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EWG News Roundup (1/18): EPA Sides with Monsanto’s ‘Science,’ Congress Introduces Bipartisan PFAS Legislation and More

In the News
Friday, January 18, 2019

A new report in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Environmental Sciences Europe shows the wholly different approaches taken by the Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization when assessing the cancer risk of Monsanto’s glyphosate weedkiller. The report points out that EPA ignored a number of independent peer-reviewed studies that showed ties between the herbicide and cancer – instead opting to use research paid for by Monsanto.

“The fact that the EPA relied largely on Monsanto’s own research to reach the conclusion glyphosate doesn’t cause cancer could be turned into a skit on The Daily Show,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., senior science advisor for children’s environmental health at EWG. “Allowing a company like Monsanto, with a long and damaging history of deception, to influence the EPA’s assessment of its own product is outrageous.”

This week marks the beginning of the process for Andrew Wheeler, the former oil industry lobbyist and current Acting EPA Administrator, to be the next EPA administrator. At the outset of his Senate confirmation hearing this week, Wheeler proved his inability to combat climate change, saying that the perpetual droughts caused by climate change weren’t the main culprit for the recent devastating Californian wildfires.

Under Wheeler’s leadership at EPA, criminal enforcement against polluters has dropped to its lowest level in 30 years, according to an analysis of federal records by our colleagues at the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

“If you’re in the business of illegally dumping pollution into the environment, your prospects of staying out of jail and piling up profits could not be better with Trump and Wheeler in charge of the EPA,” said EWG President Ken Cook. 

Despite the Trump EPA’s refusal to hold polluters accountable, EWG applauded a bipartisan group of lawmakers who introduced legislation that would classify PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the Superfund toxics law. This measure would be a vital first step toward cleaning up widespread contamination by these toxic compounds across the country.

Also this past week, EWG dispelled the myth of “clean” natural gas and provided tips for healthier indoor air, focusing on less frequented places in the home – like the attic and basement.

Here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.

Environmental Protection Agency and Andrew Wheeler

Chemical Watch: PFAS management plan expected from US EPA in 'very near future' - Andrew Wheeler nomination hearing divides senators

A statement by the Environmental Working Group said that Mr. Wheeler is “largely ignoring” the updated TSCA, allowing chemicals like asbestos and methylene chloride to remain in use. 

Common Dreams: 'A Disgrace': Bernie Sanders Takes Trump EPA Pick to Task for Claiming Climate Change Not 'Greatest Crisis' Facing Planet

In a statement following Wednesday's Senate hearing, Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook declared that the dismissal of “the clear threat to Americans from the climate crisis should be enough to immediately disqualify Wheeler from being the head of EPA.” Reprinted by Salon. 

PFAS Chemicals Classified Hazardous Under Superfund

MLive: Congress to weigh bill making PFAS eligible for federal cleanup funding

The proposed legislation “would trigger reporting requirements, enable cleanup of contaminated sites, allow EPA to recover clean-up costs from polluters, and push the EPA and states to move forward on setting remediation levels,” said David Andrews, senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group.

Chemical & Engineering News: US lawmakers’ bill would trigger cleanup of PFAS

Deeming PFAS as hazardous substances “would help potentially hundreds of communities impacted by PFAS contamination to hold polluters accountable and get resources to finally begin the desperately needed cleanup process,” says Scott Faber, a senior vice president of the advocacy group Environmental Working Group (EWG). The organization and researchers from Northeastern University are tracking known PFAS contamination sites in the US, listing 172 locations in 40 states as of July 2018. EWG estimates that water supplies for as many as 110 million US residents may be tainted with PFAS.

Lexology: Legislative Update: House of Representatives Introduces Bill to Require EPA to Regulate PFAS as Hazardous Substances under CERCLA

In a 2018 study using unreleased EPA test data, the Environmental Working Group (“EWG”) estimated that as many as 110 million Americans may be ingesting PFAS-containing tap water. Also, EWG and Northeastern University researchers have identified 172 PFAS contaminated sites across 40 states.

Agribusiness Bailout

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Why the government shutdown is a growing concern for Pa. and N.J. farmers

About 1,300 Pennsylvanians received $2.4 million in federal subsidies as part of the program in September and October, according to the Environmental Working Group. Aid checks — $3 billion worth — have gone out since the shutdown, USDA spokesperson Tim Murtaugh told the Post, but farmers who were not able to certify their crop production must wait until the Farm Service Agency reopens. Because of this, the USDA has extended the deadline to apply for aid. It was previously Jan. 15. Reprinted by The Morning Call (Allentown, Penn.).


Righting Injustice: EPA rejects NGOs petition to increase reporting of asbestos

Those NGOs include the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization; the American Public Health Association; the Center for Environmental Health; the Environmental Working Group; the Environmental Health Strategy Center; and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families.

