EWG News and Analysis
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EWG’s News Roundup (2/9): A Must-Read Book for Parents, Asbestos in Children’s Cosmetics and More
This week we got our hands on a new book from longtime friends of EWG, Dr. Philip and Mary Landrigan. Children and Environmental Toxins: What Everyone Needs to Know® is a must read whether or not you have kids. The Landrigans’ decades of work in the fields of children’s and environmental health shines throughout, and EWG couldn’t recommend this vital resource more.
On Wednesday, Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., introduced legislation that would require cosmetics companies to prove that products marketed to children are free of asbestos – otherwise products would need to carry a warning. EWG applauded this long overdue bill.
“It’s simply outrageous that cosmetics can contain asbestos and still be legal,” said Emily Griffith, EWG’s cosmetics law fellow. “And it’s especially troubling that asbestos is being detected in cosmetics marketed to children and teens.”
Also in the nation’s capital, President Trump’s nominee to become Scott Pruitt’s second in command at the Environmental Protection Agency moved a step closer to the position. The nominee, Andrew Wheeler, has seen his career as a leading coal industry lobbyist and his well-documented skepticism of climate science come under much scrutiny since his nomination last year.
“The idea that one of their own lobbyists would one day be a top EPA official in charge of ‘regulating’ the coal industry was sheer fantasy until now,” said EWG President Ken Cook.
EWG also examined the current state of organic crop imports, which show that American farmers have lost out on $1.5 billion in organic soybean and corn sales since 2012. The organic food industry is growing, but outdated federal policies are stifling the growth of organic farms in the U.S. As the 2018 farm bill gears up, EWG will advocate for the Homegrown Organic Act, which will seek to fill in policy gaps and help America’s organic farmers thrive.
For coverage on these developments and more, here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.
Asbestos in Cosmetics
Geologically, talc and asbestos can be formed from the same parent rock, according to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. As a result, mined talc deposits in many parts of the world can be contaminated with asbestos fibers, the group said.
Includes a clip of Emily Griffith with Congressman Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., in front of a Claire’s store in New Jersey.
Some health and environmental groups immediately seized on the findings as more evidence of the dangers of cellphones. The Environmental Working Group's Olga Naidenko, a senior science adviser, for instance, said in a news release that the study “should raise alarms for policymakers and awareness for all Americans.” Republished by the Baltimore Sun, the Chicago Tribune, the Orlando Sentinel, Science Alert and six other media outlets.
“This is the most authoritative study published that connects cancer with cellphone radiation—it should raise alarms for policymakers and awareness for all Americans,” Olga Naidenko, a senior science advisor for the advocacy organization Environmental Working Group, said in a statement. “These studies should have been done before more than 90 percent of Americans, including children, started using this technology day in and day out.”
If the Environmental Working Group were to assign a book for parents and expectant parents, it would be Children and Environmental Toxins: What Everyone Needs to Know®. The new book, written by Dr. Philip Landrigan and his wife Mary Landrigan, is a perfect guide to understanding how chemicals in our environment can affect children's health and, importantly, what you can do to limit threats. Reprinted by Environment Guru.
EPA and Scott Pruitt
In the email, which was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the left-leaning Environmental Working Group and American Oversight, Provost questioned how the EPA could have concluded the pesticides would “likely” harm more than 97 percent of the species in question and 98 percent of their critical habitats. Reprinted by The Denver Post and five other media outlets.
EPA and Andrew Wheeler
“Bob Murray and every other coal industry executive must be as giddy as kids the night before Christmas," said EWG President Ken Cook. "The idea that one of their own lobbyists would one day be a top EPA official in charge of 'regulating' the coal industry was sheer fantasy until now.” Reprinted by AlterNet and Common Dreams.
EPA and TSCA
At the December meeting, Jeff Morris, director of the agency's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, said the agency will assess “probable’ uses of new chemicals. However, NGOs disagree. “This interpretation has no legal basis,” wrote Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney at the Environmental Working Group (EWG). “By definition, the EPA must also include foreseeable uses throughout the entire lifecycle of the chemical from cradle to grave.”
Because TSCA requires that any chemical that may pose an "unreasonable risk" be designated high priority, the EPA must be "very confident that a chemical does not present any potential hazard or potential exposure concerns before it can designated as low priority," wrote Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney at the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
However, NGOs disagree. "This interpretation has no legal basis," wrote Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney at the Environmental Working Group (EWG). "By definition, the EPA must also include foreseeable uses throughout the entire lifecycle of the chemical from cradle to grave."
A 2005 study of industrial chemicals conducted by a non-profit research-based organization, the Environmental Working Group, detected 287 chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood, 180 of which cause cancer, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) Guide to Healthy Cleaning gives drain clog removers from the likes of Amway, Clorox, CVS, Drano, Liquid Plumr and Safeway an “F” grade, given their toxicity to humans and animals and harshness to the environment. And don’t be fooled by a product’s branding, as an eco-friendly name can sometimes belie toxic ingredients.
