EWG news roundup (10/29): EPA takes steps to address PFAS waste, $27 billion included in budget bill for climate-focused conservation and more

On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that GenX, one of many “forever chemicals” known as PFAS, is hazardous at much lower exposures than previously thought.

A new EWG analysis shows farmers near military bases may be unknowingly using water that contains PFAS. The Department of Defense has alerted 2,100 farms near 95 of these bases but may have failed to notify additional farmers, as required by federal law.

The EPA announced this week it would take the first steps to address the risks posed by disposal of PFAS.

“The disposal of PFAS can cause environmental pollution, which disproportionately affects people and communities near the waste disposal sites,” says Olga V. Naidenko, Ph.D., vice president for science investigations at EWG. “States, the EPA and waste management companies must take strong action to protect fence-line communities from harmful exposures to PFAS.”

EWG applauded House and Senate leaders for including $27 billion in the budget reconciliation bill to tackle a growing backlog of farmers who need help adopting conservation practices in order to address the climate emergency.

“This is the biggest investment in agricultural conservation programs since the Dust Bowl,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs. “But though the funding provided by this bill is historic, the exclusive focus on practices like cover crops is equally if not more historic.”

And finally, with Halloween coming this weekend, EWG detailed the scary history of U.S. food safety laws.

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

EWG's CleanCon™  2021

Insider: Simple steps you can take to kick your junk food cravings and eat healthier long term, according to an expert 

Changing one thing can make the super-sized task of quitting junk food feel more manageable, Moss said at the Environmental Working Group's CleanCon 2021. "Identify the worst trigger food in your life that really causes you to lose control, and try to deal with that first," he said.

EPA new toxicity assessment for GenX

NC Policy Watch: EPA: GenX far more toxic than originally thought, could prompt NC to significantly reduce health advisory goal 

The EPA’s latest assessment added safety factors to account for some of the uncertainty about the health effects of GenX. “It’s relevant that the EPA is taking a more protective health approach because of the complexity of PFAS and how they interact with the body,” said David Andrews, senior scientist with the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. “At lower and lower concentrations, it expands the scope of how widespread the chemicals are in our drinking water.” 

The Fayetteville Observer (N.C.): EPA assessment: GenX more toxic than thought; health effects might include liver, immune system 

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization, released a statement calling attention to the EPA setting a toxicity level lower for GenX than PFOA and PFOS. David Andrews, the group’s senior scientist, said the GenX toxicity value is an important step toward protecting those in communities that are contaminated by the compound. “We commend the EPA for acknowledging the extreme toxicity of GenX, the lack of adequate data and the need for a more health protective value than the 2018 proposal,” he said. 

WTAP (W.Va.): New EPA study renews discussion about GenX, PFOA 

“And they actually came up with a value that was on the order of 25-30 times lower than the previous drafts put out just about two years ago,” said Dr. David Andrews, Senior Scientist, Environmental Working Group. 

EPA PFAS roadmap  

E&E News: EPA deems ‘forever chemical’ haunting N.C. toxic to humans 

As part of its announcement, EPA also said it would revisit the 2016 reference doses for PFOA and PFOS, which have long come under fire from critics who say they are not strict enough. Melanie Benesh, an attorney with the Environmental Working Group, called that move “welcome news” and noted the values will be the basis for EPA’s proposed drinking water limits for those chemicals, expected this coming spring. 

SCI: US takes decisive steps to tackle PFAS in the environment 

Commenting, Ken Cook, President of the Environmental Working Group, said: ‘It’s been more than 20 years since EPA and EWG first learned these toxic chemicals were building up in our blood and increasing our likelihood of cancer and other health harms. It’s time for action, not more plans, and that’s what this Administrator will deliver.’ 

Bottled water

The Phuket News (Thailand): Solving Phuket’s plastic problem: 7 reasons to stop drinking bottled water 

An investigation by the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed that many major water brands carried toxic chemicals, including fertiliser residue and disinfecting products, above state safety limits. Many of the brands tested were also nothing more than tap water, despite costing up to 1,900 times more. 

Clean Water for All coalition 

Inside EPA: Power Sector Urges EPA To Retain Trump Finding On ELG Treatment Method

The 19-member coalition includes Clean Water Action, Environmental Working Group, Environment America Research & Policy Center, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and Surfrider Foundation as well as other national and regional environmental groups.

Skin Deep® cosmetics database

MSN: Sprayed perfume in your eyes by mistake? Here’s how to react 

As per a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), 34 percent of stock ingredients often found in fragrances tested positive for toxicity. Therefore, pro-active care is required to relieve the eyes of toxins found in perfumes. 

Elite Daily: How To Remove Makeup 

While everyone's skin is different, Ramzy lists fragrances, dyes, and parabens as common irritants, and notes that she likes to refer to the EWG's site when curious about specific ingredients. 

Beauty Independent: Adjustments Beauty And Wellness Brands Are Making To Cope With Ongoing Supply Chain Disruption 

I think the bigger picture is challenging since there is no comprehensive dashboard or news source available to see what the overall landscape looks like. One idea if anyone wants to take it on could be something similar to our own local agricultural community, which publishes the produce available in season, and I envision an EWG-style listing of key ingredients and other raw materials (packaging, vessels, etc.) and what the overall availability is. Any takers? 

