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EWG News Roundup (4/17): Protecting Our Food and Farm Workers from COVID-19, the Case for Stimulus Investments in U.S. Tap Water Supply, and More

In the News
Friday, April 17, 2020

Congress may soon consider spending billions of dollars in the next coronavirus stimulus package to upgrade our aging drinking water infrastructure. EWG laid out the case this week for investing in cleaning up the contaminants in Americans’ drinking water.

EWG broke down what might happen if a large number of the 20 million individuals who grow, harvest, pack, process, transport, serve and sell our food all fell ill with COVID-19. There are steps we believe lawmakers and the Trump administration should take to ensure the well-being and financial security of this vital part of the U.S. workforce, who are risking their lives to provide our food.

Despite the pandemic, this week the Trump administration took steps to roll back, again, another important health-protective rule. First, ignoring his own scientists and public health advocates, Environmental Protection Agency head Andrew Wheeler refused to strengthen federal standards for soot emitted from auto tailpipes and smokestacks.

“This decision is as tone-deaf as it is reckless,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Right now, long-term exposure to PM2.5 is increasing the number of people who are dying from the coronavirus. If there ever was a moment for all Americans, regardless of political persuasion, to demand the Trump EPA stop gutting the nation’s air quality standards and finally place a premium on public health protection, it’s now.”

The EPA also eased Obama-era limits on mercury emissions from coal plants that had resulted in a roughly 80 percent reduction in mercury emissions since 2011. The EPA previously estimated the rule would prevent roughly 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks each year. 

We explained a recent Harvard study that found coronavirus sufferers in places with dirtier air are far more likely to die than those in areas with cleaner air.

And finally, EWG took a look at the opening of a huge flood management structure, which will relieve the swollen Mississippi River but could cause a recurrence of a huge toxic algae bloom along the Gulf Coast.

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

Children’s Health

Environmental Health News: Making toxic-free births a Christian issue

"The irony of it all is that one of the issues they couldn't agree on was...the extent to which Congress should direct the EPA to take the impacts of PFAS on the developing fetus and mother into account, when establishing a drinking water standard," Scott Faber, senior vice president, government affairs, at the Environmental Working Group, told EHN.

Mother Mag: Mother Essentials: Shazi Visram of Healthnest

The Environmental Working Group. “The EWG is my go-to resource for science-backed information on what’s safe for my family to consume and bring into our environment.

Healthline: The Super-Handy Resource Guide New Parents Should Keep in Their Back Pocket

If you’re concerned about the skin care and household products you use during pregnancy and postpartum, the Environmental Working Group has a super helpful database of rated products.

COVID-19 and EPA Roll Back of Air Pollution Regulations

Courthouse News Service: Mercury Rule on Chopping Block After 80% Cut in Pollution

Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group — a conservationist activist group focused on protecting human health and the environment — called the plan “beyond stupid.”

Wisconsin Gazette: Despite link to COVID-19 deaths, Trump's EPA refuses to strengthen soot standards

This decision by Andrew Wheeler is as tone-deaf as it is reckless,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Right now, long-term exposure to PM2.5 is increasing the number of people who are dying from the coronavirus.

Common Dreams: Trump EPA 'Defies Logic' With Emission Standard Rule—Even as Experts Warn Air Pollution Makes Coronavirus More Deadly

"This decision by Andrew Wheeler is as tone-deaf as it is reckless," said Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook in a statement. "Right now, long-term exposure to PM 2.5 is increasing the number of people who are dying from the coronavirus…” Reprinted by Raw Story

COVID-19 and Farm Workers

Miami Herald: Farmers are essential but vulnerable to coronavirus. Is the US food supply at stake?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization “dedicated to protecting human health and the environment,” says as more workers fall ill, the greater the chances that the country’s food supply chain will unravel. Reprinted by Idaho Statesman; Belleville News-Democrat (Ill.)Bradenton Herald (Fla.)Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.);The Island Packet (Beaufort County, S.C.); 10 other media outlets

COVID-19 Stimulus Legislation

The Revelator: Pandemic Shines a Light on Critical Water Issues — Will Congress Fund Solutions?

“The next COVID-19 stimulus package provides an opportunity to invest in ways that create lots of jobs and finally begin to provide the level of resources that are needed to make sure no one is drinking polluted water,” says Scott Faber, senior vice-president of government affairs at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by Nation of Change

Cleaning Products

Medium: Navigating the Novel Coronavirus: maintaining your physical and mental health during quarantine

The EPA offered a list of disinfectants that are effective against the coronavirus. However, many contain potentially harmful ingredients. EWG went through the list and refined it to 16 safe products to use against the virus.

University of Utah: Cleaning Your Home (the Safe Way) During Covid-19

It's even better to go to the Environmental Working Group's website, ewg.org, and click on the box that says EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning.

Green Matters: Here's What You Need to Know About Using Vinegar as a Disinfectant

To learn more about products that safely and effectively fight against the coronavirus in your home, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) examined a list of CDC-recommended cleaners and, using their own methodology of seeing what scored an A or B on their own Guide to Healthy Cleaning. (Seventh Generation's line of disinfectant sprays, cleaners, and wipes made the cut.)

Green Matters: These Cleaning Products Are Tough Against Coronavirus, But Gentle on the Planet

The Environmental Working Group — aka the EWG — put together a list of 16 cleaning products that they deemed both effective and safe in the battle against COVID-19.

