EWG news roundup (12/17): California regulators poised to increase cost of rooftop solar, keeping skin healthy during winter and more

This week, California state regulators indicated an end to financial incentives for rooftop solar, making it more expensive for homeowners and small businesses in the state to install.

“This decision by the commission to hobble rooftop solar could undo one of the nation’s most successful efforts to confront the climate crisis and move California to an electric grid powered by renewable energy,” said EWG President and California resident Ken Cook.

EWG highlighted two major studies on the prevalence of the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.

First, one study found PFAS-contaminated chicken eggs from homesteads and farms near Fairfield, Maine.

Later in the week, another study found that more than half the water wells tested in Delaware had detectable levels of PFAS.

“Although the findings are just for one state, we know that PFAS contamination is reaching crisis levels across the country,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG’s vice president for science investigations.

In analyzing public data, EWG found that the city of Sacramento, Calif., has removed thousands of lead pipes and fittings, but in doing so, may have sidestepped safeguards that would have ensured residents didn’t ingest lead during and after the work.

As winter progresses, so does dry and cracked skin. EWG provided some helpful tips to keeping your skin healthy and hydrated without exposing yourself to toxic chemicals.

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

Children’s health

SheKnows: 8 Skin Care Ingredients You Can’t Use During Pregnancy — and Their Alternatives

Commonly used in nail polish and hair dye, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) actually lists it as one of the most toxic cosmetic ingredients. If inhaled, it can cause developmental damage to a growing fetus.

EPA and health and safety data

Bloomberg Law: EPA Stops Posting ‘Critically Important’ Data on Chemical Risks

The public needs such information, because the substantial risk notices the agency isn’t posting can offer the only insight into new health and environmental problems a chemical is causing, said Melanie Benesh, an Environmental Working Group attorney.

EPA review of PFAS

USA Today: Do you know what's in your blood? New EPA docs show widespread risk from common chemicals

Yet in the meantime, Americans will continue to consume chemicals that could be harming them, said Scott Faber, senior vice president of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Environmental Working Group. Through tracking public records, the organization found that at least 1,700 water supplies across the country contain PFOA. Reprinted by Daily Magazine; Farmers’ Advance; iHealthyzone; Wicked Local; AOL; 2+ additional media outlets

WBBM (Chicago): New EPA report shows high risk from common household chemicals

“It’s as bad as it sounds. I don’t think we can sugarcoat this,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Environmental Working Group. “PFAS are a public health emergency that touches many more Americans than have been touched by lead pipes or other really urgent health risks." Reprinted by US99 (Chicago); KNSS (Wichita, Kan.); WWL (New Orleans); KCBS (San Francisco); KRLD (Dallas); 3+ additional media outlets

Executive order restricts agencies’ PFAS purchases

Bloomberg Law: Punching In: Biden-States Shot Clash Traps Businesses in Between

Melanie Benesh, a legislative attorney for the Environmental Working Group, said the Biden administration and federal government should “follow through on its commitments to procure more sustainable products—including products made without intentionally-added PFAS.”

Cellphone radiation

Activist Post: New Legal Filing: Experts Ask FCC to Review Most Recent Science on Cell Phone and Wireless Radiation and Protect the Public

EHTs filing included a letter from dozens of scientists, as well as the Environmental Working Group…The new filings included a Report “Scientific and Policy Developments in Radiofrequency Radiation December 2019 through November 29, 2021” documenting the critical new scientific research studies published over the last two years which confirm biological effects from wireless radiation and the urgent need to strengthen the FCC’s regulations.

Skin Deep® cosmetics database

MS Wellness Route: Hidden Toxins You May Be Putting Into Your Body

Everything you put on your body gets absorbed. That is why is important to start using products that don’t have toxins. You can either make your own or buy them. The Environmental Working Group is a great resource for finding clean products.

Prevention: How to Grow Stronger, Healthier Nails

Popular non-toxic nail polish brands include Zoya, Butter London, and Deborah Lippmann. (If you’re not sure whether your go-to nail polish brands are non-toxic, you can always search for them in the EWG’s cosmetics database.)

Treehugger: Best of Green Awards 2021: Changemakers

The beauty and personal care industry hasn’t been great to Black women. According to the Environmental Working Group, most of the cosmetics and hair care products created for Black women contain more harmful ingredients than those manufactured for anyone else.

Vogue: 5 Easy and Smart Ways Make Your Beauty Routine More Sustainable in 2022

“If you’re concerned about purity and safety, the EWG database is a good tool and you should get familiar with ingredient names (of which there are sometimes hundreds for just one item) and determine what your values are around those,” [Ashlee Piper] says.

