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EWG News and Analysis

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EWG’s News Roundup (10/6): EPA Nominee Under Spotlight, Chefs Fight Childhood Hunger and EPA Head Wines and Dines Industry

Friday, October 6, 2017

This week, the man tapped to run the chemical safety office of the Environmental Protection Agency, Michael Dourson, had his confirmation hearing before the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee.

Just as EWG has suspected for months, Dourson is uniquely unqualified for the job. Here’s EWG’s take on Dourson’s performance before the Senate committee.

On a positive note, chefs from around the country went to Capitol Hill Wednesday to urge lawmakers to combat childhood hunger and protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the 2018 Farm Bill.

“If Congress wants to slash farm bill funding, it should target the billions taxpayers send to mega farm operations in the form of crop and insurance subsidies, not this vital anti-hunger program that helps millions of struggling families put food on the table,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “In a country as rich as ours, having enough food to feed yourself and your family shouldn’t be a privilege afforded to only those with means.”

And in what has become a not-so-shocking trend of events, this week watchdog group American Oversight and The New York Times revealed that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been enjoying steak dinners and playing rounds of golf with top executives and lobbyists from the industries he is charged with regulating. It’s also worth noting that Administrator Pruitt very rarely meets with environmental groups like EWG.

EWG applauded California Gov. Jerry Brown for signing a bill to reform the state’s childhood lead testing program. We also praised the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for passing an ordinance that would ban the sale of children’s products treated with harmful flame retardants.

For coverage on these stories and more, here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.

Michael Dourson and EPA

The Intercept: Trump’s Pick for EPA Safety Chief Argued Kids Are Less Sensitive to Toxins

“It’s simply absurd that industry’s go-to science-for-hire guy would now be charged with reviewing the safety of many of the same chemicals he’s previously greenwashed,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president of the Environmental Working Group, which has dubbed Dourson Mr. Pay to Spray. “It’s like putting Philip Morris in charge of the American Lung Association.”

Rick Perry and Department of Energy

TruthOut: Trump's Clean Air Nominee Represents Air Polluters in Court

“The coal and nuclear industries aren't winning on the open market, so the Trump administration wants to rig the system for them,” said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, in a statement. “This scheme would force millions of Americans to pay higher monthly utility bills to keep these dying, dirty and dangerous relics of the energy sector on life support.”

San Francisco Antibiotic Disclosure Ordinance

Food Safety News: Antibiotic disclosure — another first for San Francisco?

Consumer watchdog groups and environmentalists such as the Environmental Working Group and the Natural Resources Defense Council are supporting the proposed local law while industry groups, including the California Grocers Association, are opposed to it. Reprinted by Before It’s News.

California Lead Testing Bill

Berkeley Patch: California lags in testing toddlers for lead exposure

“Our most vulnerable kids, the ones that are the most lead-poisoned, are not getting tested,” said Susan Little, who led the study for the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization that crossed the state’s testing reports with census figures. “The state is failing its mandate.”

Cleaning Products

The Cheat Sheet: The Toxic Household Products You Should Stop Buying

The Environmental Working Group uses Tilex Mold and Mildew remover as an example. This product contains sodium hypochlorite, an ingredient that could cause respiratory issues or eye and skin irritation if you’re not using it in a well-ventilated area. Since scrubbing your shower requires close proximity, the Tilex is quite concerning.


Huffington Post – South Africa: Now Even Your Skincare and Sanitaryware Products Can Be Organic

In the same year, research by the non-profit environmental organisation Environmental Working Group found that one in 12 products for black women in the United States are “highly hazardous.” Reprinted by WoW.

Skin Deep®

Business Insider: Here's why Kylie Jenner may not be able to wear Kylie Cosmetics if she's pregnant, according to doctors

If you want more information about "safe" cosmetics, the Environmental Working Group has put together a database of over 70,000 products you can check before using.

Endocrine Disruptors

PopSugar: 5 Toxic Beauty Ingredients You Should Never Use If You're Trying to Get Pregnant

“Some chemicals can affect our hormones at even low levels,” Nneka Leiba, director for Healthy Living Science at the Environmental Working Group, told me. “These endocrine disrupting chemicals can affect fertility or have long term impacts on the baby.” Reprinted by PopSugar Australia.

