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EWG News Roundup (2/15): EPA’s So-Called PFAS Plan, Chicken Factory Farms Overwhelm N.C. and More

In the News
Friday, February 15, 2019

This week, Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler released his response to the ongoing nationwide crisis of pervasive pollution from fluorinated compounds, or PFAS chemicals. In EWG’s estimation, the “plan” would only make these persistent chemicals in the environment worse.

“This so-called plan is actually a recipe for more PFAS contamination, not less,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at EWG. “It’s shameful that the EPA has taken two decades to produce a plan that allows increased exposure to compounds whose makers have used the American people as guinea pigs and, with the EPA’s complicity, covered it up.”

Earlier in the week, EWG laid out clear steps that EPA could have taken if it had been serious about combatting the PFAS crisis.

EWG is not alone in panning Wheeler’s woefully inadequate plan. Other leading voices in the PFAS field have come out in opposition, including Rob Bilott, an attorney who has represented tens of thousands of victims of PFAS contamination, and retired Marine Corps Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger, who was stationed for many years at the PFAS-contaminated Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, in North Carolina, and whose daughter Janey died, at age 9, from leukemia caused by contaminated drinking water on the base.

Also this week, EWG detailed the massive, decade-long expansion of poultry concentrated animal feeding operations in North Carolina. The analysis shows that the factory farm chicken population has ballooned above 500 million. Check out EWG’s interactive map to see where the new operations are located.

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

CAFOs Poultry Factory Farms in N.C. 

Environmental Health News: Move over bacon: Poultry farms are taking over North Carolina

The report, released from the non-profit Environmental Working Group and the Waterkeeper Alliance, raises concerns that poultry concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, are now a larger source of nutrient pollution to the state's water than hogs and many of these poultry CAFOs are in the same communities where hog CAFOs are clustered.

Politico – Morning Agriculture: Row Crops

New research out today from environmental groups aims to highlight the rapid growth of North Carolina poultry concentrated feeding sites, which the groups argue has flown under the radar of state regulators. Here's the report from the Environmental Working Group and Waterkeeper Alliance.

Feedstuffs: North Carolina poultry numbers on the rise

North Carolina is now home to 515.3 million chickens and turkeys as well 9.7 million hogs. New research from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) sheds light on the growing poultry numbers in the state as regulators are debating the terms of the state permit regulating waste management from swine concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).  

WFDD (Winston-Salem, N.C.): New Data: Poultry Business Continues To Boom In North Carolina

The study from the Environmental Working Group and the Waterkeeper Alliance finds that although the state implemented a moratorium on new swine operations in 1997, the number of birds has tripled since then – from 147 million to more than 515 million today.

EcoWatch: New Investigation: Surge of Poultry Factory Farms in North Carolina Added Waste From 515.3M Chickens to That of 9.7M Hogs

North Carolina, a state known for the devastating environmental and public health impacts of industrial-scale hog production, now has more than twice as many poultry factory farms as swine operations, according to a new investigation from the Environmental Working Group and Waterkeeper Alliance. Reprint of EWG news release

Cosmetics Reform

New York Times: Do You Know What’s in Your Cosmetics?

Industry leaders say that investment is proof of their commitment to safety. But, as the Environmental Working Group and other advocacy organizations have pointed out, it also creates a substantial conflict of interest.

Energy

New York Times: The Answer Is Blowin’ in the Wind

Wind turbines are clean, they work well in places like the plains states that are flat and in need of economic development. And you can put them way out in the water and still get all the energy you need. “So far offshore you wouldn’t be able to see them from Mar-a-Lago,” said Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group.

EPA PFAS Action Plan

Associated Press: EPA too slow on limiting toxic chemicals, critics say

Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group said that without firm action and deadlines, he expected the EPA announcement to be no more than a "plan to plan." Reprinted by the New York Times, Newser,,Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and 178 other media outlets. 

CNN: EPA unveils plan for non-stick chemicals, but it disappoints clean water proponents

The water supplies for nearly 110 million Americans may be contaminated with PFAS chemicals, according to the Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by 117 news outlets.

CNN: What are PFAS chemicals, and what are they doing to our health?

According to the environmental advocacy group Environmental Working Group, more than 1,500 drinking water systems that serve nearly 110 million Americans may be contaminated with the chemicals. They are resistant to most conventional chemical and microbial clean-up technologies, but drinking water can be effectively treated with activated carbon filtration.

