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EWG News Roundup (8/24): How Would a Justice Kavanaugh Vote on Asbestos, Trump’s Dirty Power Scam, Avoid Bug Bites and More

In the News
Friday, August 24, 2018

This week, President Trump officially pulled out of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan – an initiative that would have prevented between 1,500 to 3,600 premature deaths annually. Trump’s new scheme will let states regulate air pollution from coal-fired power plants – a leading source of pollution that can trigger asthma attacks in children, early deaths among adults and intensify climate change.

In fact, Trump’s dirty power scam is so bad even his own EPA estimates it would cause about 1,400 additional premature deaths a year; apparently a small price to pay for giving the fossil fuel industry what it wants.

“Trump’s latest scheme to bail out the coal industry is a disaster for public health and the climate,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “When you have a president who doesn’t believe in climate change and a former coal lobbyist running the Environmental Protection Agency, they’ll stop at nothing to keep a dirty, dying industry on life support – no matter the cost to people and the planet.”

Summer may be ending, but bites from pesky mosquitos and other critters are still a risk. Over on our Children’s Health site, we laid out some simple tips for parents to protect their kids from bug bites during their final summer excursions.

In a similar vein, back to school is upon us, so EWG highlighted a recent study that found harmful chemicals, such as asbestos and lead, in everyday school supplies.

And speaking of asbestos, Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president of government affairs, and EWG’s Legislative Attorney Melanie Benesh weigh in on Brett Kavanaugh’s past rulings while on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Kavanaugh has consistently voted against safeguards designed to protect health by concluding that safety rules were too expensive for big corporations.

On Friday, we applauded two recently introduced bipartisan Senate bills that target the contamination of drinking water and groundwater by toxic fluorinated compounds, known as PFAS chemicals.

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

Clean Power Plan and the Environmental Protection Agency

The Guardian: Trump administration scraps Obama-era regulation on coal emissions

Environmentalists immediately called the new plan the “dirty power scam”. Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said: “Trump’s latest scheme to bail out the coal industry is a disaster for public health and the climate.”

Newsweek: Trump's EPA Admits Its Own Plan to Gut Obama Power Plant Rules Could Kill Thousands by 2030

The Environmental Working Group warned on Tuesday that the Trump administration's new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Plan would “mean more children suffering from asthma, more Americans dying early deaths and only miniscule reduction of global warming pollution.”

TruthOut: Trump’s Coal-Friendly EPA Rule Is an All-Out Assault on Our Climate

Environmental Working Group (EWG) president Ken Cook remarked, “When you have a president who doesn’t believe in climate change and a former coal lobbyist running the Environmental Protection Agency, they’ll stop at nothing to keep a dirty, dying industry on life support—no matter the cost to people and the planet.”

Sen. Schumer and Toxic School Supplies

WAMC: Northeast Public Radio: Sen. Schumer Raises Alarm About Toxic School Supplies

Schumer also pointed to a 2008 Environmental Working Group report claiming that many lunchboxes are manufactured with toxic metals, and that some are even coated in lead paint. The Senator emphasized that no parent should have to worry about whether or not their child is being exposed to poison in their school supplies.

Sen. Schumer Calls on FDA to Publish Glyphosate Data

Associated Press: Schumer calls on feds to speed study of herbicide in foods

Schumer urged the Food and Drug Administration to provide an update on its own investigation to Congress and the public. He said the Environmental Working Group's report should be considered in the federal government's studies. Reprinted 38 times.

POLITICO: FDA pressed to release glyphosate residue data

FDA pressed to release glyphosate residue data. Last week’s media frenzy — and large dose of scientific criticism — over the Environmental Working Group’s glyphosate residues report, which found trace amounts of the herbicide in popular foods like cereal, oatmeal and snack bars, has prompted a renewed focus on what FDA is up to on glyphosate these days.

NBC10: WHEC (New York, N.Y.): Schumer accuses the FDA of withholding weed killer information

The environmental activist group, the Environmental Working Group, says glyphosate causes cancer and that it has found traces of it in oat cereals, oatmeal, and granola bars across the country. Reprinted by the Monroe County Post and MPN Now.

