EWG News Roundup (1/10): Trump Threatens To Derail PFAS Action, California Fails To Test Infants for Lead and More

This week the House voted overwhelmingly to pass H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act, which President Trump has threatened to veto.

The bill would set deadlines for the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce ongoing releases of toxic fluorinated chemicals, known as PFAS, and to set a drinking water standard for two notorious PFAS chemicals.

“It’s never been clearer that it’s time for Congress to set tough deadlines to reduce PFAS releases into the air and water, set PFAS drinking water standards, and clean up legacy PFAS pollution,” said EWG Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber. “If the Trump administration won’t take the necessary steps to protect the public from PFAS, it’s up to Congress to act." 

In other news about the PFAS Action Act, EWG broke down EPA’s history of inaction when it comes regulating PFAS and told the story of a military firefighter pushing for Congress to act on the PFAS crisis.

News broke this week that California was failing to test millions of children for lead exposure. The state auditor released a report finding that the state’s departments of Health Care Services and of Public Health failed to test more than 1.4 million 1- and 2-year-olds for whom testing was required.

“Although all children can be exposed to lead in drinking water and old paint, kids from lower-income families are considered most at risk of lead poisoning,” said Susan Little, EWG’s senior advocate for California government affairs. “These agencies need to improve the transparency of their lead-poisoning-prevention programs and make sure that useful information about lead exposure and sources of lead contamination is readily available to the public.”

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

California Audit of Lead Programs

Politico Pro: State audit: Officials failed to ensure 2M children on Medi-Cal got mandated lead testing

Susan Little, senior advocate for California government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, agreed with the audit’s conclusion that low-income children aren’t being prioritized for leading screening, even though they are more likely to be poisoned by it. 

Los Angeles Times: Lead pain, banned for decades, still makes thousands of L.A. County kids sick

But across the state, not enough children are being tested for lead exposure, said Susan Little, senior advocate for California government affairs for the advocacy organization the Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by Ladies Want MoreVIPortalThe Union Journal

NBC Sacramento: Audit: Majority of Medi-Cal children missed lead screening

“Lead doesn’t have a smell, doesn’t have a taste, doesn’t change the taste of water," said Susan Little with the Environmental Working Group. "Well in fact, in paint, it’s sweet. So, children are more apt to chew on lead paint chips.”

CalMatters (Calif.): ‘Troubling’ audit reveals state failure to test millions of babies for toxic lead

And in 2018, the non-profit Environmental Working Group found, based on Health Care Services billing data, that about three-quarters of California toddlers on Medi-Cal had not undergone the required lead testing. Reprinted by Medical Health NewsPublic CEOLake County Record-Bee (Lakeport, Calif.)

H.R. 535: The PFAS Action Act 

The Philadelphia Inquirer: U.S. House passes legislation to address PFAS chemical contamination

As many as 100 million Americans could have drinking water affected by PFAS, the Environmental Working Group estimates.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis): U.S. House directs EPA to declare ‘forever chemicals’ hazardous

More than 100 million Americans in 1,400 communities have been exposed to PFAS-tainted drinking water, according to a database run by Northeastern University’s Social Science Health Research Institute and the Environmental Working Group.

The Bulletin (Bend, Ore.): Defense bill lacks provision to clean up Oregon National Guard bases

Inclusion of the provision would have required the federal Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the PFAS chemicals, according to Alex Formuzis, senior vice president of the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.

Courthouse News Service: House Passes PFAS Chemicals Bill to Push Water Standards

Known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluorooctanoic substances (PFAS and PFOS), the chemicals have been found in groundwater sites across the nation. The Environmental Working Group — an activist group focused on research advocacy of toxic chemicals — released a study in November that found nearly 110 million Americans had been drinking PFAS-contaminated water.

