EWG news roundup (5/28): Little progress on cleanup of ‘forever chemicals’ at military bases, a healthy and safe Memorial Day and more

This week, EWG analyzed the state of cleanup of military installations contaminated with the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS. According to Pentagon records, little to no work has been done to clean up these sites.

The Biden Environmental Protection Agency officially reversed the Trump-era "secret science" rule, which would have handcuffed the agency from using the most up-to-date scientific studies when evaluating potential actions around toxic chemicals, air pollutants and drinking water contaminants.

“The Biden administration is making clear that the best available science, and not political interference from industry, will guide the EPA’s decisions on protecting the public from pollution,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Undoing the damage done by the industry lobbyists Trump hired to run the EPA is an enormous undertaking. Thankfully it is a top priority for the president and Administrator (Michael) Regan.”

On Tuesday, EWG applauded Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) for introducing legislation to end the Defense Department’s purchase, procurement and sale of a wide range of household goods containing PFAS.

A new survey by the Organic Trade Association found that sales of organic food and other organic products in the U.S. surged to $62 billion in 2020 – up more than 12 percent compared to 2019.

Eruptions of potentially toxic algae blooms in lakes, rivers and streams season is up sharply from last year. So far this year, EWG has tracked 50 news reports of algae outbreaks.  

Finally, as we head into the long Memorial Day weekend, EWG laid out some tips for folks looking to keep it healthy.

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

Children’s health

Very Well Health: Study Finds High Levels of Toxic Chemicals in Mothers' Breast Milk

There are no standards for a safe amount of PFAS in breast milk, but the Environmental Working Group says drinking water should contain no more than 1ppt. The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry recommends as little as 14ppt in children’s drinking water.

President Biden reverses Trump’s"secret science" rule

Common Dreams: In Victory for Public Health, Biden's EPA Reverses Trump-Era 'Secret Science' Rule

“The Biden administration is making clear that the best available science, and not political interference from industry, will guide the EPA’s decisions on protecting the public from pollution,” said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group (EWG).  

Federal judge rejects Bayer’s class-action proposal for glyphosate lawsuits

AgriPulse: Daybreak May 28: Ag Committee leaders agree: Livestock markets need scrutiny

On the other hand: The Environmental Working Group, a group that has long criticized the herbicide, said stopping residential use would be a positive step, but called for a complete halt to all uses. EPA recently defended glyphosate’s safety in a brief filed in federal appeals court.

Common Dreams (Portland, Maine): As Bayer Considers Ending Some US Glyphosate Sales, Campaigners Urge EPA to Enact Full Ban

"Removing glyphosate from residential use would be a step in the right direction, as most of the cases now pending settlement involved serious exposure from non-farm uses," Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), said in a statement. Reprinted by Nation of Change.

NaturalNews: Eat at your own risk: Almost all grains in US contaminated with glyphosate herbicide

Testing carried out by the Environmental Working Group, meanwhile, revealed that glyphosate was found in every wheat-based food tested, including different types of pasta and cereal.  

Pineland Sands irrigation dispute case

Duluth News Tribune (Minn.): Minnesota farmer wins appeal in Pineland Sands irrigation dispute case

In an opinion issued Monday, May 24, the appeals judges rejected arguments by advocacy groups including the Environmental Working Group that the project was part of a plan by Fargo-based R.D. Offutt Co., one of the nation’s largest potato growers, to convert 7,000 acres of timberland to irrigated farming.  

StarTribune (Minn.): Minnesota appeals court: OK to skip full environmental review of Pineland Sands irrigation project

The ruling rankled the Environmental Working Group, part of a coalition of concerned citizens, Native American tribes and other groups, including one called Toxic Taters, who took the matter to court. The Environmental Working Group said in a statement that it is "profoundly disappointed."  

Algae blooms

The Courier (Waterloo, Iowa): Report: Iowa lags in monitoring water quality

Government monitoring of lakes, rivers and streams for a dangerous toxin that can be produced by outbreaks of algae falls far short of what’s needed to protect public health in the three states, according to a new analysis from the Environmental Working Group.

California: Low-lead faucets bill

Pasadena (Calif.) Now: Assemblymember Holden’s Legislation Aiming to Reduce Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water Passes Assembly Floor

“It is ridiculous that Californians are still exposed to lead from fixtures leaching significant amounts into our drinking water,” said Susan Little, Environmental Working Group’s senior advocate for California government affairs. “Ending lead exposure is critical to protect our kids’ health, and once again, California is moving the nation toward this goal. We greatly appreciate Assemblymember Holden’s work to ensure that California schools, childcare centers and consumers will be able to find faucets and plumbing fixtures that leach as little lead as possible.”  

Consumer guides

Build.com: N Propyl Bromide Can Be Toxic to Workers' Health

The benzene group of synthetic substances will in general have a sweetish smell that is extremely well known among perfumers and scents. The benzenes are petrol based, so they're modest, simple to stop by, and a known reason for leukemia. As per the Environmental Working Group, "Scent recipes are viewed as among the main five known allergens and can trigger asthma assaults."

CNET Health and Wellness: The best mattress for 2021

Many mattresses are sprayed with chemicals and flame retardants and made from potentially toxic foams that have been linked to some health problems. Because of this, the Environmental Working Group recommends choosing a mattress that's made from at least 95% cotton, wool or natural latex. And that's where the Avocado Green mattress comes in.

Skin Deep® cosmetics database

Healthline: Does Keratin Treatment Work for Thin Hair?

Before you seek keratin treatment in a salon or at home, talk to your stylist or read the packaging as well as research reviews online. You can also use a website like the Environmental Working Group to look up specific products and ingredients to determine whether they’re safe.

