EWG news roundup (6/4): Maryland cosmetics bill becomes law, FDA budget targets food safety and more

This week, Maryland enacted a bill to prohibit the sale and manufacture of cosmetics and personal care products in the state that are made with certain ingredients.

“Maryland residents now have greater assurance of the safety of the consumer products they use every day, like lotion and body wash, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, and makeup,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “This marks a momentous milestone in the history of cosmetics and personal care products regulation. Once again, groups like EWG, along with a diverse group of stakeholders and the industry’s trade association, the Personal Care Products Council, support legislation to modernize the rules governing these products.”

Last week, the Biden administration indicated it would request a $49 million increase in the Food and Drug Administration’s budget to address food safety. Included in the proposal would be funds used to review the safety of food chemicals and metals in baby foods.

EWG applauded Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) for introducing the Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act, which would set deadlines for the Environmental Protection Agency to issue standards that polluters must meet before they discharge PFAS waste into surface water or send PFAS wastewater to waste treatment plants.

The Toxic Free Food Act was also introduced this week by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). The legislation seeks to narrow loopholes that have allowed chemical companies to decide whether food chemicals are safe to eat.

And finally, EWG covered a shadowy political committee funded entirely by Duke Energy that has targeted lawmakers in North Carolina who are backing legislation that could pave the way for lower monthly utility bills for most ratepayers.

“Of course Duke is funding a front group attacking those advocating for competition and lower rates in North Carolina,” said Ken Cook. “The last thing this monopoly utility wants is competition. For years they’ve gotten away with sticking their captive customers with steep rate increases to pay for wasteful boondoggles like pipelines, natural gas plants and nuclear reactors that cost billions of dollars more than they promised.”

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

Children’s health

The Picky Eater Blog: Prune Baby Food Puree with Apple (Easy First Food)

When buying apples, especially for your baby, it is important to get organic. Apples are one of the fruits on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list of high pesticide fruits and vegetables.

Red Tricycle: The Ultimate Guide to Sunscreen for Kids

The available selection of sunscreens can be overwhelming, and it’s often difficult to determine which products are both effective AND free of harsh chemicals. We’ve rounded up our favorites (and the Environmental Working Group’s, too!) to ensure you and your squad can enjoy the warm weather days without worries. Scroll down to see our picks.

TSCA testing list

Inside EPA: Industry Pushes Back On TSCA Testing List As Environmentalists Applaud

Groups that signed the comments, including Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Working Group, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, also ask the agency to “defer” action on the OFR chemicals prioritized by CPSC until it has crafted test orders for the 15 TSCA chemicals.

The Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act

Inside EPA: Lawmakers Seek Major New EPA Program On PFAS In Infrastructure Bill

The bill is drawing support from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental group that has long been at the forefront on the push for regulation of PFAS. The group notes in a June 1 press release that while PFAS have been identified in drinking water supplied to more than 2,300 communities, thousands of manufacturers are still legally allowed to discharge the chemicals into water.

Oswego County Today (N.Y.): Gillibrand, Colleagues Reintroduce Legislation To Stop Polluters From Contaminating Waterways With Toxic Levels Of PFAS

“To address the PFAS contamination crisis, we need to turn off the tap of PFAS pollution,” said Environmental Working Group (EWG) Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber. “EWG applauds Senator Gillibrand for making industrial discharges of PFAS a priority for the EPA. Ordinary people are paying the price for decades of delay.”  

WSHU Radio (Westport, Conn.): Gillibrand’s Clean Water Bill Isn’t A Moment Too Soon For Calverton Homes Polluted With PFAS

Data from the Environmental Working Group shows that PFAS contamination has been detected in every state other than Hawaii, especially near military and industrial sites. More than one million New Yorkers are served by drinking water systems where PFAS chemicals have been detected.

Petition for FDA to ban PFAS in food production

Civil Eats: Will the U.S. Ban PFAS in Food Packaging?

“There are so many ways that we’re exposed to PFAS, but our food is probably the primary route of exposure,” said Scott Faber, legislative director for public health advocate Environmental Working Group. “Unfortunately, the FDA has for too long ignored the risks of PFAS, even though their dangers are well documented and well understood. So, Congress must act because the FDA has simply failed to do so.”

Environmental Defense Fund: Petition: FDA must stop allowing harmful PFAS in our food

“The FDA has understood the risks of PFAS since the 1960s but failed to act,” said Scott Faber, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs for the Environmental Working Group. “The evidence linking PFAS to cancer and harm to the reproductive and immune systems has only grown stronger, but the FDA has still refused to protect us.”


NJ Today: You do not want that store receipt

In 2010, EWG-commissioned tests of thermal paper found the amount of BPA on a receipt is 250 to 1,000 times greater than that found in a BPA-based food can lining. And in 2014, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reported similar levels of BPA and BPS in samples of thermal paper.


CounterPunch: Environmental Racism and the Pork Industry: the Vindication of Epidemiologist Steve Wing

After anerobic digestion (a process by which the waste is placed in tanks and broken down to produce biogas and biofertilizer), the waste is sprayed over fields. Based on geospatial data, the Environmental Working Group reports that more than 250,000 homes in North Carolina are within three miles of a CAFO.

Consumer guides

EcoCult: What Is Neoprene, and Why Is It Bad?

Similarly, in 2009 the Environmental Working Group (EWG) named neoprene the allergen of the year, mentioning that neoprene products can cause an allergic reaction when touching the skin. “Avoiding the neoprene products is the only solution because protective covering of the offending material is either impractical or insufficient,” said the EWG report.

The Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic Standards Act

Home & Textiles Today: Bipartisan legislation shapes the road forward for organic

Endorsers of the new legislation included: American Sustainable Business Council; Environmental Working Group; National Farmers Union; National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association; Organic Farmers Association; and the Accredited Certifiers Association; among others.

 Skin Deep® cosmetics database

Byrdie: Selenium Sulfide and Hair Loss: Everything You Need to Know

Along with the aforementioned potential for irritation, it bears mentioning some health and safety concerns around selenium sulfide in general. "The Environmental Working Group rates selenium sulfide at an 8, which shows concerns for its toxicity to the body and the environment," notes Reavey.

Treehugger: The Best Organic Body Wash of 2021

We’ve also considered the rating (when available) by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) who ranks products based on the toxicity of their chemical ingredients. As you’ll discover if you spend time on the research, many products have not been evaluated by EWG and among those that have, it is difficult to find a quality organic body wash whose ingredients are all “1’s” so keep that in mind as you choose your favorites.

EWG VERIFIED™: Cosmetics

Refinery29: Cult Beauty Just Made It A Whole Lot Easier To Shop Clean, Cruelty-Free & Vegan Skincare

Biossance harnesses biotechnology to create highly effective skincare which is safe for us, for animals and for our planet. The brand is credited cruelty-free and vegan by PETA and many of its products have the EWG VERIFIED™ mark, meaning that they meet the EWG (Environmental Working Group)'s strictest criteria for transparency and health.

Beauty Independent: There’s No Official Definition For The Term “Clean Beauty,” But Here’s What It Means To Beauty Brands

We define “clean” as products that are nontoxic, safe during even the most sensitive of cycles [and] hormone-conscious. [We] go the extra mile to get our products EWG-verified. We formulate using only the safest green-grade ingredients verified by EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database and proudly bear the EWG-verified mark on all of our products to display our commitment to 100% clean skincare.

The Skincare Edit: W3ll People’s Co-Founder on Starting a Natural Makeup Line (and the Products You Should Try)

What James does is manage the social responsibility by working with partners like EWG [the Environmental Working Group]. We're an EWG-verified brand, which means they've vetted the products, and we put their symbol on our boxes. That tells you this is safe.

Farm subsidies

NPR: Biden Administration Wants Agriculture Subsidies To Help Fight Climate Change

Another idea would be for the USDA to run a carbon bank where farmers would sell carbon credits to companies that want to take some of their own greenhouse gas emissions off the books. That's a popular approach. Even big, staunchly conservative farm groups are on board. But Anne Schechinger with the Environmental Working Group says it might not help.

Food additives

EcoWatch: Food Additive in Starbursts, Sour Patch Kids, Skittles, +3,000 Others No Longer Considered Safe

"It's sometimes hard to stomach that my 9-year-old cat is more protected than my 9-year-old son," Aurora Meadows, licensed dietician and nutritionist at The Environmental Working Group said. The Environment Working Group called on the FDA to reevaluate the safety of using titanium dioxide as new research from the EFSA has emerged. Currently, the FDA allows more than 10,000 chemicals to be added to foods, without requiring reevaluation of using certain additives, even when new research emerges.

Food Scores database

WRDE-TV (Golden, Colo.): Minimizing Toxin Exposure in Chiropractic Care

This discovery has been found by a non-profit organization called The Environmental Working Group (EWG). The organization evaluated over 3,000 products on store shelves for ingredients banned elsewhere due to health threats such as cancer risks.

Glyphosate on oats

Newsmax Health: Cereals Contaminated With Weed Killer

Even small amounts of ingested glyphosate have been shown to cause problems in the liver and kidneys. The Environmental Working Group undertook an independent study to test the level of glyphosate found in many commonly ingested cereal products.


United Press International: DoD expects to wrap investigation of PFAS pollution by 2024

In April of last year, the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit that advocates for clean air and water, released an interactive map of industrial operations that have likely released PFAS into air and water supplies.

Pineland Sands

MinnPost (Minneapolis, Minn.): After appeals court ruling, what’s next in the Pineland Sands farming dispute?

The lead plaintiff, the Environmental Working Group, said in a prepared statement that it was “profoundly disappointed in the court’s ruling” and was considering a petition to the state Supreme Court to hear the case. That route, however, might be losing steam. 

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

The Atlantan (Ga.): Can Sushi Save The World? How Chef Bun Lai Leads a Sustainability Revolution of Love

Learn more about edible invasive species in a fun and interactive way with Dr. Joe Roman’s Eat the Invaders and learn more about which produce you should be buying organic via EWG’s Dirty Dozen List.

Well+Good: You’re Probably Not Washing Your Strawberries Properly—Here’s How To Fix That

Alas, strawberries also top another less desirable list—the Dirty Dozen. Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases a list of the 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residue based on samples collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

NBC Today: 22 best natural and organic sunscreens for summer 2021

This mineral sunscreen has SPF 30 and protects the skin from UVA and UVB rays. It's also cruelty-free, easy to apply and hypoallergenic. It's also one of the Environmental Working Group's top-rated sunscreens.

EatingWell: 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 14th 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.

Fitness Health Yoga: Easy Solutions for 4 Summer Skin Concerns

Use garments, umbrellas, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide. (Check out the Environmental Working Group’s sunscreen guide.)

Green America: Choose Green, Not That: Natural Skincare for Summer

Not That: Some conventional chemical sunscreens contain toxic ingredients that are proven to adversely affect human and environmental health. For example, oxybenzone is a common ingredient found in 40 percent of sunscreens according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and is also linked to estrogen disruption and cause skin irritation.

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