemicals” are a concern across the United States. A recent analysis by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group found nearly 30,000 sites where man-made perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are likely used or discharged into water.

Beauty products for Black women

The Guardian: Black women’s hair products are killing us. Why isn’t more being done?

Research from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group also found that fewer than 25% of products marketed to Black women scored low in an assessment of their potentially hazardous ingredients, compared with 40% of products marketed to the general public which researchers classified as low-risk.

The Root: Is Our Haircare Endangering Us? A New Study Compounds Fears About Relaxers and Breast Cancer

As Bero reports, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group found “that fewer than 25% of products marketed to Black women scored low in an assessment of their potentially hazardous ingredients, compared with 40% of products marketed to the general public which researchers classified as low-risk.”

California public health goals for PFAS in water

SF Gate: Forever Chemicals (San Francisco, Cali.): California Unveils Health Goals For Contaminated Drinking Water

Nationwide, the drinking water of up to 80 million people is estimated to contain at least 10 nanograms per liter of the two chemicals combined, according to a study by the Environmental Working Group, an environmental group that focuses on toxic substances.

Cleaning products

Shape: The Best Sex Toy Cleaners You Can Buy

You don't want parabens in your cleaners or in your sex toys. They're chemical preservatives that can do a number on hormone function and production in both men and women, according to the Environmental Working Group. In using products that aren't paraben-free, you're potentially setting yourself up for reproductive and fertility issues in the long run.

Skin Deep® cosmetics database

Yahoo: Better At Personal Hygiene: 5 easy tips to overhaul your grooming routine

What you may not realize is that many conventional deodorants contain potentially harmful ingredients like aluminum, phthalates (endocrine disruptors that can wreak havoc on your hormones), formaldehyde and parabens. As a general tip, it’s worth looking at the Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” database, as they evaluate the toxicity of commonly used products.

Romper: Can You Bleach Your Hair While Pregnant?

The nonprofit organization Environmental Working Group offers analysis of potentially questionable ingredients for people to consider against their own comfort levels. But ultimately, the choice is yours to discuss with your own healthcare providers.

Treehugger: What Are Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)? Definition, Examples, and Environmental Concerns

According to the website of the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, an advocacy group of scientists, policy experts, lawyers, and communications and data experts, the United States as a whole is far behind Japan and countries of the European Union in banning harmful chemicals from personal products.

EWG VERIFIED™: Cosmetics

People: Celebrity Beauty Launches to Upgrade Your Vanity to the A-List

In April 2019, Michelle Pfeiffer launched fragrance collection Henry Rose with five unisex scents. Now there's a sixth: Queens & Monsters. Like its predecessors, this aroma – described as a "fresh, woody scent" – was created in partnership with the Environmental Working Group with 100% ingredient transparency.

Treehugger: Best of Green Awards 2021: Eco Family

We love the glass bottle, and that the serum is EWG Verified, meaning that it passes the strict standards set forth in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.


About Lawsuits: Calls For Roundup Bans Mount, as Canada Considers Increasing Amount of Glyphosate Residue Allowed in Foods

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental advocacy group, recently issued a report indicating it found levels of glyphosate at 17,718 parts per billion in some Harris Teeter chickpeas being marketed as “organic”, which was later confirmed by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigators in a response letter to EWG (PDF).

Courier Tribune (Liberty, Mo.): To Your Good Health: Does oatmeal contain herbicide?

A 2018 study by the Environmental Working Group found levels of glyphosate in oatmeal breakfast cereals to be between 0.5 and 1 parts per million. It is unlikely that consumption of these cereals causes any significant health risks. Nobody likes the idea of eating an herbicide, but these are very low amounts, and some experts have questioned the specificity of the detection method used.

Healthy Living App

Bustle: 6 Apps That'll Help You Find Cleaner Beauty Products

The Skin Deep website and Healthy Living App are part of the Environmental Working Group. That org's mission is to "empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. With breakthrough research and education, we drive consumer choice and civic action."

Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health

The Independent (UK): Is dairy or meat worse for the environment?

Lamb and beef cause the most greenhouse gas emissions by far, according to a life-cycle analysis carried out by the US non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG), but cheese ranks third, generating 13.5 kilos (29.7 lbs) of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent, a standard unit for measuring carbon footprint) per kilo eaten.


Bloomberg Law: Farmer Who Lost All to PFAS Inspires Law to Get Day in Court

Scott Faber, an attorney and senior vice president at the Environmental Working Group, said the combination of Maine’s two laws have put the state at the forefront of addressing “the ticking tomb bomb” of PFAS-contaminated biosolids spread on millions of acres of U.S. farmland.

