EWG News Roundup (7/30): CAFOs Run Amok in North Carolina, Senate Republican COVID-19 Stimulus Lets Down Farm Workers and More

This week, EWG and Waterkeeper Alliance released an investigation that shows how the explosive growth of poultry factory farms in North Carolina threatens predominantly Black, Native American and Latino residents of three of the state’s eastern counties. The growing population of chickens and turkeys in Duplin, Sampson and Robeson counties could produce one million tons of waste each year.

“North Carolina’s poultry industry is running amok,” said Soren Rundquist, EWG’s director of spatial analysis and one of the report’s authors. “The reckless growth of poultry operations, especially in the same three counties that already housed more than half of the swine in the entire state, is alarming.” 

On Monday, Senate Republicans released their latest COVID-19 relief package, which is severely lacking when it comes to protecting farm workers or helping hungry families.

“Rather than allowing employers to endanger their workers, as Senate Republicans have recklessly proposed, Congress must ensure that food and farm workers have protective gear, access to COVID-19 testing, and sick and hazard pay,” said EWG’s senior vice president of government affairs Scott Faber.

As summer temperatures remain high and coronavirus lockdowns remain in place, folks across the nation will be seeking some socially distanced recreation on the water. EWG broke down why people may want to leave their dogs at home, due to the growing problem of toxic algae outbreaks in lakes and rivers and the serious risks they pose to Fido.

And finally, European cosmetics regulators have placed a hormone-disrupting chemical common in cosmetics on the list of ingredients that are of very high concern. Regulators could find “no safe level of exposure” to butylparaben, which is used as a preservative in personal care products and has been linked to cancer, sperm damage and environmental harm.

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

Children’s Health

Kiwi Magazine: The Ultimate Eco-Friendly Playroom

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), they have been linked to increased cholesterol, multiple cancers, and weight gain.

Moms: Is It Possible For A Child To Consume Too Many Vitamins?

According to a 2014 report by the Environmental Working Group, an organization that advocates for healthier lives and a healthier environment, many of these foods are also fortified with too many vitamins and nutrients, which can be harmful to children's healthy growth and development.

Real Simple: These Are the 10 Safest Sunscreens for Babies and Kids 

Of course, the main way to protect kids from sun exposure is by applying sunscreen, but according to Carla Burns, research analyst for the Environmental Working Group (EWG), many sunscreen products don’t provide sufficient UV protection or contain potentially harmful ingredients that are best to avoid. 

Fields of Filth: North Carolina CAFO Report

Raleigh News & Observer: Poultry farms in NC produce tons of waste environmentalists want better regulated

A report released Thursday by the Environmental Working Group and the Waterkeeper Alliance estimates that numbers of chickens and turkeys in Robeson, Sampson, and Duplin counties grew 36%, from 83 million to 113 million, with the fastest growth in Robeson.

WUNC (Chapel Hill, N.C.): Explosive Growth In NC Poultry Farms Poses Grave Risks, New Report Says

The study, conducted by Waterkeeper Alliance and the Environmental Working Group, found the number of chickens and turkeys in Sampson, Duplin and Robeson counties went from an estimated 83 million to 113 million since 2012, an expansion of 36 percent.

COVID-19 and Farm Bailouts

Feedstuffs: Farm Aid check is in the mail

"It's really difficult once you're giving farmers this much money to then take away those (payments)," Anne Schechinger, senior economics analyst at the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit watchdog organization, warned Politico, "It's a big problem for agriculture because it's not sustainable."

COVID-19 and Processing Facilities

Food Logistics: 3PL Best Practices for Cold Chain and COVID-19

According to the Environmental Working Group, at least 60 food processing facilities outside the meatpacking industry have seen outbreaks of the Coronavirus, with more than 1,200 workers diagnosed with COVID-19.

Algae Blooms

Health Day: Summer's Toxic Algae Blooms: A Growing Threat to Health?

The study is significant because it shows that a single algae bloom can produce different toxins that could be harmful in different ways, said Anne Weir Schechinger, a senior analyst with the Environmental Working Group, in Minneapolis.

BPA in Receipts

Treehugger: The Right Way to Dispose of Paper Receipts

The Environmental Working Group reported that bisphenol-A "transfers from receipts to skin and can penetrate the skin to such a depth that it cannot be washed off.

Bug Spray

Mind Body Green: Citronella Candles Aren't The Best Option: 7 Other Ways To Keep Bugs Away

That said, the Environmental Working Group recommends limiting DEET concentrations in products to 30%, so check those labels.

