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EWG News Roundup (4/21): Animal Waste and N.C. Property Rights, Pressure on 1,4-Dioxane

Friday, April 21, 2017

Happy (early) Earth Day! Although, here at EWG, everyday is Earth Day.

Right now, there is legislation barreling its way through the North Carolina General Assembly that would, in effect, roll back property rights to nearly 1 million North Carolinians living near industrial animal feeding operations.

EWG has previously shined a spotlight on the widespread issues associated with concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, in North Carolina. We continued that work this week by releasing a ground-breaking analysis of the proposed law and its implications, as well as an interactive map of homes within a half mile of a CAFO.

Also this week, EWG released a survey to 500 personal care product manufacturers to ensure they were taking steps to remove 1,4-dioxane, a likely carcinogen, from their products. This came after New York Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand released a petition last week urging the Food and Drug Administration to ban the chemical from use in personal care products.

Here’s some news you can use as you begin your weekend.

CAFOs in North Carolina

AP: Environmental Groups Map Homes, Hog Farms

Environmental Working Group and Waterkeeper Alliance are releasing an interactive map Sunday showing the proximity of homes to high-density hog and poultry barns around North Carolina. They estimate about 60,000 homes are within a half-mile of livestock operations, representing families likely to be affected if the legislation undercutting nuisance lawsuits is approved.

Republished 55 additional times, including in The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.) and The Times-News (Burlington, N.C.).

Mother Jones: North Carolina Republicans Are Trying to Keep Residents From Suing Hog Farms

A recent analysis of satellite data by Environmental Working Group found that around 160,000 North Carolinians, representing more than 60,000 households, live within a half mile of a CAFO or a manure pit. In Duplin County alone, more than 12,000 people—about a fifth of the county's population—live within sniffing distance of one of these fragrant facilities, EWG found. A growing body of research, summarized here, shows that these operations "pollute local ground and surface water," and "routinely emit air pollutants that negatively impact the quality of life and health of nearby residents." High levels of the air-borne toxins hydrogen sulfide and ammonia can trigger eye irritation, difficulty breathing, and feelings of stress and anxiety, research shows.

Organic Authority: Nearly 1 Million North Carolinians Affected by Hog Farm Pollution, Reports EWG

The Environmental Working Group launched interactive mapping software earlier this week to allow North Carolinians to easily search for factory farms near their homes. This announcement came just days after news of a bill that, if passed, would free livestock producers in the state – home to the third largest hog production in the country – from prosecution over the intense odor produced by the farms. Often, civil litigation is the only recourse that families affected by the hog farm smell have.

The Salisbury Post: Report: 448 Parcels of Land Affected by Proposed Nuisance Lawsuit Law

The Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group, which released Monday’s report, estimated roughly 160,000 people across North Carolina would be affected by the proposed law. In Rowan County, it’s estimated that 1,165 people could be affected by the bill.

Facing South: Mapping Those Affected by North Carolina's Factory-Farm Protection Bill

"If this bill becomes law, you have to wonder which polluting industry will get legal immunity from North Carolina's legislators next," said EWG President Ken Cook. "And how many more thousands of North Carolinians will be deprived of their access to justice if the legislature turns the state over to polluters?"

The Bladen Journal: Environmental Working Group Says House Bill 467 Could Affect 190 Sites in Bladen County

“(The bill) is moving through the North Carolina legislature at an incredibly rapid pace with no indication anyone has taken pause to evaluate how many people are affected by the legislation or the scope of it,” said Craig Cox, Senior Vice President of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Environmental Working Group. “It’s clearly being driven by pork producers.”


Vogue: The Potentially Harmful Ingredient to Consider Banning From Your Bathroom Arsenal

As the Trump administration continues to roll back environmental regulations, New York senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are taking the opposite tactic and asking the Food and Drug Administration to ban a potentially cancerous ingredient that may—albeit unwittingly—be part of your daily beauty regimen. The chemical—1,4-dioxane—is used in everything from shampoos and shower gels to foaming hand soaps and even lotions. And it doesn’t need to be in any of them. The ingredient is actually a byproduct made during the creation of other chemicals used to produce foams or keep solutions in suspension, and it has “no real purpose in cosmetics,” according to Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Teen Vogue: Senators Petition to Ban Potentially Cancerous Beauty Products Ingredients

"The health risks posed by exposure to 1,4-dioxane deserve immediate action from the FDA,” said Scott Faber, EWG's senior vice president of government affairs in a statement. "Manufacturers need to be aware of the hazardous substances found in their personal care products. American families — especially those with young children — need to know the chemicals they’re exposed to when they wash their hair, cleanse their skin and fill their tubs with bubble bath.” To set things into motion, the EWG sent out a survey to approximately 500 manufacturers, asking how they intend to strip1,4-dioxane from their products

Bustle: A “Likely Carcinogen” Is In About Half Of Your Personal Care Products

The Environmental Working Group applauded the senators for making the push with the FDA. They claimed

Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said his advocacy organization did not comment and has been struggling to keep up with the “overwhelming, pretty much nonstop assault” on rules put in place under Obama. “The big picture is at every turn, once the transition began, every special interest in the country was signaled, ‘Hey, it’s all you can eat,’ ” Cook said.

in 2008 that dioxane 1,4 can be found in 46 percent of personal-care products. That may have decreased, but we have no way of knowing, since some companies aren't obligated to list every ingredient.

