EWG News Roundup (11/22): Mark Ruffalo, EWG Demand PFAS Action; Trump ‘Bails Out’ Rich Farmers Again and More

This week, EWG and other public interest groups were joined by actor, producer and environmental activist Mark Ruffalo on Capitol Hill to call on Congress to protect Americans from toxic “forever chemicals.” Ruffalo produced and stars in “Dark Waters,” a new feature film from Participant and Focus Features that tells the story of environmental lawyer Rob Bilott, who took on DuPont after he uncovered evidence the company knowingly dumped the toxic fluorinated chemicals called PFAS into drinking water in and around Parkersburg, W.Va.

In other PFAS news, the Pentagon admitted it undercounted the number of military bases contaminated with PFAS. Recent tests show that Kentucky regulators detected the chemical in water that serves roughly 4.5 million residents. And the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a sweeping package of legislation that targets the contaminant for cleanup.

EWG released new data showing that President Trump’s farm bailout dollars are flowing overwhelmingly to rich farmers. Of the payments made since August, the top 10 percent of recipients – the largest, most profitable industrial-scale farms in the country – got half.

The Trump EPA repealed an Obama-era chemical safety rule that required chemical, agro-chemical and petroleum plants to take precautions to protect workers and people who live near more than 12,000 such facilities across the nation.

“Those who work in or live near a chemical or petroleum plant are already at far greater risk than the average American,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Today’s action by the EPA has only increased the chances that people who live in these fence line neighborhoods, which are disproportionately lower-income communities of color, could be seriously harmed or killed. Safety requirements at these facilities should be stepped up, not rolled back. But this is what we’ve come to expect from the Trump EPA.”

And finally, Turkey Day is less than a week away! EWG broke down the healthiest ways to cook a bird.

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

Dark Waters Premiere

CNBC: ‘Dark Waters’ movie poses risk for 3M, analyst says

The Environmental Working Group estimates that in the United States there are 1,361 PFAS-contaminated sites. Reprinted by Stocks News FeedHead SN

Look To The Stars: Mark Ruffalo Wants Companies to Stop Making Us Sick

It was an honor to stand before lawmakers today with real-life heroes Rob Bilott, Bucky Bailey, Mark Favors, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), and NRDC to urge them to take immediate action to regulate #PFAs.”

The New Food Economy: “Forever chemicals” get the Hollywood treatment

Part of the campaign entails working with non-profit groups like the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), and others that have led the way on PFAS research and organization, to distribute information and help with calls to action. 

United Press International: Mark Ruffalo’s ‘Dark Waters’ spotlights fallout from corporate greed

The actor joined Bilott and the Environmental Working Group in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to call on Congress to protect Americans from toxic "forever chemicals" that contaminate drinking water, food and personal care products in communities across the country.

Mark Ruffalo House Testimony for PFAS

Times Union (Albany, N.Y.): Actor Mark Ruffalo joins witnesses in plea for PFAS regulation

Scott Faber, senior vice president of the Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy group, said companies have phased out the use of some toxic chemicals but replaced them with others that present many of the same health risks.

Trump Administration Farm Bailouts

Bloomberg: Trump Pledged to Help Small Farms. Aid is Going to Big Ones

But the bottom 80% of recipients received an average payment of $5,136, according to the Environmental Working Group, which analyzed records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Reprinted byYahoo!My San AntonioThe Detroit NewsGreenwich Time (Conn.)Connecticut Post (Bridgeport)San Francisco GateSan Francisco Chronicle; 14 other media outlets

CBS News: In one corner if U.S., trade wars aren’t that “easy to win”

York County farmers received about $4 million of $12 billion in federal subsidies distributed nationwide last year. Most were used for soy and corn crops, according to U.S. data provided by the Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by MSN

Politico: Obesity rates fall for young children on WIC

About $6 billion in trade aid was paid directly to farmers between Aug. 19 and Oct. 31, and half of that went to just 10 percent of participants, according to a new analysis by the Environmental Working Group. 

Huffington Post: Trump Hails New Farm Aid Billions As Report Reveals Money Helps Wealthy, Southerners

Also, smaller farmers will unlikely be the “big beneficiaries” of the aid, as Trump tweeted, because aid is flowing to the largest and most successful farmers rather than aiding struggling operations, according to a study in August by the Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by 10z US PoliticsUSA News HubFNTalk

WGLT (Normal, Ill.): USDA’s Trade Aid Payments Raise Questions About Fairness, Transparency

The stakes are high for central Illinois. McLean County farmers got $33 million between September 2018 and May 2019—the most for any county in the U.S., according to the Environmental Working Group. McLean County has some of the most productive farmland in the country, and a lot of it. Reprinted byWCBU (Peoria, Ill.)WNIJ (DeKalb, Ill.)

