EWG News and Analysis
The latest from EWG’s staff of experts >>
EWG News Roundup (4/6): Pruitt Keeps Creating Scandals, Coal and Nuclear Plants Seek Bailout and More
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is engulfed in a growing crisis of his own making. It includes ethical concerns about his housing, his exorbitant security and travel expenses, and his questionable staffing of the agency.
This week, we listed Pruitt’s other set of scandals – weakening public health protections for toxic chemicals. EWG’s Scott Faber wrote:
Chemical and pesticide companies who donated to President Trump’s campaign and Republicans in Congress have certainly gotten their money’s worth. Pruitt has reversed or indefinitely postponed chemical bans, rubber-stamped new chemicals, cooked the books when assessing older chemicals, postponed chemical safety rules to protect farm and factory workers, and appointed chemical safety officials who have spent decades defending chemicals for polluters.
We also revealed how Ohio-based FirstEnergy has no qualms asking the Department of Energy to take emergency action to keep its coal-fired and nuclear power plants on life support. The plants can’t compete with cheaper renewable energy and natural gas on the open market. This comes on the heels of the company announcing it will close three nuclear plants by 2022. In the competition for cheaper, cleaner electricity, coal and nuclear have already lost to solar and wind. FirstEnergy’s deathbed plea is further proof that the era of coal and nuclear power dominance is over.
In related energy news, half of U.S. coal plants are not making enough money to stay open on the free market. The end result of falling prices for renewables and natural gas, flat energy demand, and the cost of equipment needed to meet tougher pollution-control regulations is that about half the coal fleet has been retired over the last 10 years. Retiring coal plants reduced lung-damaging sulfur dioxide emissions by 80 percent and smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions by 64 percent. And carbon dioxide emissions fell a whopping 34 percent.
For coverage on these developments and more, here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.
EPA and Peter Wright
"If Peter Wright is confirmed, he'll join Administrator Pruitt and the other polluter apologists now in charge at EPA," Alex Formuzis, EWG's senior vice president for communications, said in a statement. "In Wright's nomination, President Trump once again shows he is incapable of choosing candidates who have demonstrated even a drop of commitment to public health and environmental protection in their careers."
Bradway suggests checking out your perfumes, cleaning products, etc. on the Environmental Working Group website. The website provides information on the chemicals found in over 74,000 products. There is a link to it under the related links section of this page.
See the Consumer Guides on the Environmental Working Group website (www.ewg.org) for tips on avoiding toxins in day-to-day life.
In addition, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) estimates that only 7% of today’s cleaning products adequately disclose their contents to consumers—this includes even “green” cleaning lines—which means we’re exposing ourselves and our families to these harmful ingredients without even knowing it.
It just makes sense that you should keep your kitchen clean, but some chemicals in common household cleaners could be worse than the bacteria! According to a report by the Environmental Working Group, many generic cleaning brands contain toxic chemicals that cause asthma attacks, allergic reactions, eye and skin irritation, and are known carcinogens. These dangerous additives are everywhere, and companies aren’t even required to disclose when they’re used, so it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to cleaners.
Cosmetics and Skin Deep®
The problem with petroleum, and also with its counterpart, mineral oil, is that it can’t be metabolized. This means that once it’s in your body, it doesn’t really leave. 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.
“Eyeshadow, foundation, facial powder, bronzer and blush account for nearly 80 per cent of the products with PFCs,” according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. The EWG has come up with a list of 266 products that contain PFCs, from eyeshadow to shaving cream to lip balm.
A quick search on the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database revealed a number of snail-based face masks.
Biossance (pronounced bio-sAHnse, like renaissance), an Environmental Working Group-verified skin-care brand with a range of products pumped with squalane, recently launched its Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer, and it's as moisturizing as moisturizers get. The lightweight, gel-based hydrator is made with squalane — not to be confused with squalene, which is a natural moisturizing agent derived from shark liver oil — a plant-based, saturated form of squalene made from sugar cane. It's also formulated with red seaweed and ginger extract to calm redness and soothe irritated skin.
On a whim, I decided to try something new, though: a pseudo "retinol" from a new, plant-based skin-care brand, called Biossance — and I've got to be honest here, never in a million years did I think the Environmental Working Group-approved treatment would start to clear up my, ahem, wrinkle, but... it did. (Well, it's at least started to clear up my "11.")
Hero Wipes—decontamination wipes for firefighters designed to remove toxic, cancer-causing carcinogens from the skin before they leave the scene of a fire— are now EWG Verified by the Environmental Working Group. The wipes have been found to effectively remove 83% percent of benzopyrene (commonly found in soot) in just one swipe.
Meat Eater’s Guide
The Environmental Working Group, a consumer watchdog organization, points out that these benefits are in addition to the fact that eating organic or grass-fed beef reduces your exposure to antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides that can accumulate in animal fat.
PFAS in Food Packaging
And on top of the disorder—also called popcorn lung—the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that advocates for human and environmental health, found other chemicals inside microwave popcorn bags that are potential carcinogens (AKA cancer-causing agents). Even though the FDA proceeded to ban some of the chemicals, there’s no proof that the replacements are safer.
But not all sunscreens are created equal. Some don't work as well as they should, according to a report by the Environmental Working Group. And, many sunscreens on the market don't offer enough protection from the sun.
There’s another organization worth consulting, when you’re looking for the safest and best organic sunscreen for babies. That’s the Environmental Working Group, which rates everything from sunscreens and cosmetics, to food, cleaning products and more, promoting healthier consumer choices, along with civic action.
If you're using one of those convenient spray sunscreens, def hold your breath or breathe out when applying—inhaling the nanoparticles of zinc or titanium in the spray can be harmful to lungs, says the Environmental Working Group.
Tap Water Database
Of the 8,100 pollution cases, roughly 12 percent were from major industrial facilities in Texas. Earlier this year, a separate study by Environmental Working Group found that Texas has the most radiated drinking water in the country.
From 2010 to 2015, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzed radium test results from public water systems across the U.S. The EWG found high levels of radium in water supplies that impact an estimated 170 million Americans! The EWG put together an interactive map that reveals the amount of radium measured in tap water for hundreds of U.S cities. Enter your zip code to find out how much radium is in your tap water.