EWG News Roundup (12/11): EWG VERIFIED™ Diapers Launches Nationwide, Tom Vilsack as Biden’s Top Pick for Ag Secretary and More

This week, EWG VERIFIED™ Diapers launched, with Healthynest as the first diaper brand to meet EWG’s rigorous criteria for health and ingredient disclosure. EWG also published its comprehensive Guide to Safer Diapers, which breaks down the chemicals and materials in baby diapers and what they mean for parents.

“In just the first year, a typical baby wears about 2,500 diapers,” said Nneka Leiba, vice president of Healthy Living Science at EWG. “But many disposable diapers contain chemicals that can harm their health, like pesticides and other chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive development and dermatitis. Because the safety of diapers isn’t adequately regulated, our new criteria set the standard for health that parents can rely on.”

On Tuesday, news reports indicated that President-elect Biden is expected to tap Tom Vilsack to be secretary of agriculture. Vilsack had served as agriculture secretary during the Obama administration from 2009 to 2017. Environmental groups, food and farm worker advocates, and social justice organizations have expressed strong concern over Vilsack’s taking another turn leading the agency.

“The job description for secretary of agriculture has changed since 2009. The next secretary of agriculture must make ending hunger, protecting food and farm workers, combating the climate crisis, supporting family farms, addressing discrimination against Black farmers, ending the obesity epidemic, and keeping our food safe his top priorities,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs.

The Biden administration will have its hands full when it comes to addressing the many aspects of the Covid-19 crisis facing food and farm workers. EWG laid out six steps the incoming administration could take to protect these labor pools.

The outgoing Trump Environmental Protection Agency released an "interim strategy" for addressing industrial discharges of the toxic fluorinated “forever chemicals” called PFAS. But the plan lacks any sort of enforceable standards or a timeline for developing standards or regulations.

In other PFAS news, Amazon announced this week it will remove PFAS from its Amazon Kitchen brand products.

And finally, EWG broke down a study we conducted with Clean Wisconsin that shows the health and economic consequences of nitrate pollution in Wisconsin drinking water; a harmful BPA replacement found in retail receipts; and a new EPA rule that will make it more difficult for the incoming agency head to fight air pollution and climate change.

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


Fortune: Why this organic-food founder is trying to clean up the diaper business

Then Visram turned to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an advocacy organization where she already sat on the board, to develop a third-party certification for her new product. R

Treehugger: EWG Releases New Guide to Safe Disposable Diapers

It just launched EWG VERIFIED Diapers this week, which is a certification that proves a brand of diaper has met rigorous criteria for health and ingredient disclosure.

The Bump: Healthynest Has Just Launched the First-Ever EWG Verified Diaper

Earlier this year, the Environmental Working Group launched a new safety criteria for diapers—a long overdue regulation of one of the most important baby products on the market.

Biden’s Agricultural Policy

The American Prospect: Biden on the Farm

Biden should “scrap it and start over,” argued Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group.

Biden’s PFAS Policy

Times Union: Defense bill phases out military uses of PFAs, Biden admin expected to do more

Most expect that one of the first things the Biden administration will do is finalize the designation as PFOA and PFAS as hazardous substances," said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs for the non-profit Environmental Working Group. 

Biden’s Vilsack Pick for Secretary of Agriculture

Mother Jones: Will Biden Pick a USDA Secretary Who Sees Our Food Crises Clearly?

According to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group, just 10 percent of farms grabbed 76 percent of the $424.4 billion doled out by USDA farm programs between 1995 and 2020. 

Successful Farming: Farm Groups Cheer, Progressives Lament Return of Vilsack to USDA

“I can’t think of a food or ag issue EWG works on or Food Policy Action tracks that Vilsack didn’t disappoint or sell out on during the Obama administration,” said Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group, on social media. “We’re putting together a list.”

Georgia Runoff Election

Daily Kos: Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and … Daniel Blackman? Meet the third Democrat on the GA runoff ballot

Working with Environmental Working Group to advance mandatory GMO labeling legislation that would preempt state labeling laws while creating a national, mandatory GMO labeling standard for all GMO foods

Trump Administration

Common Dreams: Eco ‘Sabotage’: Trump EPA Issues Last-Minute Rule to Make Action on Climate and Pollution Harder for Biden

"For four years, this administration has waged war on public health by kowtowing to polluters," Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook said of Trump's first term. "Now, on the way out the door, this amounts to sabotaging the efforts of the incoming administration to protect Americans from dirty air."

Algae Blooms

Silicon Prairie News: Corn pollinating drone technology earns Iowa City agtech firm $7.5 million investment

A report from the Environmental Working Group cited by the Iowa Capital Dispatch in its Water Works reporting stated that algae toxin-related responses have cost U.S. communities over $1.1 billion in the last 10 years.

