EWG News Roundup (8/27): Costly Algae Blooms, California Senate Spikes Lead Faucet Protection Bill and More

This week, EWG published a new analysis that shows more than $1 billion has been spent by communities across the United States that are dealing with outbreaks of potentially toxic algae blooms in lakes, rivers and drinking water supplies since 2010.

“This enormous sum is just a drop in the bucket of what algae outbreaks are costing Americans,” said Anne Schechinger, EWG senior economic analyst and author of the report. “The damage toxic algae inflicts on recreation, property values, tourism, commercial fishing and wildlife likely totals billions more every year.”

Late last week the California Senate Appropriations Committee defeated a bill that would reduce the amount of lead leached from faucets and fixtures. Currently there are no federal or state laws that explicitly limit the amount of lead that may leach from drinking water fixtures and faucets. There is no safe level of lead exposure. It is a potent neurotoxin that can cause cognitive damage in children, including diminished IQ.

In a shocking decision, the Environmental Protection Agency canceled a study to look into the implications of incinerating the fluorinated ‘forever chemicals’ known as PFAS. 

“More research on PFAS waste disposal is urgently needed,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., vice president for science investigations at EWG. “These tests must be planned and conducted in a fully transparent way, with the consent of the nearby residents. The idea of a test burn in a location with large communities of color raises concerns about environmental justice,” added Naidenko.

And finally, EWG broke down a series of scandals, including bribery of state politicians, plaguing the U.S. nuclear industry.

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

EWG’s Algae Bloom Economic Analysis

The Blade (Toledo): Ohio easily outspends the rest of America in fighting algae

The report, written by the Washington-based Environmental Working Group, is billed as the first of its kind. In it, the EWG identified 85 locations, mostly cities and towns, in 22 states that spent money to prevent or treat algae blooms in the past 10 years.

Fern’s Ag Insider: Algae blooms have cost at least $1.1 billion over past decade, says EWG

Potentially toxic algae blooms, which are caused by farm runoff and urban wastewater running into streams and lakes, have cost an estimated $1.1 billion over the past decade in the United States, and that “is almost certainly a significant undercount,” said a report Wednesday by the Environmental Working Group.

Iowa Capital Dispatch: Des Moines River ‘essentially unusable’ for drinking water due to algae toxins

A new report from the Environmental Working Group Wednesday found that U.S. communities where algae toxin outbreaks had been reported spent more than $1.1 billion on prevention and treatment of the toxins over the past decade. In Iowa, that figure was $40.6 million, for six locations.

Successful Farming: Algae Blooms Have Cost at Least $1.1 Billion Over Past Decade, Says EWG

Potentially toxic algae blooms, which are caused by farm runoff and urban wastewater running into streams and lakes, have cost an estimated $1.1 billion over the past decade in the United States, and that “is almost certainly a significant undercount,” said a report Wednesday by the Environmental Working Group.

Michigan Public Radio: Ohio outspending Michigan by hundreds of millions to fight algae harboring toxic bacteria

A report by the Environmental Working Group’s analysis found the majority of that money was spent in Ohio. That state has spent more than $815 million as it struggles to control algae blooms in Lake Erie and some other inland lakes. Lake Erie is a hot spot for cyanobacteria.

WJCT NPR (Jacksonville, Fla.): Florida Has Spent Nearly $20M Dealing With Algae Blooms In Last Decade

In its report, the nonprofit and nonpartisan Environmental Working Group identified 85 municipalities and other entities in 22 states that have spent money to prevent or treat algae blooms since 2010.

EWG’s COVID-19 and Food Processing Facilities Report

Medium: The Meat Shortage Myth

A recent analysis conducted by the Environmental Working Group found that counties within 15 miles of a meatpacking plant have had about double the infection rate compared to the national average.

California Bill: SB-1044 PFAS in Firefighting Equipment and Foam

Natural Resources Defense Council: Turn Off the Tap: “Forever” Toxics in CA Firefighting Foam

Senator Ben Allen’s SB 1044 would bring these policies to California and build on them to go further. The bill is co-sponsored by NRDC, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, California Professional Firefighters, Clean Water Action, and Environmental Working Group.

Cleaning Products

Southern Curls & Pearls: Monday Motivation: “Clean” Cleaning Products

The Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning evaluates 2,500 cleaners for chemical safety, so you can look up your cleaners and make informed decisions.

WFAN (New York City): #1Thing: Non-Toxic Laundry Products To Keep Your Clothing Fresh

Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) produces guides to rank healthy cleaning products of all kinds, including those we use in the laundry.

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Babygaga: Lip Balm Ingredients To Avoid While Pregnant

The fewer ingredients it has, the better. To help you pick out a safe lip balm, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) tests cosmetics, including lip balms, and lists them from best to the worst on its website.

The Daily (University of Washington): Magnetic Eyelashes: Why They Are Better Than Glue-On Lashes

All ingredients have been deemed safe by the EWG (Environmental Working Group).

Hello Glow: Our Guide to the Best Natural Products for Healthy Hair

Always read the ingredient list before purchasing, and make sure that these toxic chemicals are not present. You can also do a quick search on EWG’s Skin Deep to check the safety rating of a particular product.

Marginal Revolution: The FDA Burns

According to EWG, the Environmental Working Group, the FDA has been too slow to test old ingredients for safety and too slow to allow new ingredients on the market thus leaving us with sunscreen products which are neither as safe nor as effective as they should be.


The Strategist: I’ve Retired Mrs. Meyer’s for These (Even Eco-Friendlier) Canadian Soaps

Additionally, all of its body products are verified by the Environmental Working Group, which means the EWG has declared they are free of toxic or potentially harmful ingredients.

