EWG News Roundup (3/26): Swapping Furniture and Foam Reduced Flame Retardant Chemicals, ‘Forever Chemicals’ Added to California Carcinogen List and More

A new peer-reviewed study by EWG found the food preservative TBHQ, linked to harm to immune system, was found in Pop-Tarts, Rice Krispies Treats, Cheez-Its and almost 1,250 other popular processed foods.

Another new study released this week showed that replacing a couch, or even just swapping the foam in upholstered furniture, decreased the harmful levels of flame retardant chemicals in household dust. The study was conducted by researchers at EWG, Silent Spring Institute, Green Science Policy Institute, University of California at Davis, and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

“This study provides further evidence that the bans on flame retardants in upholstered furniture in California and other states help to reduce flame retardant levels in the home,” said Tasha Stoiber, Ph.D., a senior scientist at EWG and a study co-author. “Replacing a couch or sofa with furniture made without flame retardants makes a significant difference in people’s everyday exposures to these chemicals.”

In the second installment of our “None of the Above” energy policy series, EWG welcomed nuclear engineer Arjun Makhijani and physicist M.V. Ramana to break down how small modular nuclear reactors will not help combat the climate crisis.

And finally, scientists in California’s influential Office of Environmental Health and Hazard Assessment, or OEHHA, proposed adding the “forever chemical” PFOA to the list of substances known to cause cancer in humans under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, otherwise known as Proposition 65.

“This landmark decision by OEHHA underscores the state’s longstanding commitment to protecting its citizens from cancer-causing chemicals like PFOA,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “The damage to communities nationwide from PFOA-contaminated drinking water and exposure through everyday consumer products is almost unimaginable, but California’s action underscores the urgency of addressing the crisis.”

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

Children’s Health

CNN: New legislation would reduce toxic heavy metals in baby food

"Right now, it's the food companies, not the FDA, who decide whether our food is safe. That's ridiculous," said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit environmental and consumer advocacy organization, in a statement.

Energy: Small Nuclear Reactors

The Washington Examiner: Another Green Group Warning Against Advanced Nuclear 

The Environmental Working Group released a report today claiming small reactors can’t be made cheaply or quickly enough to “make a significant dent in the need to transition rapidly to a carbon-free electricity system.”

Study: Flame Retardants in Upholstered Furniture

Best Life Online: If Your Couch Is Older Than This, You Need to Replace It, New Study Says

According to the new study, which included researchers from University of California, Davis; Environmental Working Group; the California Department of Toxic Substances Control; and Green Science Policy Institute, couches made before 2014 are likely filled with added flame retardant material.

Study: TBHQ in Processed Foods

Insider: Pop-Tarts and Cheez-Its contain preservatives that could harm your immune system, a study finds

Pop-Tarts and Cheez-Its contain a food preservative that has the potential to harm your immune system by disrupting cell proteins, according to a new study by the Environmental Working Group.

USA Today: Pop-Tarts, Rice Krispies Treats, Cheez-Its contain preservative that may harm immune system, study says

TBHQ, or tert-butylhydroquinone, is used to extend the shelf lives of nearly 1,250 processed foods, according to the study released by the Environmental Working Group. But it also may harm the immune system.

E&E News: Studies link chemical exposure concerns to consumer goods

One study from scientists at the Environmental Working Group found that chemicals commonly used in foods and food packaging may harm the immune system.

Best Life Online: This Ingredient in More Than 1,250 Foods May Not Be Safe, New Study Says

But a new study from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that one preservative in particular might be harming your immune system.

Consumer Affairs: Food preservative used in many popular products could harm consumers’ immune systems

Consumers’ immune systems could be seriously harmed by a food preservative found in almost 1,250 popular foods, according to a new study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Justice for Black Farmers Press Event

Savannah Herald (Savannah, Ga.): Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock Joins Farmers of Color

The virtual event was attended by the Black Belt Justice Coalition, Cancel Pigford Debt Campaign, USDA Coalition of Minority Employees, Environmental Working Group, Justice for Black Farmers and farmers of color across the country including Georgia’s own—Eddie Slaughter, farmer of Buena Vista.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Detroit Free Press: Environmental group adds 3 vegetables to its annual Dirty Dozen list

Since 2004, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released an annual list of fruits and vegetables the group calls the Dirty Dozen, because they're deemed to contain the most pesticides. But there are a few surprises to this year's list.

