EWG News Roundup (6/14): Nitrate Pollution of U.S. Tap Water Could Cause 12,500 Cases of Cancer Each Year, Monsanto’s Weedkiller Still Contaminates Foods Marketed to Children and More

This week, EWG scientists published a study analyzing the health and economic impacts of widespread nitrate contamination of U.S. tap water in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research.

“Nitrate contamination of drinking water is a serious problem, and especially severe in the nation’s farm country,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG vice president for science investigations and one of the study’s authors. “Now, for the first time, we can see the staggering consequences of this pollution.”

We continue to doggedly investigate the PFAS crisis. This week we discovered that at least 475 industrial facilities across the nation could be discharging the toxic fluorinated compounds into the air and water. And we unearthed 20-year-old lab tests by 3M showing that the chemical company has long known that PFAS chemicals were contaminating the U.S. food supply.

Meanwhile, FDA dismissed the findings of its own scientists, saying that consumers shouldn’t be concerned about eating PFAS-contaminated foods. Yet, as EWG senior scientist David Andrews pointed out, “There is growing evidence that people are already exposed to PFAS at levels that are causing harm, and that food is a major route of exposure.”

EWG released the results from a new round of tests on oat-based cereals and other breakfast foods showing that not only do companies like General Mills continue to use Roundup-contaminated oats in their products, but also the resulting glyphosate residues are nearly always higher than what EWG considers safe for children.

This work prompted EWG's Dr. Naidenko to ask: “Does General Mills really want to keep using a chemical that independent scientists say causes cancer, made by a company that three juries have found guilty of covering up its health hazards? Or will they listen to the growing chorus of concerned consumers calling on General Mills and other companies to remove glyphosate from the cereals kids love to eat?”  

For coverage on these developments and more, here’s some news you can use going into the weekend:

Nitrate Cancer Risk Study

CBS News: Study: Nitrate pollution in U.S. drinking water could lead to thousands of cancer cases

A new study by the non-profit Environmental Working Group found that nitrate pollution in U.S. drinking water could cause over 12,000 cases of cancer each year.

UPI: Nitrate in tap water may cause 12,500 annual cancer cases, study says

And most drinking water standards are a compromise between public health protection and economic feasibility, with the true safe levels almost always below the [Environmental Protection Agency’s] maximum contaminant level,” Alexis Temkin, a toxicologist at Environmental Working Group and study lead author, told UPI.

HealthDay: Your Drinking Water May Harbor Cancer-Causing Nitrate: Study

Millions of tons of nitrate from industrial farming find their way into America's drinking water each year, causing thousands of cases of cancer and other health problems, an environmental advocacy group says. In a new report, researchers from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) quantify the risk. They say nitrate is responsible for nearly 12,600 cases of cancer a year.

Iowa Public Radio: Study Estimates Thousands Of Cancer Cases Are Linked To Nitrates In Drinking Water

The team, which includes researchers from the Environmental Working Group and Duke University, also estimated some 4,700 cases of babies born with very low birth weight, very pre-term birth or neural tube defects may be linked to nitrates as well.

Earth News: Nitrate in drinking water linked to thousands of cancer cases each year

A new study from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has revealed that nitrate contamination in drinking water across the United States may be responsible for more than 12,500 cases of cancer each year.


Buzzfeed: FDA’s First Tests For "Forever Chemicals" In Food Found Them In Meat And Chocolate Cake

About 610 locations in 43 states, serving an estimated 19 million people, have PFAS in the drinking water, according to the Environmental Working Group and the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University.

The Intercept: 3M Knew About PFAS Food Contamination in 2001

The presence of the industrial compounds in our food was made public by the Environmental Working Group after a staff member of the Environmental Defense Fund took photos of the research at a scientific conference in Europe. 

Cooking Light: Here’s What You Need to Know About PFAS and the Recent FDA Report

The EWG reported 110 million Americans could be affected by the PFAS in our drinking water, but they noted there are 71 different products currently on the market that reduce the amount of PFAS in your water. Reprinted by AT&T

The Hill: FDA says 'forever chemicals' in some foods not a human health concern

There is growing evidence that people are already exposed to PFAS at levels that are causing harm, and that food is a major route of exposure,” said David Andrews, senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group, which monitors the spread of PFAS.


“The results from FDA clearly indicate that some food products are much more contaminated than others,” said David Andrews, a senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group, during a conference call for reporters.

