EWG News Roundup (8/13): Schools’ Tap Water in the Time of COVID-19, Nitrate Pollution in Minnesota, a Twitter Battle with BP and More

On Monday, EWG released an article on government officials’ inadequate guidance about reopening schools safely as the coronavirus pandemic seems to worsen. Senior scientist David Andrews, Ph.D., brought his own experience to the table as the father of school-aged children while sharing his thoughts about the return to classes in person: “I am a scientist at EWG, but I don’t have the perfect solution.... Every educational approach to this fall – school reopening, all kids online, a hybrid model – entails tradeoffs and risks.”

Here's another COVID-19–related health issue connected to sending kids back to school: On Wednesday, we examined questions about water quality in school buildings. Because of the pandemic, most facilities closed in the spring, months before the annual summer break. By the time they reopen, their water may have been stagnant for much longer than usual, leading to contamination from numerous pollutants – including lead – that can harm students’ and teachers’ health.

Also this week, we looked at the impact of serious nitrate pollution in the water in Minnesota’s Cass County from runoff of fertilizer used on potato farms. Mike Tauber, a resident, has watched neighbors lose well water to chemical contamination and called the company responsible for the spraying, RD Offutt, to tell them: “You’re going to have casualties.”

This week, EWG’s VP and Editor in Chief Bill Walker engaged in a Twitter conversation with British Petroleum about its recent “net-zero carbon” pledge. Walker voiced his concerns over the toothless pledge BP made in 2000 promising big investments in solar energy. BP was quick to respond, stating that the “world is a different place now,” which Walker inferred to mean that “doing the right thing wasn't profitable enough 20 years ago.” Needless to say, EWG is skeptical of BP’s motives. 

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

Children’s Health

Parade: This Sneaky Chemical Might Be Why Gluten Makes You Feel So Sick

Last year, an analysis by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) detected glyphosate in 21 General Mills cereal and snack products, and all but four products contained levels higher than what EWG considers safe for children.

Business Insider: The best sunscreen

Except for All Good's kids' spray sunscreens, the brand receives a top rating from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) based on their ingredient list.

Algae Blooms

Inside Climate News: Lake Erie’s Toxic Green Slime is Getting Worse With Climate Change

"When you go to the beach and you're sitting or recreating in a lake that has these algae toxins, you can come home with those kinds of symptoms that just last for a day or two," said Anne Weir Schechinger, senior analyst in economics at the Environmental Working Group.

Clean Cosmetics and Environmental Justice

Harper’s Bazaar: Clean Makeup Brand Exa Just Launched With 43 Shades of Foundation

Clean beauty purists would further argue that this lack of access to clean cosmetics is a political issue, as Environmental Working Group (EWG) research indicates that women of color are exposed to a higher toxic load via their personal care products.

Cosmetics – Skin Deep

GQ: Queer Eye's Jonathan Van Ness On His Favourite Grooming Products, And Why The Future Of Beauty Is Clean

GQ: Any resources you can suggest to become better informed?

JVN: The Environmental Working Group’s Skindeep data base at ewg.org/skindeep and

The Clean Academy at biossance.com

Bustle: The Best Hydrating Toners For Dry Skin

This toning lotion from Korean brand Olivarrier is certified clean and organic by COSMOS, Cert Clean, and EWG, which, frankly, is just showing off.

Duke Energy

Energy News Network: Two $80 million solar projects planned for Mississippi

An environmental group says Duke Energy needs to answer questions during an earnings call next week about its post-Atlantic Coast Pipeline renewable energy plans. (Environmental Working Group)

Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition: How electricity deepens the South’s racial divide

The Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization, released a report challenging the company’s stated priority to have affordable energy bills, saying the utility giant does more to hurt low-income residents than help them (Energywire, June 5).


Goop: How Easy Beauty Rituals Can Change Your Life (and Your Skin)

(Prima is a Certified B Corp and the first ever CBD brand to be verified by the Environmental Working Group, and it abides by strict clean standards

Farm Subsidies

Lancaster Farming (Ephrata, Pa.): Roots of the Soil: Land Succession Issues Among African-American Farm Families

Black farmers sued the USDA, and though a settlement was reached, an investigation by the National Black Farmers Association and the Environmental Working Group showed that the USDA made matters worse by withholding funds.”

Glyphosate in Cereal

The Organic & Non-GMO Report: Days are numbered for pre-harvest use of glyphosate

The Environmental Working Group has conducted several studies finding high levels of glyphosate in oat food products like granola, oatmeal, and snack bars.

Nitrates in Tap Water

Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.): LETTER: Farmers must use soil health practices

A recent study by the Environmental Working Group showed that between 2003 and 2017, over half of Illinois’ 217 municipal water supplies saw an average 43 percent increase in nitrates, which have been shown to cause birth defects, thyroid disease, bladder cancer, and some forms of leukemia.

PFAS Food Contamination

Eat This, Not That!: 10 Toxic Ingredients You Didn't Know Were In Your Fast Food

"It's concerning that people could be exposed to these toxic chemicals through the food they eat," said lead study author Dr. Laurel Schaider, an environmental chemist at Silent Spring Institute, as reported by the Environmental Working Group. 

Mercola: PFAS Phase-Out in Food Containers May Take Years

In 2002, 3M agreed to stop making PFOS and in 2005, DuPont began the phase-out of PFOA. However, with a little chemical tweak, DuPont and other companies are marketing a new generation with similar structures. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that studies on these new chemicals also show they have the potential for serious health risks.

PFAS Tap Water Contamination

Mashed: The dangerous chemical reportedly found in McDonald's food wrappers

Laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) back in January of this year found that of the 44 tap water samples from 31 states, only one sample didn't seem to have any PFAS, and two other samples had PFAS that were below the levels where studies have shown they may be a threat to human health.

International Fire Fighting: Firefighting foam action in Wisconsin

A new database compiled by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Northeastern University found more than 610 drinking water sources in 43 states with potentially unsafe levels of the chemicals.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

The Good Men Project: 10 Foods You Should Buy Organic

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides a handy list of a “Dirty Dozen” fruits and vegetables to prioritize buying organic over conventional, based on the residual pesticides they typically contain.

Woman’s World: How to Clean Strawberries to Avoid Harmful Pesticides

Each year, the Environmental Working Group releases their list of the “dirty dozen” and “clean 15” fruits and vegetables according to how many pesticides are used in their production.

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