New York Times: E.P.A. Will Study Limits on Cancer-Linked Chemicals. Critics Say the Plan Delays Action.

Scott Faber, an expert on chemical policy with the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization, called it a “drinking water crisis facing millions of Americans.” But the E.P.A., he said, is “just not treating the crisis the way it deserves.” Reprinted by the Boston Globe.

NPR: EPA Says It Plans To Limit Toxic PFAS Chemicals, But Not Soon Enough For Critics

Northeastern University and the Environmental Working Group have also created a map of contaminated sites and communities where PFAS has been detected in drinking water. Reprinted by 42 NPR affiliates.

Bloomberg News: To the EPA, ‘Forever Chemicals’ Are a Big Problem Now

Around 110 million Americans have drinking water with traces of PFAS, according to the Environmental Working Group’s map data. And that’s just water -- indoor dust and food are also said to expose people. Reprinted by the Washington Post

Buzzfeed: EPA Delays Decision To Set Drinking Water Limits On Toxic “PFAS” Chemicals

“This so-called plan is actually a recipe for more PFAS contamination, not less,” Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement.

Detroit News: EPA plans to create new standards for toxic chemicals in water

Researchers at the Environmental Working Group said the plan would only make the nationwide crisis of pervasive pollution from fluorinated compounds worse and fail to curtail the "introduction of new PFAS chemicals, end the use of PFAS chemicals in everyday products, alert Americans to the risk of PFAS pollution or clean up contaminated drinking water supplies."

The Guardian: Trump administration condemned over delaying action on toxic drinking water

The Environmental Working Group accused the EPA of “foot-dragging” and said the plan “would not stop the introduction of new PFAS chemicals, end the use of PFAS chemicals in everyday products, alert Americans to the risk of PFAS pollution or clean up contaminated drinking water supplies for an estimated 110 million Americans.”

The Hill: EPA to announce PFAS chemical regulation plans by end of year

Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, said Thursday's announcement would allow for more contamination.

USA Today: EPA plans to regulate cancer-causing chemicals found in America's drinking water

“This so-called plan is actually a recipe for more PFAS contamination, not less,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group. “It’s shameful that the EPA has taken two decades to produce a plan that allows increased exposure to compounds whose makers have used the American people as guinea pigs and, with the EPA’s complicity, covered it up.”

Bloomberg BNA: EPA's Big New Chemicals Plan, Explained (subscription)

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group has a drinking water and waste site map.

MLive: New federal PFAS plan raises questions and concerns

Meanwhile, the EPA’s outline drew criticism from David Andrews, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group. “The EPA is not treating PFAS pollution like the crisis it is,” he said. “Today’s announcement is nothing but an effort to delay any meaningful action to protect the public and the only cheers heard are those coming from the chemical industry.”

Minnesota Public Radio: 'Forever' chemicals leave costly water problem in Bemidji, cities across the country

"It's really an incredibly large family of chemicals," said David Andrews, senior scientist with the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. “And the underlying concern here is that all of them may have the potential to impact health in a negative way.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune: EPA rolls out plan to deal with toxic chemicals in water

“The lack of a federal standard is not an indication of safety,” David Andrews, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, told the Star Tribune. “The lack of a federal standard is a failing in the process to incorporate modern science.”

NJ Spotlight: NJ Slams EPA’s ‘Disappointing’ Plan to Curb Toxic PFAS Chemicals

Environmental Working Group, a national advocate for tighter PFAS limits, said the plan would not stop the introduction of new PFAS chemicals, clean up drinking water supplies, or alert the public to PFAS pollution. “It’s shameful that the EPA has taken two decades to produce a plan that allows increased exposure to compounds whose makers have used the American people as guinea pigs and, with the EPA’s complicity, covered it up,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs.

The Parkersburg News & Sentinel: EPA announces chemical compounds action plan

The Environmental Working Group, which has studied PFAS for more than 20 years, said the agency’s “so-called PFAS management plan” will cause more pollution from fluorinated compounds.

StateImpact Pennsylvania: EPA to unveil long-awaited ‘Action Plan’ on curbing toxic PFAS chemicals

David Andrews, senior scientist at Environmental Working Group, a national advocate for PFAS curbs, said he expects EPA to nudge the regulatory process forward but not to propose specific MCLs. “The next step would be a regulatory determination that they would pursue MCLs so if they follow that process it would be an incremental step,” Andrews said. Reprinted by NJ Spotlight.

