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EWG News Roundup (3/30): Pruitt’s Pesticide Anniversary and $50 Condo, Chemicals Causing Weight Gain and More

In the News
Friday, March 30, 2018

WASHINGTON – One year ago this week, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt sided with the pesticide industry and against the agency’s own scientists, and decided against banning chlorpyrifos, which can cause brain and nervous system damage in kids. EWG marked the anniversary by documenting how much of the toxic pesticide will likely be used on food crops in the years to come.

A troubling report out this week from a team of Harvard University researchers found exposure to fluorinated industrial chemicals, known as PFAS or PFC chemicals, may increase the amount of weight that people, especially women, regain after dieting. 

The scandals continued to mount around Administrator Pruitt, with reports he and his family rented a room in a Capitol Hill condo for only $50 a night from the spouse of a top D.C. energy lobbyist.

“Most previous EPA administrators would have thought twice about accepting the offer of rock-bottom rent from the wife of a fossil fuel lobbyist, but this is Scott Pruitt,” said EWG President Ken Cook.

Here is some other news you can use going into the weekend.

Montreal Cancer Prevention

Montreal Gazette: Cancer prevention: Montreal forum focuses on lifestyle choices

Yes, it is true, said Pollak, who will be discussing the topic at the forum featuring Ken Cook, president and co-founder of Environmental Working Group (EWG); and Hans Drouin, vice-president, R&D, of Attitude, which sells EWG-verified natural skin care and cleaning products.

Top Congressional Investigator Targets Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke

Associated Press: Oversight Panel Seeks Details on Interior's Pricey Doors

The Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based advocacy group, hailed Gowdy's inquiry. "Welcome to the resistance, Chairman Gowdy," said Ken Cook, the group's president.

"Taxpayer dollars flow out of the offices of Zinke and EPA chief Scott Pruitt like water from a fire hose," Cook said, citing costs for first-class travel and other luxuries. Reprinted by the New York Times, Washington Post and 32 other media outlets.

Washington Examiner: Trey Gowdy wants answers from Ryan Zinke on $139,000 door

The Environmental Working Group put out a statement that welcomed Gowdy to the "resistance." “On behalf of EWG and other environmental and public interest groups, thanks for your interest in holding President Trump’s gang of grifters accountable,” said Ken Cook, the environmental group's president.

 EPA and Chlorpyrifos

POLITICO: Greens visualize chlorpyrifos use

To mark one year since Pruitt denied a petition from environmentalists to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, Environmental Working Group released a report this morning and interactive map displaying how often the chemical is still being used, county-by-county. See it here.

Senate Proposal to Fix USDA Conservation Program

WNAX: Environmental Working Group Supports The EQIP Improvement Act Legislation

Environmental Working Group members are calling on Congress to better target conservation dollars to tackle the drinking water pollution facing the country. EWG Ag Policy Director Colin O’Neil says that’s why they’re supporting the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Improvement Act Legislation. He says they want those crafting the new farm bill to reform conservation spending by backing that measure.

Modern Farmer: Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Fix EQIP, a Broken Farm Conservation Program

The EQIP Improvement Act addresses some of the concerns held by conservation-focused organizations like the Environmental Working Group. It would, if passed, eliminate that 60 percent livestock requirement, reduce the payment cap to a third of its current level, and specifically require that assistance be based on practices the USDA has decided are beneficial to air, water, and soil quality.


Mind Body Green: 7 mbg-Approved Nontoxic Home Cleaners To Use On Everything

The Environmental Working Group's analysis of over 2,000 cleaners in 2012. The New York State Department of Health also found that children born to women who worked cleaning jobs while pregnant have an elevated risk of birth defects.

Kitchenability: Want a super natural clean kitchen?

The Environmental Working Group reviewed 2000 commercial household cleaners and found many of them to cause serious health issues, including asthma. Not only is switching to natural cleaning products better for your health, but you can relax knowing you’re protecting your children and pets from unnecessary toxicity. Let’s see how you can clean your kitchen the natural way with baking soda, white vinegar, and lemon juice.

Care2: Natural Stain Removers (and Why You Should Use Them)

If you’d rather buy your cleaning products (I get it, we can’t all be all off-the-grid hippies), make sure they don’t contain any potentially toxic chemicals. The Environmental Working Group’s guide to healthy cleaning is a handy tool for this purpose.


Beauty Editor: How to Make the Switch to a Clean Beauty Routine

The Environmental Working Group always talks about transparency as being their goal. It's not synthetic versus natural, it's that we want to know there's nothing toxic. Why would you want to be putting toxins on your body?

The Rose Sheet: NGOs’ Suit Against FDA Dismissed; No Standing In Formaldehyde Matter, Court Rules (subscription)

“Injuries to an organization’s government lobbying and issue advocacy programs cannot be used to manufacture standing,” a D.C. district court judge asserts in his ruling against the Environmental Working Group and Women’s Voices for the Earth.

