EWG news roundup (7/9): Protecting California’s rooftop solar program, PG&E petition for $3.6 billion rate hike and more

In an op-ed published last Saturday in the San Francisco Chronicle, EWG President and longtime Bay Area resident Ken Cook argued that state regulators should save California’s popular rooftop solar program from a scheme by the state’s three biggest investor-owned, monopoly utilities to destroy it. In the op-ed, Cook wrote:

A high-stakes battle is under way over the future of rooftop solar energy in California. On one side: Current and future rooftop solar consumers in the nation’s leading solar state. On the other, the state’s big three investor-owned utilities – PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric.

The utilities have petitioned the state Public Utilities Commission to slash by more than half the credit they must pay customers for excess energy generated by rooftop solar panels. They also want to charge new rooftop solar customers nearly $70 a month just to hook up to the grid.

EWG also broke down how PG&E is petitioning the same state regulators to approve a $3.6 billion rate hike for its 16 million customers for wildfire safety. Like the scheme to crush rooftop solar, this is another outrageous request that underscores the unfairness of PG&E’s state-sanctioned monopoly utility model.

“The enormous rate hike PG&E has requested will most hurt middle- and low-income families, many of whom are already struggling to stay afloat,” said Ken Cook. “The utility and its shareholders should shoulder the costs of these safety measures, considering it was the company’s own reckless negligence that was responsible for the recent deadly fires that killed scores of people and damaged and destroyed property.”

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

Children’s health

I Read Labels for You: Hidden Ingredients in Best Baby Wipes

Most companies do not disclose fragrance ingredients to US consumers even though a lot of people have allergies to fragrance. According to EWG, fragrance mixes often contain diethyl phthalate associated with hormone disruption. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, and respiratory distress. The EWG has given fragrance a rating of 8.

WE Magazine for Women: Is Plastic Bad for Babies?

Choose certified safe materials: Look at products that are certified by third parties like Oeko-Tex Standard 100, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), and the National Eczema Association, among others.

EWG VERIFIED™: Ingredients

HBW Insight: EWG Will Verify Cosmetic Ingredients So Clean Options Are ‘Easier To Source’

“EWG Verified” now is open to cosmetic ingredients, and all companies are invited to partake in the NGO’s “Reviewed for Science” program driving collaboration between its its scientists and private-sector counterparts.

HBW Insight: Is ‘Skin Deep’ Group Out Of Its Depth? EWG Announces ‘Verified’ Expansion To Cosmetic Ingredients

The Environmental Working Group is probing deeper in the supply chain to enhance its understanding of the cosmetics industry and ingredient safety underpinnings. EWG president Ken Cook and Kali Rauhe, director of cosmetic science, discuss the group’s plans for ingredient verification and greater scientific collaboration with cosmetics companies.

PFAS in cosmetics

Rose Inc.: “Forever Chemicals” & Cosmetics: What You Need To Know About PFAS

Meaning, it’s not just the issue of using cosmetics containing PFAS, but where they go when we remove them. “When you wash your face, these chemicals go down the drain, and they're very poorly removed by wastewater treatment plants. They escape into surface water,” she says. (Home water filtering systems don’t do much either; according to the EWG, a reverse osmosis filter might be the best option so far.)


North Carolina Health News: N.C. riverkeepers cry foul over state’s farm law

According to a report from the Environmental Working Group and Waterkeeper Alliance, the groups found that there are now twice as many poultry farms in the state as there are hog farms — 4,700 poultry farms to 2,100 hog farms. “The groups’ research found that in 2018, manure from 515.3 million chickens and turkeys joined the waste from 9.7 million hogs already fouling waters and threatening North Carolinians’ health,” the report said.

California Assembly Bill 100

Pasadena Now (Cali.): Assemblymember Holden’s Legislation Aiming to Reduce Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water Passes Senate Environmental Quality Committee

“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.”

Conservation database

Slate: Conservation Is One of the Easiest Things to Greenwash

The Environmental Working Group, or EWG, created a Conservation Database that tracks the conservation practices farmers have implemented with $29.8 billion in taxpayer funds over the past decade through four USDA initiatives. EWG concluded that these federal farm bill conservation programs “aren’t leading to clean water, clean air and a healthy environment.”

