EWG News Roundup (9/11): PFAS Discharges Near Schools, Tracking Farm Pollution in Our Drinking Water and More

This week, EWG released an analysis that identifies 27 schools or child care facilities in 18 states that maintain their own water systems and are less than one mile from a facility that could be discharging the toxic fluorinated “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.

“We don’t know the full scope of PFAS pollution in our water, but we do know that where you look for PFAS contamination, you usually find it,” said Jared Hayes, policy analyst at EWG.

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans released their latest COVID-19 relief package, which sorely lacked provisions that aid and protect families and farm workers.

“Instead of feeding hungry families or protecting workers, Senate Republicans have proposed to provide $20 billion in new subsidies to farmers – on top of roughly $35 billion already flowing to farmers this year,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs. “These funds have overwhelmingly flowed to the largest and most successful farmers.”

Since 2010, EWG has tracked news stories of agricultural pollution tainting public drinking water supplies. Overall, we have found 377 news reports in 303 locations, with the number of reports steadily rising since 2013, except in 2018.

And finally, EWG broke down a recent study that showcases the oral toxicity of many cosmetics ingredients. Although it’s often overlooked, the oral toxicity of the personal care products we apply on a daily basis is important for scientists and formulators to consider.

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

Children’s Health

Conde Nast Traveler: The Best Sunscreens for All Skin Types

If you’re looking for an environmentally safe product that will also protect your kids from sun damage, look no further. This sunscreen was ranked with the highest score possible by the Environmental Working Group.

Dr. Greene: Organic a Choice for our Children

More recently, the Consumers Union and Environmental Working Group have released studies confirming that children are overexposed even if their exposure is within legal limits.

PFAS Water Contamination in Schools

International Business Times: New Study Finds Toxic 'Forever Chemicals' Contaminating School Water Systems In 18 States

The Environmental Working Group conducted the study by looking at the water systems for schools across the U.S. at risk of contamination, focusing on finding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS or fluorinated “forever chemicals.”

Waco Tribune-Herald (Texas): Joe Perrone: COVID-19 fallout leaves some water supplies suspect

Earlier this year, the Environmental Working Group released a new study revealing that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were found in more localities and in higher quantities than previously believed.

COVID-19 and Farm Workers

The Counter: Should states require food and farm businesses to test their employees for Covid-19?

Eight states require growers and farm operations to provide personal safety equipment, according to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group.

EWG’s Algae Bloom Economic Analysis

Water Online: Ohio's Algae-Fighting Bill Reaches $815M Over Last 10 Years

The ranking came from a recent report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which found that Oregon spent the second most on fighting toxic algae, at $75 million, with Texas, California, and New York also in the top-five list of spenders.

Algae Blooms

The Weather Channel: Toxic Algae Found in More than 300 Bodies of Water in the U.S.

Toxic algae has been found in more than 300 bodies of water this year, according to data compiled by the Environmental Working Group.

Natural News: Spending the Labor Day weekend at the beach? Watch out for toxic algal blooms, warn experts

The Environment Working Group (EWG) identified 318 individual bodies of water all over the United States that are populated by toxic amounts of cyanobacteria, a type of algae that can produce toxins.


National Geographic: Wallabies exposed to common weed killer have reproductive abnormalities

In the U.S., atrazine is the most commonly detected pesticide in tap water, according to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that advocates for reduced pesticide use and stronger drinking water standards.

Body Burden

Dr. Greene: Links Between Chemicals and Health: Related Tidbits

At about the same time, the Environmental Working Group, Commonweal, and the Mount Sinai School of Community Medicine released a study in Public Health Reports that tested for the most comprehensive list of chemicals ever, in a small number of people.

Breast Cancer Rates and Consumer Products

Living on Earth: More Organics, Less Cancer

The observed decrease in cancer risk is associated with organic food’s lack of pesticides, dyes, and other additives, though more research is necessary to confirm these results and understand possible mechanisms. Ken Cook, President of the Environmental Working Group, joins Host Steve Curwood to consider consumer and research choices in light of this news.

California Bill: AB2762 Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act

Fox News: Kourtney Kardashian calls on California Gov. Newsom to sign bill banning 'toxic' chemicals from cosmetics

“All 12 of these chemicals have already been banned by the European Union from use in cosmetics because of their toxicity and harmful impacts on health such as cancer, birth defects, damage to the reproductive system, organ system toxicity and endocrine disruption,” according to the activist group Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Vogue Arabia: Kourtney Kardashian on Leaving Her Family’s Reality Show Keeping Up With The Kardashians

Teaming up with the nonprofit organization Environmental Working Group (EWG), she implored congressional staff members to pass the Personal Care Products Safety Act. “I don’t think it’s taken that seriously,” she comments. “There are a lot of people who are still not aware of the harm that could be in our products – the harmful chemicals and things that we don’t think about.”

Cleaning Products

House Beautiful: Here’s Why You Need to Stop Using Dryer Sheets ASAP

The Environmental Working Group’s senior research and database analyst Samara Geller told Apartment Therapy that dryer sheets contain a potentially harmful chemical called quaternary ammonium compounds (QACS).

BuzzFeed: All The Best Deals At Amazon's Labor Day Sale

I picked this detergent after reading quite a bit on the EWG (Environmental Working Group) website. It appeared to have the best compromise of effectiveness and environmental 'friendliness'.