EcoWatch: Trump to Veto Bill Intended to Keep Forever Chemicals out of Groundwater

"Enough is enough," said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, in a statement. " Reprinted by Enjeux EnergiesWater Quality ProductsBefore It’s NewsWater & Wastes Digest

Waste Dive: House plans to take up sweeping new PFAS bill with waste implications

Melanie Benesh, a legislative attorney with the Environmental Working Group, told Waste Dive that Superfund cleanup processes are typically slow and it is hard to predict how regulations might play out.

Trump Administration Farm Bailouts

The Washington Post: In Trump Country, a season of need on family farms

study by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group found that 60 percent of the money that flowed to New York state went to the top 10 percent of farmers. Reprinted by the Houston ChronicleSF Gate (San Francisco)Laredo Morning Times (Texas)The Telegraph (Alton, Ill.)Chron (Houston); 30+ other media outlets

Forbes: Here’s The Crushing Truth About American Farmers Under Trump’s Trade War

The Environmental Working Group has run an analysis on the MFP subsidies and says the top 10% of recipients—"the largest, most profitable industrial-scale farms in the country," according to the EWG—received half of all the dollars spent, in the form of multi-million dollar payments.

Vox: 2019 was a brutal year for American farmers

Chinese imports of US agriculture products fell by nearly 20 percent, and the Trump administration has responded with close to $28 billion in aid for farmers hurt by foreign tariffs. (The Environmental Working Group found that big, industrial-scale farms, rather than family farms, are getting the majority of those funds.)

The Cap Times: Plain Talk: Let’s make 2020 the year we all return to our senses

According to the Environmental Working Group, one farm alone has received $2.8 million — more money than it actually lost during this crisis.

DC Report: How Democrats Saved Trump’s North American Trade Deal

But big corporate farms, not yeoman farmers, benefit most from Trump’s taxpayer bailout, an analysis of government records by the Environmental Working Group found. Reprinted by Raw StoryThe National MemoSalonAlterNet

New York Daily News: A tale of two subsidies: Demonizing SNAP recipients and deifying the wealthy

According to the Environmental Working Group, the taxpayer subsidies have been disproportionately paid to wealthy landowners with the top 1% of recipients receiving, on average, $183,331 of taxpayer money and the bottom 80% receiving, on average, less than $5,000. 

Oklahoma Watch: Trade Dispute Cash Helps Farmers, But Their Incomes Continue to Decline

The Environmental Working Group maintains much of the money has gone to wealthy farmers and there’s no prohibition on double-dipping into the Market Facilitation Program and other farm subsidy programs for things like soil conservation. Reprinted by The Norman Transcript (Okla.)Farm TalkThe Journal Record (Oklahoma City)Enid News & Eagle (Okla.)

EPA’s Atrazine Proposal

Bluestem Prairie (Minn. And S.D.): Atrazine. We’re on it.

The Environmental Working Group criticized the EPA action, alleging that it will weaken safeguards for children’s health and the environment and allow 50 percent more atrazine to get into U.S. waterways. 

Trump’s EPA

Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tenn.): Cleaveland: What we need is an EPA that works for the people

Without the continuing research, investigations, and litigation of such non-profit, public interest organizations as Earthjustice and the Environmental Working Group we would be at the mercy of powerful opponents to environmental health.

Algae Blooms

Insider NJ: NJ Sierra Club End of Year Review - 2019

A recent Environmental Working Group report showed levels of cyanotoxins in lakes, rivers, and other water bodies across the country at levels higher than EPA health guidance standards. Reprinted by Township JournalCNB NewsSparta Independent

Body Burden 

Josh Gitalis: Advanced Clinical Focus: Detoxification and Biotransformation

In fact, the Environmental Working Group found that every single North American shows traces of over 100 known toxic chemicals.


The Columbus Dispatch: Livestock permits continue amid Lake Erie algae blooms

In April, The Environmental Working Group and Environmental Law & Policy Center released a report showing the increase in livestock throughout the watershed in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.

