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EWG News Roundup (12/13): Key PFAS Provisions Left Out of Defense Spending Bill, EWG Map Shows 305 Military Sites Tainted With PFAS and More

In the News
Friday, December 13, 2019

This week, the defense funding bill finalized by Congress left out key provisions that would reduce ongoing releases of the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS, remove PFAS from tap water and clean up legacy PFAS contamination.

“When your water is polluted with toxic PFAS, it’s not much comfort to know who is polluting it,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs. “Although it’s good news that the Defense Department will finally phase out PFAS in firefighting foam and food packaging, communities desperately need Congress to tackle industrial PFAS releases into the air and water, and to require DOD to cleanup legacy PFAS pollution.”

In other PFAS news, EWG released a map that showcases the 305 military sites across the nation that used PFAS-based firefighting foam during trainings.

DuPont, the main manufacturer of PFAS chemicals, announced on Wednesday that it will purchase a company that specializes in reverse osmosis water filtration technology – the exact type of filtration that removes toxic PFAS chemicals from water.

“After making billions contaminating the nation’s drinking water with PFAS chemicals, now DuPont will profit off the backs of local governments and taxpayers trying to clean up the mess,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “This outrageously cynical move is right on brand for DuPont, which knew decades ago that PFAS chemicals were hazardous to human health but covered it up for the sake of profit."

Nancy Beck, a former chemical industry executive and the Environmental Protection Agency appointee who has led the rollbacks of important chemical safety regulations, is being considered by President Trump to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission. When she was nominated to her post at EPA, EWG dubbed Beck "the scariest Trump appointee you've never heard of."

The Trump administration has recently finalized a rule that will kick 700,000 Americans off of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, more commonly known as food stamps. This is the same administration that has handed out $18.6 billion in farmer bailout dollars – some of it to large, wealthy agribusinesses – due to its ongoing trade war with China.

Finally, EWG assessed the cancer risks of deodorants, as well as of hair dyes and chemical hair straighteners.

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

PFAS Contamination of Military installations

Military Times: Here are more than 300 bases with possible toxic ‘forever chemical’ contamination

Hundreds of military installations have either known or likely water contamination caused by runoff from firefighting foam used in response to vehicle and aircraft accidents, according to the Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by Army TimesAir Force TimesMarine Times

Military.com: Chemicals Contaminate Whidbey Island Storm-Water Runoff from Naval Air Station

But other provisions to vest the EPA with more regulatory power over the chemicals appear to have been dropped from consideration, according to Scott Faber, with the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

Water Online: New EWG Map: 305 Military Sites That Used PFAS-based Firefighting Foam

Environmental Working Group today published a map of 305 military installations that used the firefighting foams made with the toxic fluorinated chemicals called PFAS, which have likely contaminated drinking water or ground water on or around the bases.

The Seattle Times: New trouble on Whidbey Island as chemicals from Naval Air Station contaminate a creek

But the draft permit, when released this fall by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), made no mention of storm-water tainted by the chemicals. Reprinted by Herald Net (Everett, Wash.)Stars and StripesThe Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.)

MLive (Michigan): Military must ‘stop dragging its feet’ and work with states on PFAS cleanup in 2020

Environmental Working Group released a map this morning that shows 305 military installations across the country used the toxins.

PFAS Contamination Legislation 

Detroit Free Press: Trump administration, GOP strip out PFAS standard, cleanup requirements from defense bill

Scott Faber, an official with the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington, said the defense authorization didn't go far enough, given that it still doesn't set a standard for reacting to the PFAS contamination or require the Pentagon to pay for cleanup. Reprinted by The Sault News (Marie, Mich.)

Star Tribune (Minneapolis): Advocacy group says stronger PFAS restrictions taken out of military spending bill

While details of the conference committee’s negotiations work have not been made public, Scott Faber, vice president of the Environmental Working Group, said the lawmakers chose not to include a hazardous designation for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the law.