StateImpact Pennsylvania: EPA says it will start process to regulate PFOA and PFOS this year

Environmental Working Group, a national advocate for curbing PFAS, called the EPA’s plan “a recipe for more contamination.” EWG said the plan would not stop the introduction of new PFAS chemicals, clean up drinking water supplies, or alert the public to PFAS pollution.

ThinkProgress: EPA’s plan to address deadly manufacturing chemicals panned as an ‘empty gesture’

“This so-called plan is actually a recipe for more PFAS contamination, not less,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, in a statement.

West Virginia Public Radio: EPA To Limit PFAS Chemical Contaminants Found In Some Ohio Valley Water Systems 

David Andrews, senior scientist with Environmental Working Group, said there is already an overwhelming body of scientific evidence about the health impacts of PFOA and PFOS, informed largely by a study conducted in the Ohio Valley following a settlement agreement with DuPont.

Colorado Springs Gazette: EPA under fire for plan to deal with toxic chemicals in southern El Paso County's drinking water

Still, the agency's plan “really just kicks the can down the road a little bit further,” said David Andrews, a senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group.

Colorado Springs Independent: EPA will look at regulating PFAS chemicals

If all of this strikes you as less than a firm plan, you're not alone. The Environmental Working Group released a statement that read in part: The Environmental Protection Agency’s so-called PFAS management plan would only make the nationwide crisis of pervasive pollution from fluorinated compounds worse, EWG said.

Coeur d’Alene Post Falls (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho): EPA unveils plan for chemicals found in West Plains drinking water; critics say it’s not enough

Tens of millions of people in the United States rely on tap water containing unsafe levels of the compounds, according to the Environmental Working Group. In their Feb. 1 letter to Wheeler, the Democratic senators wrote that a lack of clear guidance from the EPA “has led to a patchwork of conflicting drinking water standards and guidelines in nine states with widely varying maximum contaminant levels.”

The Decatur Daily (Decatur, Ala.): EPA announces plan for toxic chemicals found in Decatur area (subscription)

David Andrews, a senior scientist with the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, said the EPA's “action plan” was actually a step backward.

The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.): EPA unveils plan for chemicals found in West Plains drinking water; critics say it’s not enough

Tens of millions of people in the United States rely on tap water containing unsafe levels of the compounds, according to the Environmental Working Group. In their Feb. 1 letter to Wheeler, the Democratic senators wrote that a lack of clear guidance from the EPA “has led to a patchwork of conflicting drinking water standards and guidelines in nine states with widely varying maximum contaminant levels.”

Washington Examiner: EPA to regulate chemicals in drinking water after pressure from Republicans

An analysis published last year by the Environmental Working Group found that up to 110 million U.S. residents may be exposed to drinking water contaminated with PFAS, which has been linked with thyroid defects, problems in pregnancy, and certain cancers. 

Radio

WAMC (Albany, N.Y.): EPA Rolls Out PFAS Action Plan

Environmental groups are critical of EPA’s announcement. The Environmental Working Group, which has studied PFAS chemicals for nearly 20 years, says the EPA continues to drag its feet in regulating this class of chemicals, and calls EPA’s plan a recipe for more PFAS contamination, not less.

WEKU (Richmond, Ken.): EPA to Limit PFAS Chemical Contaminants Found in Some Ohio Valley Water Systems

The Environmental Working Group estimates 110 million Americans drink water with dangerous PFAS levels. EPA estimates PFAS have been found in the blood of 98 percent of Americans.

WHYY (Philadelphia, Penn.): EPA to propose limits for PFOA and PFOS, chemicals contaminating soil and water

Environmental Working Group, a national advocate for curbing PFAS, called the EPA’s plan “a recipe for more contamination.” EWG said the plan would not stop the introduction of new PFAS chemicals, clean up drinking water supplies, or alert the public to PFAS pollution.

WRAL (Raleigh, N.C.): Environmentalists, Cooper pan new EPA plan on GenX-style chemicals

The Environmental Working Group said the plan would allow more pollution, not less, and called President Donald Trump “the nation's first pro-cancer president.” 

