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EWG’s News Roundup (9/29): Walmart Touts EWG VERIFIED™, Reasons Mount to Oppose EPA Chemical Safety Nominee

Friday, September 29, 2017

Huge news this week: Walmart encouraged all companies that sell personal care products in its U.S. stores get EWG VERIFIEDTM as part of its new sustainability initiative.

“Walmart’s drive to bring more transparency and fewer toxic chemicals to the marketplace should be applauded by consumers and companies alike,” said Ken Cook, president and co-founder of EWG. “This latest decision to not only embrace, but encourage companies to seek the EWG VERIFIEDTM seal further underscores Walmart’s commitment to sustainability and safer consumer products.” 

In other news, gearing up for Michael Dourson’s confirmation hearing next week to head the chemical safety office at the Environmental Protection Agency, EWG released a list of 10 reasons to oppose him. We also took deep dives into his industry-funded analyses of harmful pesticides and a food additive that can cause lung damage.

News also broke this week on a number of shady dealings coming out of the EPA. Administrator Scott Pruitt has been using $25,000 in taxpayer dollars to install a soundproof telephone booth in his office. Later in the week, the New York Times reported that Pruitt intends to gut the agency’s budget for prosecuting polluters.

We took time to applaud a couple of game-changers this week. We sent props to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for proposing a first-of-its-kind antibiotics in meat disclosure ordinance, and to our old longtime ally attorney Rob Bilott, who was honored with the 2017 Right Livelihood Award.

EWG also reviewed a recent study from researchers throughout North America that found fluorinated tap water could harm to children’s brain development.

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

Variety Power of Women Award

Variety: Priyanka Chopra, Octavia Spencer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Patty Jenkins, Kelly Clarkson to Be Honored at Variety’s Power of Women

This years event honors Priyanka Chopra (UNICEF), Kelly Clarkson (XQ Institute), Patty Jenkins (Anti-Recidivism Coalition), Michelle Pfeiffer (Environmental Working Group), and Octavia Spencer (City Year). The Power of Women luncheon is tied to Variety‘s annual Women’s Impact Report, which profiles the most impactful women working in the entertainment industry this year.

Yahoo!: Priyanka Chopra to be honored at Variety's Power of Women

Along with PeeCee, the event will honor Kelly Clarkson (XQ Super School), Patty Jenkins (Anti-Recidivism Coalition), Michelle Pfeiffer (Environmental Working Group), and Octavia Spencer (City Year), as reported by Variety.

Bombay Times: Priyanka Chopra will be honoured at the Variety’s Power of Women

This year's event honours Priyanka Chopra (UNICEF), Kelly Clarkson (QX Super School), Patty Jenkins (Anti-Recidivism Coalition), Michelle Pfeiffer (Environmental Working Group), and Octavia Spencer (City Year). All of the honorees will be featured on the covers of the October 10 issue of Variety.

India Times: After Becoming One Of The Highest Paid Actress, PC Will Be Honoured At Variety's Power Of Women

The big publication will honour Priyanka Chopra (UNICEF), Kelly Clarkson (QX Super School), Patty Jenkins (Anti-Recidivism Coalition), Michelle Pfeiffer (Environmental Working Group), and Octavia Spencer (City Year).

Pinkvilla: Priyanka Chopra meeting Nayanthara in New York is breaking the internet

The event will take place October 13 at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons. This year’s event honors Priyanka Chopra (UNICEF), Kelly Clarkson (QX Super School), Patty Jenkins (Anti-Recidivism Coalition), Michelle Pfeiffer (Environmental Working Group), and Octavia Spencer (City Year). All of the honorees will be featured on the covers of the October 10 issue of Variety.

Women and Hollywood: Octavia Spencer, Patty Jenkins, Priyanka Chopra, & More to Be Honored at Variety’s Power of Women

Grammy winner Kelly Clarkson and “mother!” star Michelle Pfeiffer are also among the honorees, the former thanks to her work with XQ Super School, a movement aiming towards transforming high school educations, and the latter for Environmental Working Group, an environmental organization dedicated to empowering people to live healthier lives.


Public Now: Statement on Walmart’s Decision to Strengthen Chemical Footprint Policy

'The updated policy includes new goals for Walmart to restrict over 2,700 harmful chemicals in household products by 2022, increase transparency of ingredients globally, and encourage suppliers to certify their products to credible third-party standards such as EWG (Environmental Working Group) Verified and EPA Safer Choice.

Michael Dourson

EcoWatch: Top 10 Reasons to Reject Trump’s Chemical Safety Nominee

Reprint of EWG Planet Trump blog.

EDF Health Blog: Michael Dourson’s Toxic Wake: Locations Across the US Contaminated by Eight Chemicals “Blessed” by Trump EPA Toxics Nominee

For a full list of the news articles and chemical contamination locations by state, click here. In addition, Environmental Working Group has posted interactive maps showing the extent of tap water contamination with 2 of these chemicals, 1-4 dioxane and PFOA, across the nation.

Scott Pruitt’s Phone Booth

Think Progress: Lavish spending on Scott Pruitt runs counter to Trump’s plan to slash EPA’s budget

“While the price tag for Pruitt’s phone booth should outrage every taxpayer, it’s who he’s speaking with and what they’re plotting that should be the most concerning to the American people,” said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group President, a nonprofit environmental group. “Pruitt is certainly not calling me or my fellow environmentalists to get our thoughts on how he should tackle dirty drinking water, chemical contamination or climate change.”

California Lead Testing Legislation

Huffington Post: California lags in testing toddlers for lead exposure

Our most vulnerable kids, the ones that are the most lead-poisoned, are not getting tested,” said Susan Little, who led the study for the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization that crossed the state’s testing reports with census figures. “The state is failing its mandate.” Reprinted by Long Beach Press-Telegram,  Los Angeles Daily News, Times of San Diego and 12 other media outlets. This is the story that ran in CalMatters.