Insider: 6 products in your home that may contain toxic 'forever chemicals'

Those populations have PFAS levels in their blood up to four times higher than the national average, Scott Faber, EWG senior vice president of government affairs, said at the EWG PFAS conference. "That's just wrong," Faber said. "None of us consented to be contaminated with toxic forever chemicals, and we're all paying the price in the form of higher water bills and higher.

PFAS Action Act

Charleston Gazette (W.V.): House PFAS protection bill passes with support from McKinley, opposition from Miller and Mooney

The legislation has been endorsed by the Environmental Working Group, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Consumer Reports, the Green Science Policy Institute, the League of Conservation Voters, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Food & Water Watch, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Waste Dive: For clues about future PFAS regulations, landfill operators look to Congress

"We need deadlines to ensure that the EPA will take the steps [needed] to reduce PFAS releases into our air, land and water, to filter PFAS out of tap water and to clean up legacy PFAS pollution," said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs, in a news release.

PFAS in water

NBC Chicago (Ill.): Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals' Are Found Everywhere. What You Need to Know About PFAS

Over the next two years, the EPA found significant amounts of PFAS in public water supplies in 33 U.S. states. The finding helped move PFAS up as a national priority. The Environmental Working Group, a food advocacy organization, has identified 2,3337 documented cases of PFAS contamination across 49 states, as of January 2021.

NJ Spotlight News: Will a larger Trenton-Mercer Airport choke region with flights?

Two of the most commonly found chemicals from that family, PFOA and PFOS, were found in groundwater on the base in 2018 at a level thousands of times higher than the health limits recently set by New Jersey, according to Department of Defense data published by Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that advocates for tighter controls on PFAS.

Dispatch-Argus (Davenport, Iowa): Letter: Misplaced priorities

According to testing commissioned by the Environmental Working Group, the contaminated water does not breakdown and it’s dangerously harmful to our health. More consistent findings by the EPA found higher cholesterol levels.

Fayetteville Observer (N.C.): State investigates origins of toxic foam found to have high levels of PFAS chemicals

David Andrews, a scientist with the Environmental Working Group, cites this study to say the foam serves to "concentrate the PFAS levels themselves. It's still an indication that there are some PFAS in that water," Andrews said. "I think it's very important to identify the source of that contamination and do whatever is possible to ensure that it's not subsequently leading to other contamination concerns with drinking water, or irrigation water."

Wireless radiation study

Activist Post: Drive with On-Board Wi-Fi? It’s Allowing The FBI To Spy On Your Vehicle

In fact, earlier this week, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) asked that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to update its “woefully outdated” radiation exposure guidelines.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Alt Health Works: Superfood Popular Among Surfers Eradicates Cancer Cells While Reducing Blood Sugar and Cholesterol in Overweight Adults

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries (in that order) are the three most popular types in the U.S., but they’re almost never organic and are often heavily sprayed with chemicals, including strawberries which ranked #1 on the 2018 ‘Dirty Dozen’ list by the Environmental Working Group.

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. Opt for organic when buying these foods whenever possible.

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

InStyle: I've Tried Hundreds of Mineral Sunscreens, and This Under-$20 Option Is One of the Best

Enter C'est Moi's fabulously hydrating sunscreen, an SPF 30 drugstore option that I first tried three years ago and repurchase to this day. The brand is fully EWG-approved, and its formulas are cruelty-, sulfate-, paraben-, phthalate-, and fragrance-free for maximum peace of mind.

Eating Well: These Are the Safest Sunscreens for Your Skin and the Environment, According to the EWG

To make it easier to stock up on safe sunscreens, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) just released their 14th Annual Sunscreen Guide. The non-profit put more than 1,300 SPF products through the paces and found that only about 25% offer enough protection—and avoid questionable ingredients—to be safe (for you and the environment) and effective.

The List: The Vegan Sunscreens You Need For The Summer

Although the product contains 10% octrocrylene, which is on the Environmental Working Group's list as an ingredient to avoid, its product listing on the Jason company website advertises that it is reef-safe and biodegradable, too. It contains certified organic ingredients and is safe for the entire family, including children.

Tap Water Database

Urban Matter (Chicago, Ill.): The Surest Way To Make Your Tap Water Healthy And Clean

The EWG does a great job in presenting all information in a very user-friendly way and you don’t have to be a scientist to grasp the facts. Furthermore, a distinction is made between contaminants that were detected at concentrations above health guidelines and all other detected contaminants below guidelines.

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