The Nation: The Stink and Injustice of Life Next to an Industrial Hog Farm

The state’s 2,300 swine operations are responsible for most of the 10 billion gallons of wet livestock waste generated in North Carolina, according to a 2016 analysis by the Environmental Working Group and Waterkeeper Alliance, an international clean water group. Reprinted by Food & Environment Reporting Network

Carcinogenic Chemical Exposure

Mercola: USA Exports More Blood Than Soybeans or Corn

In a report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), scientists identified more than 1,400 known or likely carcinogenic chemicals to which we are exposed on a daily basis.

Cell Phone Regulation

News Amed: Smart phones may leak unsafe levels of radiation, report claims

California has been distrustful of these limits and cell phones’ safety, as have expert groups like the Environmental Working Group (EWG). 

Chlorpyrifos in Water

Finger Lakes 1: MANTIUS: Cuomo calls for immediate end on aerial spraying of pesticide used for apple trees

Well over 50 tons of the chemical were spread in eight Finger Lakes counties between 2011 and 2015, led by Cayuga, Steuben, Ontario, Livingston and Tompkins, according to the non-profit Environmental Working Group

Cleaning Products

Popville: Breathe Easier with Well-Paid Maids!

Our employees use only products that have received a “Low Concern” or “Lowest Concern” rating from the Environmental Working Group. That means no fumes, no watery eyes, no coughing and no chemical smell.

The Inventory: You Only Need These 2 Things to Clean Your Tub

And thanks to my non-toxic mom Instagram friend, I know about Environmental Working Group, whose evidence-based Guide to Healthy Cleaning gives Bon Ami an “A.”

LMents of Style: Nontoxic Household Cleaners + Easy Steps to Spring Clean

I love the Environmental Working Group and they have a whole cleaning sectionwhere you can look for products or find the rating for products you currently have.

Consumer Products 

Martha Stewart: 6 Ways to Detox Your Home

According to the Environmental Working Group, many everyday cleaners, beauty products, and home goods such as cookware often hide harmful chemical ingredients.

Live Like It’s the Weekend: 10 Simple Ways You Can Fast-Track Your Health Goals This Year

Check out the Environmental Working Group’s website for tips on how to clean up your life in the 4/5 categories mentioned above.


Business Insider: This nontoxic baby balm is the only one I’ve found that eases my toddler’s eczema

On top of that, all of their products carry the Environmental Working Group’s EWG Verified guarantee that they do not contain potentially harmful ingredients. Reprinted by USA News PostLatest Nigerian News

Bustle: The 6 Best All-In-One Makeup Sticks

This multipurpose stick meets the standards required to be an Environmental Working Group verified beauty buy, meaning it’s free of chemicals that the nonprofit organization deems concerning.

Michelle Pfeiffer’s Henry Rose 

My San Antonio: Michelle Pfeiffer’s Fragrance Brand Took 20 Years (and Plenty of Rejection) to Build

This was the late 1990s; consumers weren’t talking about safety much, so neither were companies. Pfeiffer eventually discovered an advocacy organization called the Environmental Working Group, which had a website, Skin Deep, that ranks cosmetics products based on the safety of their ingredients. Reprinted by Satoshi Nakamoto BlogConnecticut Post (Bridgeport)Stamford Advocate (Conn.)Greenwich Time (Conn.)The Hour (Norwalk, Conn.)

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

NBC Today: 39 clean beauty products that will have you feeling good in 2020

According to the Environmental Working Group, there are over 80,000 chemicals on the market today but only about 30 (11 beauty ones) are banned by regulators in the United States.

Martha Stewart: 1,300 Cosmetic Ingredients Are Banned in the United Kingdom, Compared to 11 in the United States—Here’s Why

"In the European Union, they take more of a precautionary approach, so if an ingredient is presumed to be hazardous, or thought to cause health harm, they'll restrict or prohibit it," says Nneka Leiba, Vice President of Healthy Living Science at the Environmental Working Group.

