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EWG News Roundup (5/19): Sick Farmworkers, Toxic Waste Sites and the Senate’s ‘License to Kill’ Bill

Friday, May 19, 2017

The week began with troubling news out of a mandarin orange orchard near Bakersfield, Calif. A toxic pesticide, which Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt recently decided not to ban, sickened up to 50 farmworkers. But it turns out that wasn’t a startling enough reminder of the risks chlorpyrifos poses to people: On Tuesday the EPA announced it would delay implementing a safety rule that would protect farmworkers who apply this and other pesticides.

"The Trump administration is sending a clear signal that it cares more about kowtowing to the pesticide industry than protecting Americans from dangerous agricultural chemicals," EWG President Ken Cook said in response to Pruitt’s failure to protect farmworkers.

This wasn’t Pruitt’s only folly this week. In an appearance on Fox & Friends – President Trump’s favorite show – he falsely claim that polluters pay to clean up the worst toxic waste sites, when in reality, taxpayers are stuck with the bill and the Trump administration is seeking to slash the already-paltry budget set aside to clean up more than 1,300 Superfund sites.

Also of note is Senate movement on the Regulatory Accountability Act, or RAA – more aptly named the “License to Kill” bill.

EWG wrote extensively this week on how this bill will negatively impact allergy sufferers, people concerned about GMOs, and those who are worried about asbestos and other deadly chemicals. EWG also took deep dives into the campaign finance records for three RAA supporters in the Senate to see how much support they’ve received by way of donations from industry interests lobbying hard for the “License to Kill” bill.

On a much happier note, EWG was proud to announce this week that nationally recognized integrative health expert Karen Malkin has joined our board of directors.

“Karen will undoubtedly bring her passion and energy to EWG’s board, and will be an important voice as we continue to take on new challenges and opportunities,” said Cook. “Karen’s fellow board members and I are thrilled she’s agreed to help chart our course going forward.” 

For more coverage on these events and others, see the stories below.


Mother Jones: The Trump Administration Just Punted on How to Handle the Most Toxic Pesticides

In addition, as Environmental Working Group noted, the agency is accepting comments on the decision only until May 19, "giving the public only a few days to comment on the rule, instead of the customary 30 days."

Scott Pruitt and the EPA

Common Dreams: EPA Asked for Public Input on Massive Regulation Rollback – and the Resistance Delivered

"The more people learn about how the Trump EPA plans to walk away from its duty to protect our water, the more people are outraged," Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook said earlier this month in response to the windfall of public remarks. "If the president doesn't get that message, I'm sure members of Congress will—at least the ones who aren't afraid to face their constituents at town hall meetings."

ThinkProgress: EPA delays safety rule to keep pesticides out of children’s hands

The EPA gave the public less than a week to provide comment on the proposed delay, a time period that falls short of the customary 30 days federal agencies usually extend for open comment periods, Colin O’Neil, the agriculture policy director at Environmental Working Group, told ThinkProgress.


WTAE: Can mobile phone use lead to health problems?

"Scientists have known for decades that high doses of the radiofrequency radiation emitted by cell phones can penetrate the body, heat tissues, trigger behavioral problems and damage sensitive tissues like the eyeball and testicle," the Environmental Working Group said in a 2009 report. "Yet, when cell phones went on the market in the 1980s, federal regulators did not require manufacturers to prove they were safe."

Cancer Exactly What To Eat In A Day To Reduce Your Risk Of Cancer

So how can someone actually lower their cancer risk through food? Consider checking out the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) brand new Cancer Defense Diet, which helps put the confusing nutrition research into real-world context by highlighting the best foods, food combinations, serving sizes, and cooking methods to keep your risk of cancer as low as possible—all based on current reputable research, not random one-off studies.

Cleaning Products

Bustle: 11 Weird Things That Are Often Connected To Cancers, According To Experts

There's no denying most household cleaning products contain toxic cancer-causing ingredients. That's why, going forward, it may be a good idea to pay attention to what you're sprayin' all over your house. "Use products with ingredients that are recognizable in nature," Eboli suggests. "You can also fact check on sites like EWG (Environmental Working Group) to see what ingredients in daily products are considered OK to use."

