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EWG News Roundup (March 31): Pesticide Push-Back, the Clean Power Plan, Frozen Foods and More

Friday, March 31, 2017

For those keeping tabs on policies affecting human health, this week was troubling.

On Wednesday evening, the Environmental Protection Agency struck a devastating blow for children’s health by announcing it would not ban chlorpyifos – a pesticide with links to harmful neurological effects and autism in children.

“Under President Trump and Scott Pruitt, the EPA is fast becoming an agency in the business of safeguarding the profits of pesticide companies and the rest of the chemical industry, not human health,” EWG President Ken Cook said after the decision.

Earlier in the week, EWG, Just Label It and the Food Revolution Network delivered more than 80,000 signatures to the agency to support a ban of chlorpyifos.

Also this week, Trump issued an executive order to roll back the Clean Power Plan – a decision that could have devastating environmental and human health effects for decades to come.

For a sliver of solace, look no further than the EWG’s consumer tips for navigating the frozen food aisle of your local supermarket. Hint: for produce, stick to organic!

Here’s some news you can use as you begin your weekend.


CNN: EPA won't ban pesticide chlorpyrifos; is it safe?

"We've banned pesticides before, and farmers have turned to safer alternatives. The notion that we should continue to use a pesticide linked to autism because it's needed to feed the world is an outrageous, ridiculous statement," said Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit environmental research organization. Reprinted 53 times.

The Washington Post: EPA chief, rejecting agency’s own analysis, declines to ban pesticide despite health concerns

“The chance to prevent brain damage in children was a low bar for most of Scott Pruitt’s predecessors, but it apparently just wasn’t persuasive enough for an administrator who isn’t sure if banning lead from gasoline was a good idea,” Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook said in a statement. “Instead, in one of his first major decisions as head of the EPA, like a toddler running toward his parents, Pruitt leaped into the warm and waiting arms of the pesticide industry.”

Mashable: Trump's EPA chief rejects his agency's proposal to ban this chemical

“We're seeing what happens when President Trump gives an unqualified political hatchet man license to disregard reams of evidence from dedicated scientists,” Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement.

Politico: Chlorpyrifos On The Mind

Meanwhile, Just Label It has partnered with the Environmental Working Group and Food Revolution Network to roundup 50,000 signatures for a petition against the pesticide, which it describes as the “first big test” for the now Scott Pruitt-led EPA. “Chlorpyrifos is a particularly nasty pesticide, that is so potent even small doses have been linked to arm tremors in children, lower IQs for kids, and physical changes in the brain that can affect language and memory,” the group says in an email. Stay tuned.

Agri-Pulse: EPA rejects petition to revoke chlorpyrifos tolerances

The Environmental Working Group collected signatures for an online petition, saying that “research has linked chlorpyrifos to nervous system damage, behavioral problems and lower IQ in young children whose mothers were exposed during pregnancy. In adults, low-level exposure to chlorpyrifos can cause nausea, headaches and dizziness. Farmworkers and others who are severely exposed have suffered vomiting, muscle cramps, diarrhea, blurred vision, loss of consciousness and even paralysis.”

International Business Times: What Is Chlorpyrifos? EPA's Scott Pruitt Decides Not To Ban Pesticide Said To Harm Children's Brains

Recently, more than 63,000 people signed a petition from the Environmental Working Group, Just Label It and the Food Revolution Network asking Pruitt to ban the pesticide.

Newser: EPA Chief Rejects Obama Proposal to Ban Pesticide

Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook charged that Pruitt "in one of his first major decisions as head of the EPA … leaped into the warm and waiting arms of the pesticide industry."

Clean Power Plan

The Verge: Trump trades the planet for a few coal jobs in a doomed industry

“The rollback of the Clean Power Plan not only imperils the planet's future climate but will have life-and-death consequences for millions of Americans here and now,” Ken Cook, the president of the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement. “Shamefully, the brunt of the harm from this foolish retreat from science and reason will be borne by our children.”

MedPage Today: Clear Air Advocates Decry Trump's Regulation Rollback

Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook charged that the rollback will have "life-and-death consequences" for millions of Americans. “Gutting the Obama administration's initiative to curb air pollution will mean more children will suffer life-threatening asthma attacks and more adults will die before their time,” he noted in a written press statement.

Patch: President Trump Signs 'Energy Independence' Order, Targeting Carbon Regulations

The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit environmental advocacy organization, put out a statement criticizing the action and the administration. “The rollback of the Clean Power Plan not only imperils the planet's future climate but will have life-and-death consequences for millions of Americans here and now,” said EWG President Ken Cook.

Tri-County Sun Times: Trump signs order to reverse Obama-era climate policies

“The rollback of the Clean Power Plan not only imperils the planet's future climate but will have life-and-death consequences for millions of Americans here and now”, Ken Cook, the president of the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement.