MSN: 50 smart ways to pare down your grocery budget

The Environmental Working Group has a list that outlines conventionally farmed fruits and vegetables that you don't have to buy organic.

Boomer Survive Thrive Guide: Which fruits and vegetables have the most and least pesticide residues?

Collard and mustard greens join kale among the most pesticide-contaminated fresh produce on the Environmental Working Group’s 2021 Dirty Dozen list. For the first time, bell peppers and hot peppers have made the list.

Edible Pursuit: Hormone Disrupting

Two hormone-disrupting fungicides imazalil and thiabendazole, one of which is also a likely carcinogen, were detected on nearly 90 percent of which non-organic fruit samples in tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group?

Kink-FM (Portland, Ore.): EWG Updated The Dirty Dozen And Clean Fifteen Lists

Each year the Environmental Working Group updates its Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists, it’s a buying guide for shoppers to know which produce is best purchased organic and what’s fine to buy non-organic.

KPEL 96.5 (Breaux Bridge, La.): Annual ‘Dirty Dozen’ List of Pesticides on Fruits and Veggies

Every year the Environmental Working Group comes out with their "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean 15" list, which tells us which produce has the most or least amount of pesticides. Their website states that the non-profit organization "is an American activist group that specializes in research and advocacy in the areas of agricultural subsidies, toxic chemicals, drinking water pollutants, and corporate accountability."

News Radio WGOW (Chattanooga, Tenn.): The Environmental Working Group Releases 2021 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) informs consumers about the safest choices when buying and consuming produce. This year, they have added some newcomers.

Center for Biological Diversity and EWG Sue EPA

National Law Review: Petition Filed in D.C. Appellate Court Seeking Review of EPA’s Conditional Registration of Aldicarb for Use on Oranges and Grapefruit in Florida

On March 3, 2021, the Farmworker Association of Florida, Environmental Working Group, and Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for review of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) order registering the use of the pesticide aldicarb on oranges and grapefruit in Florida as set forth in.

Black Farmers

Bloomberg News: USDA targets more farmers with new $12 billion COVID aid round

Just 1% of farm aid recipients collected nearly a quarter of bailout payments, according to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group.

Successful Farming: USDA Announces $12 Billion in Pandemic Aid, Aims for “A Broader Set of Producers”

Most of the nearly $24 billion in coronavirus aid during the Trump administration was funneled toward big farmers and major commodities. White farmers collected almost 97% of the cash in the first round, said the Environmental Working Group, based on a review of USDA data.

Yahoo Finance: Black farmers, left out of Trump's bailout, find relief in Biden stimulus bill

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that as of October 2020, nearly 97% of the $9.2 billion in CFAP aid that had been distributed went to white farmers. Furthermore, white farmers received on average eight times more in aid ($3,398) than the average Black farmer ($422).

California Oil Companies

Desert Sun (Palm Desert, Calif.): Are California oil companies complying with the law? Even regulators often don’t know

“CalGEM is trying, but they’re still far from being a gem of an agency,” said Bill Allayaud, California director of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, who first sounded alarms about the agency in 2011. “I mean what the heck? It’s been a decade and none of these problems should exist.”

Cleaning Products

The Eco Hub: 11 Zero Waste Dish Soap Brands For A Plastic-Free Wash-Up!

Savonnerie des Diligences makes zero waste dish soap inspired by European and South American zero waste products. I love this branding and the names of their products, the dish soap is called “Cake Vaisselle” and is unscented and made with EWG safe ingredients.

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

People Magazine: Healthcare Workers Say This Smoothing Cream Saves Their Skin After 12-Hour Days

Shoppers also mention the brand's Environmental Working Group certification drew them in, a sign-off that ensures the products are entirely free of ingredients with health, ecotoxicity, and contamination concerns (and it's no lip service — the organization's "unacceptable" list spans 1082 pages).