New York Daily News: Schumer calls on FDA to publish its report on weed-killing chemical found in breakfast foods

Low levels of the herbicide is found in popular granolas, instant oats and snack bars, according to a new report by the Environmental Working Group. The FDA has been studying the chemical, and its use, in breakfast foods for the past two years.

New York Post: Schumer demands feds release info about weed-killing chemical in cereals

Scientists with the Environmental Working Group last week said they found unacceptably high traces of the herbicide in virtually every oat cereal, oatmeal and granola bars for sale in the United States.

Glyphosate Lawsuits

Food Dive: General Mills sued over glyphosate in Cheerios days after Monsanto verdict

It may no longer be enough to say that products are safe because they meet EPA glyphosate standards, as PepsiCo's Quaker Oats and General Mills recently did after the EWG test results were released. In a statement, the environmental group's president, Ken Cook, called that a “tone-deaf response” that ignored public health concerns.

Food Dive: Nature Valley will drop 100% natural claim after settling lawsuit

Other oat-based granola bars may be able to benefit from the situation, particularly if they use organic oats or other grains with a lower chance of having residues of the weed killer. Recent testing by the Environmental Working Group found one-third of samples made with organically grown oats contained glyphosate but at levels "well below" the group's health benchmark of 160 parts per billion (ppb).

The Hill: Nature Valley drops '100% Natural' label after allegations of weed-killer in products

Thursday’s announcement comes after the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that, of 45 products made from oats it tested, all but two contained glyphosate. Nature Valley Granola Bars were among the products identified as having potentially unsafe levels of glyphosate, according to Newsweek. The other products in that category included Back to Nature Classic Granola, Lucky Charms and Quaker Simply Granola Oats.

Glyphosate in Oats Report

CNN HLN – MichaeLA: Could Your Cereal Contain Weed-Killer Chemical?

Michaela interviews Alexis Temkin, Toxicologist for the Environmental Working Group, about glyophosate.

Chicago Tribune: Making sense of food scares: Day care bans Cheerios following report, but doctors urge parents not to panic

Meanwhile, local pediatricians caution that while parents and child care providers should do what makes them feel comfortable when it comes to protecting children, the report from the Environmental Working Group should not spark panic about dangers in popular breakfast foods.

Cheat Sheet: Glyphosate: Should You Be Concerned About Weed Killer in Children’s Cereal?

A report released by the Environmental Working Group says there are trace amounts of glyphosate, a weed killer, in popular cereals such as Quaker Oats and Cheerios. Many are concerned about the possible link between the herbicide and cancer.

Environmental Health News: Glyphosate breakfast cereal controversy: Is it safe to feed my children cereal for breakfast?

Consumers might not think their breakfast cereal could bring bits of pesticides to the kitchen table, but a new study links oats and oat-based snacks popular with children to a weed-killing poison found in Roundup.

Fast Company: Should you really be scared about weed killer in your cereal?

When the nonprofit Environmental Working Group commissioned an independent lab to test 61 samples of products made with oats–from Lucky Charms and Cheerios to granola bars and oatmeal–most of the products made with conventionally-grown oats had some glyphosate, a weed-killer found in products like Roundup, inside.

Financial Times: Weedkiller Wars

The Environmental Working Group, a US activist organisation, reported last week that some oat-based breakfast cereals contained unhealthy levels of glyphosate residues. General Mills, the US-based food giant is facing a class-action lawsuit over traces in its products.

Health: Are There Really Pesticides in Your Oatmeal?

The accompanying article cites a new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit advocacy organization, that revealed traces of glyphosate—the main ingredient in the pesticide Roundup—in several types of oat cereal, oatmeal, granola, and snack bars. Reprinted by MSN.

House Beautiful: Traces Of Weed-Killing Chemical Linked To Cancer Found In Some Oat-Based Foods, Study Reports

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) published its findings that claim several popular oat cereals, oatmeal, granola and snack bars contained the poison used in the weed-killing product. Glyphosate, which is an herbicide linked to causing cancer by California state scientists, was detected in all but two of the 45 samples provided that contained conventionally grown oats, reported EWG. Reprinted by Yahoo! News.