From NexStar: Binghampton Homepage (N.Y.): Defense bill moves forward despite PFAS concerns

Melanie Benesh with the Environmental Working Group says lawmakers can’t afford to wait on the EPA. Reprinted by News Channel 11 (Johnson City, Tenn.)KRON 4 (San Francisco)ABC 8 (Richmond, Va.)WNCT 9 (Greenville, N.C.)KOIN 6 (Portland, Ore.); 20+ other media outlets

Dover Post (Del.): Carper rebukes Congress over PFAS provisions in National Defense Authorization Act

According to the Environmental Working Group, PFAS has been detected in the drinking water of 19 million Americans across 49 states. Reprinted by Smyrna-Clayton Sun-Times (Del.)Community News (Hockessin, Del.)Middletown Transcript (Del.)The Beacon (Milford, Del.)Sussex Countian (Georgetown, Del.)

Lansing State Journal (Mich.): Federal lawmakers move to ban use of PFAS foam at military bases

The Environmental Working Group and Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University has found 305 military installations with PFAS contamination nationally.

Michigan Advance: Michigan lawmakers reeling after PFAS provisions struck from must-pass defense bill

High concentrations have been found in 178 drinking water systems in the state, eight military sites and 16 other sites, according to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group.

WAMC (Albany, N.Y.): Environmental Group Laments PFAS Provisions Missing From Federal Bill

While not final, it appears that the NDAA leaves out some PFAS-related bills that the Environmental Working Group’s Scott Faber says would signify substantial progress in regulating the class of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

PFAS and Dark Waters

Democratic Underground: DARK WATERS Film: Advocates, Journalists Who Aided the Story, Ken Ward, More

The film stars Mark Ruffalo as attorney Rob Bilott, who worked doggedly to expose the scandal. The Environmental Working Group was the first advocacy organization to bring national attention to PFOA and the larger class of fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS, which have contaminated water and human blood around the world.

Free Press: Dark Waters Tells Half the Story of PFAS Contamination

The truth is that our drinking water is loaded with carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals while the legal limits for contaminants in tap water have not been updated in almost 20 years. What’s in your water?  See the Environmental Working Group’s Tap Water Database to find out.

WebMD: An Expert Explains Why ‘Dark Waters’ Is a Warning for Us All

WebMD spoke with Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., a toxicologist with the Environmental Working Group, about the dangers posed by PFAS. Our interview has been edited for length and clarity.

PFAS in Tap Water

The Food & Environment Reporting Network in collaboration with Huffington Post: Are ‘forever chemicals’ in our milk? Nobody really knows.

PFAS contamination is a critical concern across the U.S., as the nonprofit Environmental Working Group estimates it has affected over 1,300 locations in 49 states, based on an analysis of state and federal recordsHuffington Post Print

State Impact Pennsylvania: A third of Pa. drinking water samples contained toxic chemicals. The state says there’s ‘no widespread contamination’

Those amounts all are acceptable under the federal advisory level, but would be unacceptable in several other states right now, noted David Andrews, a scientist at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group in Washington, D.C. Reprinted by WITF (Harrisburg, Pa.)WHYY PBSWSKG (Vestal, N.Y.)

Capital & Main: Topic of Cancer: How PFAS Threaten Out Water

However, the Environmental Working Group (EWG)—a national nonprofit watchdog that has created an interactive national PFAS contamination maphas proposed a health-based standard for combined PFAS contamination in drinking water of 1 ppt. 

Voice America: PFAS in Drinking Water: What Every American Should Know

(Interview with Sydney Evans)

Trump Administration Farm Bailouts

The New York Times: Trump Wants to Take From the Poor and Give to the Wealthy

The Environmental Working Group found that most bailout money has gone to the nation’s biggest farms. Reprinted by The Salt Lake Tribune (Utah)

MarketPlace: These are the states benefiting the most from the $28-billion farm bailout

Anne Schechinger, a senior economic analyst with the Environmental Working Group, said payments under the MFP in 2018 were based on what crop a farmer grew, but in 2019, they have been based on the number of acres of different crops grown in each county. 