Consumer guides

Green Living Mag: With Shades of Green, Eco-Hosting Is the Wave of the Future

“There are a lot of nonprofits out there, like the Environmental Working Group, that are doing this sort of evaluating, but there isn’t really anyone in the retail space that has taken a stand and decided to go through the process that we’re going through of interviewing and filtering vendors, and following a very refined set of guidelines and questions,” says Wade. “I think that’s really what has set Shades of Green apart.”

Waste Advantage Magazine: Swimming in Our Toxic Soup

For the general public, a good place to find information about the riskiness of one product versus another is going to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website where they have science-based evaluations of thousands of products, including cosmetics, sunscreen, pesticides on produce and other consumer-oriented information. This national non-profit is based in the District of Columbia with offices in Minnesota and California.

Skin Deep® cosmetics database

BuzzFeed: 25 Products That May Only Do One Thing, But They Do It Really, Really Well

The natural ingredients means no rashes! It also has no aluminum, baking soda, parabens, gluten or synthetic fragrances. It's vegan, cruelty-free, and uses ingredients based on their Environmental Working Group (EWG) safety.

Women’s Health: Clean Beauty Queen Michelle Pfeiffer, 63, Spills 7 Beauty Secrets

I became more and more aware of the products we were consuming and putting on our bodies, and so transparency became a big issue for me. At some point, after a while, I stumbled upon the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep database. They rate personal care products by how hazardous they are, and I just went down the rabbit hole.”

American Optometric Association: Managing the care of patients with contact lens-related dry eye

Consider recommending to patients nonirritating products, says Dr. Barnett, who suggests two online resources for learning about the ingredients in cosmetics: the Think Dirty® app and the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep®. “A healthy tear film is important for all patients, especially for those who wear contact lenses,” she says.

Cover crops report

Iowa Public Radio: Cover Crops Can Help Slow Climate Change, But Few Farmers Are Planting Them

And yet, according to a new study from the Environmental Working Group, only 4.8 percent of corn and soybean acres across Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Minnesota have them. The study utilized satellite imagery to track cover crop acres across the Corn Belt starting in 2015. It found that, while cover crop adoption has increased slightly since then, only one in 20 acres of corn and soybeans are currently protected by cover crops.

EWG VERIFIED™: Cosmetics

Glossy: Revlon CEO Debra Perelman on matching the ‘timelessness’ of her brands with the ‘timeliness’ of the moment

What’s very exciting is we were the first to come to the mass [market] with a certified seal from the Environmental Working Group, on our Revlon primers and, most recently, our Almay eyeliners. We were paving the way, in terms of: How far can you go in color cosmetics, in terms of sustainability?

EWG VERIFIED™: Sunscreen

Elle Magazine: The Top 7 Beach-Worthy Mineral Sunscreens

With natural ingredients like non-nano zinc oxide and colloidal oatmeal, this mineral sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB while also soothing dry and sensitive skin after sun exposure. It’s also certified by the NEA (National Eczema Association) and EWG Verified.

Farm subsidies

Authority Magazine: Food Deserts: Sherra Aguirre On How She Is Helping To Address The Problem of People Having Limited Access to Healthy & Affordable Food Options

At the same time I support the efforts of organizations like the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to promote science-based food education and an end to subsidies which fuel the overconsumption of meat and dairy.


Food Beverage Insider: USDA confirms glyphosate residues on organic chickpeas

USDA’s “NOP (National Organic Program) investigated the supply chain for this product and confirmed that organic chickpeas supplied to Harris Teeter retail stores [were] handled by an operation currently certified by Organic Certifiers Inc.,” Francis wrote to Alexis Temkin, a toxicologist with EWG. “The operation has modified its practices to prevent cross-contamination of organic products.”

Ozona Stockman (Texas): They are messin’ with our oatmeal

In August 2018, the results of a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental advocacy organization, revealed that glyphosate was present in twenty-five of twenty-nine oat-based food products tested.

