EWG news roundup (9/10): Two major bills in California head to Gov. Newsom, congressional push to protect firefighters from ‘forever chemicals’ and more

On Tuesday, lawmakers in California passed two game-changing bills.

Assembly Bill 100 would enact the strictest lead-leaching limit in the nation for drinking water faucets.

“By approving AB 100, the California Legislature has taken strong action to reduce lead in the public’s drinking water,” said Susan Little, EWG’s senior advocate for California government affairs.

“Californians want to drink lead-free water, and they want to protect their children from lead exposure. But they can’t do it if the plumbing fixtures sold in stores still leach significant amounts of lead,” she added.

The other bill, AB 1200, would ban the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS from paper, paperboard or plant-based food packaging, utensils and paper straws.

“Food is a major source of exposure to PFAS, and there is no reason these chemicals should be in food packaging,” said David Andrews, Ph.D., a senior scientist at EWG. “PFAS leaches from packaging into food. These chemicals are toxic at low concentrations and are ubiquitous in our environment and in our bodies.”

Firefighters are among those most exposed to harms from PFAS – through their protective gear and firefighting foam. EWG broke down why lawmakers should use the pending fiscal year 2022 budget reconciliation to provide federal funds for local fire departments to remediate the risks of PFAS.

The Environmental Protection Agency rolled out its Preliminary Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15 of actions it will take to regulate wastewater pollution.

“Today’s action leaves behind many communities contaminated by unfettered industrial discharges of toxic PFAS,” said Scott Faber, EWG senior vice president for government affairs.

“There are thousands of industrial facilities using PFAS, and regulating those discharges on an industry-by-industry basis will take decades. That’s unfair to the people whose water is contaminated today. The EPA must be given the resources and the direction to work faster to regulate PFAS discharges from multiple industries,” he added.

Finally, EWG applauded the Biden administration’s ambitious plan calling for the U.S. to produce almost 50 percent of its electricity from solar by 2050.

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

Children’s health

The Green Parent: Nine Reasons to Raise Your Baby Organic

The Environmental Working Group publish an annual list of the ‘dirty dozen’ – even if you don’t buy all organic produce, you can aim to choose organic versions of these 12 next time you’re shopping.

Biden’s solar energy policy

Common Dreams: Climate Groups Welcome Biden Solar Blueprint But Urge Quicker Energy Transition

Others, such as Environmental Working Group president and co-founder Ken Cook, applauded the administration for its ambition while taking aim at utilities.

EPA’s PFAS wastewater rule

E&E News: EPA wastewater rules to set first PFAS limits (subscription)

EPA is under pressure to take action on PFAS across a number of areas, including in wastewater. Analysis conducted by the Environmental Working Group has found tens of thousands of industrial sites linked to confirmed or possible PFAS contamination, with plastics and electroplating sites among the biggest polluters.

EWG’s organics report

Eat This, Not That!: Surprising Effects of Eating Organic Produce, Says Science

However, a new peer-reviewed study from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which analyzed 80,000 foods, found that organic processed products contain significantly fewer ingredients associated with negative health effects than non-organic processed foods.

Algae blooms

Bay Journal (Mayo, Md.): Shenandoah River’s algae woes worsen

Blooms across the country have been the subject of nearly 400 news reports so far this year, according to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, which has tracked a rise in such reports over the last decade.

Black farmers

Sucessful Farming: Sen. Booker Sees Budget Reconciliation Advancing Debt Relief for Farmers of Color

As of late May, farmers of color were far more likely to be delinquent on a government farm loan than white farmers, according to the Associated Press. And 97% of the $9.2 billion provided by the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program was distributed to white farmers, according to the Environmental Working Group.

California Assembly Bill 100

Reporter Food & Beverage: California Leaders Approve Bill to Ban PFAS in Paper-Based Food Packaging

Cosponsors of the legislation include Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Center for Environmental Health, Clean Water Action, Environmental Working Group and NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council).

California Assembly Bill 1200

Inside EPA: California OKs Bill To Ban PFAS In Food Packages, Require Cookware Labels (subscription)

AB 1200 is cosponsored by NRDC, Center for Environmental Health, Clean Water Action, Environmental Working Group and BCPP.