Ken Cook on Nuclear Power Subsidies

The Wall Street Journal: Should the Government Subsidize Nuclear Power? Advocates Square Off

Alex Trembath, deputy director of the Breakthrough Institute, an environmental think tank, makes the case for subsidies. Arguing against them is Ken Cook, co-founder and president of the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit environmental research organization.

Environmental Protection Agency Rollback of Chemical Safety Rule

Common Dreams: Environmental Justice Advocates Blast Trump EPA for ‘Dangerous’ Rollback of Chemical Disaster Rule

"Those who work in or live near a chemical or petroleum plant are already at far greater risk than the average American," Environmental Working Group (EWG) president Ken Cook said in a statement. Reprinted by Raw StoryAlterNetMy Headlinez

Common Dreams: Trump EPA Quashes Chemical Safety Rule to Ease ‘Burden’ on Industry

(Reprint of our press release)

The Red & Black (University of Georgia): GUEST COLUMN: Environmental myths harm UGA students’ future

Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group stated, “There has never been a president who has actively pursued an agenda so hostile to the environment and public health at the behest of polluters than Mr. Trump.”

Trump Administration and Atrazine 

Civil Eats: EPA Weakens Safeguards for Weed Killer Atrazine, Linked to Birth Defects

But the two issues are related: the decision to allow a higher level of atrazine in surface waterways will impact humans because many of those waterways serve as drinking water sources, said Olga Naidenko, vice president for science investigations with the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Common Dreams: Putting ‘Health of All Species’ in Danger, Trump EPA Proposal Guts Restrictions on Toxic Herbicide Linked to Birth Defects

As Donley's group and Environmental Working Group (EWG) explain in a press statement, the proposal regards what the EPA calls the Concentration Equivalent Level of Concern (CELOC). Reprinted by Raw StoryNation of Change


Courthouse News Service: Judge Advances Challenge of Asbestos Reporting Loopholes

Though the exact number of deaths caused by asbestos in the U.S. is unknown, a study by the Environmental Working Group estimated the substance killed 12,000 to 15,000 Americans per year from 1999 to 2013.

Body Burden

NBC Washington (District of Columbia): What to Know About the ‘Body Burden’ of Chemicals in Products You Use

"These concentrations really do build up," said Nneka Leiba. She's a vice president with the activist group the Environmental Working Group.

Bottled Water

Healthy Holistic Living: Study: 94% of Bottled Water Samples Contains Tiny Chunks of Plastic

Laboratory testing conducted by Environmental Working Group found popular bottled water brands to contain mixtures of 38 different pollutants, including bacteria, fertilizer, Tylenol and industrial chemicals, some at levels no better than tap water.

Cleaning Products

The Healthy Maven: The Best Natural Cleaning Products for a Spotless Home

If you want to take a peek at the products you’re currently using to clean your home, head to the Environmental Working Group website and search for those products!

Organic Spa Magazine: Keeping House

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested over 2,000 cleaning products and found that over half contained ingredients that irritate the lungs.


ELLE: ELLE’s 2019 Future of Beauty Awards

Herbal Essences launched the first mass-market shampoo to be verified by the Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by MSNTip Top Lifestyle

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

NBC Washington (District of Columbia): What to Know About the Safety of Ingredients in Beauty Products

"The person who puts the product on the market is ultimately responsible for the safety of their products," Ansell said. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a problem with that.

Mom Fabulous: 5 Ingredients to Avoid in Deodorants and Antiperspirants

Check out how your current deodorant ranks according to the Environmental Working Group.

Naturally Savvy: Clean Skincare: What You Need To Know

If you want to find skincare products that are good for your skin, check out MadeSafe, the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, and Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Style Democracy: 8 Harmful Skincare Ingredients To Avoid At All Costs

Often, the ingredients include tons of chemicals that can cause allergies, dermatitis — which includes itchy, dry skin or a rash on swollen, reddened skin, hormone disruption, and even bigger health problems like reproductive issues, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep Database.

Thrive Global: Thinking about Quitting Hair Dye? Meet your Guide.

These often contain the chemical PPD, which is also used in antifreeze, and has been labeled as a chemical of concern by the Environmental Working Group.

EWG’s Healthy Living App

NBC Washington (District of Columbia): 4 Apps to Research Ingredients in Your Beauty Products

Real Everything: TPV Podcast, Episode 378: Did You Know? (Current Events)

What you can do is scan products in your own house, or products you are considering buying, using the app EWG. Reprinted by The Paleo Mom

Food Scores

Citizen Truth: Can FDA Regulations Keep Up With Today’s Lightning Fast Markets?

The FDA has also been in the spotlight recently thanks to a report from the Environmental Working Group revealing 2,000 untested common synthetic ingredients used in food packaging.

Pesticides in Tea

Live Love Fruit: Pesticides in Tea: Is Your Favorite Tea Contaminated with Harmful Chemicals?