Farm Subsidies

NBC News: RNC focus on trade, regulations comes up short for factories, farmers and fishermen

A review by the Environmental Working Group found that very little of that assistance went to small farmers. The top 1 percent of aid recipients received an average of just over $183,000 each, while the bottom 80 percent got payouts that averaged less than $5,000 each. 

Successful Farming: Farm Management Rule Is a Step Toward Equity, Say Reformers

“That’s why we’ve found thousands of people who live in cities who have received subsidies over the years,” said Anne Schechinger of the Environmental Working Group, known for its database of farm subsidy recipients.

Fields of Filth: North Carolina CAFO Report

The Union Journal: Meat Industry Fuels NC’s Environmental Racism

The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) extensive analysis of new and expanding farms in North Carolina makes one thing clear: The Tar Heel State’s meat industry doesn’t give a damn about people of color.

Food Scores

ABC: Battling the 'Quarantine 15': Experts fear COVID-19 weight gain could lead to health complications, weak immune systems

"A great source is The Environmental Working Group. They talk about how to eat well for you, your planet and your wallet," Hyman said. "I think that it is important that people understand that the whole notion that eating is expensive, takes too much time and it is too difficult, is propaganda that impedes people from actually taking control of their own health and their diet."

Huffpost: Just How Natural Are 'Natural Flavors,' Anyway?

In fact, natural flavors are the fourth-most common ingredient listed on these labels, with only salt, water and sugar appearing more often, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health

Earth911: Bad, Better, Best: The Climate Impact of Meat

For example, the Environmental Working Group’s LCA of meats averages emissions from three American farming systems to place lamb at 39.2 kg CO2-eq.

PFAS Waste Disposal

E+E News: EPA pulls PFAS study; Wheeler blames Obama appointee

Olga Naidenko, the vice president for science investigations at the Environmental Working Group, has found in her own research that burning materials containing PFAS did not completely destroy the toxins and that the chemicals could easily spread back into the environment.

Water Solutions: Study shows that disposal of waste containing PFAS increases contamination

In a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Chemosphere, scientists at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) conclude that burning, discarding and flushing waste containing the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS all contribute to environmental contamination.

PFAS Water Contamination

Chesapeake Bay Magazine: Upper Potomac Riverkeeper Fights “Forever Chemicals”

In DC, a study from the Environmental Working Group found total PFAS levels in DC drinking water to be 21.7 ppt – below the EPA’s guidance but far above 1 ppt, the Group’s limit.

Natural News: Hormone-disrupting chemicals in our homes could be detrimental to immune health, raising the risk of COVID-19

Recent lab tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human health, found toxic fluorinated chemicals called perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in major water supplies across the U.S. 

The Revelator: Are Forever Chemicals Harming Ocean Life?

Sydney Evans, a research scientist for the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, suggests that researchers shouldn’t have to prove the health risks for thousands of similar compounds in order to warrant regulatory action.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Vogue: 3 categories of food that need to be bought organic

In fact, according to the EWG (Environmental Working Group) strawberries and spinach are the most contaminated foods in the world, so choosing an organic variety is a good idea.

Curly Nikki: 3 Ways Chemical Exposure is Impacting Your Wellness

Buying organic can get expensive, but if you have to choose, the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list will let you know the most highly pesticide-contaminated foods each year.

Eat This, Not That!: 25 Best Ways to Save Money at Whole Foods

Whetzel suggests following the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list for purchasing organic veggies.

Eating Well: 7 Tips for Clean Eating

Choose organic produce where you can, focusing on buying organic foods from the EWG's Dirty Dozen list and cutting yourself some slack with the Clean 15 foods list.

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

Dive In: SourceA Conscious Diver’s Guide to Reef Safe Sunscreen 2020

SourceBeyond this, the Environmental Working Group publishes a yearly database cataloguing the specific chemical breakdown of a litany of sunblocks.

LMents of Style: Non-Whitening Natural Sunscreen

Pretty much all Badger sunscreens are rated a 1 by EWG, max 2.

Mother Earth News: Homegrown Fruits and Vegetables for Sunburn Protection

And there is now research showing that slathering the skin with suntan lotions can actually harm the skin, potentially causing cancer as well as preventing Vitamin D absorption (Environmental Working Group).

WFAN (New York City): #1Thing: Sustainable and Organic Sunscreens That We Love

The formula contains 23 antioxidants, and seven Hawaiian-grown ingredients such as KonaRed Hawaiian Coffee Fruit Extract, Hawaiian Spirulina, Macadamia Nut Oil, and more. It also earned a No. 1 Environmental Working Group (EWG) rating.

Tap Water Database

USA Today: 'It affects us all': Erin Brockovich's 'Superman's Not Coming' explores water issues, urges action

Environmental Working Group study: Even 'safe' drinking water poses risk.

InStyle: Erin Brockovich Would Like to Remind You That It's Not "Fine"

As in, don’t wait to get your water tested; Don’t wait to compare your results against the standards of the Environmental Working Group (not the EPA), a non-profit organization that conducts research about the effects of pollutants in agricultural systems and drinking water; Don’t wait to do the work, and then rally your community to join your pursuit of safe water; Don’t wait to educate yourself about the dangers of contaminated water.

NJ Today: Perth Amboy drinking water is contaminated

The Environmental Working Group reported that Perth Amboy drinking water is contaminated with arsenic, chloroform, chromium, radium, TTHMs, and 20 other cancer-causing chemicals.

United Press International: Oklahoma City nabs $617.5M to upgrade, manage water utility for Tinker AFB

The most recent Environmental Working Group report said tap water from Tinker was in compliance with federal health-based drinking water standards but had high levels of several cancer-causing contaminants, including bromodichloromethane, chromium and radium. 

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