Clean it up. To avoid triggering asthma, control household and workplace irritants such as dust, mold, smoke, chemicals, and animal dander. The Environmental Working Groupinforms readers, “asthma can be caused by outdoor air pollution, but also by indoor emissions of chemicals, strong odors, mold, smoke or other factors. The air inside homes can be two to five times as polluted as outdoor air.”
Plus, the Environmental Working Group has found that products containing petroleum could be carcinogenic. Petroleum is common in products like self-tanners. If you’re prone to acne, you’ll want to avoid petroleum — it can completely block your pores.
The Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization, supports the Feinstein-Collins bill, as does the American Cancer Society, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Revlon, Estee Lauder, and L’Oreal.
For a complete list of consumer products (215) that contain triclosan, go to the Environmental Working Group's website (EWG.org) and look for Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.
Avoid sulfates and foaming agents, and instead opt for something more natural and with a good score on EWG’s Skin Deep database. “If you exfoliate in the shower, be sure to moisturize afterwards.”
Crop Insurance Subsidies
The report contains ideas that have been promoted by the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, Taxpayers for Common Sense and the Environmental Working Group, which are all critical of the crop insurance program.
However, Environmental Working Group Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Scott Faber says occasionally CBO will issue reports that analyze ways to reduce government spending. He says the recent CBO report uncovered some staggering statistics regarding some extremely high crop insurance payments.
Farm Subsidies Database
Editor’s note: Poinsett County, Ark., was rated fourth among the top U.S. counties receiving rice subsidies between 1995-2016, according to the Environmental Working Group.
That type of spending is inefficient and can benefit the wealthiest farmers, according to conservative think-tanks like The Heritage Foundation, Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon (who is sponsoring an alternative farm bill that would cap all safety-net subsidies like crop insurance at $125,000 annually) and the left-leaning Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by Farms.com.
“DuPont, 3M and other PFC manufacturers had ample indications decades ago that PFOA and other perfluorochemicals contaminate the blood of the general U.S. population,” writes the Environmental Working Group, an environmental nonprofit. “How and why they ignored the warning signs is one of the more disturbing chapters in the unfolding tragedy of PFC pollution.”
Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™
Even the Environmental Working Group, best known for its Dirty Dozen list, says "EWG always recommends eating fruits and vegetables, even conventionally grown, instead of processed foods and other less healthy alternatives." So buy the produce you can afford and serve it often. Reprinted by NewsDog.
In a recent Facebook video, Deschanel misleadingly claimed that people should eliminate the 12 vegetables and fruits most likely to have the highest amounts of pesticide residues in order to keep healthy. The list, dubbed the “dirty dozen,” is reportedly curated annually by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit focused on health advocacy and research.
Do what you can to eliminate as many toxins as possible in your day to day life. Check out the Environmental Working Group for resources like Clean Fifteen/Dirty Dozen charts and the Skin Deep Database to help cut down exposure to toxins.
Tap Water Database
A study by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that, in 2015, about 1 in 5 Americans was served by a system with at least one violation — either a contaminant in amounts over the limit or a failure to test. (You can check your local water status with the EPA or the Environmental Working Group.) How much of a risk does that pose?
The latest, published earlier this month by the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group, identified 37 water utilities serving nearly 25,000 Texans in violation of federal standards for radium — a known carcinogen that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says isn't safe for human consumption at any level. Originally published by The Texas Tribune.
It’s a question the non-profit organization called the Environmental Working Group or EWG has made easier to answer. "This was all available data that was compiled into a database that was user friendly and Americans could log into and become more aware of what contaminants may be present in their water," says Alexis Temkin, a toxicologist for the non profit.
Nonstick Chemicals in Drinking Water
David Andrews, a senior scientist and groundwater expert at the Environmental Working Group, said the detection of the contamination in the area was a “significant concern.” “…We do know that Air Force bases and places that use (Aqueous Film Forming Foam to fight fires) are one of the major sources at least in higher level contaminations,” he said. Reprinted four times.
Radioactive Drinking Water
Lead isn’t the only contaminate to be concerned about when it comes to clean drinking water—according to a recent report by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) more than 170 million people nationwide are exposed to radium in their tap water, a radioactive element that may increase the risk of cancer.
Environmental Working Group, a national nonprofit whose advocacy includes clean water, said there are 396 New Jersey water systems serving more than 5 million people where radium 228 and 226, both potential carcinogens, were detected between 2010 and 2015 above the level proposed by the California authorities as posing no significant health risk.
The Environmental Working Group released a study in January 2018, revealing how contaminated tap water is in cities around Texas. Click ahead to find out the tap water contamination levels in the San Antonio area. [NOTE: Please read each photo caption.]
"Radium is considered a carcinogen by the EPA and we know that levels of exposure to carcinogens carry some risk of cancer development," Dr. Alexis Tempkin, a toxicologist with the Environmental Working Group said.
She notes the Safe Drinking Water Act requires public water suppliers to test quality and post results, which are readily available online. In addition, she recommends checking websites for the Environmental Working Group and the Center for Science in the Public Interest for more data. EWG sounded the recent alarm about radium.