Bloomberg Opinion: How Soybeans Became Ubiquitous

As recompense, the Trump administration has handed over $8.6 billion (and counting) in subsidies to soybean farmers, according to an Environmental Working Group analysis of USDA data, with soybean payments now accounting for about one-third of all farm subsidies, up from 11.6% over the past quarter century. Reprinted by Yahoo!Hellenic Shipping News

MarketWatch: Weekend reads: A warm retirement on modest income

Small farmers in the U.S. are being hurt by President Trump’s trade war with China. But most federal aid to the agriculture industry is being misdirected, according to Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by MorningStarInvestorPoint

Native Sun News Today: Farmers on welfare?

As Middle Border Sun reports, the Environmental Working Group database shows that Noem’s Racota Valley Ranch received $2,765,175 in government handouts, most of that for corn, soybean, and wheat production.

Montana Public Radio: Ag Income Is Rising But Some Montana Farmers Feel Left Behind

According to the Washington D.C. based nonprofit Environmental Working Group, Montana farmers have received $115 million worth of federal bailout payments since 2018

Algae Blooms

Niagara At Large: U.S. Congress Approves Bill for Protecting Great Lakes Communities from Impacts of Climate Change

The non-profit, non-partisan Environmental Working Group found that toxic algal blooms have been on the rise in recent years with a record number of blooms reported in 2019.  

California Public Health Goals for TTHMs

Inside EPA: Water Agencies, Industry Oppose California PHGs For Disinfectant Chemicals

Meanwhile, the Environmental Working Group is supporting OEHHA’s proposal as being based on sound science and consistent with relevant cancer risk estimates by regulatory agencies such as EPA, according to the group’s 2018 comments. 

Chlorpyrifos

Before It’s News: EU votes against renewing chlorpyrifos approval

“American children and farmworkers would not be exposed to this dangerous pesticide today if the Trump EPA had not ignored the advice of its scientists and kowtowed to the chemical agricultural industry,” said Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook. Reprinted by LexBlogFood Safety News

Cleaning Products

Business Insider: Blueland is a new household cleaning startup that helps you reduce single-use plastic consumption — here’s how the products perform

The key highlights are that all the products are free from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), known particularly to harm pregnant or nursing women and children, and anything on the Environmental Working Group's restricted list. Reprinted by Latest Nigerian News

Family Handyman: 15 Green Cleaning Products for Smart Homeowners

Bon Ami is inexpensive, too, and made from all-natural ingredients that you can easily pronounce, earning an A-rating from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit that educates consumers about the safety of product formulations (among other research and advocacy efforts). Reprinted by MSN

Climate Change

Mind Body Green: Eco-Anxiety Is On The Rise – But That’s Not Necessarily A Bad Thing

"I think that climate is [to Gen Z] what the Cold War was to Generation X—and probably more," Heather White, a conservation policy expert and former head of the EWG and Yellowstone Forever, tells mbg.

EWG VERIFIED™

The Thirty: I Made the Switch to Natural Shampoo – Here’s What Happened

When choosing my products, I personally look for things like the EWG-verified seal, which is a great indicator that you have a solid clean product in your hands. Reprinted byYahoo!

Michelle Pfeiffer’s Henry Rose 

Paper Blog: Friday’s Fab Find: Henry Rose Perfume

The ingredients in Henry Rose Perfume are verified by the Environmental Working Group and produced by l IFF, a luxury fragrance house, and made from a list of high-quality ingredients. 

Cosmetics Regulation

JDSUPRA: Alston & Bird Healthcare Week in Review

Witnesses present included: Susan Mayne, Ph.D., Director, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA; M. Isabelle Chaudry, J.D., Senior Policy Manager, National Women’s Health Network; Scott Farber, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Environmental Working Group…

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Buzzfeed: 26 Splurge-Worthy Skincare Products You Can Get On Amazon

I found this gem on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website. Do you know how hard it is to find a skin product that is safe from dangerous chemicals, gentle on sensitive skin, and that despite all this-still works effectively?

Beauty Independent: What Retail Apocalypse? Indie Beauty Shops Spread Across The Country

I started reading the labels on all my personal care products and realized I could do better. I set out looking for a brand that only uses Environmental Working Group safest-rated ingredients, and found that brand didn’t exist.