Atrazine

Chemical News: Recent analysis finds that atrazine is contaminating the drinking water in corn-growing areas of the Midwest and beyond

A senior science advisor for children’s environmental health for the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Dr. Olga Naidenko, said their investigation revealed that tens of millions of Americans currently have tap water that contains atrazine, but many will never know because of outdated federal policies that let the utilities get away with testing outside of peak contamination times.

Cosmetics

Allure: Woman Goes Viral After Huda Beauty Powder Turns Her Face Purple Under Laser Tag Black Lights

Easy Bake Loose Powder contains synthetic fluorphlogopite, which is often used as an alternative to mica in cosmetics. Studies have found it's perfectly safe — even the Environmental Working Group isn't worried about it — but because it contains fluorine, it may very well have fluorescent properties that become apparent under black light.

Greatist: A Guide to Balancing "Clean Beauty" With Science

One of the first places you can turn for information is the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Skin Deep database, which rates almost 70,000 products based on their ingredients. Enter the name of a lotion you're about to buy, and the search will tell you whether any of its ingredients are known to cause problems, or if they're still in question. (Although we recommend Googling the name of the product and "EWG"—the internal search is not amazing.) 

Real Simple: Three Common Ingredients in Cosmetics Have Been Linked to Lung Problems in Children

The average adult uses nine personal care products each and every day. Those nine products, the Environmental Working Group reported, come with 126 unique chemical ingredients. Though the vast majority of those chemicals are safe, there may be a few lurking inside your favorite products that could be harmful to both your health and your children’s.

Cosmetics and Kourtney Kardashian

People: Kourtney Kardashian Steps Out in Form-Fitting Catsuit Covered in the Mona Lisa at Fashion Week

“It’s toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, it’s products that everybody basically uses,” the star, who addressed Congress with the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for more regulation in April. “Deodorant and makeup, even kids’ products. So when I first started using lotions and picking out what I thought was the best products for my son, come to find out they had so many harmful chemicals that are known to cause cancer.” Reprinted byYahoo! News

US Magazine: Kourtney Kardashian Bans Plastic Water Bottles in Her House: ‘No More’

In April 2018, Kardashian even testified at a briefing for Senate staffers with the Environmental Working Group, which is backing a piece of legislation sponsored by Dianne Feinstein of California. The goal was to give the Food and Drug Administration more power to regulate ingredients used in cosmetics and personal products.

Life&Style Magazine: Going Green! Kourtney Kardashian Bans Plastic Bottles in Her Home

A few months ago, Kourtney met with members of the Environmental Working Group in Washington, D.C. to push for stricter cosmetic regulations. Since giving birth to Mason, 9, Penelope, 6, and Reign Disick, 4, the reality star has become more aware of what she puts into and onto her body and has educated herself to raise them to lead a healthy life. 

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

MindBodyGreen: Want A Healthier Complexion? Here Are 5 Skin Health Rules To Live By

Just read the ingredients and do some research (the Environmental Working Group is a great resource for this).

Treehugger: I finally found a perfect shampoo alternative

I was surprised to not only see every product ingredient listed on the company's website, but accompanied by explanations of their purpose as well as their Environmental Working Group (EWG) rating. EWG is one of the toughest rankings out there, so to be voluntarily flaunting these scores says a lot.

Her World: Makeup with 99 percent skincare and other exciting underrated K-beauty brands

Their popular Moisture Cream has just 14 ingredients that you can read and understand, all with a low-risk Environmental Working Group (EWG) rating. The brand carries a small but substantial line with just the necessities – cleanser, toner, and moisturiser.

Oye! Times: The REAL Truth About Toxins
The Environmental Working Group has a highly addictive site where you can search a database of over 74,000 beauty and personal care products to find out where your faves rank in terms of toxicity. Schuette says to aim for a rating of zero to two for any products you use on a daily basis. 

Fragrance

Organic Authority: 7 Natural Perfumes to Help You Break Your Fragrance Addiction

Did you know that our skin can absorb over 60% of what it comes into contact with? The Good Trade noted that “According to the Environmental Working Group, most scents in perfumes are synthesized from the fragrance industry's 3,100 stock chemical ingredients or are derived from petroleum,” and these chemicals can be harmful to our health.

