EWG News Roundup (1/15): Follain Commits To Support Black-Owned Brands, Trump EPA Announces 11th-Hour Toxic Rollbacks and More

This week, Follain launched seven new EWG VERIFIED™ products at ULTA Beauty, the largest beauty retailer in the U.S. In addition to its new VERIFIED products, the company will also now mentor and sponsor Black-owned brands that want to earn the EWG VERIFIED mark for their own products.

“Like EWG, Follain is committed to moving the market toward healthier products,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “We both believe that every single person deserves access to clean personal care products, including communities of color and Black consumers. This is the next step in our longstanding partnership.”

As we enter the final week of the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency is making a number of 11th-hour rollbacks on environmental protections. On Wednesday, the agency watered down a major health assessment for one of the most toxic “forever chemicals.” And today, it’s expected that EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler will drop proposals to ban certain hazardous uses for three extremely toxic, even lethal chemicals.

“This decision confirms that Andrew Wheeler has had zero interest during his time running the EPA in protecting the public from dangerous and deadly chemicals,” said EWG’s Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber. “Zero.”

Federal court filings by the Justice Department revealed Toyota will pay $180 million, the largest-ever civil penalty for a violation of the EPA’s Clean Air Act, for repeatedly failing for at least a decade to report emissions-related defects in its vehicles.

And finally, soda may be something important to cut out in the new year – EWG documented the harms in artificial sweeteners in diet sodas and brominated vegetable oil in citrus-flavored drinks.

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

Children’s Health

KATU 2 ABC (Portland, Ore.): Environmental group says weed-killing chemical found in some children's foods

The Environmental Working Group's Children's Health Initiative states testing also found 75 percent of products tested had levels of glyphosate higher than what its scientists consider safe for children's health.

Biden’s Climate Policy

Civil Eats: Biden’s Climate Plan Relies on Farmers Who Are Often Climate Skeptics

“In the very short term, USDA has billions of dollars in the conservation title that could be more effectively targeted to support the practices that science says could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture,” said Craig Cox, a senior vice president with the Environmental Working Group and farm policy expert.

Biden’s Pick for EPA Chief

Agri Pulse: Ag groups rally behind choice of Regan as EPA chief

The Environmental Working Group, a frequent critic of the ag industry, said Regan is a great choice for EPA, citing an agreement he helped craft “to stop pollution of North Carolina’s drinking water with the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS.” 

Trump Administration

Politico: Trump’s EPA team overrules career scientists on toxic chemical

The chemicals contaminate the drinking water supplies of an estimated 200 million Americans, according to an analysis by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

The Hill: White House intervened to weaken EPA guidance on 'forever chemicals'

“Products disintegrate over time, so if you have something with PFAS on the inside then you may be exposed over time. As it dissolves it gets into household dust, eventually it gets thrown away in a landfill and can leach PFAS and get into the environment that way,” said Melanie Benesch, a legislative attorney with the Environmental Working Group, which tracks PFAS contamination in the U.S.

E&E News: Weakened 'forever chemical' assessment sets hurdle for Biden

"This eleventh-hour action by political officials will add yet one more item to the already long list of anti-health actions the incoming Biden administration will need to reverse," said Faber of the Environmental Working Group.

Environmental Health News: Moving forward after four years of fights and falsehoods

The science continues to move forward, and has been "relatively resilient to political changes and wind," agreed David Andrews, senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Removing President Trump from Office

EcoWatch: Environmental Groups Condemn Lawless Capitol Mob

"Trump willfully infects our body politic with a seditious poison whose antidemocratic effects will linger for years," Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, wrote in a press release.

One Green Planet: Environmental Groups Speak Out Against Capitol Mob

“Every day he is allowed to do so with the full authority of the presidency constitutes a mortal threat to our nation, and an abdication of duty on the part of individuals sworn to protect and defend our Constitution,” said Environmental Working Group (EWG) President Ken Cook, who called for Trump’s immediate removal.

Body Burden

Natural Practitioner: Simple, Gentle Ways to Detox for a Better You

It is no surprise these chemicals are showing up in our bodies. An Environmental Working Group (EWG) study found that almost 500 chemicals—including lead, BPA and fire retardants—could be detected in human blood and urine.

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Forbes: A Place To Start On Your Path To Natural Skincare In 2021

In 2002, OSEA became the first company to sign The Compact for Global Production of Safe Health and Beauty Products, an initiative from the Environmental Working Group.

Real Simple: The Truth About Fragrance-Free and Scented Beauty Products, According to Derms

Since the ingredients list isn't always a reliable place to turn to, the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is a great source for identifying how much fragrance your product actually has.

Tree Hugger: The 9 Best Shampoo Bars of 2021

This bar from Soap For Goodness Sake doubles as a body soap, and gets top marks from the Environmental Working Group, which independently rates the safety of product ingredients.

Very Good Light: Here’s the tea on Fenty’s new talc-based powder foundation

After doing some digging, I was a bit hesitant due to the fact talc as an ingredient in cosmetics is not considered “clean.” I spoke with the Environmental Working Group to better understand why talc is commonly used in cosmetics.

