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EWG News Roundup (7/21): Trump’s Troubling 6 Months, Asbestos in Children’s Cosmetics and Chemical Industry Shill Tapped for Top EPA Slot

Friday, July 21, 2017

This week we marked the six-month mark of the Trump presidency, which has been nothing short of an unprecedented assault on children’s health. Some of the low points of the half-year mark for the Trump team include pulling clean water protections for 117 million Americans, cancelling a scheduled ban of a nerve-damaging pesticide and slashing funding for the Environmental Protection Agency – including its funding to protect children from lead poisoning.

“If the pace of President Trump’s first six months continues in removing common-sense health protections and allowing increased toxic pollution in our water, air and consumer products, the stark truth is that more Americans will die,” said EWG Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Scott Faber. “Trump’s battering of these regulatory safeguards is a cold-hearted attempt to side-swipe public health and the Environmental Protection Agency into a ditch in order to distract his shrinking base of supporters from his unraveling presidency.”

On a separate startling note, research out of North Carolina found the deadly carcinogen asbestos in cosmetics products marketed to tweens. This is a stark reminder that lawmakers must take action to prevent the most vulnerable among us from harmful ingredients in everyday products. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, have introduced the Personal Care Products Safety Act, which would give the Food and Drug Administration the ability to better regulate such products.

Also this week, EWG has been following the nomination of chemical industry ally Michael Dourson to a key EPA position with enormous responsibility to protect children from toxic chemicals. The Trump team has picked Dourson to be the next head of the EPA’s chemical and pesticides office. Dourson has been very closely linked to the chemical industry for decades, and EWG has long documented his fights against clean water rules and children’s health protections.

News came out today that Dourson and his science-for-hire firm aided DuPont in defending cancer-causing nonstick chemicals that were found in drinking water throughout the nation. 

For additional coverage on those stories and more, here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.

Asbestos in Children’s Products

Huffington Post: Parents Beware: Asbestos May Be In More Toys Than You Think

Just two years ago, the Environmental Working Group Action Fund (EWG) discovered asbestos in children’s crayons manufactured in China and imported to the United States. Multiple crayon brands were yanked from store shelves in order to prioritize our family’s safety before corporate profits. 

WKRC: Asbestos found in department store makeup

The best advice for parents is to carefully read the ingredients on the products. The only way to know if makeup is asbestos free is through tests. Organizations such as the Environmental Working Group can tell you which products are safe and free of toxins.

WTVD: Company issues response after I-Team finds asbestos in girl's makeup

There are websites you can use, such as, which verifies products that are toxic free and safe to use in your home. On this site you can search for different types of makeup, food sources, and household cleaning products and see how what you are using rates on the EWG scale of low, medium, or high hazard. Reprinted by ABC 11.

TCP in the California Central Valley

NBC News: Cancer-Causing Chemical TCP Plagues California Drinking Water

The precedent set by California on Tuesday could be important nationwide. The Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization, collected data from water utilities nationwide and concluded that TCP has been detected in at least 17 states, serving millions of people. EWG currently lists 13 on its website, but will be updating the list to include four more states. Reprinted by MSN and five other outlets.

KNTV: State Water Board Sets Limit for Cancer-Causing Chemical 1 Million Californians Could be Drinking in Harmful Amounts

According to the advocacy organization Environmental Working Group, California is not the only state with troubling amounts of TCP in drinking water. The group collected water data from water utilities across the country and found the chemical in at least 17 different states.

EPA Nominee Michael Dourson

Chemical Watch: NGOs question Dourson's ties to industry, conflicts of interest

Fellow NGO Environmental Working Group said that in the more than two decades Dr. Dourson has spent away from the EPA, he has served as a "scientist for hire", working for chemical companies.

Toxic Substances Control Act

Chemical Watch: House committee calls for EPA to delay TSCA section 6 rules

Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney at the NGO Environmental Working Group (EWG), called it an "outrageous demand". It "reaffirms the hostility" toward environmental protections being seen from both Congress and the White House, "in the name of protecting the profits of the chemicals industry", she added.