Motherly: It’s still tick season—here’s how to prevent tick bites this summer

Picaridin is another CDC-recommended repellent ingredient that's bio-identical to a black pepper plant, recognized by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) as an equally effective alternative to DEET and protects against both mosquitoes and ticks.

Cleaning Products

Don’t Waste Your Money: The Best Fabric Softener

Experts Included: DWYM Cleaning & Organization Experts plus French Garment Cleaners, EWG. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart

Get Green, Be Well: Homemade Dusting Spray

Like this common dusting and cleaning spray which gets an F from the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Get Green, Be Well: Olive Oil + Lemon Juice Wood Cleaner (and Polish)

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) does great research on ingredients in cleaning products, giving scores from A-F based on toxicity of the ingredients.

House & Garden: Home, Green Home

She often consults the Environmental Working Group's website when choosing laundry or cleaning products.

LC Concerned Citizens: The 13 Best Organic and Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products of 2020

Groups like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publish annual reports on organic and natural cleaning products with rankings from best to worst.

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

AARP: Makeup Care Tips for Beautiful, Healthy Eyes

Log onto the Environmental Working Group website (ewg.org) and check out “EWG's Skin Deep Guide to Cosmetics.”

Glossy: Black-owned beauty e-tailers launch with a focus on ethical brands

BLK+GRN, for example, heavily emphasizes natural ingredients and ingredient safety, to make sure they do not have ingredients on its “toxic twenty” list. This list is based on ingredients that are banned in other countries, as well as information from the Environmental Working Group.

EveryDay Health: Common Chemicals May Be Toxic to Midlife Sleep

“EWG’s research indicates that Black women use more personal care products than other demographics, and there are fewer products marketed specifically to Black women that are free from chemicals,” Leiba says.

Health Central: How Top Docs & Real Patients Prevent Psoriasis Flare-Ups

“The Environmental Working Group has a database called Skin Deep, where you can search for detergents and see how ‘clean’ they really are,” Dr. Henry says. “Choose one with a rating of 1 or 2.”

Her Campus NYU: My Clean Skincare Routine

Most of the products I use are “clean” meaning they don’t have toxic ingredients like sulfates and or parabens. I’m going to walk you through each of the specific products I use and my reviews (EWG ratings included)!


Beauty Independent: What Indie Beauty Brand Founders Think Of Ulta’s New Conscious Beauty Initiative

We are also a member of EWG Verified program that focuses on increased awareness on health and environmental sustainability.

Farm Subsidies

The Counter: A few farmers get huge USDA relief payments while many struggle for pennies

So the more that you produce, the larger the farm you are and the more money you’re going to be getting in subsidies,” says Anne Schechinger, senior economic analyst at the Environmental Working Group.

Food Scores

Kokomo Tribune (Ind.): STUFF WE LIKE: Thursday, July 30, 2020

According to info from Harvard School of Public Health Breakfast Cereal Sugar Content List and Environmental Working Group, these are the top offenders, based on sheer percentages of sugar.

Glyphosate in Cereal

Nature World News: Glyphosate Weed Killer: Studies in Mice, Food and Environment

FDA also found detectable glyphosate residues on 60% of corn and soybeans analyzed. In 28 kid's cereal products that were sampled by the Environmental Working Group, detectable levels of glyphosate are in all of them.

Glyphosate in Hummus Report

The Detroit News: Opinion—Paul W. Smith: Deadly chemicals in products and a virus in the air

Now scientists have found glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the world (classified as a probable human carcinogen by cancer researchers), in over 80% of non-organic samples of hummus and chickpeas, according to a study commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (an organization funded by organic food companies).

Easy Health Options: Watch out for these glyphosate-containing hummus brands

I’m sorry to report that the Environmental Working Group has discovered that this toxic chemical is present in yet another otherwise healthy food.

Healthy Living App

Essence: Are The Chemicals In Your Hair Dye Dangerous?

There’s also an app called EWG Healthy Living that allows you to evaluate the risk of a product you’re considering right from your smartphone. Developed by a nonprofit watchdog organization called Environmental Working Group, which aims to “empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment,” the app accesses a database of information that categorizes products into “clean” levels based on their ingredient standards.

Manure Overload Report

Lonsdale Area News-Review (Minn.): Environmental group report highlights ag runoff issues

Excessive runoff from more than 23,000 animal feedlots across Minnesota has caused significant damage to the state’s water quality, according a new report from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

PFAS Reform Provisions

Engineering News Record: House, Senate DOD Bills Have Only Modest Impact on PFAS Chemicals

Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement he was pleased a bipartisan group of lawmakers is continuing to keep pressure on the Pentagon to address PFAS contamination.