WMOT (Murfreesboro, Tenn.): Swap Your Pricey Beauty Products for These Natural DIY Gems

A 2015 report by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group found that women apply an average of 168 chemicals to their bodies every day.

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Treehugger: Europe bans two cosmetic ingredients you didn't know are hazardous

The EWG skin deep database rates D4 at a medium level of '5' and D5 with a '3' currently. There is some evidence in rats that D4 can cause reproductive toxicity, but because the biological action differs in rats, those test results are unlikely to represent a hazard in humans. Both are discussed in the context of endocrine disruption as well but the science is not yet definitive on that topic.


Vancouver Magazine: 5 Plant-Based Beauty Brands Right Here in Vancouver

Sappho is transparent with their ingredient list which primarily consists of oils, butters and waxes derived from fruits and plants. None of the ingredients rank higher than a two on the EWG (Environmental Working Group) skin deep database such as naturally occurring Titanium Dioxide or inorganic but low toxic Manganese Violet. 


Get Green Be Well: 10 Best Lead Free Lipsticks

Mineral Fusion cosmetics are EWG Verified, which means that the Environmental Working Group has done strict verifications about the ingredients and awarded the brand designation as a safer cosmetic. EWG is the backbone of the Skin Deep Cosmetics database, which is the gold standard to compare cosmetic ingredients for toxicity.

Northern Virginia Magazine: Insider’s Guide: Anchyi Wei shares her favorite hidden gems

Most of my makeup now comes from Whole Foods—the Mineral Fusion line is EWG (Environmental Working Group) verified, a standard resource I use for health and wellness. They also give back to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. It’s a no-brainer for me.

Food Policy

Food Tank: Conversation: Agriculture Policy of the Future, Seattle University at the 2018 Food Tank Summit

Discussion held at the at the 2018 Seattle Food Tank Summit on March 17, in partnership with Seattle University, Food Action, Grub, the Environmental Working Group, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Food Tank: Keynote: Ken Cook, President and Co-Founder, Environmental Working Group, Seattle University at the 2018 Food Tank Summit

Discussion held at the at the 2018 Seattle Food Tank Summit on March 17, in partnership with Seattle University, Food Action, Grub, the Environmental Working Group, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Healthy Living App

Curiously Curious: Shop Better With These 12 Apps

I first came across the Environmental Working Group (EWG) when I was searching up beauty product ingredients (yes, I used to look up almost everything in all my products… I’ve now made that more efficient by avoiding these 25 harmful beauty ingredients). Their Skin Deep database is brilliant when it comes to rating individual ingredients, as well as products and brands. This has now been expanded into the EWG Healthy Living app that not only covers beauty, but also food too.

PFAS in Food Packaging

Chemical Watch: Washington becomes first state to ban PFASs in food packaging

The bill has been touted as a "major defeat for the chemical and packaging industries, which have quashed similar proposed bans in other states," according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). "It marks an important shift away from regulating one chemical at a time, to removing a whole class of fluorinated chemicals in food packaging," the NGO said.

EcoWatch: Toxic Chemicals May Increase Chances of Regaining Weight After Dieting

As EWG reported in November, researchers are finding that exposures in the womb to BPA and air pollution are associated with increased fat and body mass index when children reach school age and adolescence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost one-fifth of American children are obese.

TIME: You Asked: What’s the Healthiest Way to Make Popcorn?

Reports from the Environmental Working Group and others have also revealed that some chemicals used to coat microwave popcorn bags and keep the oils inside from leaching through are likely carcinogens. Those reports led the FDA to ban some of these chemicals from popcorn bags and other consumer goods. But there’s no guarantee the chemicals replacing them are any safer, the EWG says.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in ProduceTM

Reader’s Digest Beat Health: The Scary Reason You Might Want to Switch to Organic Spinach

If you’ve ever spent time debating whether organic produce is worth the price, you might be familiar with the Dirty Dozen list put out by the Environmental Working Group. The list highlights the 12 “dirtiest” fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides, and there was one VIP on the list. From 2016 to 2017, spinach jumped up six spots to become the second “dirtiest” produce you can buy, right behind strawberries.

Real Simple: How to Detox Your Body the Natural Way

If organic produce is too much of a budget-buster, check out the Environmental Working Group’s annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce to see which fruits and vegetables ranked highest and lowest in pesticides, so you know where it’s best to invest. Going green on cleaning supplies and using only natural personal care products can further cut your contact with chemicals.

