EWG news roundup (5/21): EWG calls on the FDA to consider banning titanium dioxide use in food, concerns with a new generation of PFAS compounds and more

This week, EWG called on the Food and Drug Administration to consider a ban on titanium dioxide use in food. Titanium dioxide is used in thousands of processed foods, including Skittles, Starburst and Hostess’ Donettes.

This came in response to a recent study from the European Union’s top food safety agency saying titanium dioxide should no longer be considered safe as a food additive, citing its ability to damage DNA. EWG nutritionist Aurora Meadows said of the findings, “A chemical that may damage our DNA should not be in Skittles, Starburst or cupcakes.”

The chemical industry continues to claim that short-chain PFAS are safer than the legacy chemicals they replace. This week, EWG toxicologist Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., delved into the health hazards of short-chain PFAS compounds and found that though this new generation of “forever chemicals” may be structurally different, evidence is mounting that their toxicity is similar to that of first-generation, long-chain PFAS.

Finally, we published a piece on federal farm welfare. Every year, the American Farm Bureau Federation and additional Big Ag lobby groups demand more farm subsidies, and every year the majority of payments continue to go to wealthy landowners and farmers who don’t need them. In addition, most payments have gone to white farmers, leaving out Black farmers and other farmers of color.

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

Children’s health

The Eco Hub: 6 Eco Friendly Dog Toys That Are Pawfect For Your Pet

Back in 2008, the Environmental Working Group conducted a groundbreaking study that found that pets are polluted “with even higher levels of many of the same synthetic industrial chemicals that researchers have recently found in people, including newborns.”

Farm subsidies

Investigate TV: Secret Subsidies: Payments to farms allowed to stretch far beyond rural America, sowing concern about who gets what

“Most people in the public who know about these programs believe that they are going to farmers, people who need the money, people who need help to keep their farm afloat,” said Anne Weir Schechinger, a senior analyst at Environmental Working Group (EWG). “But in a lot of cases . . . that’s not going to someone who’s farming and who needs the money to help keep their farm afloat.”

Homeland Security Today: PERSPECTIVE: Hidden Security Dangers in the American Industrial Agriculture System

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) determined that “the top 1 percent of farms, the largest agribusinesses in the country, received 16 percent of MFP payments, or more than $3.8 billion.

Food additives: Titanium dioxide

Eat This, Not That!: Starbursts, Jell-O, and 3,000+ Other Foods Contain This Dangerous Chemical, Study Finds

"Titanium dioxide is a synthetic food colorant that is also used to make paints and consumer products bright white," Aurora Meadows, MS, RD, and nutritionist for the Environmental Working Group tells Eat This, Not That! "While we can't know for sure why a manufacturer chooses to use any additive in an ultra-processed food, it's safe to assume that it's being used to opacify the sugar-coated candy."

Aldicarb ban

Law Street: Petitioners in Aldicarb Suit Challenge EPA’s Mootness Argument

The petitioners, Farmworker Association of Florida, Environmental Working Group, and Center for Biological Diversity, responded with a letter of their own, explaining that because AgLogic intends to challenge the denial, the FDACS decision is neither final nor a stay premature.

Algae blooms

Faribault Daily News (Minn.): Increased monitoring of algal blooms needed, environmental group says

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, recently published a report concluding that more monitoring of microcystin, a toxic byproduct of some algae blooms, is needed to protect people from the toxin. The EWG’s report analyzed test results for microcystin in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.

KGLO News (Mason City, Iowa): Report Says Iowa Needs More Water Testing For Harmful Organism

A study from the Environmental Working Group says Iowa needs to monitor more bodies of water for a toxin that’s produced by a microscopic organism called blue-green algae.


Environmental Health News: Hurricane season spurs hog waste worries in North Carolina

According to a 2016 analysis by the Environmental Working Group and Waterkeeper Alliance, of the roughly 4,000 hog farms in the state, about 306 are located within the 100-year flood plain or within a half mile of a public well, the majority concentrated around predominantly Black and low-income communities in Duplin and Sampson County. 

The Blade (Toledo, Ohio): Letter to the Editor, Wake Up and Save the Lake

Official government reports combined with a landmark study by the Environmental Law and Policy Center and the Environmental Working Group show there are nearly 25 million animals confined in over 800 factory farms in our watershed.


Reviewed: Is Cleaning With Plant-Based and Natural Cleaners Effective?

Harmful chemicals to avoid include diethanolamine, formaldehyde, sulfuric acid, 1,4-dioxane, boric acid, ammonia, and bleach per the Environmental Working Group.

EWG VERIFIED®: Cosmetics

Vogue: Before Bed: Mayumi Skin Founder Kat Matutina Winds Down With TikToks and Electrolyte Water 

“I learned a lot about active ingredients as well as toxic and useless fillers after years of research, visiting organic farms, touring labs, and referencing the EWG Skin Deep database. It's the knowledge I gained that ultimately inspired me to create my own formulations.”

AskMen: AskMen Grooming Awards Best Oral and Skin Care Products of 2021

Rich might sound heavy, but this supremely hydrating gel is anything but. Verified clean by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), this eco-friendly, sustainable moisturizer is a lightweight gel cream formula with hyaluronic acid that seals in moisture and protects skin.

Byrdie: The Hustle: Meet the Innovation-Driven Executive Helping Make Beauty More Sustainable

We combine the best of both worlds in a very clean, EWG-verified deodorant that protects against odor for 40 hours. And there's no plastic with the products whatsoever.

Hormone disruptors

Lifestyle Markets: Happy Hormones, Happy Moms!

An excellent resource that I often recommend to my patients is the Environmental Working Group: www.ewg.org. Visit their site to find information about how you can clean up your home one small step at a time and minimize your exposure to many hormone disruptors.

