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EWG News Roundup (6/1): Pruitt Opens Door for New Uses of Asbestos, Lowe’s Ditches Toxic Chemicals and More

In the News
Friday, June 1, 2018

The Environmental Protection Agency announced today it will not ban new uses or review legacy uses of asbestos. The chemical is one of the world’s most notorious carcinogens and has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.

This week we gave props to national home improvement chain Lowe’s, which announced it would phase out paint-stripping products containing two toxic chemicals, methylene chloride and N-methylpyrrolidone. More than 60 people have died from exposure to methylene chloride since 1980.

“Lowe’s decision should be applauded and rewarded by consumers,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at EWG. “It’s the first such retailer to take significant steps that will undoubtedly save lives and protect future generations of children from being needlessly exposed to these dangerous chemicals. We join our colleagues at Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families in urging Home Depot, Walmart and other retailers to follow suit and put the health of all consumers first.”

We also reviewed a recent study that found when coal and oil power plants were closed, premature birth rates dropped among California women who lived nearby. The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, analyzed birth records for nearly 60,000 mothers who lived within about three miles of eight power plants that were shut down between 2001 and 2011. The decline was greatest for mothers living closest to the plants, particularly among African-Americans and Latinas.

As summer fast approaches, EWG provided helpful tips for parents planning lake vacations. We offered strategies on how to avoid harmful algal blooms, which may not even be visible.

Speaking of summer planning, it’s a good idea to check out the brand-new edition of EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens to pick safer sunscreens for yourself and your family.

And, of course, Scott Pruitt was caught wasting taxpayer money again this week – The Washington Post reported he spent $1,560 on 12 customized fountain pens.

“Scott Pruitt couldn’t be entrusted to keep watch over a child’s piggy bank,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “He’d just as quickly drain it and waste the loot on extravagance – as he has done repeatedly with taxpayers’ hard-earned money.”

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

The Farm Bill

Michigan Farm News: Farm bill proves sunshine is the best disinfectant

In sharp contrast, amendments backed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) were offered in the past three farm bill debates for the ostensible purpose of “reforming” and “improving” existing U.S. farm policy — although farmers and ranchers and policy experts alike near-universally declared at each point that such “reforms” would wreak havoc on the nation’s farmers, ranchers, and dairymen.

Naples Daily News: Letters to the Editor, Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Rooney should oppose farm bill as proposed – I know of no other industry that receives the special treatment that Congress provides to agriculture. While this is done under the guise of protecting the small family farm, the bulk of the money goes to large corporations. According to the farm subsidy database published by the Environmental Working Group, the top 1 percent of recipients received 26 percent of all commodity subsidies, while the top 10 percent receives 77 percent.

EPA Summit on PFAS Chemicals and EWG Analysis of PFAS in Drinking Water

CNN: Who else wasn't at the EPA chemical meeting? The victims

“Many of the communities that have been impacted were not represented,” said Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group. “I think what you missed with that is you missed the sense of urgency that these families are feeling.” Faber said conference organizers could have highlighted “the voices of people who have been directly impacted by these chemicals, just to remind the regulators that there are real people who are being directly impacted.” Reprinted by MSN and 125 other media outlets.

NJ.com: Editorial – Poison in your drinking water? Scott Pruitt won't hear of it

The study from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry - a branch of Health and Human Services - was to propose new levels for these chemicals in drinking water that were six times more stringent than EPA recommendations, as the Environmental Working Group has found that current levels are unsafe for 110 million Americans.

StateImpact Pennsylvania: Rep. Fitzpatrick: ‘Unacceptable’ for Pruitt to say he can’t release chemical study

Even if EPA decides to regulate the chemicals, it will be years until such regulations are in place, and so state and local rules are more likely to decontaminate water supplies in the near term, according to campaigners such as the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by WSKG.

Delaware Online: Chemical, once an anchor of Delaware's economy, now target of EPA summit

Also, the day of the summit, researchers from EWG, an environmental organization, published a report that claimed PFOA and related substances exist in more than 1,500 drinking water systems, including those around Dover, New Castle and Blades.

Water Online: Report: 1,500 Water Systems May Have PFOA, PFOS Contamination

Over 1,500 water systems across the country may be contaminated with PFAS chemicals, a category which includes PFOA and PFOS, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group. “This new research greatly exceeds EWG’s previous estimate of 16 million Americans being exposed to PFAS-contaminated water,” the report stated.

Kardashians in D.C.

Page Six: Kim Kardashian wore a $4K suit to meet with Trump

Kourtney Kardashian and Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook

People Magazine: Decoding Kim and Kourtney Kardashian's Washington D.C. Style

Kourtney teamed up with the Environmental Working Group as it launches a new initiative, #BeautyMadeBetter, to raise awareness for reform as it has been 80 years since the U.S. last passed a law to regulate the safety of personal care products.

