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EWG News Roundup (4/24): PFAS Cleanup Will Be Costly, But Necessary, Farm Workers Deserve Protections and More

In the News
Friday, April 24, 2020

This week, EWG published a study in the European water industry journal Water Solutions that found that the removal of the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS from drinking water costs local communities millions of dollars.

“This research reveals that escaping PFAS pollution is nearly impossible,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG vice president for science investigations. “Communities across the world are bearing the burden of removing these toxic chemicals from their drinking water. This crisis calls for immediate action to ensure that all people have safe water.”

The Trump administration indicated this week that it may cut the minimum wage for some seasonal farm workers who travel to the U.S. on guest worker visas. EWG strongly disagrees, making the case that farm workers should be getting a pay raise instead of a cut – since they are at serious risk when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, EWG concluded a partnership with the PFAS Project at Northeastern University’s Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute that maintained a joint map that showed the scope of PFAS contamination throughout the nation. The project brought significant public, media and legislative attention to the issue of widespread PFAS contamination. Since 2017, the project has led to more than 600 news stories and more than 860,000 map views.

For decades, PFAS-based firefighting foams have been widely used by the military, fire training centers and airports. EWG made the case that it is now time for these operations to leave the toxic product behind and adopt alternatives.

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

Children’s Health

Berkeley Wellness: Do Kids Need Organic Food?

The Environmental Working Group publishes an annual Dirty Dozen list of fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residues when grown conventionally.

Mercury Pollution from Coal Fired Power Plants

Chemistry World: Environment agency scraps limits on mercury from US coal power plants

The Environmental Working Group’s president, Ken Cook, called the rule ‘beyond stupid’, and former EPA director Gina McCarthy, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, dubbed the rule ‘an absolute abomination’.

Green Matters: EPA Rolls Backs Mercury Regulations, Bailing Out the Fossil Fuel Industry

“It’s beyond stupid to repeal a rule that has contributed so much to cleaner air and protecting children from a potent neurotoxin,” Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. 

COVID-19 and Food Workers and Restaurants 

Serious Eats: Special Sauce: Tom Colicchio on How to Save Restaurants

And then right after that, I get a phone call from a friend of mine who is a lobbyist in DC who works for the Environmental Working Group, but he has also worked with us at Food Policy Action among lobbying efforts.

COVID-19 and Farmworkers

The Daily Yonder: New Stimulus Package Passed by Senate Missed the Mark, Rural Advocates Say

Scott Faber, Senior V.P. of Government Affairs for the Environmental Working Group, criticized S.A. 1578 in a statement: “As more and more become sick, food supply chains could quickly unravel, causing food prices to spike…”

The Fresno Bee (Calif.): Is protecting farmworkers a national security issue? Fresno-area farmers say yes

The national Environmental Working Group on Thursday warned that a rash of sickened food industry workers could trigger soaring food costs, making it more difficult for families to put food on the table. Reprinted by Daily Republic (Fairfield-Sun City, Calif.)Lincoln Journal Star (Neb.)Atlantic BroadbandWiscNewsArcaMax; 1 other media outlet

COVID-19 and Farm Subsidies

CNN: Trouble in farm country because of Covid-19

However, according to the Environmental Working Group's Farm Subsidy Database, in 2019, 334 farms in Mountrail County received $6.9 million in federal farm subsidies, suggesting many farms with many crops to harvest. Reprinted by The World NewsErie News Now

Trump Administration Farmer Bailout

Fern’s Ag Insider: Farmers to get up to $250,000 each in coronavirus cash, with more possible

Because payments are linked to volume of production, large farmers got the major share of trade war aid, said the Environmental Working Group, which prefers land stewardship spending. EWG said its analysis of USDA records showed that Smith and Sons, a cotton and grain operator in Texas, received $1.45 million trade war aid in 2019. Reprinted by Successful Farming

Mother Jones: The Government Will Spend $3 Billion to Direct Fresh Produce and Dairy to Food Banks

An analysis by Environmental Working Group found that 10 percent of recipients—many of them wealthy owners of large farms—received more than half of the allotted funds.

Common Dreams: USDA's $19 Billion in COVID-19 Relief for Farmers and Food Banks Sparks Questions About Who Will Benefit

As Philpott explained at Mother Jones: During Trump's trade wars in 2018 and 2019, the administration handed a total of $8.6 billion in direct payments, mainly to soybean growers who had seen exports to China plunge because of high tariffs imposed by China. An analysis by Environmental Working Group found that 10% of recipients—many of them wealthy owners of large farms—received more than half of the allotted funds. Reprinted by Citizen TruthAlterNet

Cleaning Products

Brad’s Deals: 5 Earth-Friendly Alternatives to Disposable Household Items

Another helpful link for products like these can be found at the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit that links consumers to eco-friendly products.

