EWG News Roundup (3/12): Northern Virginia Water Contaminated With PFAS, Michael Regan Confirmed as EPA Administrator and More

In a new analysis, EWG commissioned tests of tap water samples from throughout the Northern Virginia region. The results show “forever chemicals,” known as PFAS, contaminate water at levels significantly higher than previously reported throughout the region.

On Wednesday, the Senate confirmed President Biden’s nominee, Michael Regan, to be the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

“It is clear that under Regan’s leadership, EPA will no longer pander to industry and ignore the pressing problems posed by PFAS contamination, climate change, toxic chemicals and environmental injustice,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Those issues and other challenges will now be top priorities in the Biden EPA, with Regan in charge.”

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

Children’s Health

The Epoch Times: How Do Phthalates Put Children’s Health at Risk

Many companies have voluntarily removed phthalates, and many consumer products are now labeled “phthalate free.” The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website also offers a way to search for details about chemicals in cleaning and personal care products.

PFAS in Northern Virginia Drinking Water

DCist: High Levels Of ‘Forever Chemicals’ Detected In Northern Virginia Drinking Water

And new testing by the Environmental Working Group found the cancer-causing chemicals to be present in drinking water in Northern Virginia at higher levels than elsewhere in the D.C. region — and among the highest in the United States. 

E&E News: 'Forever chemicals' found in D.C.-area tap water (subscription)

Parts of the wider Washington, D.C., area may be a drinking water "hot spot" for a notorious family of toxic chemicals that the Biden EPA is under pressure to regulate. According to new findings released today by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), tap water sampled from different parts of northern Virginia contains elevated levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Those chemicals are known for their nonstick properties, and some are associated with severe health effects ranging from cancer to kidney disease.

Washington Times: Higher levels of 'forever chemicals' in Northern Virginia tap water: Report

Researchers at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested 19 tap water samples and found that levels of PFAS, or forever chemicals, ranged from about 6 parts per trillion (ppt) in a state park in Fairfax County to about 62 ppt in a public park in Prince William County — about three times higher than levels detected in the District and Prince George’s County.

WTOP News (D.C.): Significantly higher’ amount of forever chemicals in Northern Virginia tap water, study finds

Overall, the chemicals were detected in 19 tap water samples in Northern Virginia, according to the new report from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

WAMU-FM (American University): (Radio segment only)

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group tested tap water at 19 sites in Northern Virginia and found levels as high as 62 parts per trillion. Sydney Evans, a science analyst with the Environmental Working Group, says a safe level is 1 part per trillion. 

WUSA 9 (Washington, DC): Report: Northern Virginia is a 'hot spot' for forever chemicals

Tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group of 19 tap water samples found PFAS levels as high as 62 parts per trillion in a public park in Prince William County. The result is about three times higher than the EWG found in 2019 in D.C. and Prince George's County, and is among the highest in the U.S.

FDA Letter To Baby Food Manufacturers

CNN: 'Consider chemical hazards' in the baby foods you sell, FDA warns manufacturers

"In the absence of enforceable standards and deadlines, this is hardly what any of us would call progress," said Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs for EWG, or Environmental Working Group. 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

Lancaster Farming (Ephrata, Pa.): U.S. Ag Secretary Vilsack to Focus on Building Markets

“Most U.S. households require 2 incomes to make ends meet, why would (should) farming be any different? I’m related to a lot of Iowa farmers, and most wives work off the farm,” Anne Schechinger, a senior economic analyst at the Environmental Working Group, tweeted in response to Vilsack.

Montana Free Press: Saving big

Tom Vilsack was recently confirmed as Biden’s Secretary of Agriculture, a role that he served for all eight years of the Obama administration. Vilsack’s nomination was opposed by progressive conservation groups including the Environmental Working Group and the Union of Concerned Scientists that are calling for reforms at the agency.

Trump Administration

Medium: The Regression of Leaders in Democracy

Sonny Perdue was appointed as the Secretary of State for Agriculture (2017–2021) by President Trump. Although he had come from an agricultural background, the Environmental Working Group, an organization aiming to promote green and healthy policies, was concerned about his ethics.

Black Farmers

DTN Progressive Farmers: Loan Aid for Disadvantaged Farmers

McCurty pointed to the multiple rounds of aid USDA provided by Congress and the Trump administration over the past year going almost exclusively to white farmers. Environmental Working Group reported last month that white farmers received nearly 97% of the first round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program funds (CFAP), amounting to about $9.2 billion in fiscal year 2020.

Kansas City Star (Mo.): Rep. Sam Graves complains about COVID-19 aid for farmers — but only if they’re Black?

