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EWG News Roundup (7/5): Lead Contaminates California Schools, Billions To Bail Out Nuke Energy and More

In the News
Friday, July 5, 2019

This week, EWG revealed that one in five K-12 schools in California serves drinking water that contains detectable levels of lead. In an email to EWG, the State Water Resources Control Board confirmed that 1,166 out of 6,595 schools that submitted test results had discovered at least one fountain serving water with more than 5 parts per billion of lead. 

“These schools have found at least one faucet on their campus that delivers a dose of lead to the children who use them,” said Susan Little, EWG’s senior advocate for government affairs in California. “These fountains are placed in areas easily reached by children, and many of the fountains haven’t been cleared. Parents should be concerned that their children might be drinking lead during recess.”

EWG also released a report diving into how, in the past three years, state governments across the nation have stuck ratepayers with more than $14 billion in bills to prop up aging nuclear power plants. EWG analyzed these bailouts and broke down how little economic sense they make for utilities or their customers.

EWG reviewed a recent report by the Energy and Policy Institute that shows two of America’s largest power utilities, Duke Power and American Electric Power, are reducing carbon pollution at a snail’s pace.

EWG weighed in on how per-and polyfluorinated substances are classified. Also known as PFAS chemicals, they’ve been for decades a scourge on communities across the country. This week, EWG made the case that PFAS chemicals should be designated as “hazardous substances” under the federal Superfund law, which would jumpstart the process of identifying and cleaning up PFAS-polluted communities. 

Finally, EWG applauded a group of lawmakers for introducing legislation to regulate discharges of these toxic PFAS chemicals into rivers, lakes and bays.

Here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.

Agribusiness Bailout

AP: How the Trump administration’s 2018 trade aid package works

USDA rules specify that each member must be “actively engaged in farming,” but the rules are vague, said Anne Weir Schechinger, senior economic analyst at the Environmental Working Group, which has long tracked where subsidies go and has been studying similar data on the program it obtained through its own open records request. Reprinted 250+ other media outlets

AP: Some big farms collect big checks from Trump aid package

The numerous ways around the $125,000 caps mean that millions of subsidy dollars flow to "city slickers who are stretching the limits of the law," said Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, which has long tracked federal farm subsidy programs, and criticizes them as biased toward big producers and promote environmentally damaging farming practices. Reprinted by KTIC Radio (West Point NE)Rural Radio Network (Lexington NE)KOOL Radio 104.9 (York NE)KNEB (Scottsbluff NE)Morning Ag ClipsThe Lewiston Tribune (ID)Dairy BusinessTIME; 300+ other media outlets.

The Columbus Dispatch: Some Ohio farm businesses get Trump tariff aid beyond caps

The numerous ways around the $125,000 caps mean that millions of subsidy dollars flow to “city slickers who are stretching the limits of the law,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, which has long tracked federal farm subsidy programs. Reprinted by the Record-Courier Online (Kent OH); Alliance Review Online (OH); Ashland Times-Gazette (OH); Daily Jeffersonian Online (Cambridge OH)

Lead in California School Drinking Water

Cal Coast News (San Luis Obispo CA): Excessive levels of lead found in water at four SLO County schools

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group said the lead problem is significantly more widespread than state officials claim publicly.

Sacramento Bee: Lead found in CA school drinking water, state says. Is yur local campus on the list?

However, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group said the lead problem is considerably more widespread. Using a stricter definition of what’s allowable, the group said it was told by state officials that lead turned up at 1,166 fountains or faucets, out of 6,595 schools that have reported test results so far. Reprinted byFresno Bee (CA)

KPFA (Berkeley CA): Inside the racist and sexist Facebook page of nearly 10k border patrol agents; Plus: the violent journey of migrants along the Balkan route to Europe

UpFront delivers a mix of local, state, and international coverage through challenging interviews, civil debates, breaking updates, and in-depth discussions with authors. The segment featuring Susan Little and lead in California schools starts at 8:20 and runs through 20:40. 

Algae Blooms

Camas-Washougal Post-Record (Camas WA): More frequent toxic algae blooms more than an inconvenience

According to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit group that has tracked toxic algae blooms in the United States since 2010, this year is showing the highest number of cases, with 107 reported outbreaks in 2019 versus 63 reported blooms by this point in the year in 2018.

Arsenic on Playgrounds

Colorado Springs Independent: Child’s Play

According to the Environmental Working Group and the Healthy Building Network, two organizations working to improve environmental and human health, harmful amounts of arsenic are being used on pressure-treated wood currently being sold at Home Depot and Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse stores across the nation.

Asbestos Regulation

The Hill: States sue EPA for tougher regulation of asbestos

“This new rule makes it more difficult for industry to resume some abandoned uses of asbestos, but that is a half step at best,” Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney at the Environmental Working Group, wrote in a press release at the time.