Glamour: Two Senators Are Trying to Ban a Carcinogen Found in Almost Half of Personal Care Products

The chemical is used as a solvent in personal-care products like shampoo, shower gels, foaming hand soaps, lotion, and body wash, according to the CDC—and quite a few of them at that. In 2008 the Environmental Working Group found that almost half (46 percent) of these products contain the potentially cancer-causing agent. Unfortunately for concerned consumers, though, it's hard to actively avoid: Not all companies are required to list it on product labels.

The Daily Mail: The Cancer-Causing Chemical Lurking in YOUR Shower: Senators Urge FDA to Ban Dangerous Toxin Used in Scores of Bathing Products

The Environmental Working Group counts at least 8,000 products on the market in the US with ingredients that may contain 1,4-dioxane. 

Although the chemical is not intentionally added to the majority of bath products, it may occur as an unintentional byproduct in some of the ingredients used.


NBC: Potent Carcinogen Contaminated Drinking Water Used by Millions, Says Report

"The TCP story raises disturbing questions about how many other unknown toxic chemicals are hiding in products or being sold as safe or useful even when their makers know they aren't," Walker added.

According to the EWG, the prospect of getting caught by regulators isn't a concern to companies like Shell, which made a profit of $3.5 billion in 2016. Fines and settlements are viewed as "the cost of doing business," which seem meager when compared to the massive amount of profit that can be made.

"The bottom line is that the way we regulate chemicals in this country is badly broken," Walker explained. "Chemicals are introduced into the marketplace without being tested for safety, often by companies simply notifying the EPA or FDA. When the EPA or FDA do start looking at a harmful chemical in water or food, the process of risk assessment, setting a standard or banning it can take years or decades."

Republished 25 times, including by KSBW8 (Monterey, Calif.), WESH2 (Orlando, Fla.) and WCVB5 (Boston, Mass.).

Environmental Protection Agency

The Washington Post: EPA Emerges as Major Target After Trump Solicits Policy Advice From Industry

Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said his advocacy organization did not comment and has been struggling to keep up with the “overwhelming, pretty much nonstop assault” on rules put in place under Obama. “The big picture is at every turn, once the transition began, every special interest in the country was signaled, ‘Hey, it’s all you can eat,’ ” Cook said.

Mother Jones: 6 Ways Trump's Administration Could Literally Make America More Toxic

This year, more controversial pesticides are due for agency review, a process that weighs the latest scientific findings with public comment to determine whether the substance can continue to be used—though the White House has the final say. These reviews often lag for many years. And Trump's EPA, with its anti-regulatory bent and a new administrator plucked straight from the chemical-company-allied American Chemistry Council, can further stall the review process in a few ways, for instance by cutting research funding. Or, as Pruitt did last week, ax regulation when the review is in "the eleventh hour," as Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst at the Environmental Working Group, explained.

Cleveland Times Free Press: Cleaveland: The Risks of Gutting the EPA

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Environmental Working Group ( is an excellent source of information on EDCs and other toxins.

Each of these chemicals generates heated debate regarding toxicity and safety among manufacturers, politicians, environmental advocates and government regulators. The key question: What are safe levels in the environment and in the human body?


EcoWatch: Dow Chemical Pushes Trump Administration to Scrap Pesticide Study

"Public health experts, pediatricians and EPA scientists all agree that chlorpyrifos is unsafe for children at any level," Environmental Working Group Senior VP for government affairs Scott Faber said after Pruitt announcement. "That overwhelming and uniform agreement among experts should have been all the information Administrator Pruitt needed to protect kids from this notorious neurotoxin. Yet, he decided instead to side with Croplife, Dow and the rest of chemical agriculture and allow chlorpyrifos to remain in use."

Personal Care Products

The San Francisco Chronicle: Navigating the Green Beauty Trend

Some of the most common and worrisome toxic substances that are prevalent in personal-care products in the U.S. are: the chemical sunscreen oxybenzone; parabens; sodium laureth sulfate (SLS), a detergent used in everything from shampoos and mouthwash to soap and baby products; phthalates, which are restricted in Europe; and mineral oil, found in popular moisturizers like Aquaphor and Crème de la Mer. Their effects can range from disrupting wearers’ homones and endocrine systems to immune-toxicity and birth defects, according to the nonprofit research firm Environmental Working Group.

MarketWatch: After Conquering Restaurant Menus, Quinoa is Now the Hot Ingredient in Shampoo

Personal care products are widely used — men use six a day on average and women use 12, according to the Environmental Working Group — but the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t updated its laws on the products since 1938. The EWG made its searchable “Skin Deep” database as a response, and a way for consumers to learn more about what’s in their products.


