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EWG News Roundup (12/16): Michelle Pfeiffer Joins Board and EWG Sues FDA

Friday, December 16, 2016

Some of the biggest news to come out of EWG since its inception more than 22 years ago happened this week, and it wasn’t a consumer guide or big policy win. Golden Globe winner, three-time Academy Award nominee and longtime EWG supporter Michelle Pfeiffer joined our board of directors.

Oh, and EWG, along with our colleagues at Women’s Voices for the Earth, filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration for failing to restrict the use of a known human carcinogen in popular hair products.

There were other EWG projects that received attention in the media, too.

Here is some news you can use as we head into the weekend.

Michelle Pfeiffer joins our board:

The Huffington Post: Michelle Pfeiffer Joins Board of Top Environmental Group

Michelle Pfeiffer has joined the board of directors at Environmental Working Group, adding celebrity firepower to one of the country’s most powerful consumer research and advocacy groups.

The Washington Post: Michelle Pfeiffer joins board of Washington-based enviro group

Board meetings for the Environmental Working Group just a got a little more glam: Actress Michelle Pfeiffer has joined the group's board of directors.

E&E News-Greenwire: EWG taps Michelle Pfeiffer for board of directors

Actress and environmentalist Michelle Pfeiffer has joined the board of directors at the Environmental Working Group. “Today, EWG's product ratings, like the pioneering EWG Verified program, are shifting entire consumer markets toward safer choices,” Pfeiffer said in a statement. “And now more than ever, we need EWG to lead the fight for a clean environment in Washington. I am very proud to serve on the board and help advance the mission of one of the country's most influential environmental organizations.”

EWG Sues FDA Over Formaldehyde in Hair Care Products:

CNN: Group sues FDA over formaldehyde in hair-straightening products

Your straight hair may be harming both you and your stylist, yet the Food and Drug Administration has turned a blind eye, says the Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by FOX and 16 other outlets.

Yahoo! Beauty: Lawsuit Urges FDA to Take Action Against Hair Straighteners With Formaldehyde

So, it seems, is the Food and Drug Administration — which today was slapped with a lawsuit from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Women’s Voices for the Earth for its failure to protect the public from the dangers associated with popular hair-straightening treatments.

The Hill: Groups sue FDA over petition to regulate hair straightening

In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia this week, the Environmental Working Group and Women’s Voices for the Earth claimed the FDA failed to act on a citizen petition filed more than five years ago asking the agency to investigate and regulate keratin hair straighteners.

New Beauty: FDA Faces Lawsuit Over Popular Keratin Hair Treatments

EWG, as well as Women's Voices for the Earth, has filed a lawsuit against the FDA alleging that the FDA hasn’t responded responsibly or adequately to health concerns concerning keratin hair treatments (these services are meant to semi-permanently straighten hair by applying a variety of liquids to “relax” the hair before heating them with straightening tools) with products that contain formaldehyde. Reprinted by Yahoo! Beauty.

New York Magazine: Why Two Groups Are Suing the FDA Over Hair-Straightening Treatments

The Environmental Working Group and Women’s Voices for the Earth allege that the FDA has failed to protect salon workers and their clients from exposure to formaldehyde fumes by not responding to a formal request the EWG filed more than five years ago.

PopSugar: The Disturbing Reason the FDA Is Being Sued Over Keratin Hair Treatments

However, the Environmental Working Group has been asking the Food and Drug Administration to address the risk of keratin treatments via a petition filed in 2011. According to the EWG, the FDA has not issued a final response or taken action in all this time. That's why it has teamed up with Women's Voices For the Earth to sue the FDA for failing to protect the public from the dangers of Brazilian Blowouts.

The Rose Sheet: EWG Lawsuit Slams FDA’s Failure to Act On ‘Formaldehyde-Laced’ Hair Smoothers

The Environmental Working Group seeks decisive FDA action on formaldehyde in heated hair-smoothing products, as requested in its 2011 citizen petition, with a complaint filed in District of Columbia District Court. The suit doubles as a reminder to Congress and consumers that cosmetics regulations are overdue for an update, the NGO says.

Women’s Wear Daily: EWG Sues FDA Over Keratin Hair Treatments (subscription)

The organization is asking a court to direct the FDA to investigate keratin treatments on the basis that formaldehyde-related ingredients could harm salon workers. The Environmental Working Group has set its sights on its next target — keratin treatments.

Cosmetics Business: FDA sued over ‘failure’ to act on dangerous hair treatments

Environmental Working Group takes legal action against the FDA for allegedly not “adequately responding” to concerns over the health risks of formaldehyde in salon keratin products. EWG and Women’s Voices for the Earth have filed a lawsuit against the FDA, claiming that it has “failed its duty” by not responding to a petition calling for investigations into salon keratin treatments containing formaldehyde.