Bottled Water

U.S. News & World Report: Bottled Water vs. Tap Water: Which One Is Better?

Tasha Stoiber, senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group, says, "We don't recommend using bottled water unless it's in the case of an emergency or something has gone very wrong, like in the case of Flint, Michigan, where there's no safe water for anyone to drink."

Reprinted by Yahoo!

Bug Sprays

Morningstar StockInvestor Online: The most effective, best-rated bug sprays—all under $10

The nonprofit research organization Environmental Working Group notes that their top picks for bug repellents include those with ingredients like Picaridin (a 20% concentration can protect against ticks and mosquitoes all day) and DEET (a 20% to 30% concentration can protect against ticks and mosquitoes all day) -- though they do have downsides (see below).

BPA in Plastics

Poosh: Why Plastic Shouldn’t Go in the Dishwasher

Environmental Working Group (EWG) has pushed to ban BPA ever since studies found that it has leached into 93% of American bodies.


Axis of Logic: The scary new math behind the destruction of factory farms

The risk is particularly pressing for North Carolina, a state regularly smacked by hurricanes, because it houses more than 2,200 hog CAFOs and 3,900 poultry CAFOs, and produces up to 10 billion gallons of animal waste a year. These estimates come from the Environmental Working Group.

Cleaning Products

The List: Here’s the dirty truth about disinfecting wipes

"The truth is, disinfecting wipes are not necessary for routine cleaning," the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed on its site.

Whole Foods Magazine: My Organic Getaway

Check out the Environmental Working Group website for more information and a scorecard for the hazards/safety of various laundry products.

ABC 6 WLNE-TV (Providence RI): Do Citric Acid Cleaners Work?

The Environmental Working Group found 53 percent of cleaning products it reviewed contained lung-harming ingredients and carcinogens. 

Consumer Guides

Mind Body Green: 5 Ways To Avoid Acne Outbreaks After Going Off Birth Control

I love the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which provides some super-helpful guides for helping you find food, household products, and cosmetics with the fewest toxins possible.

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Berkeley Wellness (University of California): What’s in Your Nail Polish?

In the meantime, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides some guidance for choosing safer nail polishes at its Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.

Caviar & Cashmere: Herbal Essences Sulfate Free Collections

Their Sulfate Free shampoos are free of Environmental Working Group ingredients of concern, filled with real botanicals endorsed by the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew Gardens (a world-leading expert in botanicals!), and are also PETA cruelty-free.

Get Green Be Well: 51 Top Drugstore Foundations, Powders and Concealers 2019: Safe and Non Toxic

It turns out that my foundation (L’Oreal Paris) has been on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) list of least toxic makeup all along!

The Good Men Project: Vegan Health and Beauty Products

According to researchers from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), one in eight of the 50,000+ ingredients used in many of our favorite lotions, lipsticks and lathers are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors. 

Naturally Savvy: Dangerous Makeup: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

There are numerous websites and apps that can help you avoid dangerous makeup. Some of them include Good GuideSkin Deep (from the Environmental Working Group), and ThinkDirty

Root + Revel: The 10 Most Toxic Skincare Ingredients to Avoid

It all started when I heard about Skin Deep, the Environmental Working Group’s guide to safe, non-toxic beauty products.


IndyStar: Duke Energy proposes a 19% rate increase for residential electricity customers

"So you are talking about a sliver of their system," said Grant Smith, senior energy policy adviser with the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Environmental Working Group. "They are essentially replacing coal with natural gas and keeping wind and solar on the fringes." Reprinted by the Journal & Courier (Lafayette IN)

Offshore Wind Journal: Senators seek 50% renewable electricity in every state

The legislation has received endorsements from a wide range of groups such as American Council on Renewable Energy, American Wind Energy Association, Appalachian Voices, Environment America, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Environmental Working Group… Reprinted in Utilities Monitor Worldwide (no website)

Food Scores

Salud America: What Hidden Chemicals Lurk in Your Food?

“Between 2002 and 2016, the FDA approved 19 PFAS for use in food packaging and nearly half of the fast food wrappers collected in 2014 and 2015 had detectable PFAS,” the Environmental Working Group (EWG) writes in a June 2019 report.

Glyphosate Round 3 Release

Mercola: 11 Examples Why Glyphosate Harms Your Health

Test results published in August 2018 by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) showed 43 out of 45 food products made with conventionally grown oats tested positive for glyphosate, 31 of which had glyphosate levels higher than EWG scientists believe would be safe for children.

Mercola: Uh-oh – What’s in your Cheerios?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) commissioned another round of glyphosate testing on 21 oat-based cereal and snack products.

Healthy Living App

Delicious Living: Natural beauty now. Tune in. Get gorgeous.

Online sources and apps such as the Think Dirty app and EWG’s Healthy Living app can help you discover clean products.