Curbed: How to start an eco-friendly laundry routine

he Williams sisters say they use the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning database to check ingredient by ingredient for environmental toxins when researching laundry products.

WKBW (Buffalo, N.Y.): What to look for in your cleaning supplies

Gembar recommends using the Think Dirty App to scan specific products to see what is in them. The Environmental Working Group is a resource to do your research about cleaning supplies.

EWG VERIFIED™

InStyle: Everyone Wants to Use Clean Beauty Products, But Does Anyone Know What "Clean" Really Means?

Beautycounter, Juice Beauty and W3LL PEOPLE have products that are EWG-verified, adhering to the organization’s list of over 1,500 “unacceptable” chemicals and limiting ones that are scientifically questionable for health. Reprinted by Yahoo!

US Magazine: Happy Earth Day! Find Out What Eco-Friendly Beauty Products the Stars are Loving Right Now

Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness is hopelessly devoted to Biossance, an EWG-verified brand focused on sustainability and clean formulas.

Beauty News NYC: Beauty Best Bets for Earth Day

Wear Attitude‘s Natural Care 30 SPF Mineral Sunscreen Face and Body whenever you go out this spring, an EWG-verified, cruelty-free and vegan brand committed to full transparency and operating in good manufacturing practices.

Byrdie: They're Here: The Winners of Byrdie's 2020 Eco Awards

Biossance ships all of its products carbon neutral, thanks to the brand’s funding of tree planting and reforestation projects. All of the brand’s products are made with vegan, non-toxic, EWG Verified formulas and come in renewable sugarcane packaging and compostable boxes.

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

The New York Times: The Types of Plastics Families Should Avoid

The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is a useful resource for identifying phthalate-free products.

Harper’s Bazaar: The Ultimate Guide to Clean Beauty

In the clean beauty space, nontoxic means that a product shouldn’t include any ingredient that’s been deemed toxic at any dose by a third-party resource like the European Union or Environmental Working Group.

Allure: The Best Natural and Organic Makeup Brands That Makeup Artists Actually Use

“‘Clean beauty‘ is a much better term for the consumer as the products are non-toxic and still effective,” says King. “‘Non-toxic’ means free from undesirable ingredients listed by the Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by Lady Click

Glamour: The Best Organic Makeup Brands You Need on Your Radar

Champion safety status from the EWG and Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Reprinted by MSN

Medium-Authority Magazine: The Future Of Beauty: “Use a Selfie To Create Hyper-Customized Skin Care Products” With Navneet Kaur of Yours

These ingredients are 100% clean, have gone through stringent efficacy tests, and have a transparent supply chain with an EWG rating between 1–3.

Mind Body Green: Caffeine In Skin Care: 5 Benefits Of Moving It From Your Mug To Your Moisturizer

Caffeine is generally a very safe ingredient, Ciraldo notes. It earned a score of 1 on the EWG's Skin Deep scale, confirming that it's a low-hazard ingredient with a good amount of studies available on the topic.

People: Kourtney Kardashian Uses This Lengthening Mascara Every Day - and It's on Sale

It’s one of the nontoxic products, which she chooses based on their EWG cosmetic score, that she says she’s using every day.

EWG’s Consumer Guides

Root + Revel: Fertility Treatment: Overview of Mind-Body Tools + Resources

The Environmental Working Group is a great resource for learning about which products are healthy and which aren’t.

Healthy Living App

Poosh: 12 Ways to SAVE THE EARTH IN 2020

Look for keywords like “fragrance” and “SLS” and check your product safety on the Environmental Working Group Healthy Living App.

Mattresses

Apartment Therapy: 10 Organic Mattresses You Can Shop Now

It meets certification standards set by GOTS, GOLS, Organic Exchange OCS100, MADE SAFE, GREENGUARD Gold, Rainforest Alliance, PETA, and Green America, and it’s been recommended by AllergyKids Foundation, The Ecology Center, Environmental Working Group (EWG), American Sustainable Business Council, and many more.

Meat Eaters Guide to Climate Change + Health

Peta: There’s a Bigger, Scarier Public Health Crisis Skulking Behind COVID-19

Nearly 80% of all meat found in U.S. grocery stores contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to the Environmental Working Group.

The Union Journal: Wet Markets vs. Factory Farms: Which Are Worse?

Nearly 80% of all meat discovered in UNITED STATE food store consists of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms, according to the Environmental Working Group. Findings suggest that these drug-resistant genetics spread out much more thoroughly as well as swiftly on ranches than researchers formerly believed.