Dr. Axe: Does Hair Dye Cause Cancer? New Study Raises Concerns

Environmental Working Group provides the following health risks of common hair dye ingredients…

Hello Giggles: The fool-proof way to figure out if a beauty product is clean

The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database is an excellent resource.

Real Simple: How to Choose the Skincare Products Best Suited for Your Skin, According to Dermatologists

The EWG Skin Deep database is just one sector of their online services. The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit organization geared toward research and education surrounding environmental and human health issues.

Tree Hugger: Use of chemical hair products increases breast cancer risk

In 2016 the Environmental Working Group published an analysis of beauty products marketed toward black women that revealed some disturbing facts…

Cover Crops

Stock Daily Dish: How To Make Farmers Love Cover Crops? Pay Them

The Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy organization, studied satellite images of the Midwest and that farmers in Iowa and Illinois had planted cover crops on less than three percent of their corn and soybean fields. 

Glyphosate in Cereal 

The Shelby Report: White Leaf Provisions Offers Baby Food Free Of Glyphosate Residue

A very well-publicized testing report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found glyphosate in a number of popular breakfast foods and cereals marketed to children.

Thrive Global: Compassion For Self – Part 7

In 2018, the Environmental Working Group tested glyphosate levels in 45 samples from more than a dozen popular oat cereals, oatmeal and granola snack bars.

Ken Cook

The Hill: The Hill’s Top Lobbyists 2019

Ken Cook, Environmental Working Group

Lead in California Schools

The Fairfield Sun Times (Mont.): California schools must eliminate lead in water, but what about nearby homes?

Nearly 20% of California schools had at least one water fixture that dispensed water containing more lead than is allowed, according to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.

Nitrate in Drinking Water

Wisconsin State Journal: Targeting nitrate: DNR policy board to consider manure regulations aimed at protecting drinking water

Clean Wisconsin, using a peer-reviewed model developed by the Environmental Working Group, estimates nitrate contamination lead to dozens of cases of premature birth and low birth weight each year as well as hundreds of cases of cancer. Reprinted by WiscNewsLa Crosse Tribune (Wis.)Chippewa Herald (Chippewa Falls, Wis.)Kenosha News (Wis.)WESA (Pittsburgh)

EWG's Guide to Seafood

MSN: What Is the ‘Blue Zone’ Diet? A Nutritionist Explains the Eating Plan That May Help You Live Longer and Healthier

Takeaway tip: If you eat seafood, take advantage of a resource like the Environmental Working Group’s seafood guide. Reprinted by From PressHealth

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Farms.com: What do labels really mean? Organic, Natural, Cage-Free…

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization that provides and annual list called the “dirty dozen”. 

The Healthy: 25 Easy Ways to Be Healthier Than Ever in the New Year

Abide by the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) “Dirty Dozen” list to discover which fruits and vegetables are highest in pesticides, then buy those organic.

Mercola: Best Ways to Wash Veggies and Fruit

One of the best is the "Clean 15" list,4 annually submitted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to inform consumers which plant-based foods to go for. Reprinted by The Breaking NewsDigital Industry Wire

Tap Water Database 

Cape Cod Today: Letter – Climate Change, Water Reuse and Toxic Chemicals

Both sites have Superfund sites (Bayou Bonfouca and Joint Base Cape Cod) and toxic chemical contamination of their public drinking water (7 chemicals above Environmental Working Group health guidelines in Slidell compared to 10 in Falmouth).

The Skinny Confidential: How to Detox Your Kitchen

Check the EWG’s tap water database to see the bad guys in your local water. 

Trump Administration

Nation of Change: Trump administration finalizes plan to change employment standards required by SNAP; may leave hundreds of thousands without nutrition assistance

The rule change will tighten work requirements and “restrict states’ ability to exempt people without dependents from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s (SNAP) work requirements,” according to the Environmental Working Group. 

Umbilical Cord Blood Study

Greenwich Sentinel (Conn.): Column: Your Health: Activated Charcoal Benefits

In 2005, a study spearheaded in part by the Environmental Working Group found “an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood from 10 babies born in August and September of 2004 in U.S. hospitals.

 

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