EWG News Roundup (10/11): California Bans Brain Damaging Pesticide, Algae Blooms Across U.S. Swell in 2019 and More

This week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom reached an agreement with pesticide interests to ban the use of a toxic pesticide, chlorpyrifos, that has been shown to cause brain damage at even low levels of exposure. This comes a little more than two years after the Trump Environmental Protection Agency refused to ban the same pesticide at the national level.

“This is yet another example of California’s leadership on protection of the environment and public health in the face of the Trump administration’s near daily assault against both,” said Cook, a Bay Area resident. “Gov. Newsom called the bluff of chemical agriculture and they finally yielded. This agreement will mean that California’s children, farmworkers and their families will no longer be forced to breathe a pesticide that can cause irreparable damage to the nervous system.”

Gov. Newsom also signed into law a powerful measure that will help California protect workers from toxic lead poisoning. With his signature, the governor has directed health officials to automatically refer cases of high blood lead levels in workers for review and possible action.

“We thank Gov. Newsom for giving the issue of lead poisoning at the workplace the action it deserves,” said Bill Allayaud, EWG’s California director of government affairs. “Investigations have shown that some businesses have been exposing workers to dangerous levels of lead year after year. But the new law requires that state agencies take immediate action and no longer sweep the lead issue under the rug.”

As warm weather comes to an end across the nation, algae bloom season across the nation is also drawing to a close. EWG found 508 news reports about blooms this year – up 18 percent from the same period last year.

On Thursday, the Trump EPA released a new proposal for regulating lead in drinking water that would leave millions of children exposed to dangerously high levels of the contaminant.

“Instead of proposing a plan to protect children from the often lifelong damage caused by lead exposure, the Trump EPA is leaving communities to deal with the lead crisis on their own,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG’s vice president for science investigations. “In the most powerful country in the world, it should not be too much to ask that our children can grow up in a lead-free environment.”

Dirty fossil fuel interests were at it again this week. First, in Ohio, a shady front group is fighting back against a grassroots movement that is targeting a $1 billion nuclear and coal bailout. EWG also took a look at a number of electric utilities in the Southeast U.S. that are dragging their feet when it comes to adopting renewable sources.

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

EPA Lead and Copper Rule

UPI: EPA announces changes to curb lead in drinking water

The Environmental Working Group's vice president for science investigations, Olga Naidenko, criticized the decision to keep the action level at 15 ppb.

Green Bay Press Gazette (Green Bay, Wisc.): In Green Bay, EPA administrator unveils new rules to curb lead in U.S. water systems

A statement Thursday by the Environmental Working Group took particular issue with the administration's choice to maintain the current action level of 15 ppb. "Instead of proposing a plan to protect children from the often lifelong damage caused by lead exposure, the Trump EPA is leaving communities to deal with the lead crisis on their own,” said Olga Naidenko, the Environmental Working Group's vice president for science investigations. "In the most powerful country in the world, it should not be too much to ask that our children can grow up in a lead-free environment."

Market Facilitation Program

Billings Gazette (Billings, Mont.): Montana beef declared winner in U.S.-Japan trade deal

The value of the U.S. pork in Asian markets had fallen sharply and 26 Montana hog farms were ranked in the top 30 recipients of U.S. Market Facilitation Program, which pays farmers for trade war losses. In 2018, 64 Montana hog farms split $1.77 million in trade aid, according to federal data gathered by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit government watchdog that’s made a point of tracking farm subsidies. Reprinted by The Missoulian and Ravalli Republic.

Trump Administration Farm Bailouts

The Ledger (Lakeland, Fla.): Opinion – DeRugy: Cronyism yields a bumper crop with farm bailouts

Like regular farm subsidies, these bailouts are designed to shower largesse on the biggest farms. According to the Environmental Working Group, an outfit that has long opposed farm subsidies, one-tenth of the bailout recipients last year have received over half of the bailout payments, and 82 farmers have each received more than $500,000. Their report also notes that the top 1% of recipients of trade relief received $183,331 on average. Reprinted by the News Chief and other Gatehouse Media outlets.

Times Union (Albany, N.Y.: Commentary – Small farms valuable assets to society, sustainability

According to the Environmental Working Group, as reported in The Washington Post, the “top 1 percent of recipients of trade relief received, on average, $183,331. The bottom 80 percent received, on average, less than $5,000.” Reprinted by The Edwardsville Intelligencer (Edwardsville, Ill.)

Algae Blooms

Michigan Radio: Stateside: What we do (and don’t) know about CBD benefits; cover crops; do tax incentives work?

Algal blooms are a growing problem in Lake Erie and can lead to toxins in the water under the right circumstances. The Environmental Working Group and the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) investigated the sources of the nutrients feeding the algal blooms.