1,4-Dioxane in Drinking Water

The Norman Transcript: Water – legal, yet lethal?

The Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit research organization, reported recently that in Huntsville, for example, the average detection for an unregulated carcinogenic industrial solvent named 1,4-Dioxane was .134 parts per billion (ppb) in 2013-14. Reprinted by 86 media outlets.

The Reflector: Editorial – Cape Fear pollution

The nonprofit Environmental Work Group said last week that the Cape Fear basin is one of the most highly polluted by 1,4-dioxane in the country. In the group’s report, high levels of the chemical were found in the Sanford, Harnett County, Fort Bragg and Dunn water systems. All were at least eight times the Environmental Protection Agency’s “negligible” level. Reprinted by Lincoln Times-News.

Water Online: In U.S., 90 Million Affected By Dioxane Pollution

An analysis released this month by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) shows that dioxane is found in drinking water in 45 states, afflicting over 90 million people in the U.S.


Chemical Processing: Asbestos Imports Nearly Double After Years Of Decline

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, reportedly the largest independent nonprofit asbestos victims’ advocacy group in the United States – along with the Environmental Working Group, a consumer advocacy group that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment – release a statement in response to new data showing asbestos imports nearly doubled in 2016, after years of decline.


Rodale’s Organic Life: Why You Should Totally Be Eating Soup For Breakfast

Before you purchase canned soup, check the Environmental Working Group database to find out which brands use BPA-free cans. Peruse labels, and look for a soup that’s nutritious and free of any additives you want to avoid.

California Cleaning Products Bill

JD Supra: California Bill Would Require Disclosure of Cleaning Product Ingredients

The bill is co-sponsored by non-governmental organizations Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Environmental Working Group, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Women’s Voices for the Earth, as well as manufacturers of cleaning products, including Honest Company, Seventh Generation, Procter & Gamble, SC Johnson, RB - Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever, Eco Lab WD-40, fragrance maker Givaudan, and the Consumer Specialty Products Association.


Byrdie: An Organic Skincare Expert Told Us Her Secrets for Prenatal Skincare

And when you're shopping, swap out regular products for the organic version. There are some online resources that can help with this—I like The Environmental Working Group.

Daily Burn: Should You Worry About the Chemicals in Your Deodorant?

The Environmental Working Group says that phthalates (the compounds that help scents stick to your skin) and parabens (the preservatives that stop the growth of bacteria) might interfere with hormones and can cause infertility.

Popsugar: Why Expecting Women Should Make This 1 Major Beauty Change For a Toxic-Free Pregnancy

“A scented product is not necessarily problematic,” explained Nneka Leiba, director for Healthy Living Science at the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that researches toxins in personal care products. “However, it becomes a problem when a manufacturer uses the term 'fragrance' rather than disclose the ingredients.” Reprinted by NewsDog.

2018 Farm Bill

AgriPulse: Groups seek changes in conservation, crop insurance incentives

The coalition includes Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Working Group, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Soil and Water Conservation Society and the World Wildlife Fund.

Farm Subsidy Database

Think Progress: Trump kicks off tax reform campaign with bald-faced lies in farm country

Wednesday’s face for the lie was an Indiana farmer named Kip Tom. American taxpayers have given Kip Tom at least $3.3 million in farm subsidy payments, according to the Environmental Working Group’s database on the crop supports and insurance systems designed to protect agricultural companies from the vicissitudes of the weather.

Huffington Post – Blog: Indiana Farmer Complaining about Estate Taxes with Trump Cashed $3.3 M in Farmer Subsidy Checks

Research was conducted by Chuck Collins, a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, using the Environmental Working Group Farm Subsidy Database.


Associated Press: NC legislators mull what to do about chemicals in rivers

Whatever the cancer risk GenX and similar chemicals may present, a bigger worry is their potential for damaging human reproductive and immune systems, said David Andrews, a scientist at Environmental Working Group in Washington. The company attorney's blame-shifting also doesn't erase the company's responsibility, Andrews said in an email.

The Fayetteville Observer: GenX released into air at Bladen County plant

“At this point, it sounds like a minor exposure,” said David Andrews, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group. Andrews said he would like to know how much GenX was released into the air in previous years. He said the emissions also should be considered in light of the compound’s discovery in the river and in groundwater.

EWG’s Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change

Huffington Post – Blog: Plant-Based Diets: A Game-Changer For Our Food System, Our People And Our Planet

According to a recent report by the Environmental Working Group, lamb and beef production emits 66.2kg of CO2 combined, compared with 8kg combined for broccoli, tofu, dry beans, tomatoes and lentils. Reprinted by WoW.

National Tap Water

The Oakland Press: How to ensure your well water is safe

Nearly one in seven Americans gets drinking water from a private well. Federal and state governments set legal limits for contaminants in public water systems, but those laws don’t cover private wells. Reprint of EWG EnviroBlog.

The Trentonian: Ex-inmate says in lawsuit Mercer County jail water full of lead, DEP agrees

An environmental watchdog reported cancer-causing contaminants were also found in the facility’s water supply, violating federal health standards. The county in a statement threw cold, and possibly contaminated, water on those assertions, saying it had “no record” of the Environmental Working Group visiting the jail to collect water samples.

Westfield Patch: At Least 138 N.J. Towns Have Drinking Water Toxin Made Famous By Erin Brockovich

At least 138 N.J. communities have the cancer-causing toxin in their drinking water that was made famous in the 2000 Julia Roberts movie "Erin Brockovich," according to the Environmental Working Group.


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