Cosmeticsdesign.com: EWG puts pressure on FDA with hair care lawsuit

This week the Environmental Working Group along with Women’s Voices for the Earth filed suit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia in an effort to motivate the FDA to take action regarding professional keratin hair products.

The Lund Report: Lawsuit Urges FDA to Protect Salon Workers, Consumers from Formaldehyde

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) sued the Food and Drug Administration for its failure to protect the public from dangers associated with popular hair straightening treatments. Reprint of news release.

ABC7: WZVN (Fort Myers, Fla.): Environmental groups sue FDA over hair straightening treatment

Consumer and environmental protection groups The Environmental Working Group and Women's Voices for the Earth filed a lawsuit on Wednesday, claiming the Food and Drug Administration has turned a blind eye to dangers of hair-smoothing treatments with formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

ABC10: KGTV (San Diego, Calif.): FDA sued over hair straightening treatments

The Food and Drug Administration is in hot water over an ingredient found in hair straightening products. On Wednesday, the Environmental Working Group and Women's Voices for the Earth sued FDA Administration for failing to protect the public from dangers associated with the toxic ingredient. Reprinted by NBC5: WPTV (West Palm Beach, Fla.) and FOX 29: WFLX (West Palm Beach, Fla.).

FOX2: KTVU (Oakland, Calif.): Lawsuit against FDA targets formaldehyde in hair care products

Women's Voices for the Earth and the Environmental Working Group have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, arguing that beauty salon workers have reported "burning eyes, breathing problems, headaches, dizziness and blurred vision" after applying hair straightening treatment.

The Trump Transition:

The Hill: Awaiting Trump, agencies brace for freeze on regulations

“We’ve not seen an administration so committed to devolution and deregulation since the Reagan administration,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group. “This is unprecedented.”

Bustle: 8 Issues You Should Be Paying Attention To During The Trump Administration

Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group, told The New York Times that Pruitt could be the “most hostile” EPA head toward clear air and safe drinking water.

Cleveland.com: Donald Trump said he'd change things, and is he ever

Still, Trump, Pruitt and Perry represent a big change. They can be expected “to take substantial steps to roll back policies that have had environmental benefits,” said Alex Formuzis, vice president for communications at the Environmental Working Group.

Straits Times: Environment concerns mount over Trump's pick of energy industry advocate as Interior Secretary

Mr. Pruitt has a record of litigation against the EPA itself, and is close to fossil fuel interests. Mr. Ken Cook, head of the Washington-based Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy organisation, told the New York Times: “It’s a safe assumption that Pruitt could be the most hostile EPA administrator toward clean air and safe drinking water in history.”

Water Online: What Does Trump's EPA Pick Mean For Water Regulations?

Environmental experts see Pruitt as a likely opponent of forceful water regulations. Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group, a Washington research and advocacy organization, put it like this, per The New York Times: “It’s a safe assumption that Pruitt could be the most hostile E.P.A. administrator toward clean air and safe drinking water in history.”

Venture Capital Post: Deregulation Moves Predicted On Donald Trump’s Administration

“During the campaign, Mr. Trump regularly threatened to dismantle the EPA and roll back many of the gains made to reduce Americans' exposures to industrial pollution, and with Pruitt, the president-elect would make good on those threats,” stated Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy organization.

EWG’s Black Women’s Cosmetics Report:

EcoSalon: Cosmetics for Black Women are Way More Toxic than the Rest

The Environmental Working Group, the nonprofit organization working to uncover toxins in cosmetics, recently added more than 1,000 products marketed to Black women to its Skin Deep database, an online resource that ranks products on a low to high hazard scale. The report included an analysis of ingredients in 1,177 personal care products and cosmetics for Black women, around one in twelve of which received a “highly hazardous” rank.

Black Health: Report: Beauty Products for Black Women Have More Health Hazards

Last week, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a Washington-based nonprofit and nonpartisan environmental organization specializing in research and advocacy, released the report “Big Market For Black Cosmetics, But Less-Hazardous Choices Limited.”


Shape: Is Kourtney Kardashian On to Something with Her Stainless Steel Obsession?

Luckily, organizations like the Environmental Working Group have lists of safe and not safe canned food brands that consumers can refer to. It's a little bit scary to think about how many food products are exposed to BPA just from their containers, but here's some good news: Anything packaged in glass is safe. So if you can't find any BPA-free canned food brands at your local grocery store, know that jarred foods are a better option.


Marin Community Newspapers: Ban on butchering may be lifted

“Wastewater from slaughterhouses is one of the largest contributors to toxic pollution in our national waterways,” Lux said. “They create nitrate pollution, a significant source of drinking water contamination in agricultural communities, and also discharge phosphorus and ammonia. Of the nation's top 20 worst industrial polluters, eight slaughterhouses consistently make the list, according to Environmental Working Group. Marin County has ample wetlands and coasts — we need to protect and preserve these resources, not endanger them.”