But the hypocrisy doesn’t stop there. Records compiled by the Environmental Working Group show Graves’ farming family has taken more than $660,000 in federal agriculture subsidies since 1995 alone. More important, the database shows taxpayers have shelled out $5 billion in subsidies to farmers in Graves’ 6th District since 1995.

Modern Farmer: Congress Passes Coronavirus Relief Bill with $23 Billion for Farming and Food

Through last October, for example, white farmers received, on average, four times more federal relief than Black farmers did from the Trump administration as part of the USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, according to a recent report from the Environmental Working Group.

California District Attorneys Association Scandal

The Appeal: California Prosecutors' Association Reveals More Public Money May Have Been Misspent

The state currently sends money to the CDAA so the organization can help local DAs, especially in rural areas, prosecute entities who commit environmental crimes. Last month, 10 environmental groups, including the Environmental Working Group and Sierra Club California, urged the state legislature to demand repayment, independently audit the CDAA, and stop sending the group public funds.

Cleaning Products

Health: The Best Healthy Home Products of 2021

In fact, many mainstream brands are moving away from hazardous chemicals and reformulating their products with ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide, says Samara Geller, senior research and database analyst at the Environmental Working Group in San Francisco.

Treehugger: The 8 Best Eco-Friendly Dish Soaps of 2021

We’ve also considered the rating (where available) by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) who ranks products based on the toxicity of their chemical ingredients. As you’ll discover if you spend time on the research, it is difficult to find a quality detergent whose ingredients are all “A’s” so keep that in mind as you choose your favorites.

WIBC-FM (Mobile, Indiana): Episode 076: Household Toxins

So a great resource is EWG.org, that stands for the Environmental Working Group, and they have done a great job of cataloguing several different conventional cleaners as well as more user-friendly health friendly cleaners and they rate them and break down the ingredients and tell you exactly why it's harmful and what you should be using and how it's a good thing to swap out venues in your daily routine.

Consumer Guides

WLUK-TV (Greenbay, Wi.): Living with Amy

I started to look at something called the Environmental Working Group database for personal products so you can go online ewg.org, it is a super useful website both for organic eating, healthy water, and specifically products where you can look up your product and see how it scores on their database.

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Allure: The 26 Best Natural & Organic Makeup Brands on the Market

"'Clean beauty' is a much better term for the consumer as the products are non-toxic and still effective," says King. "'Non-toxic' means free from undesirable ingredients listed by the Environmental Working Group.” 

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Watch the label: Here's how sulfates can affect your hair

SLS is a "low hazard," according to the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, and has been linked to organ toxicity, skin irritation and ecotoxicology (harm to the environment or a specific ecosystem). 

Arizona Foothills Magazine: Quench Naturel ~ Embrace the Nature

The focus has always been to find new and different plant-based ingredients to meet their vision of what Naturel should be. Along the way, they learned about a practice called greenwashing, and the Environmental Working Group (EWG). 

Yoga Journal: Are Your Beauty Products Really Clean?

Consumers need to be cognizant that there are products claiming to be clean that, though nontoxic, are actually made with mostly synthetic ingredients. I recommend downloading Think Dirty – Shop Clean or the Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Living, two apps that can help decipher some of the common jargon.

Duke Energy

Q City Metro (N.C.): Duke Energy must do more to address climate change

As reported in an EWG article this past year, “Duke does little to close the affordability gap, consistently underfunding its own programs designed to help low-income customers pay their bills. And much of the support comes not from the company but from ratepayers in the form of mandatory bill charges or voluntary donations.”

EPA Lawsuit About Aldicarb

Citrus Industry News: Groups Sue EPA Over Aldicarb Decision

Three organizations on March 3 sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its decision in the final days of the Trump administration to reapprove previously cancelled uses of the pesticide aldicarb on Florida oranges and grapefruit. The Farmworker Association of Florida, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Environmental Working Group filed the suit in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals.

EWG VERIFIED™: Cosmetics

Chicago Tribune: Sustainable makeup products you should try for oily skin

Along with their carefully selected and Fair Trade-sourced organic ingredients, W3ll People is EWG-verified, meaning the company adheres to an exceptionally high standard of ingredient quality, transparency and manufacturing practices. Their packaging already uses FSC-certified paper and they're exploring further sustainable packaging options.

Farm Subsidies

Red River Farm Network: The EWG Wants Changes to Farm Program Payment Distribution

The Environmental Working Group wants Congress and the White House to change the way farm program benefits are distributed. In a new analysis, the EWG calls for means testing to prevent most of the payments from going to large farms.

