EWG news roundup (5/14): How the Biden administration should address the nation’s lead pipe problem, EWG calls on produce industry to support chlorpyrifos ban and more

This week, EWG analyzed the former Trump administration’s last-minute revisions to the federal Lead and Copper Rule, which would continue to leave millions of families with the risk of drinking lead-tainted water. We also broke down the Biden administration’s Jobs Plan, which calls for replacing all lead pipes and service lines across the nation.

Recently, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to take immediate steps to ban or severely restrict the use of the highly toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos. On Monday, EWG called on the conventional produce industry to support the court’s ruling.

“The presence of chlorpyrifos residues on conventionally grown produce has posed serious risks to public health, and especially children’s health,” wrote EWG President Ken Cook in a letter to the non-organic produce industry. “We write today to urge your respective organizations to stand with consumers, parents and all Americans who want to eat healthy foods that do not put them at risk of dietary exposure to chlorpyrifos, and ask you to publicly support the federal court’s decision requiring the EPA to take immediate steps to protect children from this highly neurotoxic pesticide.”

In the newest addition to EWG’s “None of the Above” energy series, EWG chronicled how scam artists took advantage of lucrative government subsidies and tax credits tied to biofuels.

And finally, a recent study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that a number of pesticides may be tied to an increased risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer.

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

Children’s Health

SheKnows: This Year’s Best Sunscreens for Kids & Babies Will Keep Them Safe on the Sunniest Days

Every year, the Environmental Working Group digs up all the details on commercial sunscreens for kids and gives them a rating based on safety. They take into consideration product packaging, the usability of each sunscreen and the amount of harmful chemicals used in the product.

Aldicarb on citrus

The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.): Company challenges Florida decision to ban a pesticide that could battle citrus greening

But the Farmworker Association of Florida, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Environmental Working Group in March challenged the EPA’s decision in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.


L.A. Progressive Newsletter: EPA Pesticide Ban May Happen After Years of Damage

“This is what we now know is the modus operandi of Trump and his EPA: corruption couched as policy,” said Ken Cook, president of the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, following Pruitt’s decision. “Trump and his political appointees at the agency show nearly every day that they are not there to protect Americans’ health but to cater to the whims of polluters. If you’re looking for evidence of corrupt collusion with sinister interests, here it is in plain view.”


Pure and Simple Nourishment: How to Choose Non-toxic Laundry Detergent

As well, according to the Environmental Working Group, 95% of chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum and include benzene derivatives, such as toluene, which is known to cause urothelial or bladder cancer. Phthalates in fragrances have also been linked to bladder cancer.

Consumer guides

Eat This, Not That!: The Worst Foods That Have Been Linked to Cancer

In 2015, the Environmental Working Group found potassium bromate in eighty-six store-bought baked goods, including some brands of store-bought breakfast sandwiches. Steer clear of these ultra-processed products. 

Skin Deep® cosmetics database

Treehugger: How to Choose Clean and Green Cosmetics

EWG's Healthy Living app (available for both iPhone and Android) allows you to search for products by name or scan a barcode to see how they score for safety.

Treehugger: The 8 Best Natural Blushes of 2021

In beauty terms, "natural" has no strict legal definition, so we’ve picked clean blushes which have received the green light from consumer products’ watchdog, the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Who What Wear: 15 Spring Perfumes That Will Rake in an Uncomfortable Number of Compliments

One of the leaders in sustainable perfumery, Henry Rose uses recycled glass for its bottles and only chooses scents that meet the Environmental Working Group's standards. This particular scent has bursts of the springtime vibe with grapefruit, bergamot, and Earl Grey tea. 

EWG VERIFIED™: Cosmetics

HuffPost: 30 Products For People Who Love Makeup But Suck At Putting It On

These eyeliners are super smooth and HIGHLY pigmented. They're hypoallergenic, vegan and EWG Verified.

The Manual: 8 Environmentally Friendly Grooming Products to Use

In 2020, they have reissued an Environmental Working Group (EWG) Verification, which is prepared by a third-party nonprofit that rates ingredient safety in products.

Food and farm workers

Yahoo! Finance: White farmers sue U.S. government over stimulus for 'socially disadvantaged farmers'

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that as of October 2020, nearly 97% of the $9.2 billion in CFAP aid that had been distributed went to white farmers. Furthermore, white farmers received on average eight times more in aid ($3,398) than the average Black farmer ($422).

Justice for Black Farmer’s Act

Modern Farmer: Meet the Modern Farmer: Peculiar Pig Farm

According to the most recent data from the USDA, out of the 3.4 million farmers in the US today, only 45,000 are Black. White farmers account for 98 percent of the acres. And, according to the Environmental Working Group, Black farmers have been systematically denied access to land, subsidies and loans.

