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EWG’s News Roundup (3/2): EPA’s Pruitt Axes Environmental Health Center, Calif. Judge Blocks Pesticide Spraying by State Ag Agency and More

In the News
Friday, March 2, 2018

This week the Environmental Protection Agency announced it will shut down the National Center for Environmental Research, which for decades has provided vital funding to scientists studying the impacts of toxic chemicals on children’s health.

“No one should be shocked by Administrator Pruitt’s latest attack on science that protects children,” EWG President Ken Cook said of the center’s closure. “His first major decision was stopping the EPA’s planned ban of a pesticide that can cause brain damage in kids. Closing this office is more indisputable evidence that Scott Pruitt shouldn’t hold any job where safeguarding children’s health is supposed to be a priority.”

EWG also tallied the taxpayer-funded luxuries EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has racked up in his first year on the job. From first-class flights to a soundproof phone booth to a posse of bodyguards, no expense seems to be too much for Pruitt. (After Pruitt, feeling the heat, announced he’d start flying coach, EWG put together an eco-friendly travel kit we’re sending Pruitt to ease the discomfort of sitting with ordinary Americans.)

In a major victory for public health, a judge has ordered the California Department of Food and Agriculture to stop spraying toxic pesticides – including on schools, parks and lawns and near organic farms – until the agency complies with state environmental laws.

The decision in EWG Plaintiffs v. California Department of Food and Agriculture came following a lawsuit brought by EWG, 10 other public interest organizations and the City of Berkeley against the state’s agriculture agency. For years the department has sprayed indiscriminately, without analysis of health and environmental impacts or public notice.

A recent Italian study found that long-term use of chemical cleaning products can harm female workers’ lungs as much as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Our analysts examined the study and made recommendations for folks to lower their harmful chemical intake.

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

California Oil and Gas

CalMatters: As California oil regulator seeks more money, legislators ask “Is this working?”

Early in 2011, Bill Allayaud was so fed up with what he saw as dereliction of duty by California’s oil and gas regulator that he began to catalog grievances: unregulated fracking, allowing companies to inject oilfield wastewater into clean water aquifers, little or no oversight into critical practices affecting public health and safety. “They were essentially lap dogs for the oil industry,” Allayaud, a lobbyist with the Environmental Working Group said. Reprinted by City Watch LA.

California Ruling on Pesticides

Earth Island Institute: CA Court Blocks State Ag Department from Spraying Pesticides

The court order, which came late last week, was in response to a lawsuit brought by 11 environmental and public health groups — including the Environmental Working Group, Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network North America, Center for Biological Diversity, and Moms Advocating Sustainability — and the city of Berkeley.

EcoWatch: California Court Ruling Ends Decades of State Pesticide Spraying

"The judge has told the state that harmful pesticides simply can't be sprayed indiscriminately, without robust consideration of impacts on people, animals and water," said Bill Allayaud, California director of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group. "The ruling also affirms that Californians have the right to know about pesticides being sprayed around them and the ability to challenge spraying that endangers public health and natural resources." Reprinted by Before It’s News and Common Dreams.

EPA and Scott Pruitt

POLITICO – Morning Energy: All The Comforts of Coach

The Environmental Working Group will send Pruitt "a travel kit" to help him relax on his next flight from New York to D.C., the group said Thursday. The kit will include a "100-percent organic neck pillow and eye maskeco-friendly earbuds and other small comforts."

AlterNet: EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Is Living Large—on American Taxpayers' Dime

Alex Formuzis is the Vice President for Strategic Campaigns at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. Bill Walker is the Vice President and Managing Editor of Environmental Working Group. Reprint of Planet Trump article. 

The Devil We Know

Los Angeles Times: Should we be scared of Teflon? A new Sundance documentary investigates

If you're out shopping and you don't know what to buy anymore, a great resource is the Environmental Working Group. My family, personally, we've switched to cast iron pans. I always just thought of Teflon as pans, which is so annoying and misleading. On top of that, if you're on the Williams-Sonoma website, everything says "PFOA free," but there are thousands of other replacement chemicals.

Chemical Body Burden

New York Times: What Poisons Are in Your Body?

Will these endocrine disruptors give me cancer? Make me obese? Make my genitals fall off? Nobody really knows. At least I haven’t started doing random back flips yet. The steps I took did help, and I recommend that others consult consumer guides at to reduce their exposures to toxic chemicals. Reprinted by 8 media outlets.

EWG’s Guide to Bug Repellents

DIY Network: Home + Yard Tips for Preventing Ticks

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), no repellent is 100% effective, and DEET is still considered one of the best forms of prevention against tick and other insect bites. While it isn’t highly recommended, DEET is considered to be safer for children and pregnant women if used at reduced concentrations. 

EWG’s Cancer Defense Diet

The Cheat Sheet: You Can Prevent Cancer by Retooling Your Diet With These 10 Guidelines

Environmental Working Group, partnering with researchers from the Halifax Project, is packed with ideas. Specifically, the project looks at the way our diet can influence our cancer risk — be it today, or several years down the road. From EWG’s project, here are 10 guidelines you can use to fix your diet and lower your cancer risk.

Cleaning Products

The Corvallis Advocate: Cleaner Cleaning Products: Healthier Alternatives to Toxic Norms

According to the Environmental Working Group, an environmental research and policy advocacy group, “only 7 percent of cleaning products adequately disclosed their contents.” Cleaning product companies argue that their ingredient list is proprietary information, meaning they don’t want to publish it in fear that another company could steal their formula.