NJ.com: Worried your kids are eating 'weed killer' cereals? Take this shopping list to the supermarket.

Earlier this week, the non-profit advocacy Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a study of nearly 30 popular oat breakfast cereals. It found more than half had levels of glyphosate potentially unsafe for children.

Popular Science: How worried should we be that glyphosate was found in our Cheerios?

California, which is usually extra cautious when it comes to cancer risk, says that glyphosate exposure below 1.1 milligrams per day doesn’t pose a significant risk. The Environmental Working Group, in their report on breakfast cereals, used a limit 100 times more conservative than California's already cautious one. Of course, nobody likes the idea of eating weed killer with their breakfast.

Quartz: Monsanto’s worst enemy is one it cannot control: the wind

On Wednesday (Aug. 15), the Environmental Working Group published a report showing higher-than-expected levels of glyphosate—the chemical in Monsanto’s popular weedkiller RoundUp—in a number of popular breakfast cereals. And last Friday (Aug. 10), Monsanto was ordered by a jury to pay $289 million in damages to a California man who claims glyphosate exposure caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Shape: New Report Warns Consumers About a Common Chemical Found In Oat Products

Bad news: There might be a cancer-causing toxin lurking in your bowl of oats. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) published a new report detailing the levels of the weed killer glyphosate in various granolas, oats, cereals, and bars. The majority of samples had more glyphosate that what EWG considers "protective of children's health with an adequate margin of safety.”

PFAS Chemicals

Associated Press: Science panel: Health goal for chemical in water is right

A report released earlier this year by Northeastern University's Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute and the Environmental Working Group found PFAS chemicals at sites in 22 states, and small amounts in tap water in North Carolina communities ranging from Greensboro to Lillington and Nashville. Testing also has found the phased out PFAS chemicals in the lake supplying water to residents of Durham and Cary. 

Great Lakes Now – Detroit Public TV: Great Lakes States Follow Michigan’s PFAS lead

In addition to Michigan, there are high concentrations of contaminated sites on the east coast and in California according to an Environmental Working Group map. Reprinted by the Wausau Pilot and Review (Wisc.).

Algae Blooms

TCPalm (Southeast Florida): Does Roundup contribute to algae blooms, and should Martin County ban it?

Then, on Aug. 15, the Environmental Working Group reported that traces of glyphosate were found in a variety of popular oat cereals, oatmeal, granola and snack bars, in some cases at levels higher than what some scientists consider safe.

Brazilian Blowout

The New Daily: How Meghan Markle’s hair ties in with a royal pregnancy

But while some treatments have cleaned up their act, in 2011 the Environmental Working Group published on its eponymous site a warning into Brazilian blowouts and similar treatments during pregnancy.

Cell Phone Radiation

Activist Post: Mock “Letter of Consent” Explains What it Means to Not Oppose Small Cell Towers in Yards and Everywhere Else

From the Environmental Working Group: The FCC recently voted to exclude base stations for new 5G wireless networks from review under federal environmental and historic preservation laws. Meanwhile, almost two dozen states have passed laws, pushed by wireless lobby groups, to override local ordinances that would regulate the siting of these new base stations, which could be installed on nearly every telephone pole in the U.S.

Cleaners

MindBodyGreen: These Are The Best Natural All-Purpose Cleaners At Whole Foods Market

Here are some of the greenest, cleanest products that have the Whole Foods Market seal of approval and are available online. Their ingredients have also been found to be safe according to the Environmental Working Group's database for chemical toxicity, as well as Know What's In Your Soap—a super user-friendly interface that aggregates EWG information (try it out the next time you're stumped on whether to add something to your cart!).

Happy Mothering: Simple Homemade Wood Polish Spray

These days, the ingredients in Pledge are something I don't want my family exposed to at all. According to the Environmental Working Group, they're linked to things like skin irritation/allergies/damage, acute aquatic toxicity, nervous system effects, respiratory effects and biodegradation.