Sarasota Herald Tribune (FL): Tests show PFAS chemicals in food — FDA says it’s fine

“FDA routinely underestimates the risks chemicals pose, especially the risks posed by food chemicals that migrate from food packaging into food, including PFAS chemicals,” said David Andrews, a senior scientist at Environmental Working Group, which advocates for regulation of PFAS. 

WHNT 19 (Huntsville AL): 2001 3M-funded food study found high levels of manufacturing chemicals in Alabama

It really highlights how produce, apples, milk, and really any food item that's near the vicinity of a production facility or a place that used and contaminated the surrounding environment with PFAS chemicals may be particularly impacted," explained Environmental Working Group Scientist David Andrews.

WGVU (Grand Rapids MI): FDA finds PFAS in foods

Dr. David Andrews is a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit, non-partisan organization in Washington D.C. He’s also the co-author of a recent article that broke the news about the FDA’s discovery of PFAS in food.


CNN: Many breakfast cereals still contaminated by weed killer, environmental group says

The Environmental Working Group, which has links to the organics industry, found that all 21 of the products it tested had levels of glyphosate that were "higher than what EWG scientists consider protective for children's health."

CBS: Cheerios, Nature Valley cereals contain Roundup ingredient, study finds

Twenty-one oat-based cereal and snack products popular with children contain traces of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weed killer Roundup, according to tests from the Environmental Working Group.

Popsugar: New 2019 Tests Confirm 19 More Foods That Contain Weed-Killing Chemical Linked to Cancer

Back in August 2018, a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that a number of breakfast foods and cereals may contain trace amounts of glyphosate, a commonly used weed-killing chemical found in Roundup products that has been linked to cancer.

Popsugar: 6 Tasty Cereals That Don't Contain Glyphosate, the Weed-Killing Chemical Linked to Cancer

The new report conducted by the Environmental Working Group identified a number of popular breakfast foods and cereals that might contain higher amounts of the herbicide glyphosate, including Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Quaker Old Fashioned Oats, and more (you can see the full list here).

Consumer Affairs: EWG finds popular cereals still contaminated by glyphosate

Tests recently conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) have found that 21 popular oat-based cereals contain traces of glyphosate, the controversial active ingredient in the weed killer Roundup.

Daily Mail: At least 21 cereals contain weed killer chemical: Chemical blamed for Roundup cancers found in Cheerios, Nature Valley and Fiber One products

Scientists at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found the ingredient in oat-based cereals made by General Mills and Fiber One at levels above what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers safe. 

Dr. Axe: Glyphosate in Cereal: Monsanto’s Weedkiller Detected at Alarming Levels, Report Says

Environmental Working Group (EWG) just released its third round of 2019 test results measuring glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer, in popular oat-based cereals and foods.

EcoWatch: New Round of Tests Finds Breakfast Cereals Still Full of Glyphosate, Says EWG

Many best sellers in the cereal aisle continue to have trace amounts of the weed killer glyphosate, according to a new report published Wednesday by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Business Insider: An environmental watchdog found traces of weed-killer in Cheerios and Nature Valley products. Here's how worried you should be.

For months, the watchdog Environmental Working Group (EWG) has been testing breakfast foods for glyphosate, the most widely used agricultural pesticide in the world.

Common Dreams: New Testing Revealed Popular Kids Cereals Contaminated With Weedkiller Roundup

The testing was commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG)—the third round of such testing it's undertaken—and looked at popular General Mills-made products, including several Cheerios varieties and various kinds of Nature Valley granola bars.

Mercola: Glyphosate use rises and you need to be careful how you test for it

Test results published in August 2018 by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) showed 43 out of 45 food products made with conventionally grown oats tested positive for glyphosate, 31 of which had glyphosate levels higher than EWG scientists believe would be safe for children.

International Business Times: Cancer-Causing Chemical Glyphosate Found In Cheerios And Snack Products

The Environmental Working Group ’s (EWG) Children’s Health Initiative found that 21 oat-based cereal and snack products, which are very popular with children, contained traces of the "active ingredient".

The Hill: Roundup ingredient found in cereals marketed toward kids: study

The study, paid for by the Environmental Working Group, found that levels of glyphosate were found in 21 oat-based cereal and snack items, many of which are marketed to children.