HealthDay: Moderate Use of Hair Relaxers Won't Raise Black Women's Cancer Risk: Study

The Environmental Working Group has more on hair straighteners. Reprinted by U.S. News and World Report.

WKYC-TV (Cleveland, Ohio): 3 News: What’s the difference between clean and natural when it comes to cosmetics, skincare? Local dermatologist explains the truth behind the science

So when it comes to the difference between clean and natural, it all comes down to these two separate entities the Environmental Working Group and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Both developed a stringent policy regarding certain ingredients in personal care products. My understanding is that just because a product is clean does not necessarily mean it will be natural.


Live Kindly: The 10 Best Cruelty-Free and Vegan Cleaning Products for Your Home

Third-party certifications include the EPA Safer Choice, Forest Stewardship Council, and the Environmental Working Group (EWG)—a U.S.-based organization that classifies more than 150,000 different chemical ingredients based on their toxicity and regulatory status.

EWG VERIFIED™: Cosmetics

Wellness Magazine: Our Recipe For Healthy Skin!

An Ayurvedic approach to skin care requires a healthy gut and thoughtfully formulated skincare products. The three main tenets of Ayurvedic skincare are: if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin. Bright Body takes ingredient safety seriously, not only are their ingredients Environmental Working Group safest rated, but you could technically eat them (though they wouldn’t taste good!).

Farm subsidies

The Charlotte Observer: 6 million pounds of tobacco were smuggled into Canada — with NC farmer’s help, feds say

It’s also where prosecutors said Howard earned a comfortable living of $100,000 a year running a farm. Data from the Environmental Working Group shows he earned government subsidies growing cotton, soybean, corn and wheat.   

CounterPunch: Who is Suffering From Lack of Klamath Water? Examining Federal Irrigator Claims

Using on-line tools, including the Environmental Working Group database of government subsidies to agricultural producers and Google Earth Pro’s current and historical Landsat images, I take a close look at how agricultural production and income within the federal Klamath Irrigation Project has been impacted when Klamath River water has not been available to meet all irrigation water demands.

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).

Food additives: Titanium dioxide

Chemistry World: Europe’s food agency changes its mind on titanium dioxide in food

Based on Echa’s new opinion, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is calling on the US Food and Drug Administration to quickly consider whether to phase out titanium dioxide in food use. After reviewing the ingredients of more than 100,000 products, EWG found titanium dioxide in more than 3000 ‘ultraprocessed foods’, including the popular brands Jell-O, Little Debbie and Tasty Cakes.

Insect repellent

DFW Child: Top Summer Safety Tips

Inspect the areas where your children are playing outside, treat your garden for fire ants or chiggers, keep the grass cut if possible. Chiggers love tall grass! For best bug sprays for children, check out the Environmental Working Group website (see resources).

Nitrates in water

St. Croix 360 (Wis.): Drinking water severely contaminated near factory farm in St. Croix County

The nonprofit Environmental Working group reports that 1.2 million Wisconsin residents drink water with elevated levels of nitrates. Removing it from drinking water has already cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

PFAS in fertilizers

Best Life: If You're Using One of These Popular Fertilizers, Stop Now, New Study Says

They're also known as "forever chemicals" because "they build up in our bodies and never break down in the environment," explains the Environmental Working Group. "Very small doses of PFAS have been linked to cancer, reproductive and immune system harm, and other diseases."  

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Eat This, Not That!: 7 Ways You're Ruining Your Liver, Say Experts

Buy clean fruits and greens. Johns Hopkins nutrition specialist Lynda McIntyre recommends learning about the Environmental Working Group's classifications of the Dirty Dozen™ and Clean Fifteen™ with regard to pesticides." Reprinted by Yahoo! Lifestyle

Organic Authority:  3-Ingredient Raspberry Jam Recipe (With a Chia Seed Healthy Hack)

When it comes to berries, go organic – always. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) continuously finds that berries, specifically strawberries, are sprayed with all sorts of pesticides, which remain on the fruit and then are consumed via a smoothie or shortcake.

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

Insider: The 7 best sunscreens of 2021 for every skin tone and type

It has a high rating from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and is very affordable price-per-ounce. Some complain that it dries their skin out too much, which zinc oxide tends to do, and many others had trouble rubbing it in.

MarketWatch: This is one of the safest and most effective sunscreens — and it’s under $10 a bottle

Can sunscreen, which is often pricey and filled with chemicals, actually be safer, effective and affordable? The answer: sometimes. MarketWatch chatted with the Environmental Working Group, an organization that has researched the safety and efficacy of sunscreens for 15 years now, about the safest and most effective sunscreens.

Goop: The 2021 Guide to Mineral Sunscreen (for Every Skin Tone)

With coral-bleaching chemical sunscreens now banned in places like Australia and Hawaii and clean mineral sunscreen formulas becoming ever more luxurious and easy to apply (the Environmental Working Group’s brilliant yearly sunscreen report is out this month, and the good options are many), we talked to the experts to get answers on everything from skin cancer to nanotechnology.

MSN Lifestyle: Everything you need to know about skin cancer

The Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved the ingredients in high SPF sunscreens, which means they may or may not work to protect against UVB and UVA, according to Reader's Digest. Additionally, the standard in the US is lower for UVA protection in sunscreens compared to Europe, according to the Environmental Working Group.

The Purist: Ask The Doctor

According to the Environmental Working Group, the best—as in, least toxic—sunscreens available are ones without PABA, parabens, fragrances, nanoparticles, retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A), oxybenzone, benzophenone-3 (BP-3) and aminobenzoic acid, which can affect your heart, hormones and even your DNA. For excellent guidance on which sunscreens are naughty or nicer, check out the Environmental Working Group’s list of safer sunscreens.

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