Cosmetics – Skin Deep

Heavy: 10 Best Goat Milk Soaps to Fight Dry Skin & Acne

Goat’s milk also has antibacterial properties that can help to reduce inflammation caused by eczema and psoriasis. If you’re concerned at all about the safety of ingredients in the products you use on your skin, the Environmental Working Group rates goat’s milk as a low hazard ingredient in their reviews of products containing it.

Heavy: 10 Best Korean Essences: Your Easy Buying Guide 2018

Add to that the fact that this essense has a non-hazardous, green rating from the Environmental Working Group, and you can feel confident each and every time you use it.

MindBodyGreen: 3 Myths About Conscious Consumerism That Need To Be Busted

Our skin is our largest organ and the primary organ for absorption—it's no wonder the beauty industry has done some revolutionary rethinking of their ingredients, independent of the FDA, which lags behind most developed countries on regulating toxic chemicals. Thanks to tools like the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database, we can look into the safety of most products out there.

MindBodyGreen: The Best Natural Sheet Masks: The Guide Clean Beauty Enthusiasts Have Been Waiting For

The Environmental Working Group, a third-party watchdog organization that collects data on the safety of ingredients and products, rates Lacfin's Revive Sheet Mask with a 1—meaning it's been determined to be safe based on the ingredients and available research on said ingredients. The mask itself hydrates dry and/or tired skin with collagen, fruit extracts, and olive-leaf extract. It's 100 percent biodegradable, made without parabens, sulfates, dyes, and fragrance.

Cover Crops

The News-Gazette (Champaign, Ill.): Most area farmers OK with not having a lot of cover

In most of Illinois in 2012, less than 5 percent of farm acres used cover crops, and a 2017 study by the Environmental Working Group found that 2.3 percent of Illinois farm acres used cover crops in 2015-16.

Farm Subsidies

HuffPost: Congress Hated Obama’s Aid To Farmers, Seems OK With Trump’s

The Trump administration should take steps to ensure that wealthy farmers don’t take advantage of the new program, said Scott Faber, a policy expert with the Environmental Working Group, which advocates for stricter limits on existing farm subsidy programs. As part of the latest farm bill, which reauthorizes farm subsidies and nutrition assistance, he noted that Republicans are currently pushing for tighter eligibility standards for food stamp recipients.

POLITICO: How Congress killed efforts to slash subsidies for wealthy farmers

“Conservative groups played a more sophisticated game than ever before,” Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, and key member of the subsidy reform coalition, told POLITICO. “They put forth thoughtful, well-crafted amendments that if made in order, likely would have prevailed. Still, they aren’t yet a match for the ag lobby,” he added.

Shopper’s Guide

Shape: 11 Delicious Peach Recipes to Make Every Meal Sweeter

Ideally, you want to purchase organic peaches, as conventionally grown peaches are on the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list. But either way, wash them well before eating.

Sunscreens

Greatist: 8 Sunscreens That Are Actually Good for You (and Our Coral Reefs)

Research is ongoing in this area, but The Environmental Working Group (EWG), an organization that reports on the potential toxicity of beauty products and corporate accountability (among other things), notes that many sunscreens in the U.S. would not be allowed in Europe and strongly recommends using mineral sunscreens instead of chemical.

MindBodyGreen: The Best Mineral Sunscreens For Your Face

This two-in-one sunscreen has a green light from the EWG with a rating of 1, the best rating for both toxicity and earth-friendliness. It's a makeup primer (doesn't "ball up" under makeup), sunscreen, and moisturizer all in one—perfect to wear every day and the perfect size to toss in your carry-on for weekend jaunts.

Newsmax: Does Sunscreen Cause Cancer?

The Environmental Working Group, a watchdog consumer advocate group, has a comprehensive guide of the safest sunscreen products.

Superbugs Report and Meat/Dairy Label Decoder

GOOP – Toxic Avenger: Why Superbugs Are a Threat to Global Health

A new Environmental Working Group analysis of more than 47,000 federal government lab tests of bacteria on supermarket meat found an increase in the already high number of pork chops and ground beef contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Levels on ground turkey and chicken breasts remained high but saw a slight decline.

 

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