Mercola: Beauty Brand Recalls Face Mask Causing Adverse Reactions

Of the 13,000 chemicals used in cosmetics, only 10% have been tested for safety. Environmental Working Group has an extensive database that can help you find personal care products free of potentially dangerous ingredients.

Mercola: Is Your Makeup Contaminated With Superbugs?

A better choice is to seek out safe makeup products from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and heed the expiration dates.

Patch: Long Beach, N.Y.: Organic & Natural Skin & Body Products

As a result the body must work harder to heal. According to the EWG (Environmental Working Group) women consume on average 168 chemicals (men about 90) ­through using personal care products on a daily basis.

The Telegraph: 16-hour days on Netflix shoot game me rosacea and ‘made my life miserable’, actress Naomi Watts says

To be stocked on Onda’s shelves, products must have limited toxins and have a low-hazard rating of one from Environmental Working Group, an activist group who research toxicity of cosmetic products. Reprinted by Yahoo!

Insider Beauty: I’m starting the new year with a “clean” slate

No joke, I started searching the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep databasefor my most-used products that night, and it was an eye-opening experience.

Lola’s Secret Beauty Blog: Beauty & Health Resolutions for 2020

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a cosmetics database, called EWG Skin Deep that rates products for their levels of toxicity, as well as individual ingredients.

Top Class Actions: Proposed Cosmetic Bill To Define ‘Natural’ Products

“The Environmental Working Group (EWG) estimates that the average adult uses 12 personal care products each day, exposing themselves to 168 unique chemical ingredients.

Who What Wear: 5 Sneaky Face-Wash Ingredients That Dry Out Your Skin—and What to Buy Instead

As the Environmental Working Group reports, that probability is high. Cosmetic and personal-care companies are "allowed to use almost any ingredient they wish" when formulating products, and "the U.S. government doesn't review the safety of products before they're sold," writes the EWG. Reprinted by Webs FavoritesYahoo!

Dark Waters Release (PFAS)

Sierra Club: Mark Ruffalo, Real-Life Eco-Hulk?

I started working with the Environmental Working Group, and they were organizing a day to do lobbying on the Hill, and we were invited to testify before the House Science Committee.

DuPont's PFAS

The Alliance Review (Ohio): Chris Schillig: Maker of wonder gunk now gets into the cleanup business

According to a report by the Environmental Working Group, Desalitech makes about $6.5 million a year.

Endocrine Disruptors

Salisbury Post (N.C.): Dr. Magryta: Forces affect immune function, baby food safety

We should avoid them at all costs (the list includes BPA, fire retardants, lead, arsenic, mercury, PFCs, pesticides and other items). Learn more at www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors

EWG’s Healthy Living App

The Hindu: How The Explorers app digitizes your travel narrative

Already in the market are carbon neutral air safaris, zero-waste Airbnbs and apps like Green Globe, which help you find eco-friendly hotels, and Environmental Working Group’s ‘Healthy Living’ app which details how ‘clean’ and conflict-free a given food item or product in a given country is. Reprinted by Fooshya

Food Policy Action

Eating Well: Celebrity Chef Tom Colicchio Is on a Mission to End Hunger for Veterans

Six years ago, he and Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook co-founded Food Policy Action, an advocacy group that's focused on food safety, nutrition and hunger issues-particularly school lunch programs and hunger among veterans.

Good Food on a Tight Budget 

The Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, Mass.): Doctor’s orders: Eat more whole foods

He suggests price-conscious consumers read "Good Food on a Tight Budget" by Environmental Working Group.

Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health

The New York Times: A New Year’s Climate Diet

According to a study published by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, beef can require more than 27 kilograms of carbon dioxide per kilogram of meat eaten (much, much more if you compare foods based on protein content per unit of weight). Reprinted by USA News HubThe Salt Lake Tribune (Utah)

Consumer Reports: A Meat Lover’s Guide to Healthy Eating

An Environmental Working Group and CleanMetrics study found that chicken was the meat with the least impact on the environment (though still worse than plant foods and most fish and dairy). Reprinted by MSN

Tree Hugger: What can you eat if you are living a 1.5 degree lifestyle?