Microcystin in Wisconsin

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, Wisc.): Wisconsin doesn't have full information on algae blooms in its 15,000 lakes, though algae can make humans and pets extremely ill

The analysis, which was conducted by the Environmental Working Group, showed that Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota all lack sufficient testing programs for cyanobacteria. The group looked at reports dating back to 2010 to determine how often the states were monitoring for the toxin and how many bodies of water had been tested. In Wisconsin, 12 of 20 reported algae blooms have been tested for cyanobacteria, the report shows.

Wisconsin Public Radio: Report: Wisconsin Among States Not Testing Adequately For Blue Green Algae

State agencies in Midwestern states including Wisconsin don't adequately test lakes for cyanobacteria, the blue-green algae that can be toxic to humans and wildlife, an analysis by the Environmental Working Group found. 

Wisconsin Public Radio: Wisconsin Lacks Sufficient Information On Algal Blooms

A new analysis by the Environmental Working Group finds that Wisconsin and other Midwestern states lack sufficient data on algae blooms in lakes, though these blooms can be toxic and life-threatening. A limnologist explains.

PFAS in breast milk

The Guardian: Study finds alarming levels of ‘forever chemicals’ in US mothers’ breast milk

There are no standards for PFAS in breast milk, but the public health advocacy organization Environmental Working Group puts its advisory target for drinking water at 1ppt, and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, within the Department of Health and Human Services, recommends as little as 14ppt in children’s drinking water. 

The Hill: Study finds 'forever chemicals' in women's breast milk, worrying scientists

There are no FDA safety standards for PFAS in breast milk, but as a comparison, The Guardian noted that experts at the Environmental Working Group advise drinking water at 1 ppt while the Department of Health and Human Services recommends as little as 14 ppt in children’s drinking water.

EcoWatch: Forever Chemicals Found in U.S. Mothers' Breast Milk

To put that in perspective, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends a limit of one ppt in drinking water while the Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry suggests 14 ppt for children's drinking water, The Guardian pointed out.

PFAS in water

Daily Mail: Scientists say they are 'concerned' after high levels of 'forever chemicals' used in everything from cosmetics to take out containers found in the breast milk of US mothers - up to 2,000 TIMES greater than what is declared safe in drinking water

However, the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization, recommends no more than 1ppt in drinking water.  

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Well+Good: Here’s What Your Farts Say About Your Gut Health

“Organic is a starting point, but the ideal is to know where your food is coming from and to educate yourself about sourcing your food,” he says. (You can look at the Clean Fifteen, Dirty Dozen from the Environmental Working Group for a crash course.)

Kiwi Magazine Online: The 2021 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

Every year the Environmental Working Group analyzes data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the FDA to highlight foods that test positive for the most and the least amounts of pesticides—known as the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen.”

Palm Beach Illustrated (Palm Beach, Fla.): All About Produce

Almost 70 percent of produce in the U.S. contains pesticides. Luckily, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases two lists every year: the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15. The Dirty Dozen covers the conventional produce that carries the most pesticide residue.

2021 Guide to Sunscreens

PEOPLE: Vacation Hotspots Including Hawaii Are Banning Certain Sunscreens: Here's Why and What to Know

Nneka Leiba, vice president for Healthy Living Science for the Environmental Working Group (EWG) notes that there is no legal definition for "reef safe," but companies typically use it to mean a product is free of oxybenzone or octinoxate.

Byrdie: Does "Reef-Safe" Sunscreen Actually Protect Our Oceans? We Investigate

According to the Environmental Working Group’s 2020 Guide to Sunscreens, these two ingredients are the only two UV filters considered truly safe—both for people and the environment—by the FDA.

Eating Well: 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 15th 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.

Healthline: It’s Time to Switch to Mineral Sunscreen — Here Are 11 Options to Try

In a bid to find a safe, environmentally responsible sunscreen that completely rubs in, I spoke with dermatologists and skin care experts, scoured resources, like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) sunscreen guide, and tested a mix of products myself.

Tap Water Database

Business Journalism: Why business reporters should take a second look at their community’s water quality report

The EWG’s tap water database can help you find your state’s utility companies with water violations on their record and put water reports into perspective with health guidelines. SimpleWater evaluated state’s actions regarding lead levels in school tap water and assigned grades for each state.

Essential Home and Garden: Best Reverse Osmosis System: 10 Models, Reviewed

There are many ways to treat your home’s water, but the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has rated reverse osmosis as the most effective method. It removes heavy metal contaminants like lead, arsenic, fluoride, and radium. It also significantly reduces the quantity of total dissolved solids (TDS).

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