Hollywood Life: Kim Kardashian Stuns In Gorgeous Black Pantsuit During White House Meeting With Trump — Pics

Kim’s sister Kourtney Kardashian was recently in Washington as well, in April, lobbying for stricter regulations on personal care and cosmetics. She is vocal about harmful ingredients and open about the natural and non-toxic products she uses and allows in her house. She spoke on behalf of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), pushing forward their #beautymadebetter initiative. We love that these sisters are taking on such important issues!

Cleaning Products

Florida Today: Creating a healthy home environment: myth vs. fact

Much like cooking at home, making your own cleaners — with baking soda, vinegar, or Castile soap — is cheaper and gives you the peace of mind of knowing what’s in the recipe. For consumer products, check the Environmental Working Group site (ewg.org) for guidelines and reputable ratings; or download the app called DetoxMe from the Silent Spring Institute (silentspring.org). 


Teen Vogue: Ashley Graham Uses Windex to Fix Spray Tan

She also added that ethanolamine is classified as toxic by the Environmental Working Group.

The Compton Herald (Torrance, Calif.): Study: Nail polish threatens health, hours after applying

Nail polish can seriously affect the health of women and girls, researchers at Duke University and the Environmental Working Group found. The three-year-old study, published in 2015 in Environment International, found that many of the most popular American nail polish brands are actually extremely harmful. The study involved 24 women and experts evaluated the effects of the chemical toxins in their bodies. The source of these chemicals was nail polish.

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Ask Eartha: 10 ways to protect our waterways

Shop for non-toxic and non-antibacterial personal products that don't harm our environment. In addition to cleaning products, you can find environmentally friendly personal products at many stores now. You can also visit Environmental Working Group's website at EWG.org/skindeep for recommended products.

POPSUGAR: Here's What the Label "Non-Toxic" REALLY Means For Beauty Products

For an eye-opener, check out the Skin Deep Database by the Environmental Working Group. There, you can search through over 74,000 beauty products and see how your favourite products rate in levels of harmful chemicals. And resist the impulse to buy any beauty products labeled non-toxic until you've gone through the list of ingredients and made sure for yourself! Reprinted by POPSUGAR Australia.

Healthy Beautiful: 10 Best Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash & Cleansers for Acne Prone Skin

Humane Benzoyl Peroxide 10% Acne Treatment Body & Face Wash: The only brand amongst all mentioned to has an EWG rating. This means that it is environmentally friendly, there are no harmful chemicals used, and there is very low chance of irritation or allergic reactions to any of their line.  

Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors

The File: We Need To Talk About Endocrine Disruptors

While there are thousands of chemicals that qualify as endocrine disruptors, the EWG has comprised a list of the most common, the “dirty dozen.”

GMO Labeling

High Plains Journal: USDA seeks comments on proposed bioengineered food disclosure rule

Environmental Working Group Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber said the draft GMO disclosure rule “an important milestone. We’re one step closer to having a national mandatory GMO disclosure system. But, the draft rule leaves many fundamental questions unanswered. It fails to provide solutions for consumers without smart phones or consumers with lousy cell service, and fails to provide clear rules that ensure that QR codes will consistently scan.

EWG's Guide to Bug Repellents

Athens Banner-Herald (Athens, Georgia): People’s Pharmacy – Looking for effective alternatives to DEET insect repellent

Both Consumer Reports and the Environmental Working Group suggest that oil of lemon eucalyptus and picaridin each can serve as an alternative to DEET. They are quite effective repellents. Brand names include Repel Lemon Eucalyptus, Sawyer Picaridin and Natrapel picaridin. 

The Corning Leader (Corning, N.Y.): Cruisin’ the Internet — Advice On Bug Repellants

An even more exhaustive website is the Environmental Working Group. This site provides information on many environmental issues. To learn more about insect repellants, surf over to https://www.ewg.org/search/site/insect%20repellants.

Healthy Living App

Oregon Business: Walking the talk

 “I’m one of those people at the drug store using the Environmental Working Group Healthy Living app to make sure the products are safe.” The app scans bar codes to yield ratings on carcinogens and allergens.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Bustle: Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw Rosé Is Organic, Less Than $5 A Bottle, & Super Delicious

And since delicate-skinned grapes top the Environmental Working Group's (EWG's) pesticide-laden dirty dozen produce list, buying organic just makes sense. Buying affordable organic wine, though? That's pretty much a revelation worth celebrating with shameless and unbridled glee. 