There are also less useful analyses, like this one from the Environmental Working Group, which measures the Kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of consumed food. Reprinted by Fooshya

Natural Flavors

Chowhound: 5 Health Foods That Aren’t Actually Good for You

According to the Environmental Working Group, a review paper found that artificial and natural flavorings can be unspecified mixtures of as many as 100 flavoring substances and solvents, emulsifiers, and preservatives.

PFAS Contamination of Military Installations

Environmental Health News: Looking ahead: Hormone-altering chemicals threaten our health, finances and future

As of the end of 2019, research by the U.S. military, the Environmental Working Group and others have documented PFAS contamination in more than 400 sites around the U.S.

The State (Columbia, S.C.): It may cause cancer. Can SC keep unregulated chemical out of the water?

Shaw is one of at least three South Carolina Air Force bases where high levels of PFAs have been found in groundwater, according to the Environmental Working Group, which has been studying the chemicals’ presence in communities across the country.

PFAS in Consumer Products

The Healthy: Your Beauty Products Could Be Sabotaging Your Fertility – Here’s How

“Eyeshadow, foundation, facial powder, bronzer and blush account for nearly 80 percent of the products with PFCs,” according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Goop: Ask Gerda: All Your Detox Questions

The Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list highlights produce that tends to have the most pesticides.

Good Housekeeping: Good Housekeeping’s 35 Most-Read Stories in 2019

Our health-conscious readers are interested in the EWG's "Dirty Dozen" produce list every year. Reprinted by Yahoo!

Eating Well: Celery Juice: The Health Benefits, Side Effects and Science Behind the Trend

Celery is also on the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list of most-contaminated produce when it comes to pesticide residue.

Eating Well: How to Lose Weight on a Budget

If organic is important to you, the Environmental Working Group has identified the foods that are most contaminated (that you should consider buying organic), as well as the produce that is cleanest and most free of pesticides (that you can buy conventional).

Eating Well: 7 Tips for Clean Eating

Choose organic produce where you can, focusing on buying organic foods from the EWG's Dirty Dozen list and cutting yourself some slack with the Clean 15 foods list.

Food Tank: 120 Organizations Creating a New Decade for Food

EWG is a team of scientists, policy experts, lawyers, communication experts, and programmers advocating for the health of people and the planet. Reprinted byFooshyaGreen WatchLiving on the CheapImperial Valley News

Delish: 75 Easy Food Resolution To Help You Eat Better In The New Year

We're all for loading up on fresh fruits and veggies, but some choices are safer than others. Stay up-to-date with the EWG's annual "Dirty Dozen" list to learn about which options have high pesticide residue levels. Reprinted by MSN

The Northside Sun (Jackson, Miss.): Fast-forward to summer 2020

Look into the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen, Clean 15…

The/Thirty: This Nutritionist-Approved, Clean-Eating Grocery List Is Actually Realistic

While you definitely have free reign in the produce section, there are still a few rules to consider when eating clean. "In the fruit-and-vegetable department, it's wise to follow the Environmental Working Group guide and adhere to the 'clean 15' and 'dirty dozen,'" advises Beckerman. 

WLDS (Jacksonville, Ill.): New Year’s Resolutions Can Be Kept Through Accountability and Devotion To A Plan

Smith says a great place to start if you are looking for information is through the Environmental Working Group. The website produces a group of foods each year called ‘The Dirty Dozen’ and the ‘Clean Fifteen’.

EWG Guide to Sunscreen

Choice: Dangers of DIY sunscreen

US nonprofit, Environmental Working Group (EWG), has raised concerns about a number of different ingredients found in sunscreens, including both active and inactive ingredients.