Detroit Free Press: Report: Popular cereals, snack bars still contain weed killer chemical

The nonprofit organization Environmental Working Group, or EWG, released a study Wednesday that found trace amounts of glyphosate in 21 oat-based breakfast and snack foods.

Algae Blooms

Great Lakes Now: Algae Map: Nonprofit group creates map tracking algae bloom outbreaks from 2010 to now

The nonprofit organization Environmental Working Group today released a map that tracks all toxic algae outbreaks reported in the U.S. from 2010 until the present. “No federal agency publicly tracks algae blooms, so we are trying to fill the gap,” said Anne Weir Schechinger, EWG senior economic analyst, in a press release. The map will be updated weekly. More information on EWG’s work on toxic algae can be found at their website, including tips on avoiding toxic algae bloom poisoning and satellite photos of algae blooms.

The Storm Lake Times (Storm Lake, IA): Stage set for toxic algae to flourish

Environmental Working Group has started a project to track algal blooms and their effects through news reports and state clearinghouses, but there isn’t a federal database to track them. The State of Iowa monitors them through a patchwork of municipal drinking water systems and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ beach advisories and ambient water quality monitoring program.

19 News (Cleveland OH): Toxic algal bloom expected to be bad this summer in Lake Erie

“We’ve found in our research that most people don’t realize that algae blooms are a nationwide problem,” Anne Weir Schechinger said who is a senior economic analyst for the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Asbestos in Cosmetics

Business Insider: Asbestos has again been found in makeup sold at Claire’s, highlighting a disturbing ‘black hole’ in beauty-product safety

“Cosmetics have largely fallen into a regulatory black hole,” Scott Faber, the senior vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, said in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy in March.

Body Burden Study

Medium: Pregnancy blog: Six Weeks In

In a 2004 study, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood.

Bug Sprays

Market Watch: Why this effective $9 insect repellent scores nearly 3,000 rave reviews on Amazon

The nonprofit research organization Environmental Working Group notes that their top picks for bug repellents include those with ingredients like Picaridin (a 20% concentration can protect against ticks and mosquitoes all day) and DEET (a 20% to 30% concentration can protect against ticks and mosquitoes all day) — though they do have downsides (see below).


Arizona Daily Sun (Flagstaff): Earthtalk: Eco-Friendly cleaning products are now everywhere

The non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) looked into the ingredients lists of more than 2,000 cleaning supplies commonly available on store shelves across the country and found that hundreds of them contain substances linked to serious health problems.

La Crosse Tribune (WI): How can I avoid household cleaners with toxic ingredients?

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) looked into the ingredients lists of more than 2,000 cleaning supplies commonly available on store shelves across the country and found that hundreds of them contain substances linked to serious health problems.

Cosmetics – EWG Verified

Allergic Living: Allergic Living’s 2019 Top Allergy-Friendly Sunscreens List

The SPF 30 broad spectrum lotion is EWG verified and certified by the National Eczema Association thanks to its fragrance-free, no nanoparticle, hypoallergenic formula.

Cosmetics – Kourtney Kardashian 

E News: Kourtney Kardashian Debuts New Poosh Water Bottle for a Good Cause

This move should come as no surprise to Kourtney's fans. As they'll recall, Kourtney worked with Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook last year and spoke to congressional leaders about updating cosmetic legislation to make beauty products safer.

Women’s Wear Daily: Kourtney Kardashian Is Making Poosh Merch

Last year, she teamed up with the Environmental Working Group and made a trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with staffers from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to discuss the Personal Care Products Safety Act, which would update 80-year-old FDA regulations in the beauty and personal-care categories.

Cosmetics – Michelle Pfeiffer’s Henry Rose Launch

BeautyCalypse: Trusted Brands’ Beauty News In June

An innovative take of the art of perfumery, the US brand are offering the first fine fragrances ever to be both EWG Verified™ and Cradle to Cradle Certified™ (Gold).

The Daily Front Row: 15 Last-Minute Father’s Day Gifts He’ll Love Almost as Much as He Loves You

Did you know that Michelle Pfeiffer has her own brand of unisex fragrances? It’s called Henry Rose and it’s the first fine fragrance line to be both Environmental Working Group Verified™ and Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Gold.

Cosmetics – Skin Deep

American Spa: The Ingredients To Avoid When Shopping For Clean Cosmetics

The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is a great source when it comes to verifying ingredients and determining if a product contains, what they term, high-hazard ingredients.

