EWG news roundup (8/12): NAS urges EPA to look into risks of sunscreen UV filters, 'Erin Brockovich’ chemical spill in Michigan and more

This week, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued a new report urging the Environmental Protection Agency to assess the aquatic ecological risks from ultraviolet, or UV, filters and any new ingredients approved for sunscreens. While the report focuses on how sunscreens could affect aquatic environments, it also touches on the implications of sunscreen use for human health, an issue EWG has long warned people about.

“This new National Academies report calls attention to the dearth of research into how sunscreens affect the environment and human health,” said David Andrews, Ph.D., a senior scientist at EWG. “The Food and Drug Administration has proposed that 12 sunscreen ingredients do not have adequate testing to consider them safe for use, and now this new report highlights the inadequate study of the environmental impacts of sunscreens.”

In Michigan, a company known for past releases of toxic chemicals into air and water is under criminal investigation after spilling “several thousand gallons” of liquid contaminated with the cancer-causing hexavalent chromium into the Huron River. The chemical gained prominence with the 2000 movie “Erin Brockovich,” about hexavalent chromium pollution of a small California town’s water.

“There’s a reason Americans don’t automatically trust their drinking water, and it’s because they’re all too familiar with a seemingly never-ending round of news stories saying it has been polluted with some hazardous chemical,” said Tasha Stoiber, Ph.D., a senior scientist at EWG. “It’s disgraceful – we all should have safe water to drink.”

And finally, a recent study by University of Oxford researchers offers a comprehensive look at the potential environmental damage associated with meat production and more than 57,000 multi-ingredient packaged foods, including greenhouse gas emissions and water stress.

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


Sunscreen UV filters

E&E News: National Academies urge EPA to study sunscreen risks

For years, organizations like the Environmental Working Group have highlighted qualms about some sunscreen ingredients while emphasizing the need for sun protection.

AFOs in Western Lake Erie Basin

Suburban Press (Wood County, Ohio): Harmful green algal blooms still plague Lake Erie

According to an investigation by the Environmental Law & Policy Center and the non-profit Environmental Working Group, over half of the manure in the Maumee River watershed comes from an exploding number of unregulated factory farms.

Skin Deep® cosmetics database

Inside EPA: Environmentalists Bash California’s SCP Listing Plan For Nail Products

“Studies show that chronic exposure to even small amounts of toluene, for instance at low mean levels of 11 and 42 ppm, can result in health impacts such as fatigue, recent short-term memory problems, concentration difficulties, and mood changes,” states the Aug. 5 letter from the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Clean Water Action, and Environmental Working Group.

Crop insurance

Scripps: KZTV-TV (Corpus Christi, Texas): Extreme climate events could impact crop insurance payouts for farmers, taxpayers

This is where federal crop insurance comes in. “This crop insurance program pays farmers when they have a crop yield or revenue loss,” said Anne Schechinger, the midwest director for the Environmental Working Group.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis): Don't mess with federal crop insurance, farmers say; others aren't so sure

Earlier this year, Schechinger authored a report calling for crop insurance reform, saying the program inexplicably incentivizes — with taxpayer dollars — some of the riskiest farming, given the increase in intense weather events.

Debt relief for black farmers

The Hill: Historic debt relief program for farmers of color takes hit after discrimination suits

Another settlement was struck almost a decade later for $1.25 billion, after thousands of Black farmers were found to have been left out of that round of aid after making claims too late, according to data gathered by the Environmental Working Group.

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

Reader’s Digest: Is Your Sunscreen Doing More Harm Than Good? Here’s What to Look for

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reviewed data on the nine chemicals most commonly found in sunscreen—and concluded that there is cause for alarm.

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