Fragrance Disclosure

HAPPI: P&G Expands Fragrance Ingredients Disclosure

“EWG applauds Procter & Gamble’s groundbreaking decision to dramatically improve transparency about its fragrance ingredients across all of its brands. The policy announced today not only demonstrates P&G’s deep commitment to providing consumers everywhere with the information they increasingly demand, it also marks a turning point for the entire consumer product industry,” said Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook when the announcement was made.

2018 Farm Bill

Politico – Morning Agriculture: Strange Bedfellows Talk Farm Policy

An unusual mix of groups from the left and the right gathered Wednesday to identify principles they can rally around heading into next year’s farm bill fight. The meeting, held at Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center on Capitol Hill, was a who’s who of conservative groups, including Heritage Action, AEI, Citizens Against Government Waste, Americans for Prosperity and the Charles Koch Institute. But alongside them was a strong showing from consumer and sustainable agriculture groups, which tend to be associated with the liberal end of the political spectrum, including reps from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for Food Safety, and Environmental Working Group.

Farm Futures: Who to watch in 2018 Farm Bill debate

Critics of the farm bill, like the Environmental Working Group, will also bring an agenda to the debate. But Potts finds the Heritage Foundation is one to watch. Reprinted by Prairie Farmer,  SouthEast Farm Press and Wisconsin Agriculturist.

WestAg – Capital Press: ‘No’ crowd opposes strong U.S. farm policy

And now that the 2014 Farm Bill has come in tens of billions under budget, critics still say it isn’t enough. “No” appears to be the only message the Environmental Working Group, Heritage Foundation, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Club for Growth and other perennial farm policy opponents are capable of delivering. Reprinted by AgriMarketing and Oklahoma Farm Report.

Flame Retardants

Mercola: Federal Officials Alerting Consumers About Dangerous Mattress Chemicals

In a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group, flame retardants were detected in every sample of household dust they tested, at concerning levels. “The average level of brominated fire retardants measured in dust from nine homes was more than 4,600 parts per billion (ppb) … [while] a tenth sample contained more than 41,000 ppb of the chemicals — twice as high as the maximum level previously reported by any dust study worldwide,” EWG reported.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in ProduceTM

Daily Mail: Mothers-to-be should eat organic, claim scientists: Cancer-causing compounds in pesticides can cross the placenta and increase the risk of brain tumours

According to the Environmental Working Group, the produce with the most pesticide contamination are: Strawberries, Spinach, Nectarines, Apples, Peaches, Celery, Grapes, Pears, Cherries, Tomatoes, Bell peppers and Potatoes. 

Reader’s Digest – Best Health: What Exactly Are Endocrine Disruptors And Why You Should Care About Them

Whenever you can afford to do so, choose organic foods. This is particularly true of the infamous “dirty dozen,” a list compiled each year by the Environmental Working Group of the twelve most heavily contaminated crops. The list typically includes apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, peaches, nectarines, potatoes, snap peas, spinach, strawberries, sweet bell peppers, and kale/collards.

Rodale’s Organic Life: Does It Really Matter If Your Jack-O’-Lantern Pumpkin Is Grown Organically?

The Environmental Working Group gathers data each year on the pesticide residue found on forty-eight popular produce items and ranks them from dirtiest to cleanest. This year, winter squash came in at number 26, landing it squarely in the middle of the pack.

EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens

New York Times – T-Magazine: How to Build a Skin Care Routine

There’s a lot of debate over which sunscreens are best and safest for your complexion. Certain ingredients like oxybenzone have raised health concerns and carry a “high hazard” rating on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.

Tap Water Database

Food Quality & Safety: A New—and Cheaper—Way to Test for E. coli in Water

“For example, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), found that the chemical known as chromium-6, has been found in the tap water of more than 200 million Americans in all 50 states,” he says. “The EWG also identified toxic chemicals known as PFCs in the drinking water of 15 million Americans in 27 states.”

Water Online: Officials Urge PFC Polluter To Cover Water Hookup Costs

New Hampshire has at least five PFC contamination sites, according to a research project by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Northeastern University in Boston. The project includes an interactive map highlighting where PFCs have been detected.

Water Online: Tannery Pollution Plagues Michigan Wells Without Long-Term Solution In Sight

A study released in June by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Northeastern University in Boston shows PFCs are found in “drinking water for 15 million Americans in 27 states,” Time reported.

Water Online: Stipends May Be Solution To PFC Remediation Funding

This community is hardly alone. A study released this year by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Northeastern University in Boston shows PFCs are found in “drinking water for 15 million Americans in 27 states,” Time reported.


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