Hexavalent chromium win
EWG’s December 19, 2010, report “Cancer-causing Chromium-6 Pollution in U.S. Tapwater” uncovered significant levels of hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium-6, in the drinking water of 31 of 35 cities tested and set off a media firestorm. Two days after EWG's report was released, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson was called to a meeting with 11 U.S. senators to discuss EWG’s findings. In January 2011, EPA issued guidance to water utilities on how to test and treat chromium-6. The next month, Jackson and EWG president Ken Cook testified at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing that focused on EWG’s study. Chairman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said, “Keep on doing what you’re doing.”
Phasing out Deca
Under pressure from EWG and other advocates, EPA and three chemical companies agreed to end production, importation and use of decabromodiphenyl ether (Deca), a neurotoxic and possibly carcinogen chemical, by the end of 2013. Deca, commonly added to consumer electronics, furniture, textiles and plastic shipping pallets, is biopersistent and presents particular dangers to children. EWG supports a federal ban and rules to assure safe substitutes.
Fighting for safer tap water
For the first time, EWG partnered with the New York Times to assemble and analyze water-testing data for 48,000 U.S. communities for a Times series called Toxic Waters. EWG compiled 20 million tap water quality tests performed by water utilities between 2004 and 2009. The EWG report, which generated dozens of media reports and hundreds of blogs, found that some drinking water supplies, while legal under federal safety standards, contained unsafe contaminants. Meanwhile, in August 2009, the California government proposed a strict safety goal for hexavalent chromium, a water pollutant known as the "Erin Brockovich chemical."
Obama administration promises toxic chemical reform
The Obama administration made a major public commitment to reform of the nation's outdated toxics chemicals law. At a historic conference to explore fundamental changes to U.S. chemical policy, hosted by EWG, Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, pledged to work for "comprehensive reform" with "special consideration for exposures and effects on groups with higher vulnerabilities - particularly children." Jackson and EWG leaders met to discuss the administration's strategy on Feb. 23, 2010. EWG president Ken Cook asked a House panel with jurisdiction over toxics policy to give top priority to so-called persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals and other dangerous contaminants detected in infants' cord blood. Cook and other EWG experts testified in support of single chemical bans and broader chemical policy reform legislation in nine states -- California, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon and Pennsylvania -- plus the District of Columbia.
Shedding light on secret chemicals
EWG's ground-breaking report, Off the Books, documented that a loophole in the toxics control law has permitted industry to keep secret more than 17,000 chemicals. The report prompted a front-page story in the Washington Post and spurred the Environmental Protection Agency to begin denying some confidentiality claims. Regulators in 13 states asked Congress to crack down on excessive secrecy. EWG senior scientist David Andrews briefed Congressional and EPA officials.
Protecting ground water from gas-drilling chemicals
EWG's report, Drilling Around the Law, by energy analyst Horwitt, disclosed that companies drilling for natural gas and oil with high-volumne hydraulic fracturing were injecting toxic petroleum distillates into thousands of wells, skirting federal law and threatening drinking water supplies from New York to Wyoming. The report sparked Congressional investigations.