Fire Retardants

Curbed: 6 important things to consider when buying furniture

Here’s a roundup from the Environmental Working Group of five couches without fire retardants that can be bought from large retailers, including Ikea, Room & Board, and Crate and Barrel.

GMO Labeling

AgWeb: Biotech Labeling Rules Finalized

In general, farm groups are pleased with the new rules, while groups skeptical of agricultural biotechnology, such as the Environmental Working Group and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy are not, claiming it offers too much opportunity for companies to confuse or hide information from consumers.

Monsanto’s Glyphosate

The Martha’s Vineyard Times (Mass.): Protect Island’s water with your vote

The cost to farmers and the perils of monoculture have been well-documented. There are deeper costs. Last Fall EWG (the Environmental Working Group) published results of testing breakfast cereals and other foods marketed to children. They found glyphosate in every sample. 

Top Class Actions: Wife Files Roundup Cancer Lawsuit on Behalf of Husband and His Estate 

A 2019 press statement from the Environmental Working Group alleges that the EPA and the United States ignored numerous peer reviewed independent studies that had drawn a connection between cancer and humans and exposure to glyphosate. 

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Green Matters: Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 for Beginners

The Dirty Dozen refers to twelve crops that feature the highest amounts of pesticide residue. Because these crops have the highest levels of contamination, the Environmental Working Group suggests shoppers buy these 12 crops organic when possible.

Mercola: Wonderful Egg, Bacon and Nori Roll Ups With Avocado and Lettuce Recipe

To begin with, avocados contain almost no fructose, and are abundant in healthy monounsaturated fats. They also are at the top of the Environmental Working Group’s 2019 “Clean Fifteen” list of fruits and vegetables known to carry very little pesticide residue,19 making these fruits a commodity you can buy straight from the supermarket.

MindBodyGreen: Just One Week Of Eating Organic Lowers Toxin Levels, Study Finds

If you're keen on easing into the organic life, you can start with the Environmental Working Group's list of the dirty dozen and clean 15 to guide your shopping. And if modifying your food isn't enough for you, you can even go organic when it comes to your skin care or natural beauty.

The Georgetown Dish: Why Natural Wine Is The Only Wine You Should Be Drinking

The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit group that supports organic farming practice and safe food, places grapes on their Dirty Dozen List. That means grapes are some of the dirtiest produce grown on the planet. More pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers and chemicals are used on grapes than most other produce.

EWG's Guide to Sunscreens

Yahoo! Lifestyle: The best sunscreens for toddlers: 'It's the only thing I trust on my son with eczema'

This mineral sunscreen by Kiss My Face is one of the select few that’s earned a No. 1 rating by the Environmental Working Group for safe sunscreens for kids.

Care2: Key West to Ban Sunscreen With Coral-Harming Chemicals

The consumer health and environment watchdog Environmental Working Group (EWG) also has a great guide for healthy sunscreens here. 

Haloacetic Acid in Drinking Water

North Jersey: Contaminants in Newark-supplied water found in Nutley, Belleville, Bloomfield

 “It suggests something is going on in the source water,” said Olga Naidenko, a scientist who advises the Environmental Working Group in Washington, D.C. The problem can be compounded when aging treatment facilities, common in the Northeast, have trouble filtering out built-up organic matter, which can include algae bloom or human waste, she said. 

PFAS in Drinking Water

KQED: EPA, California Consider Regulation of Chemicals Found in Ski Gloves and Frying Pans Showing Up in US Waterways

At Alameda Naval Base, the Environmental Working Group reports PFAS chemicals present in water at 336,000 parts per trillion. That's over 30,000 times greater than the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's safety threshold for PFAS.

North Carolina Health News: Environmentalists bemoan regulators’ lack of transparency on imported shipments of GenX wastewater

David Andrews, senior scientist for the national advocacy organization, the Environmental Working Group in Washington, D.C, called the lack of transparency “ridiculous.” “Ultimately, it seems to be ridiculous and a clear and egregious oversight on what is going on with these chemicals,” Andrews said. “At this point, I think there needs to be clear and public accounting of anything that happens with these chemicals.”

Science: Worrisome nonstick chemicals are common in U.S. drinking water, federal study suggests

The study does not indicate how many people might be drinking the tested water, because the sampling locations are confidential. But using 2016 data collected by federal scientists, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., estimates that up to 110 million people are served by water supplies with PFAS.

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