Medium: Jessica Le of VIC: Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry

Mass production of non-EWG certified products is one of the biggest concerns and challenges in the beauty industry, especially when it comes to competition. Big beauty stores continue to sell products with a lack of consumer knowledge on whether or not a product is environmentally friendly or if they test on animals, so transparency with the customer is not apparent.

Property Guru: 6 Easy Ways to Make Your Bathroom More Eco-Friendly

Of course, ingredient lists are often hard to decipher, and you may need help to recognise the potential immunotoxins and hormone disruptors in there. So look up product watch by Environmental Working Group (EWG). Their international database includes all major brands, maps their toxicity and is easily searchable. Reprinted by Yahoo!

Calif. regulators move to hobble state's rooftop solar program

California Globe: CPUC Proposes Reduction in Discounted Energy Bills For Solar Customers

Environmentalists and solar advocates blasted the plan on Monday as they note that cost recovery for installing the panels would be pushed back from an average of 11 years to 15 years under the plan…

“This decision by the commission to hobble rooftop solar could undo one of the nation’s most successful efforts to confront the climate crisis and move California to an electric grid powered by renewable energy,” said Environmental Working Group (EWG) President Ken Cook in a statement on Monday.

LA Times: Newsletter: Everything you need to know about California’s plan to slash solar incentives

The Sierra Club isn’t happy. Neither are the Climate Center, Coalition for Community Solar Access, Environment California, Environmental Working Group and Vote Solar, all of which issued news releases slamming the proposed decision.

Courthouse News Service: California proposes slashing subsidies for rooftop solar

Solar power advocates like the Environmental Working Group blasted the proposal as an example of California regulators “caving to the demands of PG&E and other investor-owned utilities.” The group’s president, Ken Cook, said the decision “speaks volumes” about the commission’s disregard for ratepayers and willingness to ignore the existential threat of climate change.

Endocrine disruptors

La La Lisette: Wool Dryer Balls: Non-Toxic Alternative to Dryer Sheets

The hard to pronounce phthalates are a group of chemicals that help artificial fragrances last longer. These chemicals can interfere with our endocrine system, and are among the dirty dozen chemicals to avoid, according to the EWG.

Naturally Savvy: Making Sense of Parabens

Here, according to Environmental Working Group, are the most common parabens and how they are ranked in terms of toxicity.

Experience Life: How Do Parabens in Personal-Care Products Affect My Health?

The FDA’s website states, “At this time, we do not have information showing that parabens as they are used in cosmetics have an effect on human health.” The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit environ­mental research and advocacy organization, disagrees. Citing studies that have connected parabens to reproductive harm, it notes: “Parabens can act like the hormone estrogen in the body and disrupt the normal function of hormone systems, affecting male and female reproductive-system functioning, reproductive development, fertility, and birth outcomes.”

Food additives

Mashed: The Reason Arby's Bread Products Are Banned In Some Countries

While banned in Europe, the Environmental Working Group in the U.S. considers ACA a lower food risk. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved ACA for use as a food agent, specifically as a "whitening agent in cereal flour and as a dough conditioner in bread baking" (via FDA).

EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens

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. 

EWG VERIFIED™: Cosmetics

Elite Daily: The Best Shampoos For Wavy Hair

4. Best Silicone-Free Shampoo For Wavy Hair…Attitude Super Leaves Curl Amplifying Shampoo…The brand is also dedicated to making more conscious choices by using biodegradable packaging, planting a tree for every product sold, and ensuring all of its products are EWG verified.

Harper’s BAZAAR: The Best Natural and Organic Perfumes

Actress Michelle Pfeiffer is paving the way for non-toxic scents vetted by the Environmental Working Group and the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. Her brand, Henry Rose, uses both synthetics and plant-based oils that are considered to be safe compounds for long term use—and for total transparency, each product lists out all ingredients used.

Fast Company: The best sustainable and ethical gifts for everyone on your list

Versed Deck the Shelves Gift Set…This skincare line, certified by the Environmental Working Group, proves that transparency in the drugstore beauty aisle can succeed.

Henry Rose The Playground…Actress Michelle Pfeiffer founded the brand in 2019 in response to the lack of transparency in the fragrance industry. Her perfumes carry the stamp of approval of nonprofit watchdogs Cradle to Cradle and the Environmental Working Group.

Buzzfeed: 35 Cool Small Business Finds To Put In Your Amazon Cart Right Away

Follain is a Boston-based, woman-owned small business dedicated to making skincare products that "feel like a treat rather than a chore." Their offerings are EWG verified, cruelty free, Leaping Bunny-certified, synthetic fragrance free, and dermatologist tested.

