EWG News Roundup (10/16): 200 Million Americans Likely Have PFAS in Their Water, Solar Conquers Coal and More

This week a peer-reviewed study by EWG scientists was published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters that shows more than 200 million Americans, or roughly 60 percent of the U.S. population, could have the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS in their drinking water.

“We know drinking water is a major source of exposure of these toxic chemicals,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., vice president for science investigations at EWG and a co-author of the new study. “This new paper shows that PFAS pollution is affecting even more Americans than we previously estimated. PFAS are likely detectable in all major water supplies in the U.S., almost certainly in all that use surface water.”

We analyzed a newly released report by the International Energy Agency, which found that renewable energy, led by solar power, will become the dominant source of the world’s electricity by 2030. The report further underscores the demise of coal-powered energy, showing that renewables are significantly cheaper to produce and distribute.

EWG welcomed Evelyn Bellanger, a member of the Ojibwe nation, to write about her ancestors' and family’s experience living on the White Earth Reservation, in Minnesota, and the long-running battle between the Ojibwe people and the potato giant R.D. Offutt Company, including decades of the company’s relentless farming and damaging the land.

As temperatures across the nation begin to drop, EWG reviewed this year’s algae bloom season, noting more that 400 outbreaks in 2020.

And finally, on our Children’s Health site, EWG listed five ingredients to avoid in your personal care products if you’re pregnant or looking to become pregnant.

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

Children’s Health

Mom Loves Best: Best Hand Sanitizers For Kids of 2020

Pipette hand sanitizer is Environmental Working Group verified, so it is free from ingredients on the EWG’s “unacceptable” list.

USSA News: Environmental Toxins Causing Early Puberty in Both Boys and Girls

Three years ago, laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) detected BPA in the umbilical cord blood of 90 percent of newborn infants tested — along with more than 230 other chemicals!

USSA News: Fluoride Exposure May Contribute to Early Puberty

The Environmental Working Group even reported a finding from a Harvard PhD thesis that showed boys exposed to fluoridated water when they were between the ages of 6 and 8 had a seven-fold increased risk of developing osteosarcoma, a form of frequently fatal bone cancer.

North East Connected (England): Asbestos In Everyday Products: Should We Be On The Lookout?

It isn’t only crayons that can contain asbestos as tests performed by the Environmental Working Group found traces of asbestos in children’s modelling clay as well. 

New Study: 200 Million Americans Could Have PFAS in Their Drinking Water

Best Life: There’s a 60 Percent Change This Toxin Is in Your Water, Study Finds

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a safe level for PFAS in drinking water is no more than 1 ppt.

Smart Water Magazine: Over 200 million Americans could have toxic PFAS in their drinking water

A peer-reviewed study by scientists at the Environmental Working Group estimates that more than 200 million Americans could have the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS in their drinking water at a concentration of 1 part per trillion, or ppt, or higher.

Potato Cultivation in Pineland Sands

Bluestem Prairie (Minn.,S.D.): Ojibwe Nation member Evelyn Bellanger: Giant potato grower threatens what’s left of our land

Environmental Working Group's AgMag has posted Giant Potato Grower Threatens What’s Left of Our Land, commentary by Evelyn Bellanger, who--as noted in the author's bio at the end of the post--is a member of the Ojibwe Nation.

COVID-19 Pandemic Response

(Reprinted from Press Association) The Standard (Chester, UK): Who are the advisers behind coronavirus decision-making?

The Environmental Working Group identifies and steers the role that environmental modelling, data analysis and environmental sampling can play in understanding Covid-19 transmission.

California Bill: AB2762 Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act

Glam: California Banned 24 Chemicals From Beauty Products: Here’s Why That’s A Big Deal

Sephora has ‘clean’ criteria, too, though it’s worth pointing out that there are only 54 ingredients on their list. Duranski also recommends apps such as Skin Deep (created by the Environmental Working Group) and Think Dirty, which let you scan the barcode of a product to quickly and easily get more info on the ingredients. 

Action Fund Scorecard

River Reporter (Narrowsburg, N.Y.): ‘Enforcement of NY Plastic Bag Ban’ and More

On October 9, the Environmental Working Group Action Fund released legislative scorecards for members of Congress based on their votes regarding toxic chemicals. Rep. Delgado has earned a 100 percent, a perfect score for his leadership to address PFAS contamination. 

Cleaning Products

Bob Vila: The best Laminate Floor Cleaners for Dirt, Spills, and Stains

Chemical floor cleaners contain strong ingredients that get the job done. However, organizations like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) claim that some of the chemicals commonly found in cleaning products can lead to asthma, birth defects, and can even be carcinogenic. 

Consumer Products

Easy Health Options: One more reason to read product labels: Hormone interference

Another great source to avoid pollutants in your life are consumer guides offered by the Environmental Working Group.

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Harper’s Bazaar: Toxic Fashion: Just How Harmful are the Chemicals in Your Clothes?  Check the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database for laundry products that are rated safe.

