EWG news roundup (12/2): Lead recall of stainless steel bottles and sippy cups, factory farms in North Carolina at flood risk and more

On Thursday, EWG released a new geospatial analysis that finds over 2 percent of North Carolina’s 7,352 swine and poultry factory farms are in or just outside floodplains. When these farms flood, they can contaminate water with bacteria and other health hazards.

Late last week, the baby product company Green Sprouts issued a voluntary recall of more than 10,000 stainless steel bottles and sippy cups because of lead poisoning concerns.

“It is unacceptable that these cups may have exposed children to lead, a potent neurotoxin,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG vice president of science investigations. “Companies must vigorously test their products for lead, especially those marketed for use by babies and children.”

Finally, EWG applauded House passage of a bill to help protect firefighters from exposure to the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS, which are widely used in their tools and equipment. The bipartisan legislation, the Protecting Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act, has already cleared the Senate and now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk.

“Firefighters are among those most exposed to harms from PFAS, but many local fire departments lack the resources and guidance to switch to PFAS-free alternatives,” said Jay Lucey, EWG’s legislative director for government affairs.

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


Charlotte Observer/Raleigh News & Observer (N.C.): With little oversight, NC poultry farms raise 1 billion birds a year. Who pays the cost?
MAPPING BIG POULTRY Data journalist Gavin Off started with two farm databases, one from nonprofit Environmental Working Group, the leading authority on North Carolina poultry locations, and one from researchers at Stanford University. Off linked those maps to a dataset of every parcel in the state, eliminating locations not owned by or zoned for farms. He then viewed satellite images of some 5,000 locations to verify which were poultry farms.

Charlotte Observer/Raleigh News & Observer (N.C.): Chickens produce billions of pounds of waste in NC. No one tracks where it goes.

Instead, it’s Burdette and 13 other riverkeepers in North Carolina, employed by nonprofits, who try to keep tabs on what looks like mishandled waste. Frequently they do this on flights with volunteer pilots over areas with heavy concentrations of poultry farms across North Carolina. “You’re not going to find the problem if you’re not looking,” said Anne Schechinger, agriculture economist for Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. 

Benzene in personal care products

The Washington Post: Aerosol hair products tainted by benzene may still be on store shelves

Homer Swei, a senior vice president at the Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy organization, said he believes the supply chain of propellants for these different companies must have been affected to lead to such a wide range of recalls. 


Associated Press: Feds offer $1B to keep California’s last nuclear plant open

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy organization that opposes the extension, said the “misguided” decision by the Biden administration sets a dangerous precedent of keeping aging, dilapidated nuclear plants operating. EWG President and California resident Ken Cook said taxpayer money would be better spent on clean, safe, renewable sources of electricity like solar, wind and energy storage solutions. 

EWG VERIFIED®: Cosmetics

Harper’s Bazaar: The 21 Best Perfumes of All Time

A gorgeous combination of honeyed neroli, peony, jasmine, and musk, this top seller from Michelle Pfeiffer’s fragrance line smells both crisp and clean, and is made with clean ingredients; in fact, it’s the only fine fragrance line to be verified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).


Bloomberg: Tackling PFAS With Superfund Law Risks Shifting Costs to Public

But Melanie Benesh, the Environmental Working Group’s vice president of government affairs, says wastewater agencies, farm groups, and other critics overstate the degree to which the regulation could trigger runaway liability costs. EPA can wield enforcement discretion where appropriate, she said, to avoid unintended consequences.

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