Nitrate in Tap Water

Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN): Coronavirus forces California farmworkers to scramble for safe drinking water

Nearly three-fourths of those communities, according to an Environmental Working Group analysis of its tap-water database, are in California and four other states where agriculture is big business: Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arizona.

PFAS Military Map

The American Legion: A toxic mess

Current and former military bases have some of the nation’s highest PFAS levels, according to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

The Progressive: Wisconsin’s Fight Against the F-35s

Data compiled by the advocacy organization Environmental Working Group—and collected by the Department of Defense—shows 678 sites across the country where military bases were suspected of introducing PFAS contaminants into the water, and 328 where the chemicals were found in drinking water next to a base. 

Stars and Stripes: 'Forever chemicals' are hundreds of times over safe levels at Katterbach Kaserne site in Germany, Army report says

Sometimes called “forever” chemicals because they take so long to break down in the environment, PFAS have been confirmed or are suspected at 678 military installations in the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii, according to an analysis of Defense Department data published this month by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

PFAS Polluters Map

The Hill: EPA is abandoning those suffering from toxic PFAS pollution

But reporting is not enough. The Environmental Working Group estimates that at least 2,500 industrial facilities across the U.S. could be discharging PFAS into the air and water. Reprinted by Common Dreams

PFAS Regulation

E&E News: Lawmakers eye future stimulus for PFAS limits

Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, said the Effluent Guidelines Program makes sure facilities are paying the cost to clean up their pollution and that financial burden does not fall on the utilities or water ratepayers.

Inside EPA: Environmentalists Seek To Close ‘Loopholes’ In Bid To Curb New PFAS Uses

Submitted April 9, the comments are signed by national and local groups, including Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Working Group, Natural Resources Defense Council, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, Sierra Club and Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water.

PFAS Tap Water Contamination

The Doctors: Choose the Best Water Filter to Remove Chemicals from Your Drinking Water

Could your tap water be contaminated with forever chemicals? A new study by theEnvironmental Working Group found that potentially harmful "forever chemicals" known asperfluorinated chemicals or PFAs (PFOA & PFO) may be found in our drinking water at a much higher rate than previously estimated.

The Capital Times (Madison, Wisc.): High PFAS levels found in Starkweather Creek sediment

The chemicals, called “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down in nature, have permeated water reservoirs across the U.S., and at least trace amounts have been detected in the vast majority of drinking water samples recently tested by the Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by The Journal Times (Racine, Wisc.)

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.

Public News Service: COVID-19 Worsens Water Crisis for Families in Rural California

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.

Albany Times-Union: Cohoes to consider halting PFAS burning at Norlite

And a recent survey by the Environmental Working Group suggested that other sites such as airports or industrial spots may have similar deposits of PFAS from firefighting practices.

SNAP

AgriPulse: SNAP benefits increase by $2B a month with emergency increase

By leaving the SNAP increase out of a coronavirus relief bill that passed the Senate on Tuesday, Congress "missed an opportunity ... to help ensure every family has enough to eat," said Scott Faber, senior vice president of the Environmental Working Group, which advocates on food policy.

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

Best Gaming Pro: Top 10 Best Sunscreen Mist With Vitamins 2020

Scores tremendous protected score of 1 by the environmental working group’s pores and skin deep.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Mashable: Skip the grocery store by growing your own produce indoors

EWG.org (the Environmental Working Group) publishes an annual "Dirty Dozen" list that highlights grocery store fruits and veggies that tested for the highest pesticide content.

Eating Well: 7 Tips for Clean Eating

Choose organic produce where you can, focusing on buying organic foods from the EWG's Dirty Dozen list and cutting yourself some slack with the Clean 15 foods list.

Growing Produce: Eager to Feed Your COVID-19 Diet? Eat Fresh

Strawberries once again tops the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list.

News 12 Brooklyn: EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce aims to help choose when to go organic

Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases an updated Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Reprinted by News 12 Long IslandNews 12 The BronxNews 12 New Jersey; other associated publications

Tap Water Database

Before It’s News: Sprouted foods are only as “organic” as the water they use

Then in Jan of 2018, the EWG dropped a bombshell report demonstrating that more than half the country has been drinking carcinogenic radioactive tap water, the result of failing water infrastructure being piped into cities and peoples homes.

Camille Styles: 8 Simple Ways to Make Your Home Healthier

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found nearly 50,000 American public water systems contaminated with hundreds of harmful chemicals.

Umbilical Cord Blood Study

Dr. Greene: Chemicals, Cancer, & Change

The report highlights the game-changing Environmental Working Group studies on umbilical cord blood that I helped EWG develop and release, where we found 180 carcinogens in babies (and 217 chemicals that were toxic to the brain or nervous system), even before the babies were born – chemicals that could set a trajectory for disease much later in life.

 

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