Insect repellent

New York Times: Wirecutter: The Best Bug Repellents

The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit research and advocacy organization focused on environmental and health issues, also offers detailed, well-supported research on repellent chemicals, which we reviewed.   

Meat Eater’s Guide

Thrive Market: From the Prairies of Patagonia to Your Door: Why Our Grass-Fed Beef is Better

On top of that, beef production is commonly cited as a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, since cows are ruminant animals that produce constant methane. According to the Environmental Working Group, beef produces the second-highest emissions of common proteins.


Amazing Health Advances: Promote Your Heart Health by Eating More of THESE Vegetables

According to the Environmental Working Group, when you consume synthetic nitrates or nitrites, your body breaks them down into a compound called nitrosamines, which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer.


Antea Group: The Time to Act on PFAS Risks Is Now, Before It's Too Late

PFAS also wind up contaminating their environment, which is why regulatory agencies are beginning to clamp down. A study in January by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that the discovery of PFAS contamination is growing at an alarming rate, with confirmed cases at more than 2,300 sites in 49 states.

Bangor Daily News (Maine): What you need to know about ‘forever chemicals’ in Maine’s soil

One of the bills before the Legislature, LD 1503, would phase out the use of PFAS in consumer products unless absolutely necessary, and would require manufacturers to disclose whether their products contain it. Until then, consumers will have to rely on databases like those from the Environmental Working Group in order to know which products to avoid.

PFAS in water

Nature World News: Toxic Chemicals Found in 50 Samples of Mothers' Breastmilk in US

Although the FDA has no safety standards for PFAS in breast milk, the count is way higher compared to standards of 1 ppt by Environmental Working Group for drinking waters and Department of Health and Human Services' 14ppt in children's drinking water.

The European Union Times: Scientists Alarmed After Discovering that ALL American Women's Breast Milk is Contaminated with Chemicals

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

Pineland Sands

AG Week (N.D.): 1 farmer's 300 acres are the focus of an environmental battle in northern Minnesota

A group of environmental advocacy organizations including the Environmental Working Group argues in the lawsuit that an environmental impact statement is required because Nolte’s project is a thinly disguised effort by RDO to resurrect its once-planned expansion of its potato growing in the Pineland Sands, though in a piecemeal fashion using other landowners like Nolte to avoid triggering an extensive environmental review for a single, large expansion.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Reader’s Digest Canada: 12 Groceries That Are Worth Buying Organic

On the 2015 Shopper’s Guide of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) (which ranks fruits and vegetables contaminated by pesticides from most to least), blueberries grown in the United States came in at No. 14, while imported ones landed in 24th place.

MSN Lifestyle: 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.)

NJ Today: Pesticide-tainted produce on Dirty Dozen list

The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen™ together make up EWG’s annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™, which analyzes Department of Agriculture test data to identify which fresh fruits and vegetables are most and least contaminated with pesticide residues.

“Whether organic or conventionally grown, fruits and vegetables are critical components of a healthy diet,” said EWG toxicologist Thomas Galligan, Ph.D.

Pahrump Valley Times (Nev.): DIVAS ON A DIME: Celebrate strawberries and cream with a vintage cake recipe

On a side note, each year the Environmental Working Group puts out a list of the “Dirty Dozen” fruits most contaminated with pesticides. Strawberries are a staple on this list and are included in the 2021 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

2021 Guide to Sunscreens

Today: 8 best sunscreens for darker skin tones in 2021

Both King and Lee also noted that there have been some issues with the ingredients in chemical sunscreens. Oxybenzone, a common ingredient in chemical sunscreens, has been rated an eight by the Environmental Working Group, a rating that puts it in the high hazard category.

MarketWatch: 8 sunscreens dermatologists and skincare pros say you should try

NYC-based dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman tells her patients to look for a high percentage of zinc oxide. (The Environmental Working Group, which annually rates the efficacy and safety of sunscreens, recommends mineral-based sunscreens like those with zinc oxide.)

The People’s Pharmacy: How Can You Choose A Safe Sunscreen?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has been evaluating sunscreens for years. This nonprofit organization agrees that zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the only two sunscreen ingredients that have good safety data.

Romper: The 15 Safest Sunscreens For Children, According To The EWG

But when you go through the aisles at your store to purchase one, do you really know what you’re looking for? You will now, because the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its list of the best sunscreens for children, from babies to older kids, to help keep your child’s skin safe.

Treehugger: The 10 Best Mineral Sunscreens of 2021

Its mild formula earned an Environmental Working Group (EWG) rating of 1 because it’s both coral-reef safe and gentle enough for the whole family including babies.

US News & World Report: Dermatologists Explain 8 Sunscreen Recommendations

Researchers with the Environmental Working Group recently released the 15th annual Guide to Sunscreens and noted that of more than 1,800 products that advertise sun protection, only 25% offer adequate protection with no "worrisome ingredients, such as oxybenzone, a potential hormone-disrupting chemical that is readily absorbed by the body."

Morning After on KDAF-TV (Dallas): Environmental Working Group releases sunscreen guide, says what ingredients to look for

Environment Working Group released its 2021 guide to sunscreens. EWG reviewed and rated more than 1,800 SPF products for safety and efficacy. EWG Senior Research Analyst Carla Burns talked with our crew about the guide.

Tap Water Database

MSN Money: 40 Supermarket Buys That Are a Waste of Money

Bottled water is roughly 3,000% more expensive per gallon than tap water. Unless you live in an area where tap water is not safe (you can look these details up on EWG's Tap Water Database), buying bottled water is nothing but a waste of money and plastic.

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