According to the EWG: “The EPA’s tolerance levels are too lenient to protect public health. They are a yardstick to help the agency’s personnel determine whether farmers are applying pesticides properly. The levels were set years ago and do not account for newer research showing that toxic chemicals can be harmful at very small doses, particularly when people are exposed to combinations of chemicals.”

PFAS Action Act

Inside EPA: Environmentalists back Pallone’s PFAS measure

“We applaud the historic markup by Chairman Pallone and other members of the committee that will take place today,” the Environmental Working Group (EWG) said in a statement.

PFAS in Consumer Products

Mind Body Green: 3 Resolutions For A More Eco-Loving Home in 2020 (Spoiler: You Can Start Right Now)

According to the Environmental Working Group, these coatings start to break apart at high temperatures, releasing toxic fumes and particles that can make you sick (so those eggs aren't exactly organic anymore).

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticide in Produce™

American Fitness Professionals and Associates: The Health Benefits of the 8 Most Powerful Blue Fruits and Vegetables

If you can, opt for non-GMO and organic variations when possible. You can check the Environmental Working Group's resources to stay current on which fruits and vegetables are most contaminated with pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

Medical News Today: Why you should wash fruits and vegetables

According to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization, almost 70% of fruits and vegetables in the United States have pesticide residue, even after washing.

Sustainable Chemistry Bill

Inside EPA: ‘Sustainable Chemistry’ Proponents See Momentum For Research Bill

GC3’s Chief Operating Officer Michele Jalbert notes in an email to Environment Next that the environmental advocacy group the Environmental Working Group also supports the bill.

Tap Water Database Update

Activist Post: No Power, No Running Water, No Toilets: Millions of Americans Are Living in Third-World Conditions

Charleston, West Virginia is dealing with the aftermath of a chemical spill five years later. MCHM, a chemical foam that’s used to wash coal, spilled into their water system and as recently as 2017, the Environmental Working Group found multiple contaminants in the city’s water. Reprinted by USSA News (Tea Party)

Delaware County Daily Times (Swarthmore, Pa.): Guest Column: Here are a few things we should be writing about

In its latest “State of American Drinking Water” report, Environmental Working Group researchers write: “The regulatory system meant to ensure the safety of America’s drinking water is broken. 

PFAS in Drinking Water

Bridge (Mich.): Poisoned Michigan: How weak laws and ignored history enabled PFAS crisis

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group has tallied around 610 locations in 43 states where PFAS have been found.

The Fayetteville Observer (N.C.): Chemical contamination discovered nine miles from Chemours

The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit group based in Washington, D.C., says small doses of PFAS compounds have been linked to cancer, harm to reproductive and immune systems, and other diseases.

Forward Kentucky: Chemicals that raise health worries found at KY water plants, but below federal guide

The Environmental Working Group, for instance, says its scientists believe the safe level should be no higher than 1 part per trillion.

Lexington Herald Leader (Ky.): Chemicals that raise health worries found at KY water plants, but below federal guide

The Environmental Working Group, for instance, says its scientists believe the safe level should be no higher than 1 part per trillion.

Michigan Advance: Facing ‘grassroots demand’ back home, Michigan lawmakers wage war on PFAS

High concentrations have been found in 178 drinking water systems in the state, eight military sites, and 16 other sites, according to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group.

Military Times: The list of military sites with suspected ‘forever chemicals’ contamination has grown

Advocacy groups say that no amount of PFAS is safe; the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that has been sounding the alarm on the problem, says that 1 part per trillion is the maximum safe level, based on independent studies. Reprinted by Coyote Gulch

Pennsylvania Capital-Star: Here’s how Pa. lawmakers are waging a multifront war against PFAS contamination

They have been found in high concentrations in sources of public drinking water and other sites around the country, including in 11 drinking water systems in Pennsylvania, five military sites, and two other sites in the state, according to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minn.): Minnesota expands hunt for PFAS chemical contamination in water

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy group that has pushed for greater research and regulation of the chemicals, said Minnesota should have started tracking down industrial sources earlier, because state and federal regulators knew a decade ago that metal plating facilities were discharging the compounds.

Wisconsin Examiner: Wis. Lawmakers wage multifront war against PFAS

In Wisconsin, they’ve been found in four drinking water systems, five military sites and one other site, according to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group.

Michigan Radio (NPR): “Here we are again:” Decades after PBB crisis, echoes seen in current PFAS crisis

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group has tallied around 610 locations in 43 states where PFAS have been found.

Toxic Algae Blooms 

Chicago Tribune: Editorial: Protecting the Great Lakes – from parched places far away and algae blooms within

Since 2005, according to a report by the Environmental Law and Policy Center and the Environmental Working Group, the number of hog, cattle, dairy and poultry operations in the Maumee River watershed in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan has soared by 42% — and all the feces those livestock produce has to go somewhere.

Cleveland Plain Dealer (Ohio): Manure a point of contention in algal bloom battle

The controversy arose earlier this year with release of a report prepared by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC).

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