Arsenic in Rice 6 Dangerous Food Prep Mistakes That Make You Sick

Environmental Working Group, a consumer-advocacy group, suggests rinsing brown rice through before you cook it (as well as these other strategies to keep your family arsenic-free). A good rinse could lower arsenic levels by 30-40%. (This doesn't work with white rice.) For babies, consider orange vegetables as a first food instead of rice-based cereal, suggests EWG, or cook your rice in a coffee pot. Really. 

Bug Repellent

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Natural protection from mosquitos and sun

Although the Centers for Disease Control, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Environmental Working Group all say that the best protection against insect bites is DEET at 20 to 30 percent protection, many people who want natural-based insect repellents shy away from it. Originally ran in the Chicago Tribune. Also reprinted by the Palm Beach Post and My Daytona Daily News

Chlorpyrifos Pediatricians Are Protesting as the EPA Reverses Pesticide Ban

Last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) issued a joint letter to Scott Pruitt, the EPA's administrator, expressing their concern that the proposal to ban chlorpyrifos had been tabled.


Bustle: 15 Scary Ways You Didn’t Realize You’re Putting Yourself In Danger Every Day

"According to a study by the Environmental Working Group, women in the US apply an average of 168 chemicals to their faces and bodies every single day," Diane Elizabeth, beauty expert and founder of Skin Care Ox, tells Bustle. She suggests reading the ingredient labels and, if you don't recognize one, to do a quick search online. 

Popsugar: These 28 Drugstore Finds Prove Nontoxic Makeup Doesn't Have to Be Expensive

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group also researches environmental health issues, like pesticides, GMOs, and chemicals in consumer  goods. As part of its work, EWG powers the Skin Deep database, cataloging more than 60,000 cosmetic products, giving each a ranking from one to 10. Ratings of one and two indicate a low hazard.


MindBodyGreen: A New Study Shows This Hormone Disrupter Is In A LOT Of Food (Even Healthy Kinds)

Switch personal care products to phthalate-free by checking out resources like the Environmental Working Group.

EWG's Consumer Guide to Seafood

MindBodyGreen: Vitamin Sea: 9 Next-Level Ways To Use The Healing Magic Of The Ocean

Fish such as wild-caught salmon, sardines, rainbow trout, Atlantic mackerel, and shellfish like mussels and oysters are rated by the Environmental Working Group as the best fish for you and the environment for their high omega-3 fats, low mercury levels, and sustainability factors. The ones you want to avoid due to higher levels of toxins are king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, and tilefish.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in ProduceTM

Daily Mail: Why you should only buy organic strawberries: The summer-favorite fruit contains AT LEAST 20 pesticides

Researchers from the Environmental Working Group analyzed 48 types of popular non-organically grown fruit and vegetables. The analysis was based on more than 36,000 samples collected by the The United States Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

Huffington Post: The Health Benefits Of Strawberries For Older Adults

Strawberries hold the dubious distinction of ranking first on the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen List, which means that they have the highest pesticide content of any fruit or vegetable. As such, you definitely should buy organic. If you take beta blockers, be sure to minimize your strawberry consumption because the fruit contains high levels of potassium.

EWG’s Guide to Sunscreen

Dallas Morning News: What you don't know about spray-on sunscreen could burn you

"It's a flawed product," says Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst at the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that researches public health issues. Lunder, who wrote the group's 2017 Guide to Sunscreens, says her organization thinks so poorly of spray sunscreens that it refuses to rank which brands perform better than others. Studies show sprays "are basically the worst format of sunscreen" when it comes to protecting your skin, Lunder says.

Golf Digest: Healthy Living: Nine Suncare Essentials

Generally speaking, wearing any sunscreen is better than none at all. But many products come with ingredients that are bad for you, says the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit health-research organization. Look for titanium dioxide or zinc oxide on your sunscreen's list of active ingredients. If it lists anything other than those two things, don't say we didn't warn you.

Huffington Post: More Information Is Always Better, Right?

After settling on a sunscreen that is approved (for now) by the Environmental Working Group and Consumer Reports I decide to take the kids to that park with the lake beach.

US News & World Report: How to Choose a Sunscreen That's Healthy and Effective

While we can turn to sunscreens to help protect ourselves from some of the negative side effects of too much sun, all sunscreens are not created equal. Specifically, a report from the Environmental Working Group found that nearly 75 percent of sunscreens don't work. So, how do you choose a sunscreen that's effective and healthy? Start by following these guidelines.


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