Tap Water Database Update

Bluestem Prairie (Minn. and S.D.): Randall, MN receives national drinkingwater award, but some citizens still buy bottled water

Perhaps those residents have scrutinized federal drinking drinking water standards--or simply read the EWG Tap Water Database, 2019 Update for Randall.

Medical News Today: Which is better: Bottled water or tap water?

Although the EPA are responsible for setting tap water standards, not all contaminants are subject to regulation, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The EWG also report that contaminant level limits have remained unchanged for over 20 years.

WTKR (Norfolk, Va.): How to reduce levels of ‘forever chemicals’ in food

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.) Reprinted by USA News Hub

Nitrate in Drinking Water

Jackson Hole News & Guide (Wyo.): Nitrates rising: A concerning groundwater pollutant climbs in some JH reaches

That same study, headed by the Environmental Working Group, attempted to estimate the health and economic impact of nitrates in drinking water. 

PFAS in Drinking Water

The Star Tribune (Minneapolis): Rash of lawsuits intensify concerns of 3M’s liabilities over PFAS chemicals

PFAS chemicals have been found in streams, rivers, military bases and in the drinking water of 1,361 sites across the U.S., according to information compiled from states and the U.S. Department of Defense by the Environmental Working Group advocacy firm. Reprinted by Insurance News NetSun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.)The StreetThe Fresno Bee (Calif.)Bradenton Herald (Fla.)The Olympian (Wash.); 30+ other media outlets

Inside EPA: NDAA Requires Host Of PFAS Rules Despite Superfund, Water Omissions

The Environmental Working Group reports that detections of PFAS in water have been found in nearly 1,400 communities, including almost 300 military bases.

Sierra: How a Community Group in Michigan Took PFAS National

(The contamination at Wurtsmith could potentially reach people well beyond Oscoda because waterways in the area connect to Lake Huron, which supplies municipal water to more than 1 million people in the United States and Canada.) Since the discovery of PFAS in Oscoda, environmental regulators have confirmed 192 sites of PFAS contamination across Michigan— more than any other state, according to a report by the Environmental Working Group.

The Herald-Dispatch (Huntington, W.Va.): Dangerous PFAS chemicals are unmonitored in WV’s waters. A 2020 bill aims to change that.

Outside of Parkersburg, the landscape of PFAS in West Virginia is essentially uncharted, according the national Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by The Independent Herald (Pineville, W.Va.)

My Journal Courier (Jacksonville, Ill.): PFAs remediation wins federal funding, but discharges not stopped

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group has mapped hundreds of sites of PFAS contamination around the nation. Reprinted by The Telegraph (Alton, Ill.)

Truth Out: The Looming US Water Crisis

Meanwhile, according to the Environmental Working Group, over 1,000 locations in 49 states have confirmed cases of contamination by highly toxic fluorinated compounds known as PFAS.

Fox 5 (Atlanta): Researchers find high levels of PFAS chemicals in rainwater in parts of US

The Environmental Working Group along with the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern has released an interactive map which allows people to locate areas that are currently known to be polluted with PFAS chemicals. Reprinted by Fox 5 (Washington, D.C.)Fox 29 (Philadelphia)Fox 26 (Houston)

The Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act (AB 495)

The Mercury News (San Jose): Opinion: Beauty products are life-threatening; they shouldn’t be

The good news is that California can act to protect our own residents’ health. The Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act (AB 495), authored by Assemblymembers Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, and Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, and sponsored by CALPIRG, the Environmental Working Group and Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, would ban 13 toxic chemicals from all beauty and personal care products sold in California. Reprinted by USA News PostEast Bay Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.); The Mercury News

Volatile Organic Compounds

The Good Men Project: Is There Greener Wall-To-Wall Carpeting?

According to the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG), most carpeting is made from synthetic fibers derived from non-renewable petroleum-based sources and emits harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air.

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