New York Post: Kill up to 99.9% of germs, viruses and bacteria with this all-natural disinfectant

According to the Environmental Working Group’s investigation of more than 2,000 cleaning supplies on the market, many of the popular products in the cleaning aisle of your local store contain toxins linked to serious health problems, including asthma and birth defects, as well as more mild consequences such as itchy eyes and throat.

FM 106.1 (Milwaukee, Wis.): Dryer sheets in your laundry may be doing more harm than good

In an article posted at WISN.com, The Environmental Working Group's senior research and database analyst commented that dryer sheets contain potentially harmful chemicals that at the very least have been known to cause and/or worsen asthma and skin irritations but are also linked to more serious long-term conditions like cancer and reproductive issues.

Consumer Products

C|net: The best mattress for 2020: Layla, Helix and Purple make the cut

Because of this, the Environmental Working Group recommends choosing a mattress that's made from at least 95% cotton, wool or natural latex. And that's where the Avocado Green comes in.

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Black Beauty & Hair: Black women are using harmful acids to achieve clear skin

In 2016, EWG Skin Deep found that less than 25% of cosmetic products marketed to black women score low in potentially hazardous ingredients.

The Healthy Maven: What’s the Difference Between Natural, Organic, Cruelty-Free + Clean Beauty?

EWG Skin Deep – If you’ve never checked out this database, get ready to have your mind blown.

Hello Giggles: Dermatologists Say Glycerin Is the Underdog Moisturizing Ingredient You Need to Know About—Here's Why

Glycerin is essentially a colorless, odorless, non-toxic liquid—the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has given glycerin a score of 1-2, which makes it one of the safest ingredients in skin care.

Duke Energy Accountability Coalition

S&P Global: Duke Energy moves to decarbonize, but some say not fast enough

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group formed the Duke Energy Accountability Coalition in May, which released a scathing report Aug. 31 that said Duke Energy wasted nearly $12 billion in "failed" natural gas and nuclear projects.


Bangor Daily News (Maine): How to check if your personal care items contain toxins

The Environmental Working Group also has a database of verified personal care products that are free of any of the chemicals the preeminent consumer protection group considers “unacceptable” due to their link to health issues in scientific studies.

Beauty Independent: Stressed Out? Pursoma Will Help You Disconnect, Decompress And Detox

I looked at all the verifiers and, to me, EWG had the highest standards. They look at every single ingredient. The customer doesn’t have to be a cosmetic chemist and understand ingredient lists. They can look at the seal and feel good about the product.

Farm Subsidies

Successful Farming: What's the Relationship Status Between Farmers and USDA?

Don Carr describes the situation differently. “These folks have from 10,000 to 50,000 acres, are highly capitalized, and they can weather lots of storms,” says Carr, a senior adviser for the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a government watchdog. He describes recent USDA direct payments and other subsidies as “deeply unethical” and “grossly inequitable.”

Farming Practices 

MPR News (Minnesota Public Radio): Small farmers challenge conventional agriculture in Pineland Sands

Connell joined an appeal of the department’s decision led by the Environmental Working Group and other clean water advocacy organizations.

Fields of Filth

Earth Maven: The Link Between Factory Farms and Racism

From 2012 to 2019, the estimated number of chickens and turkeys in the three North Carolina counties increased by 36 percent, according to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group and Waterkeeper Alliance.

Food Scores

Eat This, Not That!: The 18 Unhealthiest Breads on the Planet

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) notes that because there are so few studies on its potential health risks (which include asthma, allergies, and cancer), azodicarbonamide should be removed from the food supply. We recommend you remove this bread from yours. 

Eat This, Not That!: 7 Things You Should Never Add to Your Coffee

While it is considered GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the FDA, sodium phosphate is something you should pay attention to. The additive earned a spot on the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives due to its connection to increased risk of heart problems. 

Pharos Tribune (Logansport, Ind.): STUFF WE LIKE: Thursday, September 10, 2020

They, along with dozens of other chemicals, are considered food additives that are designed to help boost flavor, retain color and texture, or extend the shelf life of products. If you want to learn about and avoid what the Environmental Working Group calls the “dirty dozen additives,” visit EWG.org and check out the list.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Healthy Holistic Living: Old Fashioned Baking Soda Found To Be The Most Effective At Removing Pesticide Residue

According to the infamous Dirty Dozen list produced by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the foods with the most pesticides for 2020 are…

Well + Good: 5 Benefits of Raisins That Make Them a Surprisingly Good Pre-Workout Snack

In terms of other risks or side effects to keep in mind, like any food, some people may have an allergic reaction or intolerance to raisins. It’s also worth noting that raisins are one of the fruits with the highest amount of pesticide residue, as tested by the Environmental Working Group. 

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

Who What Wear: I Asked a Dermatologist What's the Deal With Organic Sunscreen—Here's the Truth

Thinksport's sunscreen has a rating of "1" on the Environmental Working Group's list of sunscreens, meaning it has low hazards linked to its ingredients.

Tap Water Database

The Bargain Hunter: Is your drinking water contaminated with toxins?

The Environmental Working Group found of the watersheds monitored, Deer Creek, Mad River, North Fork Licking and Kokosing all had atrazine concentrations above the EPA 3.0 parts per billion drinking water standards.

Natural News: Chemicals found in tap water could be responsible for more than 100,000 cases of cancer

In a major breakthrough, scientists from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) estimated that exposure to 22 cancer-causing contaminants in community water systems nationwide could result in more than 100,000 cases of cancer over the span of a lifetime among people using these water systems. 

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