Cleaning Products

Bob Vila: Buyer’s Guide: Natural Cleaning Products

You can easily search the Internet with questions or concerns about natural cleaning products, but results will include both opinion and well-tested research. Base decisions on trusted sources, like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Guide to Healthy Cleaning, a database, compiled by scientists, containing more than 2,500 product reviews as well as articles and independent research. 

Medical News Today: Is borax safe to use?
For people interested in avoiding products with borax, the Environmental Working Group recommend looking for the Green Seal or EcoLogo.

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

NBC2: WGRZ (Buffalo, N.Y.): Buffalo business aims for natural skin care

Nneka Leiba, the director of healthy living science for the Environmental Working Group says that many of the harmful ingredients like formaldehyde and ethylene dioxide exist in small doses in most skin care products. She did, however, say that the use of these products over time can lead to long-term health concerns. 

EWG VERIFIED™ and Herbal Essences

New Hope Network: What eco-friendly cosmetics will look like in 2019

Expect to see more ethical labels on cosmetic and personal care products in 2019. In the last few months, Herbal Essences got Environmental Working Group (EWG) Verification label and Natura Brasil products received Leaping Bunny certification. Other labels making headway include Vegan, Halal, Non-GMO, as well as COSMOS and Natrue (natural & organic labels). Reprinted by HAPPI.

EWG Board

Forbes: A Food Psychology Expert Shares How To Rewrite Your Food Story This Year

Elise Museles is a Certified Eating Psychology and Nutrition Expert and founder of the Food Story concept. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Environmental Working Group and is the best-selling author of Whole Food Energy: 200 All Natural Recipes to Help You Prepare, Refuel, and Recover, and host of the “Once Upon A Food Story” podcast.


Best Life: 23 Toxic Chemicals You Come into Contact with on a Daily Basis

Lead is bad news for your body. According to the Environmental Working Group, the chemical has been found to cause everything from brain damage and hearing loss to miscarriage and kidney damage. Reprinted by MSN.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Romper: Is Drinking Celery Juice Better Than Eating Celery? Here's What Nutritionists Say

So, if you're ready to get your celery on, there is one more important thing to keep in mind. Celery is on the Environmental Working Group (EWG)'s Dirty Dozen, a list of produce high in pesticides. “More than 95 percent of conventional celery samples tested positive for pesticides,” explained the EWG.

South Florida Business Journal: A closer look at Boca Raton health-focused restaurant Farmer's Table

The restaurant adheres to the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen Food philosophy, sourcing only organic products for their recommended fruits and vegetables.

The Observer (La Grande, Ore.): MY VOICE: Organic food known to be more nutritious — what’s on your plate?

If you can’t buy organic, be sure to at least avoid the conventionally grown “dirty dozen,” which are listed below along with the “clean 15” (“The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides,” developed by the Environmental Working Group, see www.foodnews.org.

EWG's Guide to Sunscreens

Ask Men: 8 Warning Signs You're Overdoing It With Your Skin Care

Overexposure to sunlight makes skin super sensitive and more susceptible to UV rays – even in the winter. Yes, a safe sunscreen will form a barrier to protect your skin, but according to the Environmental Working Group, the majority of sunscreens on the market formulated for daily facial wear contain chemical filters, which are loaded with active ingredients.

Nitrate in Drinking Water

EurekAlert: Millions of Americans exposed to elevated nitrate levels in drinking water

Nitrate is a drinking water contaminant that can originate from multiple sources including fertilizers, sewage treatment systems, and animal manure. Using information obtained from state agencies and online databases, Schaider and her colleagues at Silent Spring Institute and Environmental Working Group (EWG) compiled nitrate data for 39,466 public water systems serving more than 70 percent of the U.S. population.

PFAS in Drinking Water

Chemical & Engineering News: What is the price of fire safety?

Rules now require US airports to use military-grade foams that contain PFAS. Public-interest groups such as the Environmental Working Group and the International Persistent Organic Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) want an end to the use of PFAS in all firefighting foams.

Mercola: The Surprising Link Between Teflon and the Atomic Bomb

Given these chemicals’ pervasive and persistent use, everyone would be well served by following the Madrid Statement’s recommendation to avoid products containing, or manufactured using, PFASs, which include most that are stain-resistant, waterproof or nonstick. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) further recommends avoiding items that have been pretreated with stain-repellants, and opt out of such treatments when buying new furniture and carpets.

Teflon Cookware

The Napa Valley Register: A Healthy Fork on the Road: Shining a light on slow cooking

A slow cooker travels well. Take it from your kitchen to the office or party. Just plug it in and serve in a ceramic vessel – more nutritious than using non-stick ware like Teflon, which emits harmful chemicals when too hot, according to the Environmental Working Group.


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