Healthy Living app

Confused Millennial: 11 Best Skincare Products During Pregnancy: My ACTUAL Natural Skin Care Routine

The easiest suggestion/starting point I can give you when choosing pregnancy safe skin care products is to download the EWG or Think Dirty apps on your phone which allow your to scan or search a variety of products. These will become your best friend anyway most likely once baby arrives and you begin evaluating your cleaners, foods, etc.

Meat Eater’s Guide

Peace Arch News: THINK GREEN: Vegetarian or vegan diet key to combatting climate change

The Environmental Working Group states that lamb is more harmful to our planet than beef. Cheese falls next in the ranking of greenhouse-gas emitters, followed by pork, turkey and, finally, chicken.

Plant Based News: Vegan Egg Launches In Japan – The World’s Second Largest Consumer Of Eggs

Sustainability-focused website Green Eatz collected data from the Environmental Working Group’s Meat Eater’s Guide as well as the EPA’s Guide to Passenger Vehicle Emissions. It found that meat, cheese, and eggs have the highest carbon footprints compared to other foods.

PFAS Action Act of 2021

Cape Cod Times (Mass.): Federal legislation to regulate PFAS could get House vote this month

Scott Faber is the senior vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, a non-partisan environmental research and advocacy organization that worked with Dingell’s office to offer advice on the bill’s contents. Faber said the PFAS Action Act would serve as a significant first step in addressing the PFAS pollution crisis.

PFAS in water

Port City Daily (N.C.): Despite upstream spike, local levels of 1,4-dioxane below immediately available detection

The Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization active in trying to get PFAS regulated, recommends a combined PFAS limit in drinking water at 1 ppb.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Alt Health Works: Two Vegetables Reported “Extraordinarily Toxic” Yet Overlooked as Part of New “Dirty Dozen”

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has published a new report for the 2021 shopping season that rates produce on the amount of pesticides they are likely to contain, part of its famous ‘Dirty Dozen’ and ‘Clean Fifteen’ series. Strawberries have continued to rank high yet again, taking first place on the list for ‘dirtiest produce item,’ as part of a list that has become an immensely popular resource to determine where best to spend your hard-earned organic dollars.

Experience Life: EWG Releases 2021 “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” Lists

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its 2021 “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists — a catalog of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest amounts of pesticide residue. Strawberries topped the “Dirty Dozen” list for the fifth year in row.

The Healthy Tomato: Why is Organic Gardening Important?

This list from the EWG shows which produce items are the most heavily contaminated with chemicals and which are the least contaminated. This list does not target GMO or irradiated produce but it may help you decrease the amount of poison you are ingesting.

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

Chicago Sun Times: Sunscreens under scrutiny: New FDA rules coming after summer’s end, plenty of confusion over what’s safe

The Environmental Working Group, an organization of scientists and policy experts, says that until then people should consider switching to mineral sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide — which protect you from the sun by providing a physical barrier and help reflect the sun’s rays — rather than using chemical sunscreens. The FDA already has deemed those two mineral ingredients “safe and effective.” 

Cronkite News (Az.): A PSA on SPF: Tips on getting the most protection from sunscreen

The SPF measures how well a sunscreen can defend against UV rays. The number isn’t directly related to duration of solar exposure but rather the amount or intensity. A higher SPF doesn’t mean you can be out longer without reapplying, either. The Environmental Working Group recommends SPF 30 to 50, adding that any number higher than that is “misleading.”

The List: What Is Homosalate And Why Is It In Your Sunscreen?

The Environmental Working Group rates Homosalate as a 2-4 on their scale of safe to unsafe ingredients (0 being the cleanest and safest, 10 being unsafe and toxic). The EWG calls it “fair” as opposed to “good” or “bad.” 

Tap Water Database

Michigan Public Radio: The chemical soup that can get into your drinking water

The Environmental Working Group did a peer-reviewed study to estimate whether the chemical levels that don’t exceed government limits in drinking water could combine to cause increased health risks.

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