Natural News: Not every store-bought cleaning product can protect you from coronavirus

Furthermore, the Environmental Working Group has warned that many cleaning products don’t have very informative labels, and that many consumers aren’t fully aware of the ingredients of the products they are buying.

WTSP-TV (St. Petersburg, Fla.): You're cleaning your home more, but what are those chemicals doing to your health?

The Environmental Working Group also gave us a list of the top green cleaning products. 

Cosmetics

The Spa Insider: #BeautyBoss: Jenefer Palmer, Founder of OSEA

In 2002, OSEA was the first company to sign The Compact for Global Production of Safe Health and Beauty Products, an initiative from the Environmental Working Group whose mission is to insure that products are “free of chemicals that are known or strongly suspected of causing cancer, mutation or birth defects.”

EWG VERIFIED™

Bustle: The 6 Best Korean Oil Cleansers

Even more credentials: This EWG-certified cleanser is free of minerals, parabens, silicones, and synthetic fragrances, and it’s fetched an almost-perfect rating on Amazon. (I love its luxe, deep golden color, too.)

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Business Insider: This touch-free dispenser moistens regular toilet paper to make wet wipes that are actually flushable

The brand says the ingredients are quite close to what you'd find in a baby wipe and that they're well-rated from the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Directory.

Teen Vogue: What is Sulfate? Understanding Sulfates and Sulfate-Free Products

You can use tools like the EWG’s Skin Deep database, which rates more than 70,000 personal products based on known and suspected hazards of ingredients and available scientific studies about those ingredients, to find and learn about alternatives.

Farm Subsidies

Blog for Arizona Welfare for the Rich: How Your Tax Dollars End Up in Millionaires’ Pockets

Indeed, according to the Environmental Working Group, which tracks farm subsidies and crop insurance payments, fifty billionaire members of the Forbes 400 got over $6.3 million in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2014.

Farming Portal: If crop insurance rewarded conservation practices, would more farmers go no-till?

A 2017 report from the Environmental Working Group pointed out that a provision in the 2014 farm bill allows farmers to exclude particularly bad years when estimating their average yearly income, artificially inflating their expected earnings and, consequently, the inevitable insurance payouts.

Mattresses

Hello Giggles: What to know about recycling tricky items like mattresses and styrofoam, according to an expert

Plus, conventional mattresses contain synthetic fibers, foams, and hazardous flame retardant chemicals, which are hard to recycle and aren’t biodegradable, according to the Environmental Working Group.

PFAS Military Map

Deseret News: New analysis confirms harmful ‘forever chemicals’ at Utah military bases

The Environmental Working Group pulled Department of Defense records and other documents that led them to suspect 678 installations in total may have a problem with PFAS, which are man-made chemicals used in everyday materials to repel oil, water, grease and stains. Reprinted by Coyote GulchKSL (Salt Lake City)10z US Politics

Top Class Actions: PFAS Firefighting Foam Contamination Found at 700 Military Bases

“PFAS contaminate the blood of every American and have been linked to very serious health problems. … The Pentagon’s use of aqueous film-forming foam has disproportionately exposed military service members and their families and nearby communities to higher levels of PFAS pollution,” Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group’s senior vice president told Military.com.

Water Quality Products: Utah Military Bases Show PFAS Contamination

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) alleges that 678 installations in total may have a per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination issue. Reprinted by News Break

PFAS Polluters Map

USA Today: Climate Point: Nepal is melting, and Trump wants to mine the moon

For The Desert Sun, I've got the latest on a new study released Thursday by the Environmental Working Group that found 2,501 sites around the country where PFAS might be escaping into the environment. Reprinted by USA Today affiliates; Daily Magazine

Public News Service: Report: Possible PFAS Chemical-Discharge Sites Top 2,500

Chemical companies, carpet makers, commercial printers, plastics manufacturers and others use PFAS in their products or processes. Scott Fabor, senior vice president for the Environmental Working Group, said local residents have no way of knowing what kinds of chemicals, or how much they might be exposed to.

Waste Dive: New analysis finds sites owned by Waste Management and others could be discharging PFAS

New analysis from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) argues that a number of landfills and other waste sites could be discharging toxic "forever chemicals" into the air and water.

PFAS Tap Water Contamination

Business News Australia: Shine expands PFAS contamination class action against Department of Defense

WCPO, a broadcaster based in Cincinnati, reports claims from Environmental Working Group (EWG) senior scientist David Andrews that the biggest risk of PFAS contamination is from water pollution.

Yes! Solutions Journalism: For Americans Without Water Access, Coronavirus Adds Another Layer of Struggle

And a recent report by the Environmental Working Group detected widespread contamination of U.S. drinking water supplies with man-made “forever chemicals,” including in cities such as Miami, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. Contaminated water isn’t the only issue. Reprinted by California Health Report

The Prevent Future American Sickness (PFAS) Act

Earth Maven: Senate Bill Introduced Earlier This Year Would Regulate Dangerous Chemicals

Environmental Working Group lab tests found that PFAS is widespread in U.S. drinking water. Researchers tested water samples from 44 places in 31 states and the District of Columbia and found that only one sample had no detectable PFAS.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

EatingWell: Hormone-Balancing Foods: How Your Diet Can Help Keep Your Hormones Functioning Well

Consider shopping organic from the "Dirty Dozen" list, which is ranking of the most contaminated produce from the Environmental Working Group.

Longevity: 8 Reasons We’re Still Obsessed With Kale

Also, kale is a common fixture on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list, so it’s important to always opt for organic kale if possible and to thoroughly wash what you do buy. Reprinted by MS

 

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