Seacoast Online (Dover, N.H.): Sens. Shaheen, Rounds lead effort to raise awareness of PFAS risks

The Shaheen-Rounds legislation is endorsed by the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, the Endocrine Society, the Environmental Working Group and the Green Science Policy Institute.

Stamford Advocate: House approves defense bill that boosts CT spending

PFAS, which are known to cause negative health effects, have been confirmed at Bradley International Airport and a military facility in New London County, according to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

Times Union: New York Legislature approves bill to ban PFAS in food containers

Those include more than $100 million in defense appropriations to clean up PFAS at active military installations and to expand studies of those affected by the chemical, according to the Environmental Working Group.

WEMU (Ypsilanti, Mich.): Issues Of The Environment: Firefighting Under New Michigan Regulations On PFAS

Until recently nearly all fire-suppression foams contained high concentrations of PFAS.  According to the Environmental Working Group, “PFAS are known as “forever chemicals,” because once released into the environment, they never break down.

PFAS Military Map

LexBlog: Amendment to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act Targets Forever Chemicals

PFAS have been linked to several types of cancer and have contaminated at least 328 U.S. military installations according to the Environmental Working Group.

PFAS on Crops

Detroit Metro Times: Toilet to table: Michigan farmers feed crops with ‘toxic brew’ of human and industrial waste

"Regulators completely miss emerging contaminants — like PFAS — as well as pharmaceuticals and a whole host of other chemicals used widely today that find their way into crops," says Colin O'Neil, legislative director at Environmental Working Group, which tracks PFAS contamination.

PFAS Tap Water Contamination

Hill Reporter: Trump Golf Resort Where He Holds Official Meetings Has Toxic Water: Report

Environmental Working Group said that three separate testings during 2019 found a chemical contaminant known as perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA.


ExBulletin: Can Toxic Chemicals Cause Sleep Disorders? | Daily health

Phthalates are described as a common EDC used in a wide range of industrial products to improve their performance. Nneka Leiba, MPH, Vice President of Health and Life Sciences, Non-Profit Environmental Working Group in Washington, DC.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Dr. Greene: Dietary Advice to Address Arsenic Concern

Choose organic fruit and vegetable juice if they are listed on the EWG.org’s “Dirty Dozen” and especially if you consume them often (hint hint, apple tops the dirty dozen list)

Eat This, Not That!: The Healthiest Foods You Should Be Eating Every Day, According to Experts

"The 2020 Environmental Working Group 'Dirty Dozen' report found kale samples tested positive for 18 different pesticides," he says. "In fact, when the analysts crunched the numbers, kale and spinach samples harbored 1.1 to 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop tested.

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

Florida Phoenix: Questions about sunscreen safety remain unanswered as FL summer traditions resume

The non-profit research organization Environmental Working Group in its 2020 “Guide to Sunscreens” rates chemical sunscreens as potentially hazardous, citing reports echoed by the FDA that oxybenzone – the most commonly found ingredient – and several other chemical ingredients are known to enter the blood stream in concentrations that cannot be presumed safe.

Irish Examiner: Take the hassle out of shopping for sun protection this summer

The Environmental Working Group’s 2020 guide identifies chemical sunscreen oxybenzone as a potential hormone disrupter, for example (this product is currently allowed in concentrations of up to 6% products sold in the EU).

Metro UK: Dermatologists and skin experts share everything to know about SPF 100

‘But the truth is that higher-SPF products are only marginally better at shielding you from UVB, according to both the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Skin Cancer Foundation. 

Muscle And Fitness: The 7 Best Eco-Friendly Sunscreens To Protect Your Skin

In the meantime, look below for a few of the best sunscreens out there for 2020, mostly selected from the extensive list of safer sunscreens that the Environmental Working Group puts out each year.

Tap Water Database

Goop: Ask Gerda: Do Water Purifiers Make Tap Water Safer—or Taste Better?

And according to the Environmental Working Group, the outdated government limits on contaminant levels are too high.

The Stoughton Courier Hub: Stoughton’s nitrate levels in water decrease

The federal Environmental Protection Agency’s legal limit of nitrate in drinking water is 10 ppm, however, EWG as a watchdog environmental group recommends no more than .14 ppm.

1,4-Dioxane in Cosmetics

Rose Inc: Uncovered: The Unpredictable Chemical Popping Up In Beauty Products

“Because manufacturers don’t have to disclose the presence of 1,4-dioxane on product labels, it’s hard for consumers to know if their personal care, or other household products, harbor the hidden carcinogen,”notes Nneka Leiba, MPhil., MPH, vice president of Healthy Living Science at the Environmental Working Group.

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