EPA Designation of PFAS as a Hazardous Substance

Inside EPA: Critics Fear OIRA Review Of PFBS Evaluation Marks New Scrutiny For EPA

“This does seem like a very concerning effort to set a precent of undermining independent agency science and adding OMB review of toxicity values, which typically precede rule making,” David Andrews, senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, tells Inside TSCA.

Inside EPA: EPA Floats Designation Of PFAS As CERCLA ‘Hazardous’ Substances

Environmental Working Group (EWG) legislative attorney Melanie Benesh explained in a blog post last month that when a substance is designated simply a pollutant or contaminant, EPA must show the release poses an “imminent and substantial danger” to public health before the site can be investigated and cleaned up.

EWG VERIFIED™: Cosmetics

InStyle: Everything You Need To Know About the Tresemmé Class Action Lawsuit

This sulfate-free formula features a meticulously-tailored pH balance that keeps your hair color glossy and intact, and the ingredient list is verified by the Environmental Working Group, so you know there’s nothing shady included. 

U.S. PIRG: Make It Toxic-Free Cosmetic Clean-Out Week of Action

Check out these lists of safer products and consider switching up your beauty routine to incorporate them. (Links to EWG VERIFIED™ site)

Farm Subsidies

ScienceLine: Go big or go home mentality leaves out small butchers and farmers

From 1995 to 2020, the top 10% of recipients of the Farm Bill’s commodity subsidies — big agri-business operations — received 78% of the total payment, according to the Environmental Working Group, an environmental nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. 

Lead in Food

Environmental Defense Fund: Getting lead out of brass and bronze food equipment

In December, EDF and ten health, consumer and environmental groups submitted a citizens petition to FDA asking it to adopt rules explicitly banning the use of lead as an additive in food contact articles. This ban would apply to lead in brass, bronze, and tin used to coat metal cans and plastics, inks, and other coatings for food contact materials.

Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health

One Green Planet: Milk Life? How About Milk Destruction: The Shocking Truth About the Dairy Industry and the Environment

For the greenhouse gas emissions associated with dairy products, the Environmental Working Group the production of four ounces of yogurt emits the same amount of GHGs as driving your car for over a mile.

Nitrate in Tap Water

Truth Out: COVID Has Underscored the Need for Safe Drinking Water. But Not Everyone Has It.

The rollbacks come on the heels of a troubling report, released in June by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit advocacy organization, which found that the problem of drinking water polluted by nitrates — largely caused by fertilizer and manure runoff from crop fields — is getting worse in much of the U.S.’s farm country.

PFAS and Covid-19 Severity

Chemistry World: PFAS exposure found to increase risk of severe Covid-19

During an online press event hosted by the Environmental Working Group on 17 December, experts like Linda Birnbaum, a toxicologist and microbiologist who formerly headed the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, discussed how communities that are exposed to high levels of PFAS chemicals may be more vulnerable during the pandemic. 

PFAS Uses and Discharges

WasteDive: Interim EPA guidance on PFAS disposal, destruction still leaves many questions

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group criticized the interim guidance, saying in a statement the current methods used for managing PFAS are not effective. It urged the EPA to focus on “ending non-essential uses and PFAS discharges into the environment outright."

PFAS and Vaccine Efficacy

LexBlog: Toxic Chemical Exposure May Impact Veterans’ Risk for COVID-19 Complications, Including Adverse Reactions to the Vaccines

According to evidence found by the Environmental Working Group, those who have experienced prolonged exposure to “forever chemicals” are at a higher risk when it comes to contracting COVID-19, as well as adverse reactions to vaccines for the virus.

PFAS Water Pollution

NJ.com: N.J. sues U.S. military, wants feds to pay for tainted drinking water cleanup

The Joint Base has been identified for years as a hot spot of PFAS contamination. Previous testing of groundwater at the installation found PFAS levels up to 264,000 parts per trillion, making it one of the most contaminated sites in the nation, according to the advocacy organization Environmental Working Group.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

EcoWatch: 10 Natural Ways to Detox and Boost Your Immunity at Home

That said, we know organic prices and accessibility can be an issue, so for help making strategic decisions, refer to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" lists…

Clean Plates: We Ate a Lot of Tomato Soup — and Found the Healthiest, Tastiest Ones

We started by narrowing our options down to organic soups. Tomatoes are always on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of produce commonly tainted with pesticides.

Eat Something Sexy: Eating Organic Food for Improved Sexual Health & Wellbeing

Fruits and vegetables are considered to be among the top foods to buy organic. The best place to start is by reading the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen List” of foods with the most pesticides.

Tap Water Database

The Strategist: The Best Shower Water Filters, According to Experts

According to Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., a senior science adviser at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), chlorine, a by-product of water disinfection, is commonly found in municipal water supplies, as are hazardous volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including the carcinogenic trichloroethylene.

EHS Daily Advisor: EPA Releases Final Risk Evaluation for 1,4-Dioxane

“Water monitoring data collected in 2010–15 show that more than 7 million people in the US across 27 states had utility-supplied tap water that had detectable 1,4-dioxane, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an advocacy organization,” as reported by CEN.

Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, California Assembly Bill 2762

Everyday Health: California Bans 24 Toxic Chemicals From Personal-Care Products: What to Know

On September 30, 2020, as the Environmental Working Group held its first-ever CleanCon — a conference dedicated to all things clean beauty — California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, enacted new legislation banning 24 chemicals from cosmetic use beginning in about four years.

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