Beauty and Wellbeing: EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning Products

Every Year the Environmental Working Group publishes its list of top healthy cleaning products, a great resource to learn about the safest products to use at home when you start your spring cleaning. Read more about their selection here: About EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning

Cosmetics The U.S. barely regulates personal care products, despite the many chemicals they contain

Each day, the typical American woman slathers on a dozen lotions, creams, gels and cosmetics – exposing her body to an estimated 168 unique chemical ingredients, according to the Environmental Working Group. Men tend to use about half as many products with roughly half as many ingredients.

Popsugar: If a Product is “Natural,” Is It Safe For Pregnant Women? We Uncover the Truth!

"We should avoid risky ingredients at all stages of our lives; however, pregnancy may be a period in which women should be particularly careful," expert Nneka Leiba told me. She is the director of healthy living science for the Environmental Working Group


The Brite Stuff: All Natural? Organic? Look for THIS certification on beauty products

Recently I discovered The Environmental Working Group (EWG), an organization that does the homework for us and verifies that brands accurately disclose the makeup of their products and avoid harmful ingredients.  I met Ken Cook, the President and Co-Founder of the EWG, at an event held by Mineral Fusion Cosmetics to celebrate their launch in 300 CVS stores in CA. Mineral Fusion is one of only 60 brands nationwide to be EWG verified.  Here is a little background from EWG on what the extensive certification process entails.

The Farm Bill

The American Spectator: The Farm Bill Comes Due

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) points out between 1995 and 2014, the various subsidies and payouts for crop insurance — premium support and actual crop loss payouts — disaster relief, and income-support programs have cost U.S. taxpayers more than $322 billion.

EWG’s Consumer Guide to Seafood

Experience Life: Fish Smarts for Pregnant Women

“The seafood advice from the FDA and EPA should be much more detailed and specific, to help women balance the harm from mercury and the benefits of omega-3s,” EWG senior analyst Sonya Lunder said last year in response to the government’s draft guidelines.

School Lunches

Washington Post: Don't give up on healthful school lunches

In any event, as Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group pointed out, "Just because children would rather eat heavily salted processed foods at school doesn't mean they should." Reprinted by McDowell News.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in ProduceTM

Business Insider: The Top 13 fruits and vegetables you should probably buy organic

The program's reports can run hundreds of pages long, however, so each year a non-profit called the Environmental Working Group (EWG) compiles the data into its "dirty dozen": a list of conventionally grown produce items with the worst track records when it comes to pesticide residues — and the ones EWG therefore recommends you buy organic.

Daytona Daily News: When to buy organic & when to save your money

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently completed an analysis of conventionally grown (non-organic) produce to measure pesticide residue levels. Based on the results of almost 34,000 samples taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and federal Food and Drug Administration, EWG estimates that eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables, referred to as “The Dirty Dozen,” exposes the average person to about 15 different pesticides each day, while someone eating the least contaminated will be exposed to fewer than two pesticides each day. 

Natural News: Interesting quiz reveals the truth behind what’s really “healthy”

This was highlighted brilliantly recently by means of a quiz posted by the Environmental Working Group in one of its articles.

The quiz posted three sets of photos, and for each said, “One of these items can be labeled ‘healthy.’ The other two cannot. According to the FDA, which is the ‘healthy’ food?”

WHNT 19 News: Researchers expose toxic chemicals in common items like receipts, explain what increases absorption risk

--Avoid pesticides by eating organic food when possible. Use the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists on the website to prioritize and save money when you buy.
--Use other guides on to find safer products for skin, hair, baby and home in order to decrease your exposure to combined classes of chemicals.


Bustle: The 8 Best Natural Sunscreens for Face and Body

You know you're doing something right when you win an award from the Environmental Working Group. This organic natural mineral sunscreen with SPF 30 contains non-nano zinc, which is the safest and most effective UV filter.

Go MN: State Fairgoers were kind of bad at putting on free sunscreen

Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer, and the Melanoma Research Foundation says getting exposed to too many UV rays is thought to be the main cause of the disease. The number of melanoma cases has been rising in recent decades as well, the Environmental Working Group notes.

Mother Nature Network: Why can’t kids use sunscreen at school?

Also, check out the Environmental Working Group's guide to sunscreens to find products with fewer potential allergens.

Naples Herald: 10 Things to Get You Ready For Summer?

The Environmental Working Group (the EWG), creates an annual list of the worst scoring sunscreens based on ineffectiveness and toxic chemicals. They maintain an extremely thorough website stocked with research and great alternatives. Sign up for their newsletter, you won’t be disappointed.

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