Healthy Living Home Guide

CNET: The best mattress for 2021

Unfortunately, many mattresses are sprayed with chemicals and flame retardants and made from potentially toxic foams that have been linked to some health problems. Because of this, the Environmental Working Group recommends choosing a mattress that's made from at least 95% cotton, wool or natural latex. And that's where the Avocado Green mattress comes in.

Meat Eaters Guide to Climate Change + Health

The Fence Post: Researchers undertake American lamb environmental footprint study 

Environmental concerns about livestock production continue to gain traction, and the American lamb industry entered the spotlight when a 2011 Environmental Working Group Study characterized lamb as one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The study’s outcomes are still cited at influential conferences and in the media.

PFAS in Food

Farming Portal: FDA Confirms “Forever Chemicals” in Food. What Exactly Are They?

The Environmental Working Group revealed some FDA documents that showed the FDA had found PFAS in various foods, including dairy, meat, fruits, greens, and, in its highest quantities, chocolate cake with icing. 

PFAS in Drinking Water

North Carolina Health News: Environmentalists say Trump’s EPA fell far short in the fight against PFAS

In a study by the Environmental Working Group published last year, scientists said they “now believe PFAS is likely detectable in all major water supplies in the U.S., almost certainly in all that use surface water.” The national nonprofit organization estimates that 200 million Americans may be drinking water containing the potential carcinogens.

InForum: 'Forever chemicals' contaminate sites across North Dakota, including in Fargo

Among independent groups that keep tabs on PFAS pollution is the Environmental Working Group, which maps locations where PFAS pollution has been documented.

KYW News Radio (Philadelphia): Environmental groups want EPA to rethink PFAS disposal guidelines

The EPA guidance says PFAS can be incinerated or disposed of in landfills. But the Environmental Working Group, and 30 other public health and environmental groups, want the EPA to contain the PFAS.

Pineland Sands

Park Rapids Enterprise Online (Minn.): MN Court of Appeals hears arguments in Pineland Sands case

A coalition that includes Honor the Earth, Minnesota Well Owners Organization, Northern Water Alliance, Toxic Taters, Environmental Working Group, Pollinator Stewardship Council and others is challenging the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) decision that the project does not require preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS). They are also asking that irrigation permits be rescinded.

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

Gulf News (United Arab Emirates): 14 Easy swaps for a more sustainable lifestyle in the UAE

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends staying away from SPF products over 50 as the lower SPF 30-50 products are perfectly fine and products with higher SPFs often contain more harmful ingredients.

Hawaii Free Press: Chemical Company Behind Anti-Sunscreen Campaign

The Environmental Working Group explains: Between 2003 and 2010, sunscreen makers applied for FDA permission to use eight sun-filtering chemicals developed by European companies.

Healthline: Red Light, Greenwash: 6 Faux Eco-Friendly Beauty Products to Avoid — And What to Look for Instead

Green Goo Solar Goo is a win-win-win. It’s made with non-nano zinc oxide, rated well by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), and comes in plastic-free packaging.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Tap Haps: Before Buying Any Produce, You Should Know What These Stickers Mean

While everyone should know what the labels on their food mean, not everyone can afford to eat more expensive organic produce. If you’re in this boat, the Environmental Working Group has identified fruits and vegetables that fall into two groups: the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen.”

The Thirty: The Farmers Market Essentials That Kimberly Snyder Can't Live Without

When it comes to sourcing food, I always like to try to buy organic and local whenever possible. If you are on a budget, you can check EWG's Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen lists to see which conventional fruits and vegetables contain the highest and lowest concentrations of pesticides.

Progressive Grocer: Sorting Out Natural and Organic

Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases a list of its top 15 fresh conventional (non-organic) produce picks, “Clean Fifteen,” which contain the lowest amounts of pesticide residues, alongside a list of 12 conventional fresh fruits and vegetables, “Dirty Dozen,” with the highest amounts of pesticide residues.

KNOW-FM (Minnesota NPR)

I usually see the EWG guide for the best vegetables and fruits to buy and the worst because I have to deal with the pesticides.

Tap Water Database

Garden City News (N.Y.): NYC water not the answer

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a Washington, DC-based on-profit,ranks NYC’s drinking water 13th out of 100 major cities, behind, for example, Boston, St. Louis, Providence, Charleston, and several cities in Texas.  

Eat This, Not That: Ways Your Water is Making You Sick, Say Experts

The Rx: Tina Marinaccio MS, RD, CPT, an Integrative Culinary Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, suggests that you visit the Environmental Working Group site and type in your zip code to learn about potential water contaminants in your area. You can also use the site for advice on the best water filter to remedy the issue.

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