The Alternative Daily: 3 Reasons I Don’t Always Wash My Organic Produce

Bright red strawberries covered in glistening beads of moisture are in fact so laden with pesticides and synthetic chemicals that they topped the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list two years in a row. Vibrantly green broccoli that’s laced with mold, apples covered in wax and E. coli, and salad mixes that are triple washed with noxious chemicals to keep them “clean.”

FOX4: WDAF (Kansas City, MO): Nutritionist gives advice for clean eating on a budget for those fighting autoimmune diseases

Each year, the Environmental Working Group publishes a Dirty Dozen list of foods that have the highest level of pesticide residue and the Clean 15, those with the little to no pesticides that are safe to consume if not organic.

Journal Gazette & Times-Courier (Mattoon, Ill.): When it comes to organic foods, keep the 'dirty dozen' in mind

The list will still be a dozen items long, and the supposed “clean 15” will still endorse 15 others! These 15 are not so innocent either: in a test by Environmental Working Group, the fruit/vegetable with the highest dose of pesticide was strawberries.

Spark People: When to Buy Organic & When to Save Your Money

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently completed an analysis of conventionally grown (non-organic) produce to measure pesticide residue levels. Based on the results of almost 34,000 samples taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and federal Food and Drug Administration, EWG estimates that eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables, referred to as “The Dirty Dozen,” exposes the average person to about 15 different pesticides each day, while someone eating the least contaminated will be exposed to fewer than two pesticides each day.


STAT News: Surgeon general’s wife treated for melanoma recurrence as he highlights risks of tanning

So you see, all of this “protection” may be fatal. In addition, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released information that 73% of sunscreens don’t work and some may be counterproductive

 Eco Child’s Play: Why Safe Sunscreen and Insect Repellent Matters

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has identified the following problems with sunscreens. Many contain chemical filters to protect skin from the sun, yet these chemicals mimic hormones. One study found a common sunscreen chemical ingredient lowered testosterone levels. Furthermore, they often are a source of skin allergies.

VOX Magazine: Block party: four sunscreen tips you're going to need this spring

The blogger scours the internet for products with good ratings from both Amazon users and the Environmental Working Group. The EWG is a nonprofit focused on helping people live “healthier lives in a healthier environment.”

USA Love List: 26 Cruelty Free Makeup Brands and Non-Toxic Beauty Brands We Love

I've never used a CC Cream that I love more than Juice Beauty STEAM Cellular CC Cream. It offers the perfect coverage and protects with mineral SPF 30 and ranks one, a great ranking, on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) scale. 

Tap Water Database

Men’s Health: Is Tap Water Safe? Here's How To Tell

Plug your zip code into the Environmental Working Group's Tap Water Database(ewg.org) or request a report from your local water utility. Flummoxed by all those chemical names? Want to know what's being done to correct violations?

PFAS in Tap Water

The Fayetteville Observer: DuPont’s C8 leak in Fayetteville spurs fears of health crisis

The discoveries should have sent shock waves through the state’s regulatory agencies, said David Andrews, senior scientist for the national Environmental Working Group in Washington.

“I think the state should have absolutely been concerned,” Andrews said. “While the levels of C8 were below EPA short-term health advisory levels, they were significantly higher than other places in the country, and the other contaminants found should have added weight to that concern.

The Fayetteville Observer: Secrets, denials and toxic water: The story behind the GenX crisis

Of those seven, two babies had birth defects — one an “unconfirmed” eye and tear duct defect and the other a nostril and eye defect. The same year, DuPont reassigned 50 women to other areas of the plant, according to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.

The Fayetteville Observer: Public learns of Cape Fear River toxins, 11 years later

David Andrews, senior scientist for the national Environmental Working Group, lays most of the blame for the contamination on the EPA. “The state of North Carolina, as well as other states with known contamination issues, have had to take matters into their own hands to address this systematic federal failure,” Andrews said.

The Fayetteville Observer: For those exposed to GenX, an agonizing wait for answers

David Andrews, senior scientist for the national Environmental Working Group in Washington, places much of the blame on the EPA. “For far too long, states have relied on federal leadership, but the contamination of the Cape Fear River basin by Chemours and other companies has highlighted the flaw in that thinking,” he said.

MLive: Michigan House PFAS measure shows 'troubling mindset,' say critics

Savitz said the EPA advisory level, which public health watchdog organizations like the Environmental Working Group call inadequate, is "intended to be conservative."

NC Policy Watch: Chemical contamination detected in Durham drinking water; new statewide monitoring system proposed

The EPA has established a health advisory goal of 70 parts per trillion a combination of PFOS and PFAS, but there is no enforceable regulatory standard for them under the Clean Water Act or the Safe Drinking Water Act. Some states, though, have established their own legal limits for PFOAs. Vermont has set its threshold at 20 ppt for PFOA, while New Jersey has proposed limits of 14 ppt, according to the Environmental Working Group.


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