EWG news roundup (8/27): ‘Forever chemicals’ taint military sites across the nation, FDA downplays PFAS risks in food and more

This week EWG released an updated analysis that shows the soil, groundwater and surface water of 679 military installations across the U.S. are contaminated, or suspected to be contaminated, with the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.

“Toxic PFAS are in the blood of nearly every American,” said Jared Hayes, EWG policy analyst. “Every time we test for PFAS, these forever chemicals are detected. I expect we’ll soon be confirming more military sites polluted with PFAS.” 

EWG applauded the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, which includes $549 million in dedicated funding for PFAS cleanup at Defense Department installations.

On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration released results of testing for the presence of PFAS in food. Because of the FDA’s test methodology, the results once again downplay the risks the chemicals pose to consumers, with findings that ignore potential exposures.

“PFAS are incredibly toxic at low concentrations, and these chemicals are ubiquitous in our environment and in our bodies,” said EWG Senior Scientist David Andrews, Ph.D. “Food is suspected of being a major source of exposure to PFAS. We urgently need more comprehensive testing of our food supply, with lower detection limits and the ability to identify all PFAS compounds.”

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

Children’s health

BuzzFeed: 37 Products Every New Parent Should Probably Own

Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+, which is top-rated by EWG, so you can have peace of mind knowing that its non-toxic, paraben/PABA free, vegan and reef-friendly — and will work darn well to protect the environment and your baby (6 months+).

Eat This, Not That!: This Chemical Commonly Found on Produce Has Just Been Outlawed for Harming Children

As the consumer advocacy organization, Environmental Working Group (EWG), shared in a statement they provided to Eat This, Not That!: "Even in small amounts, exposure to chlorpyrifos during pregnancy and early life harms the developing brain, including reduced IQ, delayed development of motor and sensory functions, and social and behavioral dysfunction."

EPA ban of chlorpyrifos

Boomer Survive and Thrive Guide: EPA bans use of chlorpyrifos on food

“We strongly commend the Biden administration for taking this dangerous bug killer off the market,” said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group.

National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2022

Inside EPA: House Defense Panel Eyes Huge Boost To Military’s PFAS Cleanup Budget

Environmental Working Group (EWG), citing the earmarked funding boost for PFAS in the chair’s version of the bill, welcomes the move in a press release the group issued Aug. 25. “EWG applauds Chairman Smith for including more than half a billion dollars in dedicated funding for PFAS cleanup at military sites around the country in the NDAA for FY2022,” EWG Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber says in the release.

Algae blooms

Nexstar Media Wire: Toxic algae blooms now prime suspect in mysterious deaths of California family

“It’s pretty rare for these algae toxins to actually kill people, but it can happen,” said Anne Schechinger, a senior analyst with Environmental Working Group. “And every year, many dogs and livestocks and other animals, wildlife, geese and birds, are killed in the United States because of exposure to these toxins from algae blooms.”

Beauty products for Black women

Women’s Wear Daily: Fashion Fair Is Back With Cleaner Ingredients, Actress KiKi Layne as the Face

Beauty products targeted toward women of color have contained more potentially hazardous ingredients, according to research released by the Environmental Working Group in 2016. Their analysis showed one in 12 products marketed to Black women were ranked highly hazardous according to their Skin Deep database.

California Assembly Bill 100

Colorado Boulevard (Pasadena, Calif.): Schools, Health and Community Groups Call for Legislation to Reduce Lead in Drinking Water

During the web conference, members of five groups, CALPIRG (an advocate for the public interest), Clean Water Action, the Environmental Working Group, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty, called on the State Senate to pass legislation to reduce lead exposure in our drinking water.

Daily Breeze (Hermosa Beach, Calif.): Coalition calls for California to require only near-lead-free faucets for sale

She joined Holden and members of CALPIRG, Clean Water Action, the Environmental Working Group and the Western Center on Law and Poverty during Thursday’s online news conference. The fight for lead remediation in California is far from new to Holden and his peers.

Cleaning products

The Washington Post: How to find ‘green’ cleaning products that get the job done

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group has a label decoder that explains technical terms and cleaning ingredients.

Climate change

Albuquerque Journal: We must act now to manage the looming crisis of climate change

A growing list of prominent organizations are calling for a reduction in all animal product consumption…World Resources Institute, Earth Day Network, Environmental Working Group, Food and Water Watch…

Consumer guides

Global Citizen: 6 Simple Ways You Can Help Heal Nature

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group has created dozens of consumer guides for helping people find safe alternatives for everything from bug spray to face cream to cleaning supplies.