Sonny Perdue Nomination

CNHI: Good ol' farm boy image at odds with critics' picture

The Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group and the Sierra Club paint a very different portrait of Perdue. They see him as a governor who received taxpayer-funded farm subsidies while in office, used his position to reward friends with tax breaks and is too skeptical of climate science. Reprinted 24 times.

High Plains Journal: Documents filed on Perdue amid ethics questions

The Environmental Working Group also has accused Perdue of being “mired in ethical lapses, self-dealing and back-room deals that raise troubling questions about his fitness to run the department.”  “This isn’t like draining the swamp,” said EWG Vice President of Government Affairs Scott Faber to Politico. “This is like putting the original swamp monster in charge.”

Frozen Food Aisle

Treehugger: 5 times frozen food is the better option

With this in mind, I was happy and not all that surprised to see Environmental Working Group’s new roundup of tips for people who want healthy frozen food, and who want to save time and money, and reduce household food waste all at the same time. “While fresh food is typically the best option, consumers don't need to bypass all options in the frozen aisle,” the analysis notes.


USA Today: Homemade slime leaves 11-year-old girl with third-degree burns

Borax can also harm men’s reproductive system, according to the Environmental Working Group, a non-partisan organization promoting health and the environment. The non-profit found that exposure to high doses of borax or boric acid causes testicular atrophy. Reprinted 176 times.


Experience Life: Taking on the Allergy Epidemic

Studies by the Environmental Working Group show that routine chemical exposure increases our overall “toxic burden” — the accumulation of chemicals that can be measured in our bloodstreams at any one time. This can change immune-system function, says Galland, making us more prone to allergic reactivity.

NY Metro Parents: How to Green Your Kids Room

The most common dangers at home are lead, pesticides, flame retardants, endocrine disruptors, cleaning products, and air pollutants. Before you start freaking out, give yourself a break—you can’t possibly stop your children from coming into contact with these chemicals completely. “I know that feeling of being the frontline of protection for your family, and it’s exhausting,” says Sonya Lunder, senior analyst at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. “It’s not possible, and it’s not necessary.”


NBC2 (Houston, TX): Safety of Houston drinking water causing growing concern

In November, we exposed high levels of a cancer-causing chemical -- chromium 6 -- in the city's drinking water. “The city of Houston's water ranks third in the country in terms of high levels of chromium 6,” said Bill Walker, managing editor at the Environmental Working Group. Chromium 6 is the chemical made infamous by the movie Erin Brockovich.


CBS 19: WOIO (Cleveland, OH): Spring cleaning: The benefits of using organic products

Some cleaning products are loaded with toxic chemicals, according to research by environmental groups. EWG put 409 on its "Hall of Shame" list because the group says it can trigger asthma attacks and can cause new cases in people who are asthma-free.

Mind Body Green: Your Cheat Sheet For Using Nontoxic Cleaners On Everything

"There are a number of chemicals and hazard concerns associated with conventional all-purpose cleaning products," explains Samara Geller, a database and research analyst at the Environmental Working Group. "All-purpose cleaning wipes and sprays often contain antimicrobial agents designed to kill viruses and bacteria on hard surfaces." However, some of these ingredients that claim to clean and disinfect have been linked to asthma, respiratory infection, allergies, and even certain cancers. The EWG recommends steering clear of the following.

Natural News: Have you tried the new eco-friendly Health Ranger Dishwasher Detergent?

Health Ranger Dishwasher Detergent contains Sodium percarbonate, sodium carbonate, sodium citrate, protease, and lauryl polyglucoside. All the ingredients are highly rated by the Environmental Working Group and have been carefully chosen to protect and preserve the environment.

NewsDog: 5 Simple Eco Friendly Changes Any Mom Can Make

You can create a safer, less toxic environment for your family, and cut down on packaging (invest in some reusable spray bottles) by making your own solutions with simple ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and salt. If you're still on the fence about DIY scrubs and cleaners, then try less toxic cleaning products (Environmental Working Group's website is a great place to research the best brands).

Sacramento Bee: Spring cleaning: Bust dirt and grime with DIY cleaning products that cost pennies to make

Many products we use on a daily basis are downright harmful, not only to humans and animals, but to Mother Earth. They pollute our oceans and threaten our drinking water. The nonprofit Environmental Working Group rates the safety of 2,500 products at Some products get A ratings, but plenty score big, fat Fs. Reprinted by Atlantic Broadband and Cable One.

True Viral News: America’s Hygiene Obsession Is Expensive and Unhealthy

Once again, those beneficial bacteria allow your natural immune system to build up its strength. Besides, disinfectant cleaner is usually unnecessary for everyday cleaning, according to the Environmental Working Group, and could trigger asthma and other allergies.

