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EWG News Roundup (8/11): Formaldehyde in Salons and Contaminants in Well Water

Friday, August 11, 2017

EWG and Women’s Voices for the Earth filed a new motion in their lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration over its failure to act on unsafe levels of formaldehyde in popular hair straighteners. The carcinogen poses significant health risks to both consumers and salon workers.

“The FDA has failed to protect stylists and consumers from exposure to formaldehyde,” said Melanie Benesh, a legislative attorney at EWG. “Since at least 2008, the agency has known about the health hazards associated with these hair straightening products and done nothing. Despite the complaints, the FDA has yet to take action to regulate these products.”

Also this week, EWG’s director of healthy living science Nneka Leiba appeared on the CBS Evening News to detail our newly released National Tap Water Database.

In keeping with our drinking water work, EWG also published a guide for those who live in homes with private drinking water wells – an estimated one in every seven American households.

For additional coverage on these stories and more, here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.

Formaldehyde Lawsuit

Beauty Undercover: Environmental Groups Sue FDA for Formaldehyde Use

“The FDA has failed to protect stylists and consumers from exposure to formaldehyde,” said Melanie Benesh, a legislative attorney at EWG. “Since at least 2008, the agency has known about the health hazards associated with these hair straightening products and done nothing. Despite the complaints, the FDA has yet to take action to regulate these products.”  High levels of formaldehyde make many keratin hair straightening treatments a serious health threat for both clients and salon workers. These treatments involve liquids applied to hair, which are then heated using blow dryers and straightening irons. The high temperatures of these hair styling tools cause the liquids to release formaldehyde into the air.

Consumer Affairs: FDA sued over formaldehyde in hair products

The lawsuit, filed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Women’s Voices for the Earth, claims the hair-straightening products pose a hazard to consumers and salon workers.

Fox 5 DC: Environmental groups sue FDA, want formaldehyde banned from salon products

“Some of the health dangers are difficulty breathing, asthma," said Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney for the Environmental Working Group. "Some women have suffered hair loss, rashes on the head and neck, bleeding gums, loss of smell. There is also a cancer risk with formaldehyde.”

National Tap Water Database

CBS News: Database shows what contaminants are in drinking water

Clean, safe drinking water is essential to life. Most in the U.S. take it for granted. But, should they? Now a new database allows everyone to see what exactly is flowing through their faucet. As Chip Reid reports, the results can be unsettling.

EcoWatch: Before Buying a Water Filter, Read This

The findings of the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) just-released Tap Water Database may be shocking to many Americans, as they show that the drinking water supplies of nearly everyone in the nation are tainted with chemicals at levels exceeding at least one health-protective guideline.

Fox News: There might be dangerous chemicals in your tap water — here's how to stay safe

Fast-forward 20 years, and it may shock you to learn that chromium-6 is still a threat to 218 million Americans, including residents of every state. That's just one of the many findings of a just-released Environmental Working Group (EWG) report on the state of our nation's drinking water. Originally printed in Prevention.

KDKA (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania): Website Aims To Alert Public To Contaminants In Tap Water

“We found that there are more than 250 contaminants in our nation’s drinking water, and some of the contaminants are linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental problems,” Nneka Leiba told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Tuesday.

WPTV West Palm Beach: How clean is your drinking water?

Now, anyone can find out what’s in their water by typing in their zip code on EWG’s website. 
Bill Walker, vice president and managing editor of EWG, said he thinks this study has revealed the need for stricter federal standards for water contamination, especially to prevent the pollution from happening in the first place. Reprinted by WFLX.  

Knoxville News Sentinel: How safe is local drinking water? Database raises questions about East Tennessee water districts

A recently released database published by the Environmental Working Group has taken aim at the quality of drinking water nationally and provided insight into just how pure the water East Tennesseans drink is. The nonprofit compiled data from the Environmental Protection Agency and water districts to show what contaminants are contained in drinking water in utility districts across the country.  

Marin Independent Journal (AP): Marin, other U.S. water supplies targeted by advocacy group over safety

“Just because it is legal does not mean it’s safe,” said Nneka Leiba, director of healthy living science for the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Is it safe to drink? Database for consumers pours out water quality test results

“More than half of them don’t have a legal limit,” Ms. Leiba said. The database compares how test results for many pollutants line up with both legal standards and alternative, lower, “health” limits. Those lower thresholds represent a public health goal set by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

The News & Observer: Is your drinking water polluted? Plug in your zip code and find out

The Environmental Working Group, an organization specializing in research and advocacy related to toxic chemicals, agriculture subsidies, public land and corporate accountability, has created a database that pulls about 30 million state, local and federal records on water pollution from 2010 to 2015.

Arsenic

Rodale’s Organic Life: 6 Common Yet Dangerous Food Prep Mistakes That Are Making You Sick

Environmental Working Group, a consumer-advocacy group, suggests rinsing brown rice through before you cook it (as well as these other strategies to keep your family arsenic-free). A good rinse could lower arsenic levels by 30 to 40 percent. (This doesn't work with white rice.) For babies, consider orange vegetables as a first food instead of rice-based cereal, suggests EWG, or cook your rice in a coffee pot.

Farm Subsidies

Morning Ag Clips: Texas rice farmers hope for increased trade

And federal crop subsidy programs have kept them afloat through thin years, paying out $1.8 billion to Texas rice farmers between 1995 and 2014, according to a database maintained by the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization that opposes farm subsidies.

Mother Jones: How Midwestern Farmers Could Help Save the Gulf of Mexico

Yet Iowa’s incentive program is much less generous than Maryland’s—it pays just $25 per acre, and sometimes only for the first year of planting. A recent analysis of satellite data by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Practical Farmers of Iowa found that roughly 600,000 acres, or 2.6 percent of the state’s corn and soybean fields, had cover crops over the 2015-16 winter. To make a significant impact on nitrate pollution, Iowa needs to cover 12.6 million acres.

San Antonio Express News: Texas rice farmers hope China deal brings more than a grain of relief

And federal crop subsidy programs have kept them afloat through thin years, paying out $1.8 billion to Texas rice farmers between 1995 and 2014, according to a database maintained by the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization that opposes farm subsidies.

Originally ran in the Houston Chronicle.

Flame Retardants

Natural Society: Prenatal Exposure to Flame Retardants Linked with Lower IQ in Children

Nonstick Chemicals

Michigan Radio: What you need to know about perfluorinated chemicals, aka PFCs

David Andrews, senior scientist with the nonprofit Environmental Working Group spoke with Stateside to help us understand this mysterious family of chemicals and explore exactly what the news means for the Grayling area.  

The Spokesman-Review Spokane: Fairchild runoff could spur lawsuits

And according to a recent study by Northeastern University and the Environmental Working Group, at least 15 million Americans drink water with elevated levels of the chemicals. The study found most of those people live near 47 military or industrial sites.

Regulatory Accountability Act

The Huffington Post: GOP Senator Laughs in Woman’s Face When Asked To Stop Taking Fossil Fuel Money

Companies and trade associations that lobbied for the House version of Portman’s bill also donated at least $3.3 million to Portman’s 2016 reelection campaign, according to an analysis by  the Environmental Working Group. Also covered by Raw Story.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in ProduceTM

Organic Authority: 9 Delicious and Healthy Ways to Enjoy Peach Season

Find local and organic peaches at a farmers market or grocery store near you. Choose organic peaches when possible, as the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that peaches contain the fifth highest amount of pesticide residue (as noted on the 2017 Dirty Dozen list.)

 

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