The Huffington Post: Skin And Sun: Important Tips On Protecting Kids Against The Summer Sun

If you are confused by the barrage of products out there, the Environmental Working Group is a science-based resource that presents the facts in terms of harmful ingredients and effectiveness. The site also includes articles on the latest findings. Check it out here:

The Cheat Sheet: The 10 Best (and Worst) Sunscreens You Can Buy

As we transition into spring and summer, it’s imperative you make a point of slathering on and reapplying sunscreen every single day. However, did you know that not all sunscreens are created equally? Every year, the Environmental Working Group runs thousands of sunscreen tests and reviews to determine which consumer brands are delivering on their promises, and which are letting you down.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in ProduceTM

The Daily Beast: Ivanka Preaches Organic, Silent While Dad OKs Toxic Pesticide

The very fact that Ivanka Trump feeds her kids organic food and recommends via her website that others do the same despite the added cost acknowledges that the pesticides being presently employed constitute a potential danger for children. Otherwise, why eat organic?

“Organic fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts and seeds are those that are grown without the use of toxic pesticides and herbicide,” notes the health coach on “It is definitely worth the premium price tag… If you can get organic and local, you’ve hit the jackpot!”

The coach continues, “Each year the Environmental Working Group publishes a list of the produce with the highest amount—and most toxic pesticides—called the Dirty Dozen plus list.”

Style Blueprint: Healthy & Affordable Grocery Shopping: A How-To Guide

The Environmental Working Group publishes their Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists every year, ranking those fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest pesticide residue, respectively. For example, if you eat a ton of strawberry spinach salad and notice that both ingredients are at the top of the 2017 Dirty Dozen list (which they are), it might make sense for you to select the organic versions for these two. Meaning, “even if a food you like is in the dirty dozen, you only have to buy organic if you eat these foods often (more than once or twice a week) to keep your overall exposure to pesticides low,” says Lindsay.

The Organic Authority: 3-Ingredient Raspberry Jam Recipe (With a Chia Seed Healthy Hack)

When it comes to berries, go organic – always. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) continuously finds that berries, specifically strawberries, are sprayed with all sorts of pesticides, which remain on the fruit and then are consumed via a smoothie or shortcake. The EWG notes that individuals consume roughly eight pounds of fresh strawberries annually, and with them “dozens of pesticides, including chemicals that have been linked to cancer and reproductive damage, or that are banned in Europe.”

When it comes to all berries – splurge and shop organic. Save your money for the “clean fifteen” or the EWG’s list of the least pesticide contaminated fruits and vegetables, which includes produce such as avocado (there is a God!), cauliflower, and mango.


The Chicago Tribune: Editorial: A Chemical Spill, Too Close for Comfort

"Even a single gallon of hexavalent chromium could contaminate billions of gallons of drinking water," David Andrews, senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, told the Tribune's Michael Hawthorne.

Earth Day

Bustle: Organizations To Support On Earth Day 2017 (As Well As Every Day After)

The Environmental Working Group hope to empower their followers to live happier and healthier lives through tips on their website and social media platforms.

Ecocult: The 6 Most Powerful Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

Environmental Working Group – The EWG researches and advocates in the areas of toxic chemicals, agricultural subsidies, public lands, and corporate accountability. Their main goal is to protect Americans’ health and the environment.

The Delaware County Daily Times: Celebrate Earth Day by Going Green With Food, Fitness and Cleaning

Eat organic: Moses said eating organic can also be environmentally friendly but organic products should still be locally made. She said there’s a list call the “dirty dozen” of foods that should always be bought organic while a list called the “clean 15” includes produce that’s not necessary to buy organic. The list can be found on the Environmental Working Group website at

Green and Clean Homes

The Chicago Daily Herald: Tips to Help Navigate Through Allergy Season

My kids grasped that certain foods could trigger an allergic reaction, and that pollen, fertilizers and other outdoor pollutants could be culprits, but they had a harder time believing that our electronics and carpets shed chemicals that end up annoying our immune systems.

According to the Environmental Working Group, flame retardants are one big offender because they are in so many consumer products, such as telephones, televisions, sofas, toys and basketballs.

Long Island Pulse: Detox Your Bedroom for Better Sleep

A few general things to consider:

  • Look for beds and bedding made with natural fibers such as cotton, wool, and hemp, which don’t catch fire easily or burn quickly and are less likely to be treated with toxic flame retardants.
  • Not sure how to find PBDE-free mattresses and bedding? Find a list at

Healthy Pets: The Worst Pet Food for Toxic PDBEs

The Environmental Working Group offers the following tips to help limit your family's and pet's exposure to PBDE-containing products.


Goop: The Importance of a Pre-Pregnancy Detox—Plus, Fertility Boosters

It’s worth the effort: Babies today are born pre-polluted. One Environmental Working Group study found a total of 232 toxic chemicals in umbilical cord blood; another found 287 different industrial chemicals and pollutants—180 of which are known to cause cancer in humans and 217 of which are toxic to the brain and nervous system.


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