Sierra Online: Are Dryer Sheets and Liquid Softeners Safe for the Environment?

Having never used such products myself, I turned to the Environmental Working Group, which is a great source for information. The EWG’s highest recommendations for dryer sheets are Grab Green Wet Dryer Sheets, Unscented; Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day (in various scents); and Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Dryer Sheets, Unscented. Grab Green got a B, while the other two only earned a C grade. All the 40-some others got a D—or worse, an F. Reprinted by EcoWatch.

Simple Most: Doctors Told Me I’d Need My Gallbladder Removed, But I Changed My Diet Instead

The Environmental Working Group website is a great resource for checking out the safety of personal/beauty care products. They rate them on a hazard scale from 1 to 10 and provide data available on ingredients. Reprinted 30 times.

Spirituality & Health: 5 Swaps for Cleaner Cleaning

The Environmental Working Group has a variety of suggestions, two of which scored an A in their ratings: Attitude Bathroom Mold & Mildew Cleaner, which uses tea tree leaf oil and lime oil, and Concrobium Mold Control, which has a proprietary blend of salts. 


Wall Street Journal: For the Cosmetics Industry, a Regulatory Makeover Awaits

Scott Faber, senior vice president of the Environmental Working Group, called the discussion draft “an important landmark” and said that “recent reports of contaminated cosmetics should be ample proof that cosmetics reform is long overdue.” His group has been active in a yearslong effort to strengthen regulation of cosmetics.

Skin Deep®

Baby List: Best Diaper Rash Creams of 2018

But if you’re wondering what other ingredients are safe for baby’s tender skin, the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database can be a great resource. It breaks down exactly what’s in skin care products, giving you the info you need to make an informed purchase. EWG researchers rigorously assess and rate product ingredients based on potential hazards and health concerns. The rating system works on a 1-10 scale from low to high hazard.

Dr. Axe: 8 Hand-Washing Mistakes You’re Probably Making (& How to Wash Your Hands Properly)

According to Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database, benzethonium chloride poses low health hazards; however, the site points out a large data gap: There’s not enough research to deem it either safe or dangerous. We just don’t know. 

Beauty Editor: The Best Natural Makeup to Try from W3ll People

There's James Walker, and he's a self-proclaimed tree hugger. By trade he's a marketer. What James does is manage the social responsibility by working with partners like EWG [the Environmental Working Group]. We're an EWG-verified brand, which means they've vetted the products, and we put their symbol on our boxes. That tells you this is safe.

Food Science

CNN: How close are we to a hamburger grown in a lab?

Although in vitro meat might be healthier for consumers, its success hinges on public acceptance. A potential obstacle for the clean meat industry is whether consumers can get past the "ick factor" with lab grown meat, said Kenneth A. Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, a US environmental and health research and advocacy organization. Reprinted 56 times.

EWG’s Healthy Living App

The Washington Diplomat: In Today’s Digital World, There Really Is an App for That — And Everything Else

If you want to know what chemicals are in a food you’re thinking about eating, check out Healthy Living from the Environmental Working Group ( Search for a product by name, scan a bar code or just browse the database’s more than 120,000 food and personal care products.

EWG's Consumer Guide to Seafood

Popsugar UK: Keep These 8 Diet-Busting Foods Off Your Plate If You Want to Lose Weight

According to the Environmental Working Group, imported farmed salmon is also one of the top five foods with the worst environmental footprint. Be sure to check labels, and stay safe.

MSN: 7 Effective Diet Tips Stolen from Athletes -- and 2 Things to Avoid

Do Eat organic. Guest makes sure that her athletes eat organic whenever possible, especially when it comes to the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list, "which are foods more likely to be heavily sprayed with chemicals."  

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Healthline: Why Scientists Think ‘Hacking Our Cells’ Could Turn Off the Aging Process

Consulting the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list can help you prioritize which fruits and vegetables may be worth spending more for organic.

General Health: 21 ‘Health’ Foods You Should Never Eat

When it comes to strawberries, always choose organic. Nonorganic strawberries rank #1 on the dirty dozen list, according to Environmental Working Group.

EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens

HAPPI: The Protection Collection

Beyond Coastal, a brand that ranked high on EWG’s list last year, is looking to solve facial skin needs of athletes and outdoor enthusiasts with its Active Face Stick, which is formulated for high exposure areas and provides shelter from UVA rays with avobenzone SPF 30 that effectively blocks 97% of sunburn-causing UVB rays. 

Well: Natural Sunscreen 101: The Basics & Your Choices

If you want to dig deeper into those 17 chemical UV filters mentioned above, the Environmental Working Group rates the full list approved by Health Canada on a “safety” scale of 1 to 10. Oxybenzone, one of the most common, gets a hazard score of 8, while Avobenzone gets a score of 2 and is considered the safest.

Tap Water Database

Laredo Morning News: High levels of arsenic detected in South Texas water supply

See content in the captions: The Environmental Working Group released a study in January 2018, revealing how contaminated tap water is in cities around Texas. Click ahead to find out the tap water contamination levels in Laredo and South Texas.  Reprinted by the San Antonio Express-News.

Bottled Water

Food & Water Watch: Time To Expose Predatory Bottled Water Marketing Tactics 

But here’s the thing: over 64% of bottled water is essentially tap water. And bottled water is LESS regulated than tap water -- the Environmental Working Group looked at 10 major brands of bottled water and found 38 chemical contaminants that can be harmful to human health.


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