Asbestos in Talc

Insider: Asbestos, a toxic mineral linked to cancer, was found in eye shadow and a children’s makeup kit                       

The researchers from the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, analyzed samples of 21 cosmetic products made from talc, including eye shadow, face and body powder, and children's makeup kits. 

One Green Planet: Cancer-Causing Asbestos Found In Powder-Based Makeup

The researchers from the Environmental Working Group looked at 21 samples that included talc, including eye shadow, face powder, and kids’ makeup kits. 

Cleaning Products

Business Insider: Blueland is a new household cleaning startup that helps you reduce single-use plastic consumption- here’s how the products perform

The key highlights are that all the products are free from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are harmful to pregnant or nursing women and children, and anything on the Environmental Working Group's restricted list.

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Instyle: I’ve Tried Hundreds of Primers, and This $8 Crayon Is The Only One That Worked

I’ve been a fan of the Environmental Working Group-vetted brand since trying its easy-to-use, affordable mineral sunscreen, so I took a risk and ordered six of the $8 pencils, sight unseen. 

Medium: Calling Products “Pro-Aging” Doesn’t Change Their Message That Aging Is Bad

My quest for answers found me on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep database. 

Yahoo: Simple Ways to Reduce Your Cancer Risk, Say Doctors

For a full list of what to watch out for, check out EWG's Skin Deep Database, so you can research toxic chemicals that might be in your beauty and personal care products.

EcoWatch: 5 All Natural Hair Brands (Vetted by the Environmental Working Group)

Enter: Skin Deep, the EWG's database of cosmetic products—ranging from makeup and skincare to haircare, fragrance, and nail care. 

Green Matters: Smelly Pits? These Are The 10 Strongest Natural Deoderants

The brand’s deodorant sprays are formulated with probiotics, as well as witch hazel, sage oil, and triethyl citrate – a safe additive that Environmental Working Group (EWG) scores as a 1 in terms of safety. 

EWG VERIFIED™: Cosmetics

Popsugar: I Created A New Skin-Care Routine Using The Clean Beauty Brand You’ve Been Hearing About

 It not only creates products with good-for-you ingredients while excluding anything you don’t want, like parabens, sulfates SLS and SLES, phthalates . . . you get the picture, but is also Leaping Bunny certified and the only brand at Sephora that has full EWG approval.

Farm Subsidies

Monroe News (Monroe, Mich): Pandemic Is Causing Food Shortages

According to the Environmental Working Group’s Farm Subsidy Database, Lenawee farmers received $384 million in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2020, for commodities (mostly corn, soybeans, wheat, dairy), crop insurance, disaster and conservation programs. 

Healthy Living Home Guide

Web’s Favorites: Are Air Purifiers Worth It? The Experts’ Guide to Clean Air In Your HomeThe Environmental Working Group (EWG) and other consumer health organizations advocate limiting the quantity of carpeting in your house, ventilating by opening windows and doors, particularly within the initial 72 hours of setup, or picking natural materials such as wool, bamboo, or jute, which do not have this off-gassing issue.

Nitrates in Tap Water

The Fresno Bee (Calif.): Toxic tap water in Latino towns is a legacy of racist policies, California officials say

“We didn’t just find a lot of nitrate in majority-Latino communities, we also found that as nitrate levels rise, the likelihood that a community is majority-Latino also goes up,” said Anne Weis Schechinger, a senior analyst of economics with the Environmental Working Group.

PFAS in Firefighting Foam

Inside EPA: FY21 Defense Conference Bill Drops Several Provisions on PFAS Cleanups

Environmental Working Group (EWG) Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Scott Faber in a Dec. 3 written statement applauded the inclusion in the bill of provisions to bar Defense Department (DOD) purchases of some PFAS-containing items, expand PFAS research and speed development of PFAS-free firefighting foams and gear, but said the legislation “falls far short” of addressing the contamination crisis affecting service members and communities.

Roll Call: ‘Forever chemical” provisions in NDAA fall short, say advocates

“PFAS is perhaps the only environmental issue that really remains a truly bipartisan issue,” Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, said by phone.

Seafood Guide

Treehugger: This Acronym Will Help You Choose Ethical, Sustainable Seafood

Check out the Environmental Working Group's Consumer Guide to Seafood or the Environmental Defense Fund's Seafood Selector that includes a sushi-specific guide.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Organic Authority: Spinach and Mushroom Vegetarian Lasagna With Organic Cheese

Consulting the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen is a no-brainer when you want to choose between conventional and organic produce, but what about dairy products?

The Kitchn: The 9 Biggest Mistakes People Make at the Grocery Store, According to Nutritionists                                   

Don’t let “health halo” labels confuse you. “Buying organic is beneficial for certain foods (especially the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen fruit and vegetable list)."

EWG Guide to Sunscreen

Who: 10 Best Sunscreens: Most Effective Sunscreen in Australia

But if you want the best of the best (like the stuff approved by the Environmental Working Group or EWG), here is a list that can help.

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