Skin Deep® cosmetics database

TreeHugger: The 8 Best Non-Toxic Nail Polish Brands of 2021

According to Carla Burns, Senior Healthy Living Science Analyst at the Environmental Working Group, certain chemicals pose a respiratory threat as they are inhaled during the application process, while others are absorbed through the nail beds into the body.

The Picky Eater: Top 10 Best Vegan Shampoo Brands

When looking for a safe shampoo check out the EWG’s Skin Deep database. Here you can look up a variety of products to see their safety score.

Cosmetics regulation

The List: Why You Need To Be A Conscious Shopper When It Comes To Beauty Products

"The E.U. follows the precautionary principle, which means that they are not going to let a chemical onto the market until they have received a certain amount of data that it's safe," says legislative attorney Melanie Benesh, who works for the Environmental Working Group. "In the U.S. it's the reverse — so we have more of a philosophy that we assume something is safe until proven otherwise. So in some ways, we're the Guinea pigs."

MindBodyGreen: I'm A Regulatory Legal Expert & This How You Can Be A Conscious Beauty Shopper

See, as legislative attorney Melanie Benesh for the Environmental Working Group explains in a recent episode of Clean Beauty School, the FDA has very limited power over the cosmetics industry as it stands now. And this means consumers are left to their own research to decide what they would like to use in their topicals.

EWG VERIFIED™: Cosmetics

Buzzfeed: 25 Of The Best Places To Buy Cheap Beauty Products Online You'll Order From All The Time

In addition to the beauty basics like mascara, tinted moisturizer. and colorful eyeshadow, they also have a ton of high-quality skincare that's nontoxic and EWG verified.

Beauty Packaging: Striving for Next-Level ‘Clean & Green’ Beauty

PakLab has a long history of developing formulas for pioneering brands in clean beauty, such as Beautycounter, and the first EWG Verified products from Environmental Working Group


Romper: 13 Environmentally Conscious Diaper Brands

The only Environmental Working Group (EWG) verified diaper on the market, Healthy Nest diapers are super soft, and every part that touches the baby’s body is made from plant-based materials.

Healthy Living App

FreshWater: Little Spark Refill Shop ignites sustainable living habits, expansion to two new locations

All products sold in the shop pass the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine’s standards of a “clean product” and Regula uses EWG’s Healthy Living App to verify that all products sold in the store are free of harsh chemicals, irritants, and unnatural fragrance.

Nitrate water pollution

Investigate Midwest: Fertilizer runoff disproportionately harms low-income communities’ drinking water. Treatment is expensive.

Fairmont is far from unique. A study by the Environmental Working Group published on June 23 found that nitrate pollution in tap water is more likely in lower-income communities. In Minnesota, 73% of water utilities with elevated nitrate were in areas that fell below the average state income.


The Chalkboard Mag: The At-Home Well-Being Concern You Shouldn’t Neglect (I Learned The Hard Way)

According to the Environmental Working Group, PBDEs are a known nervous system toxin. PBDEs are shed from TVs and other electronics and accumulate in that ever pervasive media center dust.


Top Class Actions: A Guide to PFOS PFOA Toxic Forever Chemicals

Evidence in the form of internal documents of industrial manufacturer 3M shows both PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid) and PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) were known to be dangerous chemicals for at least 40 years, according to reporting by the activist group Environmental Working Group.

PFAS compounds in the Chesapeake Bay

Baltimore Sun: EPA gets back in the business of protecting children and the environment | COMMENTARY

Consider, for example, the proliferation of PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances also known as “forever chemicals” in groundwater. A recent report by the Environmental Working Group found high levels of these toxics at nine military installations located around the Chesapeake Bay including Aberdeen Proving Ground and Martin State Airport.

PFAS in water

The American Independent: GOP congresswoman votes against limiting hazardous chemicals following donations

According to data collected by the Environmental Working Group, several communities in California's 39th Congressional District, which Kim represents, were found to have PFAS in their water supply, including the cities of Yorba Linda, Fullerton, Buena Park, and La Habra Heights.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

c|net: Is organic food really better for you? The hidden truths about your fruit and veggies

Every year, the Environmental Working Group, a third-party organization that conducts annual tests on a variety of foods for pesticide residue levels, reports which have the most residue (the Dirty Dozen list) and the least (the Clean Fifteen).  

The Daily (University of Washington): Farm-to-table: Support farms, support the environment The Environmental Working Group compiles an annual list of the “Dirty Dozen,” crops with the highest pesticide contamination — and apples are always near the top.

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