The Cut: How This Makeup Artist Gets Her Skin So Good

Her go to-resource is the Environmental Working Group’s website. She stresses, “I don’t drive myself super crazy about the purity of my products. I educate myself, reference EWG, read up on ingredients, but the bottom line is that I do my best and bless the rest.”

Eat This, Not That!: 21 Things You May Be Doing That Raise Your Risk of Cancer

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.

Duke Energy

Indiana Public Media: Duke Energy Launches Program To Lease Solar Panels

According to the Environmental Working Group, the energy company has focused primarily on coal and natural gas in the past.

Food Additives

Eating Well: Here Are 4 Ingredients the US Allows, But Are Banned in Other Countries

The Environmental Working Group found ADA in almost 500 different food products back in 2014. In the same year, Vani Hari, a food advocate and founder of FoodBabe.com, petitioned fast food chains to remove ADA from their products.

Healthy Living App

Business Insider: Beautycounter is the gold standard in clean beauty — here's how its best sellers and customer favorites stack up

If you're interested in clean beauty but not sure Beautycounter is the right fit for you or your budget, start by browsing the "Clean" category at Sephora and check your go-to products on the EWG Healthy Living app to see if they're worth replacing.

Monsanto Research to Replace Roundup

The Washington Post: Roundup is embroiled in cancer cases. Now its maker is putting $5.6 billion toward a new kind of weedkiller.

Ken Cook, president and co-founder of the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, said that if Bayer is serious about reforming its products, it has to commit to a “fundamentally new paradigm for pesticides, which must start with a simple principle: This class of chemicals should not end up in people.”

North Carolina CAFOs

Poultry Producer: Sounding the Alarm on North Carolina’s Poultry Industry

A recent study from the Environmental Working Group and the Waterkeeper Alliance sheds light on the size and impacts of the poultry industry.

WRAL (Raleigh NC): Know where the nearest poultry farm is? Neither do NC regulators

Frustrated by the lack of information, the Waterkeeper Alliance and the Environmental Working Group developed a map of farms in 2016, documenting locations by analyzing high-resolution aerial photography.

2019 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

Academy of Culinary Nutrition: Cooking With The Clean 15

Released every year by the Environmental Working Group, it outlines the fruits and veggies with the most pesticides (the ‘Dirty Dozen’) and the least (‘the Clean 15′).

Decatur Daily Democrat (IN): The Movement Towards Natural & Organic Food and Healthy Lifestyles

And, with conventionally grown apples at the top of the Environmental Working Group’s infamous “Dirty Dozen” contaminated fruits and vegetables list (Each conventional apple contains on average 4.4 toxic, synthetic pesticide residues.), people are realizing that it’s the organic apple a day that keeps the doctor away.

Mind Body Green: Is Celery Juice All Hype, Or Are There Legitimate Benefits?

Additionally, celery consistently appears on the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen produce list.

KIDK Local News (Idaho Falls ID): What's the quality of our produce?

Every year the Environmental Working Group releases a produce list called the "Dirty Dozen," but what is this list and what does it mean for your health?

Sunscreens Guide

Adventure Journal: Sunscreen Prevents Cancer, Right? Well, It’s Complicated

“If you just use a sunscreen that just protects against sunburn,” said David Andrews, a senior scientist at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, which recently published a comprehensive report on sunscreens, “you are effectively getting the same sun exposure as you would from a tanning bed.”

The EveryGirl: The best Non-Toxic Sunscreens of 2019

For more information on healthy sunscreen practices and harmful ingredients, check out the EWG’s 2019 sunscreen report, and shop our picks below for the very best non-toxic, mineral-based, and natural sunscreens that 2019 has to offer.

Market Watch: This summer, beware of sunscreens that contain these ingredients

In a report released in May, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group analyzed the chemicals and effectiveness of more than 1,300 sunscreens and found that over 60% of them would not pass safety rules proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Mercola: Will the FDA investigate sunscreen chemicals?

If you’re not sure where to start, head on over to the Environmental Working Group.

Trump’s Farmer Bailout

Politico Morning Agriculture: Decision day for ERS, NIFA relocation

Close to 3,500 farms each received more than $125,000 in trade relief payments for 2018 production, according to USDA records obtained by the Environmental Working Group. Dozens of those farms took in more than $500,000 each. Here’s more.

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