Byrdie: The Best Body Products of 2021

"Good, natural toothpastes are hard to come by, but David's Toothpaste is a true winner. The toothpaste actually tastes like peppermint from the beginning of your brushing routine to the end (big deal!), and it lathers in your mouth like traditional formulas do but without any of the harsh chemicals. It's fluoride-free, SLS-free, and EWG verified.” - Star Donaldson, senior social media editor

Addicted: Giveaway: Nourish all the skin you’re in with ATTITUDE

Crafted with natural and hypoallergenic ingredients, the entire line of products adhere to the highest quality and eco-conscious standards: they are 100% vegan, cruelty-free, and certified by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and they’re exempt from potentially harmful substances according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). 

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.

Pet food

NorthantsLive (Northamptonshire, England): Chemical 'no longer considered safe' in pet food warning to dog owners

“The Environmental Working Group called on the Food and Drug Administration to quickly consider whether to ban titanium dioxide from use in food."

[Dr. Karen Becker] concluded by saying that a chemical that may damage your pet's DNA should not be fed to them and therefore owners should check the labels before buying. Reprinted by Flipboard; Newsbreak; Hull Daily Mail (Yorkshire, England); Buckinghamshire Live (England); Daily Advent; 9+ additional media outlets   

PFAS in military sites  

Florida Phoenix: Forever chemicals: FL Senate panel proposes to tackle PFAS contamination

The federal facilities include military installations such as Tyndall Air Force Base in Bay County, Eglin Air Force Base in Okaloosa County, MacDill Air Force Base in Hillsborough County, Hurlburt Field Air Force Base in Okaloosa County, Naval Air Station Pensacola, and other bases outside Florida along the Gulf Coast, according to the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit research group.

PFAS in water

The Bulwark: Cleanup on Aisle PFAS

Tap-water samples tested by the Environmental Working Group in 2020 from 44 sites in 31 states and Washington, D.C. found that only three had PFAS readings below EPA standards.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce ™

Real Simple: Broccoli Is One of the Healthiest Greens You Can Eat—Here Are 5 Nutritious Benefits to Prove It

One caveat when buying though, is to be wary of non-organic broccoli. "It's important to buy organic broccoli whenever possible because the Environmental Working Group lists it as one of the more toxic conventional vegetables every year," says Sara Peternell, MNT, board-certified holistic nutritionist and an expert in family nutrition.

Toxic water

Investigate Midwest: IOWA’S TOXIC BREW: Coping with the climate-chemical reaction that can play havoc with drinking water

The Environmental Working Group, an advocacy and research organization, found that Iowa is not alone. Despite years of effort by the states bordering the Mississippi River, the EWG found that toxins of many types have invaded America’s water supply, including the pesticide Atrazine; a family of perfluorinated “forever” compounds, including PFAS; Chromium-6; and nitrates. Reprinted by Iowa Watch; Our Community Now

Yes! Magazine: Community Efforts to Clean up Contaminated Water in One California Town

Water contamination, including with cancer-causing chemicals like 1,2,3-TCP, is a problem for millions of people across the United States, according to the Environmental Working Group. Low-income communities of color, such as Fuller Acres, are particularly hard-hit. Reprinted by High Country News

Women of color and personal care products study

TZR: 10 Ultra-Chic Clean Beauty Brands You Need To Try In The New Year

“Unfortunately, research by the E.W.G (aka the environmental working group) found that women of color are disproportionately exposed to harmful chemicals, with one in 12 beauty products marketed toward this group considered toxic,” says the brand. Ami Colé has set out to be a part of the solution, banning an extensive list of potentially dangerous ingredients for all of its products.

2021 Tap Water Database update   

The Courier-Herald (Enumclaw, Wash.): Enumclaw citizens deserve better water quality

Enumclaw’s tap water is in compliance with federal health-based standards for drinking water, but is that good enough for the citizens of Enumclaw? The federal standards are outdated, and legal doesn’t necessarily mean safe. There are eight contaminants in Enumclaw’s water that exceed the Environmental Working Group’s health guidelines.

The Observer (Sacramento): Water Scarcity is Real, but We Are the Ones that Can Make a Difference

“After combing through the data from almost 50,000 water systems serving tens of millions of American households, the researchers found more than 320 toxic substances have been detected in U.S. drinking water systems since 2019. The drinking water contamination,” EWG reported, “is derived from numerous pollutants such as arsenic, lead, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), radioactive materials, and pesticides.”

Environmental News Bits: EWG’s Tap Water Database 2021 Update

Since 2013, water utilities’ testing has found pollutants in Americans’ tap water, according to an EWG drinking water quality analysis of more than 31 million state water records. Search by zip code or state.

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