EWG News Roundup (1/4): Reasonable New Year’s Resolutions, Trump Administration Scoffs at Asbestos Reporting and More

As we ring in the new year, EWG counted down some doable New Year’s resolutions that parents can make to provide a healthier environment for themselves and their families. From picking more organic food to reading the ingredients on their personal care products, this list includes simple actions that everyone can take.

A recent report by the Government Accountability Office found that between 2003 and 2016, more than half of the 452 children age 17 and under who died on the job were farmworkers. The GAO estimated that more than 4,700 children are injured each year working on farms. Among the threats child farm laborers face are injuries from heavy machinery, sweltering heat and toxic pesticides.

The GAO report did not say whether pesticides were involved in any of the deaths or injuries. But these shocking findings reaffirm EWG’s opposition to the Trump administration’s push to drop the age of farmworkers permitted to spray restricted-use pesticides on crops from 18 to 16.

This week the Senate confirmed Alexandra Dunn to run the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

“We’re hopeful that Alex Dunn will fulfill her commitments to implement our toxic chemicals laws as Congress intended – and not as former industry lobbyists like [Deputy Assistant Administrator] Nancy Beck are pushing for,” said EWG Senior VP for Government Affairs Scott Faber. “Americans should be confident that everyday products are not being made with chemicals linked to cancer. To meet those expectations, Alex Dunn will have to clean up the mess created by her predecessors.” 

The Trump EPA under the leadership of Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler denied a petition by a coalition of environmental groups calling for increased reporting of asbestos importation and use by U.S. manufacturers. This comes in the wake of an analysis by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization and EWG that found asbestos imports had soared by more than 2,000 percent between July and August of 2018.

“Ratcheting up reporting requirements for one of the deadliest substances known would be a layup for any other president or EPA chief,” said EWG President Ken Cook.

We also took a look at zero net energy homes, or homes that produce more energy than they use, which have sprouted up across the nation. Despite the fact that they cost more to build than traditional homes, recent research has shown that the investment pays for itself in just a matter of years.

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

Alexandra Dunn’s EPA Confirmation

Chemical Watch: US Senate confirms Alexandra Dunn as head of EPA’s chemical office

And Scott Faber senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) said the organization is hopeful Ms. Dunn will "fulfil her commitments to implement our toxic chemicals laws as Congress intended."

EWG VERIFIED™ Herbal Essences Shampoos

Allure: The Dopest Hair-Care Products Dropping in January 2019

What a way to start off 2019: Herbal Essences' new sulfate-free shampoos just became the first mass-market hair-care products to be certified by the Environmental Working Group, whose goal is to "fill the void left by our nation's antiquated law regulating the cosmetics and personal care products industry, which allows products to enter the marketplace without any testing to show that they are safe." 

Yahoo!: The Five Biggest Hair Trends to Look for in 2019, According to Our Hair Editor

Herbal Essences is entering the new year with new sulfate-free shampoo and conditioners, which were just certified by the Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo! Style and Allure.

GMO Labeling

Capital Press: Bioengineered food label rules draw criticism

The Environmental Working Group said the disclosure rule fails to meet the intent of Congress to create a mandatory disclosure standard that includes all genetically engineered foods and to use terms consumers understand.

Philly Voice: New rules govern how modified food will be labeled

Others were sharper in tone: "No one should be surprised that the most anti-consumer, anti-transparency administration in modern times is denying Americans basic information about what's in their food and how it's grown,"  Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, told Common Dreams. 

Cleaning Products

Travel+Leisure: The 5 Costco Brand Items You Shouldn't Buy

Despite the detergent's name, The Environmental Working Group has given Kirkland's "Environmentally Responsible" liquid laundry detergent an F-grade for environmental friendliness, citing risks of asthma, skin irritation, cancer, and harm to the environment.

Greatist: 8 Super-Simple Ways to Clean Out the Junk Hiding in Your Kitchen

The Environmental Working Group has a list of things to watch out for in your cleaning solutions. It recommends avoiding any cleaner with “fragrance, parfum, or scent,” as those additives can cause allergic reactions. You'll also want to steer clear of ammonia since it can make asthma worse and irritate your skin, lungs, and eyes.