The Cheat Sheet: The Real Reasons You Need to Avoid Buying These Produce Items at the Grocery Store

Plus, strawberries are one of the dirty dozen produce items teeming with pesticides, according to the Environmental Working Group.

MarketWatch: These common grocery-shopping mistakes could cost you $525 a year

The Environmental Working Group analyzes which foods have the most and least pesticides, which can help you figure out what’s worth buying organic and what’s not. In 2017, they listed foods with the least pesticides (and thus those that you can more safely buy as nonorganic). Reprinted by MorningStar.

Guide to Sunscreens

KQED: The Forum: Study: 67% of Sunblocks in the U.S. Offer Poor Protection

Earlier this month Hawai'i passed legislation to ban certain sunscreens to safeguard coral reefs against harmful chemicals. A new study also found that 67 percent of sunscreens sold in the U.S. offer poor protection, leaving many people with questions about how to best protect themselves and the environment. With summer just around the corner and more time outside along with it, Forum takes a look at the latest news and research about sunscreen. Guest: Nneka Leiba, director of health living science, Environmental Working Group

 USA Today: Before Memorial Day: This tool will tell you how safe (or dangerous) your sunscreen is

The 2018 sunscreen report from the Environmental Working Group, a nonpartisan organization that promotes healthy living through research and education, found that 66 percent of the 650 sunscreens it examined were harmful or ineffective. Reprinted by 138 media outlets.

AccuWeather: Hawaii passes bill banning certain sunscreens deemed harmful to coral reefs

Mineral sunscreens that use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to physically block the sun's rays are still allowed. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides a list of reef-safe sunscreen brands. Reprinted by AOL.

Good Housekeeping: 10 Affordable Natural Sunscreens That Will Help Keep You Burn-Free

The Environmental Working Group comes out with an annual list of sunscreens that fall into one of these two "safe" categories. Here, that list has been narrowed down based on availability and affordability. Make it to the end, and you'll find more details on the whole selection process. Happy shopping!

Insider: Eco-friendly sunscreens may sound like a good idea, but dermatologists actually want you to avoid them

Ninety-six percent of Americans carry traces of oxybenzone in their bloodstream, according to the Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy nonprofit. Reprinted by Capitol Zero.

Livestrong: Your sunscreen could be dangerous or Ineffective — but it doesn't have to be

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), two-thirds of sunscreens offer inferior sun protection or contain worrisome ingredients like oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate.

Parents: These Are the Worst Sunscreens of 2018 for Babies and Kids, Says EWG

The Environmental Working Group has released its 2018 Guide to Sunscreens report, which includes the 14 worst-scoring sunscreens for babies and young children.

Reader’s Digest: 8 Sunscreen Dos and Don’ts You Need to Memorize Before Summer

The Environmental Working Group, a long-standing non-profit consumer information organization, has recently put out its updated Sunscreen Guide.

StyleCaster: 20 Under-$20 Sunscreens with Safety Approval From the Environmental Working Group

When we’re not shielding our faces with hats, finding shade, or simply avoiding direct sunlight, we should be slathering ourselves in SPF. At the same time, we also realize that not all formulas are created equal. And for that, we have organizations like the Environmental Working Group to thank for steering us toward the safest ones. Reprinted by MwBuzz.

Tampa Bay Parenting: Cool! Our summertime favorites for the beach bag and backyard

The Environmental Working Group recently released its 2018 Sunscreen Guide and found that 2/3 of sunscreens are either not effective or contain an ingredient they say may be harmful to your health. Check here to see if your sunscreen made the cut.

WMUR (Manchester, N.H.): 23 best-ranked sunscreens for babies, kids

With hundreds of sunscreen products on the shelves in pharmacies and grocery stores, it can be daunting to try to pick the best sun protection for your family. For 12 consecutive years, the Environmental Working Group has evaluated hundreds of competing products to generate a guide to the best and worst sunscreens for families.

Austin Moms Blog: Keeping Your Skin Safe This Summer

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released their latest sunscreen ranking. Included in their report are the best (and worst) sunscreens. One of my favorite (and proven) sunscreens for my son’s sensitive and light skin is one the list: Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen. You can go to EWG’s site and app for a list of the safest and least safe options for your family.

Water Filters

A Child Grows in Brooklyn: I Have Been Using the Wrong Water Filter for Years

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Tap Water database, New York City water has six contaminants over the federal government guideline levels (they have to pick a minimum acceptable for toxic chemicals, but it isn’t an exact science). This may sound scary (of course it actually is all scary), but most cities have even more and exceeding the guidelines is not the same as exceeding the legal limit. It is legal to have these chemicals in the water.


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