Household Cleaners:

Prevention: 8 Mistakes You're Making Every Time You Wash Dishes

Simple soap and hot water is enough to sanitize your dishes, especially in the dishwasher. Make sure to avoid borax, which can disrupt hormones, and 1,4-dioxane, which is a suspected carcinogen according to the Environmental Working Group.

Mind Body Green: Why Heavy Metals Could Be Making You Tired: A Doctor Explains

Toxins lurk everywhere, including household cleaning products, cosmetics, food containers and water bottles. Visit the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) website to learn more about how to minimize these ubiquitous toxins in your home and beauty products.


The Cheat Sheet: 8 Types of Hair Products You Should Not Use

The Environmental Working Group notes propylene glycol is a small organic alcohol that’s commonly used as a conditioning agent but is classified as a skin irritant. It’s associated with allergic contact dermatitis, and those sensitization effects can appear at glycol concentrations as low as 2%.

Farm Subsidies:

Wall Street Journal: Living Off the Fat of Washington

According to a report released this year by the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based nonprofit research organization, “the top 1 percent of farm subsidy recipients received 26 percent of subsidy payments between 1995 and 2014.” The group’s analysis of government farm-subsidy data also found that the “top 20 percent of subsidy recipients received 91 percent of all subsidy payments.” Fifty members of the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans have received farm subsidies, according to the group, including David Rockefeller Sr. and Charles Schwab.

Las Vegas Review Journal: Editorial - Down on the farm

“While generous government subsidies are defended by invoking the ‘family farmer,’ big farmers snare the vast majority of federal handouts,” he writes in a Monday Wall Street Journal commentary. In fact, “50 members of the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans have received farm subsidies,” according to the Environmental Working Group, which tracks agricultural spending.

Food Chemicals:

WIRED: Here’s Why LaCroix Is So Addictive

“You see ‘natural flavor’ on a label and it’s really a black box of secrecy in terms of what’s being added to that product,” says David Andrews, a chemist from the Environmental Working Group.

Southern California Public Radio: Culver City moves to ban polystyrene food containers

Environmental advocates have argued that polystyrene contributes to pollution by clogging waterways and harming wildlife. Some have even suggested it may be carcinogenic. The petition was joined by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Improving Kids’ Environment, Center for Environmental Health, Environmental Working Group and the Environmental Defense Fund.

Healthy Living App:

Chemical Watch: Biomonitoring study to monitor US consumer exposure to chemicals

In January, the institute launched its Detox Me app. This allows consumers to scan product bar codes to receive a health rating and tips on how to reduce exposure to toxic substances. It was followed in April by the launch of the Healthy Living app from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). This rates health hazards associated with the ingredients in food and personal care products.

Holiday Shopping:

Mind Body Green: Eco-Friendly Everything: How To Make Your Holiday Shopping A More Conscious Experience

Look out for natural, nontoxic versions of your favorite scented soaps, candles, sprays, and cleaners. Gifting these green alternatives is a great way to introduce family and friends to eco-friendly lines that aren't packed with chemicals like petrolatum, triclosan, paragons, and BHA. The Environmental Working Group is an awesome resource for checking the safety of ingredients if you ever question a specific component.

Take Part: Does Your Christmas Tree Need to be Organic Too?

Conventionally grown Christmas trees present the same problems as the “Dirty Dozen,” the Environmental Working Group’s annual list of pesticide-tainted produce: To keep trees looking lush, Christmas tree farms use chemical sprays to control pests, and farmers use the pesticide Roundup to control weeds. Reprinted by EcoWatch.

Oil and Gas Wastewater Used on California Crops:

CBS5: KCBS (Bay Area, CA): Initial Tests On Oilfield Wastewater Safety Draw Mixed Reaction

But environmental groups caution the work is far from over. “The tests that were conducted were very limited,” said Tasha Stoiber, a senior scientist with the research firm Environmental Working Group. Stoiber has also been reviewing the new data. “The chemicals that were selected to be tested in the fruit were based on water tests that were collected in the spring of 2015, and they only collected five water samples over two days,” she said.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in ProduceTM:

Prevention: 14 Foods Top Doctors Always Eat

Choose organic apples. According to a recent Environmental Working Group report, apples are consistently among the most pesticide-tainted produce picks.

Chicago Health: A no-nonsense guide to clean eating

Purchase organic as your budget and availability allow in order to reduce exposure to pesticides. Focus on buying organic versions of vegetables and fruits that have the highest levels of pesticides. The Environmental Working Group puts out an annually updated “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.”


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