InStyle: Everything You Need to Know About the Pigments in Your Clean Makeup Products

Yet, both Beautycounter and Róen Beauty have nailed how to make makeup products that are clean, and offer the color payoff consumers crave by using ingredients like mica and zinc stearate, which are both considered to be low risk when it comes to toxicity, according to the Environmental Working Group

Better Homes & Gardens: 7 Of the Best Natural Beauty Products You Can Get At A Drugstore

I decided to start small. And that’s exactly what Dr. Keira Barr, Founder and Chief Wellness Officer of Resilient Health Institute, says: “Start slow and do what feels comfortable." (Sources like EWG’s Skin Deep and Think Dirty can help users navigate ingredient lists, Barr says.

US Weekly: Michelle Pfeiffer launches fragrance collection inspired from clean beauty trend The collection is reportedly the first fragrance line to be certified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) - it was developed in partnership with Ken Cook, the organization’s president and cofounder - as well as being Cradle to Cradle certified. 

Greatist: Beauty School Chemistry: What Does Propylene Glycol Do for Skin?

In fact, cosmetic grade propylene glycol is considered safe and likely nontoxic by major orgs like the Environmental Working Group. So for most people, slathering on a lotion containing propylene glycol shouldn’t be a concern.


The Inventory: The Self Care Deals You Need To Relax Now That Prime Day is Almost Finally Over

Inna Organics is the first and only brand from Taiwan both EWG verified and COSMOS certified organic. 

Farm Subsidies

New York Times: Trump Funnels Record Subsidies to Farmers Ahead of Election Day

“For the first time in history, a president has repeatedly usurped congressional authority in order to personally dispense tens of billions of dollars in federal farm subsidy payments that would not otherwise have been paid,” said Ken Cook, president of Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization that has been tracking the agriculture payments.

Democracy Now!: Trailing in polls, Trump Appeals to White Suburban Women and Farmers The Trump administration has been ramping up subsidies to farmers ahead of Election Day, as payments are projected to reach a record $46 billion this year. Farmers have been hit hard by Trump’s ongoing trade disputes with China and Europe, as well as the coronavirus pandemic. Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group said, “This is an authoritarian power grab used to buy political support from voters who are essential to his reelection.”

Farm Workers

WVIK (Iowa/ Ill.): ‘Either I Risk It All Or Nothing At All’: Migrant Workers’ Need To Work Outweights COVID-19 Concern

Only 11 states -- including Michigan, Wisconsin and Colorado -- have mandatory regulations in place to protect farmworkers, according to an analysis from the Environmental Working Group.

Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health

Insteading: Food Choices Affect the Climate

The Environmental Working Group‘s new report takes into account the full “cradle-to-grave” carbon footprint of each food item based on the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated before and after the food leaves the farm. 

Live Kindly: Vegan Babybel Cheese To Hit The Stores Next Year

Cheese has a big impact on the planet: a 2011 report from the Environmental Working Group found that cheese production emits the third-highest amount of greenhouse gases out of animal-based foods, ranking behind lamb and beef.

PFAS on Military Bases

NNY 360 (N.Y.): Gillibrand joins letter urging management of dangerous fire suppressant chemicals that contaminated Fort Drum

Fort Drum is one of the military bases where high levels of toxic PFAS were found in the water table. In September of last year, the Environmental Working Group obtained Army reports indicating that 90 Army bases across the nation had concerning levels of the chemicals in their water table.

PFAS in Water

LA Progressive (Calif.): High PFAS Levels Found in Oysters and the St. Mary’s River

If we abide by the more responsible 1 ppt daily limit championed by the Harvard School of Public Health or the Environmental Working Group, we would be limited to ingesting one St. Mary’s River oyster every two months. 

The Bay Net (Md.): State Says No Concern over PFAS Chemical Pollutants in St. Mary’s River

EWG is pushing for federal legislation to ban use and production of all PFAS related chemicals and to set food and drinking water limits at 1 ppt.

Conservative Angle: How to Protect the Public From PFAS “Forever Chemicals”

According to a recent estimate by the Environmental Working Group, a public health advocacy organization, up to 110 million Americans could be drinking PFAS-contaminated water

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Philadelphia Magazine (Pa.): Eating Clean: 4 Ways to Reduce Pesticides In Your Diet

According to the D.C.-based non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG), a few foods that host a higher concentration of pesticides on average include strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, and tomatoes.

Erin’s Inside Job: Cost-Effective Wellness Swaps: Don’t Break The Bank For Your Health

The Environmental Working Group puts out a yearly produce list of the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15,” letting you know which fruits and vegetables you should buy organic (if you want) and which are fine to purchase conventionally.

Heated: A Dozen Essential Takeaways From My ‘How To Eat Now’ Audiocourse

The Environmental Working Group has a list updated annually called the Dirty Dozen, which lists the fruits and vegetables most likely to have high concentrations of pesticides on them.

Tap Water Database

Medium: I Lived In a City Without Clean Water                                                                        

Not only does my personal experience contradict any notion of safety, but the Environmental Work Group (EWG) water quality report for Midland found 16 contaminants that exceeded EWG guidelines. The EWG report also concluded that arsenic levels were above the legal limit in some samples.

Front Page Live: Report reveals drinking water is contaminated ‘in the nation’s food basket’

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) works on several different levels to educate people about safe drinking water. The EWG tap water database allows people across the US to check the quality of their tap water

Victoria Advocate (Victoria, Texas): City warns about some water sampling kits not affiliated with public works

Public Works reached out to Environmental Working Group, the organization whose website is listed on a form provided with the kits and a representative said the organization did not distribute the kits and has no affiliation with them. 

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