Clean energy

Utility Dive: Energy equity: Reforming utilities' business plans by rebalancing ratepayers' financial risks

EWG defines clean energy as energy efficiency, wind, solar, energy storage (not tied to fossil or nuclear power), demand response, renewables-based microgrids and virtual power plants, emerging technologies like green hydrogen, and transportation free from carbon-based fuels.

Cleaning products

Reader’s Digest: 15 Spring Cleaning Mistakes That Could Make You Sick

“Start with ceilings and high shelving, and work your way to the floors to limit redistribution of dust and other particles to freshly cleaned surfaces,” says Samara Geller, a senior research and database analyst at Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Mind Body Green: 4 Changes Toxicity Experts Want You To Make In Your Kitchen

This is common, seeing as a whopping 56.3% of dish soaps tested by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) scored a D or F safety rating. (They contain ingredients that either haven't been tested for safety or have been associated with respiratory irritation, skin allergies, or other toxicity concerns.)

Consumer guides

C|net: Best full mattress in 2021

It's constructed of cotton, wool and natural latex (or you can opt for the vegan mattress, which is the same sans wool) -- which is the safest combination recommended by the Environmental Working Group.

EWG VERIFIED™: Cosmetics

The Eco Hub: Where To Find Affordable Natural Organic Makeup

With that, over 35 of their products are verified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), certifying that they are non-toxic and that the brand remains fully transparent.

Food Scores database

The List: This Is What Happens To Your Body If You Eat Cereal Every Day

Notably, in 2014, the Environmental Working Group conducted a study that looked at 1,500 cereals, with 180 of them being considered children's cereals.


Everyday Health: FDA Watch: September 2021

The Environmental Working Group says that hundreds of everyday products are made with highly toxic fluorinated chemicals called PFAS. They build up in our bodies and never break down in the environment.

Food Safety News: FDA’s new test results on PFAS in food tell an incomplete story

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found nearly half of fast food wrappers collected in 2014 and 2015 had high fluorine counts, a reliable indicator of PFAS use in food packaging products.

PFAS compounds in the Great Lakes

Chemicals.News: Tap water near hundreds of US military bases and thousands of industry areas CONTAMINATED with “forever chemicals,” warn experts

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reported that perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have contaminated water in the Great Lakes.

E&E News: 'Real threat': Documents show PFAS widespread in Great Lakes (subscription)

Documents circulated today by the Environmental Working Group show that the Department of Defense has measured notable contamination by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in the world's largest group of freshwater lakes. DOD's records reveal that levels of chemicals including PFOA and PFOS — the two best-researched PFAS — range from 5,400 to 1.3 million parts per trillion in groundwater at six different sites.

PFAS industrial discharges map

WXPR (Rhinelander, Wis.): It’s ‘raining PFAS,’ even in remote areas of the Upper Peninsula

In July, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) identified 30,000 industrial and municipal sites across the country that are suspected of using, producing, or emitting PFAS.

PFAS in water

Discover Magazine: There’s PFAS in Our Water. How Do We Get Them Out?

A 2020 study commissioned by the Environmental Working Group found PFAS in the drinking water of dozens of cities, and concluded that exposure from contaminated tap water had been “dramatically underestimated by previous studies.”

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Better Nutrition: The Cleanest (and Dirtiest!) Produce You Can Buy

Looking for clean produce? Every year, the Environmental Working Group puts out its list of the best and worst fruits and vegetables based on pesticide content.

EcoParent: Washing Away the Green

Avoiding minor greenwashing is a lot like trying to find 100 percent carbon-neutral products: possible, but not necessarily practical for the average consumer’s time, expertise, or budget. Instead, we can employ the same philosophy that the Environmental Working Group provides us with the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen”.

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

Healthline: 16 Best Sunscreens for All Year Round

It contains potentially irritating ingredients, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which publishes information on personal care products through its Skin Deep database.

Natural News: Glitter sunscreen harms both you and the environment, warn experts

According to Environmental Working Group senior analyst Sonya Lunder, the waters will wash the glitters off the swimmers and will mix with it, which can cause contamination.

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