Meat Eaters Guide to Climate Change + Health

Bangor Daily News: 6 ways to make your barbecue cookout more eco-friendly

A lifecycle analysis conducted by the Environmental Working Group that took into account the production and distribution of over a dozen common agricultural products found that the beef in your hamburger patty and the cheese that tops it is responsible for up to 30 times as many greenhouse gas emissions as other vegetables and grains.

Nitrate Cancer Risk Study

Fox and Hounds Daily: Don’t Tax Latino Communities In Need Of Clean Drinking Water

And an alarming study recently released by the Environmental Working Group found that contaminants in the state’s drinking water — from arsenic to even uranium and radium — could lead to more than 15,000 cancer cases over the course of a lifetime.

2019 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

Asbury Park Press: What’s hiding in your strawberries?

"We were surprised kale had so many pesticides on it, but the test results were unequivocal," said Alexis Temkin, a toxicologist for EWG, in a press release. Reprinted by the Journal & Courier, the Baxter Bulletin, 

Healthy Holistic Living: Kale is Now One of The Most Pesticide-Contaminated Vegetables

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a yearly list containing all of the produce that should be specifically bought organically, as opposed to the products that you can get away with buying normal, but still avoid pesticides. Reprinted by Health Nut News

Mercola: Can tomato juice improve your blood pressure?

Tomatoes are in the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen, which lists the top 10 fruits and vegetables containing the highest levels of pesticide residue, so if you can't buy organic or grow your own, wash tomatoes thoroughly before eating.

Naturally Savvy: 2019 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 EWG Lists Are Out!

Do you use the Environmental Working Group’s 2019 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists to help you do your produce shopping?

EWG's Guide to Sunscreens

Chicago Sun-Times: Sunscreens under scrutiny: While the FDA looks into some ingredients, here’s a guide to making smart choices

People should aim for SPF ratings between 30 and 50, according to the dermatology academy, which is based in Rosemont and represents more than 20,000 dermatologists, and another organization that also publishes sunscreen information: the Environmental Working Group, a not-for-profit advocacy group.

The Daily Independent (Ashland KY): 9 things to love about summer

In fact, the Environmental Working Group says that about two-thirds of sunscreens offer inadequate sun protection or contain worrisome ingredients.

The Hill: Is sunscreen safe?

It’s worth noting that the Environmental Working Group, which rates sunscreen every year, estimated in May that 25 percent of the sunblock currently on the market wouldn’t meet the safety standards now proposed. Reprinted by MSNus.pressfrom.com

North Shore Magazine (Andover MA): Breakup with (Toxic) Makeup

Whatever choice you make, look for products that have been evaluated for sunscreen safety by the Environmental Working Group.

Y98 (St. Louis MO): Sunscreens And Safety Tips From The Environmental Working Group

Just in time for the long Independence Day weekend, the Environmental Working Group just updated it’s "Guide to Sunscreens".

Tap Water Database

Chemical & Engineering News: US EPA finds little risk in latest chemical assessments

1,4-dioxane also contaminates drinking water from public utilities in 27 US states, serving more than 7 million people, according to a 2017 report by the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy group.

The Gazette (Cedar Rapids IA): Ernst is not working to protect Iowans

The Environmental Working Group calculated that current nitrate contamination of U.S. drinking water may be responsible each year for 2,939 babies born at very low weight and 1,725 babies born very preterm. Nitrate may be responsible for 41 annual cases of neural tube defects.

Mercola: Vitamin C: A Natural Way to Protect Yourself From Water Pollution

In 2010, the Environmental Working Group (EWG)14 published an executive summary showing at least 74 million U.S. citizens in 42 states were drinking tap water contaminated with chromium, much of it likely in the form of cancer-causing hexavalent chromium.

Santa Monica Daily Press (CA): Student News: Consumers Are Polluting Water

According to the Environmental Working Group, over 93% of Americans have Bisphenol-A (BPA) in their bodies. This is an organic compound which is poorly soluble in water.

PFAS in Drinking Water

Burlington County Times: Boyle’s “Protect Drinking Water from PFAS Act” would give the EPA two years to create a drinking water standard for all PFAS chemicals

The Environmental Working Group, an environmental nonprofit that has tracked PFAS contamination throughout the country and estimates as many as 110 million Americans have some level of the chemicals in their drinking water, also applauded the bill. “If the EPA won’t do its job and help communities stop the flow of PFAS-contaminated water into homes, schools, and businesses, Congress must force them to act,” said Scott Faber, the group’s senior vice president for government affairs.

The Oakland Press (Troy MI): Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin to host public forum on PFAS

In May, the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute and Environmental Working Group released a report showing Michigan with the highest number of PFAS-contaminated sites in the country at 192

Tribune News Service: Cities Confront the ‘Forever Chemicals’ Contaminating Drinking Water

As of March, at least 610 locations in 43 states -- many of them associated with drinking water systems or military bases -- were known to be affected by PFAS pollution, according to the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization.


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