Algal Blooms and Maumee River

The Toledo Blade: To the editor: Connecting dots shows state doesn't care about our water

A March, 2019, report by the Environmental Working Group estimates that the number of confined animals in the Maumee watershed increased by 126 percent from 2005 to 2018, the amount of manure by 41 percent, and the amount of phosphorus by 62 percent.


Bustle: How BPA Affects Your Health Is Up For Debate — Here's What To Know

And though BPA has been around for more than 120 years, it wasn't until the past two decades that serious concerns were brought up about its possible effects on the human body, the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit that promotes human and environmental health, reported.

California Jewelry Safety Act

Instore Magazine: CA Sets Nation’s Strictest Limits on Lead and Cadmium in Jewelry

The bill was co-sponsored by Becerra, the Environmental Working Group and the Center for Environmental Health. In a press release, the Environmental Working Group noted that it ” imposes the nation’s strictest limits on the amount of lead and cadmium allowed in jewelry sold in California.”

National Jewelry: CA Law Tightens Restrictions on Lead, Cadmium in Jewelry

Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) introduced SB 647 in February. It was co-sponsored by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the Environmental Working Group and the Center for Environmental Health. It strengthens California’s lead and cadmium jewelry laws by establishing science-backed standards.

Children’s Health

EcoWatch: 3 Things New Parents Do Differently Today to Protect Babies’ Health

To learn more about protecting your child's health as they grow, see EWG's Children's Health Initiative for the latest research and tip sheets. Reprinted by Environment Guru.


Healthline: Cleaning with Bleach Can Release Harmful Airborne Particles

In its Guide to Healthy Cleaning, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group recommends choosing cleaning products free of fragrance, ammonia, and bleach. It also suggests looking for products certified by Green Seal or Ecologo.


Green America: Toxic Pink Packaging

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), women are exposed to 168 chemicals every day through cosmetics and personal care products, and those chemicals might be different each day, if you use multiple soaps or makeup items, for example. Men are exposed to 85 chemicals per day.

Fashion Network: Biossance launches educational clean beauty platform 'The Clean Academy'

Platform partners include Biossance’s first brand ambassador, Jonathan Van Ness, as well as Nneka Leiba, vice president of the Environmental Working Group; Debbie Levin, chief executive officer of the Environmental Media Association; and Tara Foley, founder and chief executive officer of clean beauty supply store, Follain, among others.

Cosmetics – Skin Deep

Bustle: The 5 Best Coconut Oils For Hair

“My hair was seriously dry after years of coloring, plus I get frizz from all the damage. This is the only product that helps my hair look smooth and shiny, without weighing it down,” wrote one reviewer. Another commented, “Love this. Great for extremely dry hair and it has the highest EWG rating for a hydrating masque.”

Earth 911: Smart Tips for Buying ‘Green’ Makeup

The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep cosmetics database is a good place to start. It features an easy search tool that helps you identify EWG-verified cosmetics.


Shondaland: My Search for a Totally Natural, Environmentally Friendly Fragrance

Which could be worrisome when you consider that, according to the Environmental Working Group, many popular perfumes and colognes can contain a dozen or more synthetic materials, many of them derived from petroleum.

Thrive Global: The Concept Behind Hidden Wholeness

The U.S. Environmental Working Group has found that more than 75 percent of all’ aroma’ repair products are being tried to contain phthalates. Such have been shown to disrupt the flow of hormones, and have been related to liver and bosom malignant development, and diabetes.

Heliyon – Cumulative Risk Assessment

Mercola: 22 Carcinogens Found in U.S. Tap Water

USA Today reported on a study where the Environmental Working Group (EWG) cited 22 carcinogens commonly found in tap water — including arsenic, byproducts of water disinfectants and radionuclides such as uranium and radium — that could cumulatively result in over 100,000 cancer cases over the span of a lifetime.

Collective Evolution: United States Drinking Water Pollution Could Cause 100,000 Cancer Cases

“We’re seeing cancer risk estimated at about 100,000 cases for the U.S.– due to drinking water contaminants at levels that currently meet requirements,” lead author, Sydney Evans, a science analyst at the Environmental Working Group, told EHN. Reprinted by Get Healthy.

Meat Eater’s Guide

The Appalachian: Opinion – App State jumps on the meatless train

The Environmental Working Group, an American activist group advocating for decreasing impact in the agricultural and farming industries, said the production and distribution of meat uses large amounts of pesticides, fossil fuels, water and other materials and contributes large amounts of greenhouse gases and other toxic chemicals to the environment. It takes 1,799 gallons of water to make one pound of beef.

Reason: Can Vegetarianism Stop Climate Change?

Multiplying by emissions per kilogram figures from the Environmental Working Group, a D.C.-based advocacy group generally opposed to crop biotechnology and conventional agriculture, that’s the equivalent of 1.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide per person. Reprinted by Before It’s News. 