MSN: How to spring clean your beauty routine

Ever wonder what chemicals are lurking in your beauty products? Check out the Environmental Working Group's cosmetics database, Skin Deep. It lists hundreds of beauty products and rates them based on their ingredients. You generally want to stick to the ones they rate “green” or “safe.”

Duke Energy

Appalachian Voices: Communities call out Duke Energy’s harmful impacts

“What if utility regulators, commonly titled ‘public utility commissions,’ operated strictly in the public interest, not to preserve or extend the power, control and profits of the utilities under their jurisdiction, but to really serve the people’s interests?” asked Ken Cook, founder and CEO of the Environmental Working Group, who opened the event. “The Duke Energy People’s Commission is our answer.”

Endocrine Disruptors

CGTN America Online: Declining sperm counts around the world could reach zero in just 24 years

This can result in decreased sperm concentrations, decreased sperm motility, and genital abnormalities, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Nitrates in Drinking Water

The Bisouv Network: Report Highlights Nitrate Contamination in Drinking Water Across U.S.

A new report from the Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy organization, indicates that more than 1,700 water districts across the U.S. recorded nitrate levels that averaged 5 ppm or more in 2014-2015.


Inside EPA: Lack Of PFAS Test Methods Could Stymie Class-Based State Standards

For instance, the event’s other featured speaker, Environmental Working Group senior scientist Dave Andrews, said that even as regulators have focused heavily on PFOA and PFOS, PFAS as a class seem to be proliferating.

Chemical & Engineering News: ‘Biodegradable’ drinking straws contain PFAS

This finding “signifies either ongoing use or contamination that continues decades after use has ended,” David Andrews of the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization, writes in an email. Drinking straws and food packaging, in which Andrews and others have detected the substances, are “textbook examples of nonessential uses” of PFAS, he says.

Common Dreams: California Regulator Praised for 'Landmark' Proposal to List 'Forever Chemical' as Carcinogen

Adding the cancer warning to PFOA would be good news for public health, says the Environmental Working Group (EWG), because such labeling "historically has pushed manufacturers to remove listed chemicals from their products."

PFAS in Water

BBC Online: Erin Brockovich: California water battle 'woke me up'

Nearly 200 million Americans across the country are exposed to unsafe levels of the Hinkley chemical, according to analysis of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data by the non-profit researchers, the Environmental Working Group. This is just one chemical of many blighting the environment.

The Guardian: The US military is poisoning communities across the US with toxic chemicals

From Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Colorado Springs, Colorado, the last decade has witnessed communities near military bases waking up to a nightmare of PFAS contamination in their water, their soil and their blood. “Mapping the sites of PFAS contamination in the United States, the Department of Defense stands out as a significant contributor to this dismal list,” Dave Andrews of Environmental Working Group (EWG) told me.

LexBlog: The Threat of ‘Forever Chemicals’ – PFAS

The Environmental Water Group (EWG), a reputable nonprofit, has “mapped PFAS contamination of drinking water or groundwater at more than 2,300 sites in 49 states.” According to EWG estimates, over 200 million Americans have at least 1 ppt of PFAS in their drinking water.

Iowa Public Radio: DNR Planning A Round Of PFAS Testing In Public Water Supplies Beginning In July

According to a January 2020 report published by the Environmental Working Group, total PFAS levels of 109.8 ppt were detected in tap water in the Quad Cities, well above the U.S. EPA’s health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion or ppt for drinking water.

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

Treehugger: The 10 Best Mineral Sunscreens of 2021

Its mild formula earned an Environmental Working Group (EWG) rating of 1 because it’s both coral-reef safe and gentle enough for the whole family including babies. It's Leaping Bunny certified and never tested on animals.

Her Campus: All About SPF

Along with the active ingredients, sunblocks have many inactive ingredients contributing to stability, texture and water resistance. To further understand the various products on the market the EWG Skin Deep Database ranks the safety of products by the safety of every ingredient in that product and by price range.

Tap Water Database

Martha Stewart Kitchen: How to Build a Greener, Smarter Kitchen

Go to the Environmental Working Group's Tap Water Database to ID the pollutants in your water and find a filter that removes them.

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