Skin Deep® and Cosmetics

HAPPI: Diversify Your Portfolio

A variety of outlets are reaching out more and more to the multicultural consumer. For example, the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep database recently added more than 1,100 products marketed to Black women in its online ratings. In case you are curious: fewer than 25% of the personal care products marketed specifically to Black women rated well in EWG’s Skin Deep database, compared to 40% of those available to the general public

Hello Giggles: Here's how to choose a non-toxic nail polish, because nail health is important

When in doubt, consult the nail category on the EWG Cosmetics Database. Short for the Environmental Working Group, this non-profit organization take a good, hard look at the ingredient list of just about any product out there, makeup included, and will work with scientists to develop a toxicity rating that spans from 1 to 10. Products given a low score, like 1 or 2, are considered low-hazard, while anything from 3 to 6 present a moderate. Proceed carefully with any product that gets over a 7 on a scale, as they’re considered pretty high-risk. Reprinted by Yahoo! Singapore. How to tell if your nail polish is non-toxic

If you're ensure about a product you already own, it's a good idea to check the Environmental Working Guide online, which lists chemicals within formulas and rates toxicity levels. And if you find you're surprised by some ingredients in your favourite manicure colours, at least you have a good excuse to go shopping for some new, non-toxic versions! Reprinted by Sunday World.


SWAAY: These Two Scientists Are Exposing Hidden Dangers In Beauty Products

We are working with influencers, bloggers and other wellness brands who share our vision to help spread the word. We are also verified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) which endorses and shows the safety profile of our products.

Cover Crop Report

Newton Daily News: Growing number of farmers using cover crops for quality soil, water

Although the use of cover crops in Iowa has increased in recent years, the vast majority of farming acres do not incorporate the strategy. The Environmental Working Group teamed up with Practical Farmers of Iowa to produce a report based on satellite data to look at cover crops from 2015 to 2016. The report, which was released earlier this month, found only 2.6 percent of corn and soybean acres in Iowa were utilizing cover crops.

Farm Subsidies

In These Times: To Upend Corporate Agriculture, Americans Need to Understand Basic Farm Policy

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) gives out over $25 billion in subsidies to farming businesses annually; of this, over three-quarters goes to subsidize the top 10 percent of our country's largest farms, according to the Environmental Working Group. This needs to change.


Washington Post: Why phosphate additives will be the next taboo ingredient

Olga Naidenko, an Environmental Working Group senior science adviser, is concerned that the prevalence of phosphorus additives in all types of packaged foods has led to the average American consuming more phosphorus than is recommended.

Shopper’s Guide

Before It’s News: UN Calls For Worldwide Treaty To Phase Out Pesticides & Transition To Sustainable Farming

Fortunately, the people at the Environmental Working Group have compiled a “Dirty Dozen” and a “Clean 15” report that ranks foods based on highest and lowest pesticide contamination.

Before It’s News: Don’t Forget About the 2017 Dirty Dozen List: Most Pesticide-Tainted Produce

Every year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a list of the 12 types of produce that contain the most pesticides. The group analyzes tests by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the list. The list was released in the beginning of the year, but it’s important to browse the list multiple times so the information is at your fingertips.

National Post: When is it worth your while to splurge on organic produce?

Strawberries are once again at the top of the Dirty Dozen list in the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The EWG found 20 different pesticides in a single sample of strawberries — and that was after the berries had been washed. Reprinted by the Calgary Herald, True Viral News and the Windsor Star.

News Review: The Dirty Dozen

Each year, the Environmental Working Group publishes a Dirty Dozen list of produce containing the highest amount of pesticides. The group analyzed U.S. Department of Agriculture data, finding that nearly 70 percent of more than 35,000 samples of conventionally grown produce were contaminated with residue from pesticides (which means wash before you eat!).

Tampa Bay Times: Dirty Dozen and Clean 15: Which fruits and vegetables are most likely to contain pesticides, and which aren't

Sonya Lunder tells it like it is. She sniffs out the Dirty Dozen just as swiftly as she can pick out the Clean 15. As the lead author of the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce and with a master's degree in public health with a focus on environmental health and toxicology, she eagle-eyes USDA monitoring and testing. And with this data, she helps to compile the annual lists of good guys and bad guys in the produce world.


Maui News: UH-MC students swap coral-killing sunscreens for ‘reef safe’ versions

According to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, oxybenzone can cause allergic skin reactions and may disrupt hormones. Instead of chemical-based sunscreens, the research group recommends using sunscreen products containing minerals zinc and titanium oxide that are considered “reef safe.”


The Green Chemistry Initiative Blog: Triclosan: A Controversial Chemical in Your Soap

In 2008, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found high levels of triclosan in San Francisco Bay, which prompted studies of this chemical in blood and urine samples of teenage girls to explore its impact on endocrine hormonal processes. Since 2008, the EWG has been submitting reports to the FDA to ban triclosan in personal care products.


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