Peer-Reviewed Studies Published by EWG Scientists


September 2019

Cumulative risk analysis of carcinogenic contaminants in United States drinking water

This peer-reviewed study, which draws on comprehensive water contaminant occurrence data in EWG’s National Tap Water Database, is the first nationwide cumulative cancer risk assessment of carcinogenic contaminants in drinking water. This analysis shows that more than 100,000 lifetime cancer cases could be due to 22 carcinogenic chemicals in tap water. The majority of this risk is due to the presence of arsenic, disinfection byproducts and radioactive contaminants at levels at or below current legal limits.




June 2019

Exposure-based assessment and economic valuation of adverse birth outcomes and cancer risk due to nitrate in United States drinking water

This peer-reviewed publication provides the first national analysis of the impact of nitrate contamination based on the latest epidemiological research and EWG’s Tap Water Database. Our analysis suggests that nitrate pollution of drinking water may be responsible for 2,300 to 12,594 cancer cases a year and cost Americans an estimated $1.5 billion for health care.





May 2019

Applying a cumulative risk framework to drinking water assessment: A commentary

Peer-reviewed study that calculates the cumulative cancer risk from drinking water contaminants found in California based on the research in EWG’s Tap Water Database. In total, drinking water could be causing more than 15,000 excess cases of cancer, most of it coming from water that is legal to drink.





January 2019

Environmental justice and drinking water quality: Are there socioeconomic disparities in nitrate levels in U.S. drinking water?

Co-authors from Silent Spring Institute

Peer-reviewed study conducted by the Silent Spring Institute and Environmental Working Group found that Hispanic communities are disproportionately exposed to the fertilizer chemical nitrate in their drinking water. This research was based on the EWG’s Tap Water Database, the authoritative source for consumers, journalists and researchers who want to know about contaminants in the nation’s drinking water.



December 2018

Consumer Use of Sunscreens Containing Nanoparticles

Chapter 16, Nanotechnology Environmental Health and Safety: Risks, Regulation, and Management

Co-authors from Macquarie University and CSIRO Agriculture and Food

This article summarizes the use, regulations and safety relating to nanoparticles in sunscreen. In summary, mineral sunscreens, including those using nanoparticles, have a good safety profile and can reduce UV exposure. For more information, consult the EWG sunscreen report.


August 2018

Fluorinated Compounds in U.S. Fast Food Packaging

Co-authors from Silent Spring Institute, California Department of Toxic Substances Control, University of California at Berkeley, EPA, Hope College, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, University of Notre Dame

This peer-reviewed paper found that nearly half of the food wrappers tested, including ones from nearly every major fast food company, contained PFAS. The chemical PFOA, formerly used to make DuPont’s Teflon, was found on a number of samples. This paper was published 15 years after EWG wrote to the CEOs of nine national chains urging them to stop using PFAS.




June 2017

The Florence Statement on Triclosan and Triclocarban

Co-authors from Arizona State University, Green Science Policy Institute, University of North Carolina, University of Minnesota, Medical University of South Carolina, Health Research Communication Strategies, State University of New York, California Department of Public Health, University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, ETH Zurich, Science and Environmental Health Network, POPs Environmental Consulting, University of Massachusetts Amherst

This peer-reviewed scientific consensus statement urged an end to the widespread use of triclosan and triclocarban in consumer products. Triclosan is a chemical that EWG has advised consumers to avoid, and EWG testing in 2008 detected triclosan in the urine of all 20 teen girls tested. This publication calls for an end to the indiscriminate use of antimicrobials.




February 2017

Temporal Trends in Exposure to Organophosphate Flame Retardants in the United States

Co-authors from Duke University, Boston University School of Public Heath, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Epidemiology Research Group, Duke University Medical Center, North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The concentration of organophosphate flame retardants and plasticizers detected in people increased considerable between 2002 to 2015. For one flame retardant, BDCIPP, a breakdown product of a known carcinogen, TDCIPP, the concentration in people increased fifteenfold.


August 2016

Detection of Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) in U.S. Drinking Water Linked to Industrial Sites, Military Fire Training Areas, and Wastewater Treatment Plants

Co-Authors from Harvard University, Environmental Protection Agency, University of California at Berkeley, Silent Spring, University of Rhode Island, Green Science Policy Institute, California Department of Toxic Substances Control, Colorado School of Mines

This peer-reviewed study correlated PFAS contamination in water with manufacturing plants, military fire-training areas and wastewater treatment plants. Drinking water served to 6 million people had PFOA and PFOS above the EPA health advisory value. EWG has since developed a map of PFAS contamination and estimates that up to 110 million Americans could have PFAS contaminated water.



July 2016

Regional comparison of organophosphate flame retardant (PFR) urinary metabolites and tetrabromobenzoic acid (TBBA) in mother-toddler pairs from California and New Jersey

Co-authors from Duke University

In this peer-reviewed study, young children had higher levels of two flame retardants, one known to cause cancer in animals and one suspected endocrine disruptor, than their mothers. For those children living in California, the levels were higher than for children in New Jersey.




October 2015

Nail polish as a source of exposure to triphenyl phosphate

Co-authors from Duke University, Boston University School of Public Health

Triphenyl phosphate, or TPHP was detected in the body of every woman after using a nail polish containing the chemical. This chemical is incredible common and was identified in nearly half of all nail polishes in the EWG’s Skin Deep database.




August 2014

Metabolites of Organophosphate Flame Retardants and 2-Ethylhexyl Tetrabromobenzoate in Urine from Paired Mothers and Toddlers

Co-authors from Duke University

Testing was conducted to assess the exposure of young children and their mothers to flame retardants chemicals. The flame-retardant metabolite DPHP was detected in the urine of 95 percent of adults and 100 percent of children. On average children had higher levels of flame retardants than their mothers.



July 2002

Biomonitoring of Industrial Pollutants: Health and Policy Implications of the Chemical Body Burden

Joseph W. Thornton, Michael McCally, Jane Houlihan

Peer-reviewed study documented how biomonitoring of industrial chemicals in human tissues and fluids has shown that everyone carries a “body burden” of synthetic, potentially toxic chemicals in their bodies, blood, fat and other tissues. The study highlights how biomonitoring research can help advance public health goals.