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

The Everygirl: From Her Kitchen to the Shelves of Sephora: Meet the Founder Prioritizing Ethical Ingredients in Beauty

My advice is to read labels to make sure that the ingredients in your beauty products are safe for you and the environment. Consult the EWG for ingredients you do not recognize. Research the company. If a company cares about the environment, they will make an effort to choose environmentally packaging and organic ingredients. Avoid single-use or virgin plastics and support companies that are using recycled plastic, glass, metal, and compostable packaging.


Teen Vogue: The Beauty Industry Has a Plastics Problem

Meanwhile, advocacy organizations like Greenpeace, 5 Gyres, and Environmental Working Group, alongside the U.N. Environment Programme, which recently named ocean plastic waste reduction as its key goal, continue to push the industry's biggest companies (Unilever, L'Oreal, Estee Lauder, and Procter & Gamble to name a few) to clean up their acts.

Crop Insurance

Inside Climate News: U.S. Taxpayers on the Hook for Insuring Farmers Against Growing Climate Risks

But it's not clear whether the strategy has paid off. According to the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization that favors reforming the system, crop insurance has turned out to be more expensive for taxpayers than the government disaster aid payments it was intended to replace.

The Devil We Know

RVA Magazine: The Chemical Crisis We Knew About All Along

“Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group says it perfectly in the film — as consumers, we assume that because something is on the store shelf, that it is relatively safe,” Lazure said. “That just isn’t the case.”


Food Tank: 119 Organizations Shaking Up the Food System in 2019

EWG is a team of scientists, policy experts, lawyers, communication experts, and programmers advocating for the health of people and the planet. EWG empowers consumers to make better decisions about the products they buy, and the impact they have on the planet, through reports, online databases, apps and more.

Farm Subsidy Database

Brinkwire: Penny for your corn? Stingy trade-war aid irks U.S….

But government data gathered by the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based lobby group, from public records requests shows the United States had paid farmers $1.9 million for 12,807 corn claims as of Oct. 31.

Sauk Valley: Farmers want trade not aid

Dozens of Iowa farmers are receiving checks for less than $100 in the first round of payouts, according to federal data obtained by the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization that tracks U.S. farm subsidies and advocates against large corporate farming practices. Such meager sums are unlikely to offset lost revenue in any meaningful way.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Reader’s Digest: 7 Things You Think Boost Your Immunity—but Probably Don’t

Does it really keep the doctor away? “They have some vitamins, and the skin is good for digestion and cleans your teeth,” says Dr. Finkelstein. “It’s a healthy fruit.” However: “Apples contain a lot of water and air. From the point of view of immunity, the fruit makes no difference.” Apples also consistently appear on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list of produce that contains the most pesticides. Here are some foods that actually boost your immune system.

U.S. News & World Report: 7 Ways to Protect Your Family From Harmful Chemical Exposure

In the meantime, it’s important to know that there are some priority fruits and vegetables, such as spinach, strawberries, nectarines and apples, for which it’s the most beneficial to eat organic. The Environmental Working Group keeps a list called the Dirty Dozen that can be really helpful.

Care2: I Switched to Organic Produce, Here’s What Happened Next

We all know organic is the better choice, but is conventionally grown food really that bad for us? I didn’t think so, but the Environmental Working Group says otherwise.

EWG’s Guide to Sunscreen

Farm World: Views and opinions: Summer sun is fun but poses cancer risks and algal worries

Not all sunscreen is created equal. The Environmental Working Group has a guide to sunscreens at www.ewg.org/sunscreen

PFAS in Drinking Water

Metro West Daily News: Congress needs to take action on toxins

PFAS are plentiful in our homes and workplaces; they are used to make non-stick cookware, stain-resistant carpeting, food packaging, fire retardants and more. Unfortunately, they are equally ubiquitous in the environment, with 172 known PFAS contamination sites in 40 states. According to the Environmental Working Group, more than 1,500 drinking water systems, serving up to 110 million Americans, may be contaminated with PFAS.

WEMU (Michigan): Issues Of The Environment: New Year's Resolutions On Hazardous Chemicals

In September, Environmental Working Group posted this article summarizing what we know about home filters: The family of fluorinated compounds known as PFAS chemicals includes more than 4,700 chemicals – some linked to cancer, thyroid disease, weakened immunity and developmental defects, and others whose health effects are unknown.  One thing’s for sure: You don’t want them in your body.

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