Newswire: Toxic Chemicals Can Be Found In Products People Use Daily 

Health experts have long been warning against lead, which studies have linked with a myriad of undesirable health effects. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveals that this chemical may wreak havoc on health and trigger a range of diseases. 

The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide: FDA finally bans lead in hair dyes 

“A ban on lead acetate in off-the-shelf hair dyes is long overdue,” said Melanie Benesh, a legislative attorney at the Environmental Working Group, a public interest group, one of the organizations and that petitioned the FDA for the ban. “There is no safe level of lead exposure, which has been linked to developmental issues, reduced fertility, organ system toxicity, cancer, and other serious health problems,” Benesh said.

EWG’s Healthy Living Guide  

CNET: Best full mattress in 2021 

If you're looking for a comfortable full-size mattress minus any potentially harmful chemicals, the Avocado Green is the mattress brand for you. 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   

Forbes: Meet Humanist Beauty, The Beauty Brand Making Skincare Radically Inclusive 

From the vegan, EWG Verified formula—free of parabens, preservatives and carcinogens, and wrapped in recycled packaging—to the solar-powered executive office, everything at Humanist Beauty is done to minimize harm to the environment. 

EcoWatch: 7 Natural Face Washes Your Skin Will Love (2021) 

Certifications: We've made sure the products listed below are honest in their missions and credible in their formulas, looking for certifications from the Environmental Working Group, MADE SAFE®, Credo and other certifying bodies. 

Food additives 

Sinclair Media Spotlight on America: KHGI-TV (Kearney, Neb.): Does your child's favorite candy have an "unsafe" ingredient? 

While Europe is moving swiftly, based on the science, the FDA has done nothing to warn about titanium dioxide’s use or remove the additive in the United States. Scott Faber, Senior VP, Government Affairs at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), says the FDA is not doing its job. “Unless you can prove it’s safe, it shouldn’t be in our food,” Faber said, during a recent interview in his backyard.

Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health

Enterprise: Is your affinity for steaks and cheese really what’s standing in the way of combating climate change? 

All this talk about the nitty-gritty details of veganism’s environmental impact shouldn’t obscure the reality that animal products contribute the most GHG out of all the food groups. Environmental Working Group figures showed that nine out of the top 10 CO2 emitters were animal products, with lamb and beef claiming the top two spots.  

PFAS waste

E&E News: EPA eyes new rules for PFAS in waste 

Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, meanwhile said EPA’s announcement was "good news" that will bring the agency closer to ensuring PFAS are treated as hazardous wastes. 

PFAS in water  

Environmental Health News: Op-ed: The ghosts in our water 

There is a truly staggering amount of PFAS contamination in the U.S. The Environmental Working Group has mapped more than 2,800 contaminated sites and identified nearly 30,000 additional potential sites. The financial, medical, and environmental costs to address PFAS will almost certainly dwarf those related to lingering PCB contamination. 

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

MSN: 25 everyday foods that are bad for you 

According to EWG’s Dirty Dozen™ list, strawberries top the list of fruits and vegetables containing the most pesticides. Analysis of a single sample revealed residue from no less than 22 different pesticides, and a third of the samples tested contained 10 or more toxic products. Ouch!  

WebMD: When Food Tastes Like Dirt: My Diet During and After Chemo 

The Environmental Working Group puts out a yearly list of foods that contain a high amount of pesticide residue. These are the fruits and vegetables I try to buy organic (or I peel them). They call them the dirty dozen. Although, EWG goes on to say that vegetables and fruits are so healthy, that even eating commercially grown ones (not organic) is better than not eating them at all. I just make sure to really wash or peel the ones I can. 

SPF study 

National Cyber Security News Today: UVA protection of most sunscreens only a quarter of touted SPF

Many sunscreens offer just a quarter of their stated SPF protection against ultraviolet A rays that increase the risk of skin cancer, a new Environmental Working Group study finds. 

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

SimplySunSafe: Best Sunscreen for Lips in 2021 

All of the lip balms SimplySunSafe recommends have the highest possible rating from the Environmental Working Group. This means you can rest assured that these products offer amazing sun protection and the ingredients are safe for your body. 

EatingWell: 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. 

Sustainable agriculture 

The Daily Utah Chronicle: Bringhurst: The Hungry Student Is More than a Stereotype 

Agricultural practices like biotechnology, chemical fertilizers and pesticides have increased in usage, but they are not working to decrease malnutrition or environmental impacts. Experts at the Environmental Working Group recommend implementing conservation practices like crop diversification, sprinkler irrigation and zero-soil tillage to adapt to climate change. They reported that adopting zero-soil tillage alone could lift almost 9% of people out of hunger by 2050. 

Tap Water Database 

Money: From Touchless Faucets to CDC-Approved Air Filters, Here’s How to Make Your Home ‘Healthy’ 

The main goal? Avoid drinking water straight from the tap if possible — especially if it’s high in contaminants (check the Environmental Working Group’s tap water database or your local utility district for details). 

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