EWG news roundup (8/19): Newly signed IRA includes $20B for climate conservation spending, chemists develop new method for destroying PFAS and more

This week, President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA, which includes an historic $20 billion in spending to help combat the climate crisis by reducing greenhouse gases from agriculture.

Homer Swei, Ph.D., a leading private sector research and development expert who most recently led Johnson & Johnson’s product stewardship program, has joined EWG as senior vice president of the Healthy Living Science team.

“It’s not every day that someone with Homer’s deep understanding and expertise of the personal care industry, and how it approaches consumer health and safety, makes the move from the private sector to the public interest advocacy world,” said EWG President and Co-founder Ken Cook.

On Thursday, chemists at Northwestern University revealed a new method for destroying the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS. The approach is encouraging, since it does not require the high temperatures or high energy that cause PFOA and GenX to break down into “benign end products.”

“These results show real promise,” said Tasha Stoiber, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group. “This destruction method could potentially be applied to degrade and remove PFAS, but it will take valuable time for any technology to move from the laboratory to real world application.”

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

The Inflation Reduction Act

E&E News: Hot deals: A consumer's guide to the new climate law

The Inflation Reduction Act is the single largest investment in agricultural conservation in the country’s history, said Scott Faber, who tracks agricultural stewardship programs at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

New PFAS destruction technique

NBC News: 'Forever chemicals' stay in air and water permanently. But scientists found a new way to destroy them.

The Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy group focused on toxic chemicals, monitors pollutants in drinking water and estimated in June that 2,000 U.S. communities had levels of PFAS in their drinking water that were above the EPA's new limits.

The New York Times: Forever Chemicals No More? PFAS Are Destroyed With New Technique

“Nearly every American has them in their bodies,” said Tasha Stoiber, a senior scientist at Environmental Working Group, an environmental advocacy group that conducts research on PFAS chemicals.


Associated Press: Climate bill: Could coal communities shift to nuclear?

But Grant Smith, a senior energy policy adviser at the Environmental Working Group, said tax credits for small modular nuclear units is a waste of taxpayer dollars.


CNN: How to wash your dishes sustainably, according to experts

Some third-party certifications that can help you find the safest products are EPA Safer Choice and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Verification. Check out the EPA Safer Choice list for dish soaps and the list of options that have received an EWG Verification.

Hexavalent chromium spill

The Guardian: 'Gross negligence': popular Michigan river hit with second chemical spill in four years

An interactive map by the non-profit Environmental Working Group found chromium-6 in tap water serving 251 million people throughout the US, at levels scientists deem unsafe.


Inside EPA: Environmentalists Give Biden Mixed Reviews On Meeting PFAS Goals

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) updated its PFAS “Report Card” earlier this month and found that less than half of the Biden administration’s self-imposed deadlines for regulating, monitoring and cleaning up PFAS were met over the past several months.

Politico: Forever chemicals are seeping through the courts

The Environmental Working Group has counted hundreds of places where the foam has been used or spilled. Exposure to PFAS at certain levels through drinking water or consumption of contaminated meat or fish has been linked with cancer, liver damage, thyroid disease and decreased fertility.

PFAS in drinking water

Inside EPA: Dingell Eyes Lame Duck For Senate Vote On PFAS Action Act

Dingell was speaking during a webinar hosted by the Environmental Working Group on PFAS and water infrastructure, which focused largely on implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which allocated $10 billion for the remediation of PFAS in drinking water through state grants and funding for water utilities through the Safe Drinking Water Act revolving loan fund.

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