Tulsa World: Animal Doctor: Owner needs to stop giving overweight cat 'junk food'

As for the U.S. pork industry, which uses thousands of tons of antibiotics: According to the Environmental Working Group, 71% of pork chops carried antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The same was true for 79% of ground turkey.

Monsanto’s Glyphosate

Pittsburgh Quarterly: Was Rachel Carson Right?

Most troubling to Carson backers is the evidence that the agro- chemical industry continues to make claims about the persistence of chemicals that are found wanting, said Ken Cook, co- founder of the Environmental Working Group.

PFAS in Food

Consumer Reports: To Reduce PFAS Levels in Food, Cook at Home

You can also check older data from a few years when EPA required testing or look at this map created by researchers from the Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University based on that data. (For more, see this story, but don’t assume bottled water is safer.)

National Geographic: Fast food increases exposure to a 'forever chemical' called PFAS

Earlier this month, a report by the Environmental Working Group found that tap water going to 7.5 million Californians tested positive for the contaminant.

Shopper’s Guide

Organic Authority: How to Roast Cauliflower Perfectly Every Time

If you’re on a tight food budget, you can choose to skip the organic cauliflower. According to the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen list, cauliflower ranks low on the list for pesticide contamination.


Angle News: Europeans have better sunblock: The EU allows 27 UVA-blocking ingredients

Between 2003 and 2010, the FDA received numerous applications from sunscreen makers who wanted to make products with active ingredients commonly used in the EU, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Business Insider: The Best Sunscreen

Except for All Good's kids' spray sunscreens, the brand receives a top rating from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) based on their ingredient list. While it's important to note that the EWG doesn't test sunscreens for consistency or easy application, they do account for every ingredient listed, rating them based on scientific research findings (from within and outside of the organization) relating to toxicity and other potential health and environmental hazards.

Daily Vanity: Is clean beauty overrated or the real deal? We tested 5 clean beauty products and tell you

All ingredients found in this clean sunscreen are EWG Green Level 1-2* and suitable for sensitive skin. *The EWG rating is an ingredient hazard score that goes from 1 to 10, which measures the number of known and suspected hazardous in a product. The lower the score, the lower the hazard level.

Tap Water Database

Arizona Daily Star:  Rosie on the House – Treating Arizona drinking water

Water suppliers periodically test the water and usually publish an annual report, often found on municipality or utility websites. You can check your area’s water conditions over the past five years with the Environmental Working Group’s program called what’s in your water.

Mercola: Water Poisoning Alerts Hidden From Public

A 2017 analysis26 by the Environmental Working Group of water samples from nearly 50,000 water utilities in 50 states found 267 different kinds of toxins, including 93 linked to cancer and 63 suspected of causing developmental harm to children. Reprinted by Before It’s News.

Tap Water Database – PFAS

Los Angeles Times: Firefighting foam leaves toxic legacy in Californians’ drinking water

Recently released Pentagon documents obtained through a public records request by the Environmental Working Group, an environmental advocacy group, showed three more bases in California with elevated contamination levels. Reprinted by San Diego Union-Tribune.

People: North Carolina Town Asked to Hold Off Doing Laundry for 5 Days — and Residents Aren't Too Happy

In May, the Environmental Working Group reported at least 22 locations across North Carolina that were exposed to “high levels of contaminated drinking water,” according to Charlotte Stories. Reprinted by Yahoo! News. Yahoo! Entertainment, Yahoo! Lifestyle.

Mother Nature Network: Why we can't run from 'forever chemicals'

There are at least 118 PFAS chemicals produced in volumes in excess of 25,000 pounds per year, according to a report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). That’s an increase of more than 55 percent since 2002, according to an analysis of EPA data by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER. And new variations of these chemicals have been produced with EPA approval as recently as 2015.

San Antonio Current: Lasting Harm: The Contamination Around the South Side’s Air Force Facilities Remains, and Residents Say It’s Still Taking a Toll

Although the Department of Defense is now working on a fluorine-free foam, pollutants from the older foams still linger. In 2015, the EPA issued a health advisory for PFOS and PFOA warning residents not to drink water with contamination levels over 70 parts per trillion. Contamination levels on military bases can reach up to 680,000 parts per trillion, according to a 2018 EWG and Northeastern University study.

Good Men Project: How to be Smarter in the Fight Against Chemical Toxins

These chemicals, connected with cancer and reproductive effects at levels as low as one part per trillion, are already known to contaminate the drinking water at toxic levels for some 110-million Americans (with the number growing), according to data collected by the Environmental Working Group. The Trump administration has refused to establish safety levels or even require public disclosure or testing of public water supplies.

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