EWG News and Analysis
The latest from EWG’s staff of experts >>
EWG’s News Roundup (9/1): Fragrances, Flame Retardants, Atrazine in Drinking Water and Monsanto’s Chemical Treadmill
This week, EWG applauded the game-changing decision by Procter & Gamble to begin online disclosures of fragrance ingredients in all of its personal care and home cleaning products; it’s the most sweeping fragrance transparency initiative to date.
“It is clear Procter & Gamble is listening to its customers and consumers overall, who have called for more transparency of ingredients in household products,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Because of the company’s sheer size and market share, P&G’s sweeping initiative could be the domino that triggers similar actions from the rest of the industry that has not yet embraced this level of transparency for fragrance ingredients.”
Also this week, The Washington Post investigated dicamba, a pesticide that is devastating crops across the farm belt.
Farmers have become “trapped on a chemical treadmill” driven by the biotech industry, Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president of government affairs, said. It’s the latest episode in the long-running GMO saga, courtesy of Monsanto.
EWG drew attention to recent research out of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health that shows links between products treated with flame retardants and infertility as well.
We dove into the controversial pesticide contaminant atrazine, which is found in the water supplies of 28 states and affects 30 million people. Low-level exposures to the pesticide could cause male frogs to turn into egg-laying females, University of California, Berkeley, scientists found.
For additional coverage on these stories and more, here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.
Procter & Gamble Fragrance Disclosure
“EWG applauds Procter & Gamble’s groundbreaking decision to dramatically improve transparency about its fragrance ingredients across all of its brands. The policy announced today not only demonstrates P&G’s deep commitment to providing consumers everywhere with the information they increasingly demand, it also marks a turning point for the entire consumer product industry,” said Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook. “EWG has long considered transparency a major driving force in consumer product markets. The example set by Febreze, Tide, Olay and Herbal Essences today will without question encourage greater ingredient transparency efforts throughout the industry, providing consumers with the information they want and need to make better, healthier choices for themselves and their families.”
“EWG applauds Procter & Gamble’s groundbreaking decision to dramatically improve transparency about its fragrance ingredients across all of its brands. The policy announced today not only demonstrates P&G’s deep commitment to providing consumers everywhere with the information they increasingly demand, it also marks a turning point for the entire consumer product industry,” said Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook. “EWG has long considered transparency a major driving force in consumer product markets. The example set by Febreze, Tide, Olay and Herbal Essences today will without question encourage greater ingredient transparency efforts throughout the industry, providing consumers with the information they want and need to make better, healthier choices for themselves and their families.” Also covered by Yahoo! Finance, Morningstar, Business Wire and 110 others.
“People have been asking for this level of transparency for a long time,” says Nneka Leiba, director for healthy living science at EWG. “Hopefully this will push other companies to make similar moves. For years, we’ve heard that it’s impossible to do—so when large companies like P&G show that it’s not, it’s hard for anyone else to come back and say they can’t disclose the ingredients.”
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt
“Pruitt’s frequent absence from his job would make even the worst high school truant ashamed,” Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement Monday. “Protecting Americans from pollution is a 24/7 job, but clearly you don’t have to be in the office when your agenda is to abolish decades of safeguards meant to keep our air and water clean.”
SLS is a "low hazard," according to the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, and has been linked to organ toxicity, skin irritation and ecotoxicology (harm to the environment or a specific ecosystem). In a series of tests conducted by the American College of Toxicology found that damage increased in higher concentrations but was limited in products designed for continuous use, such as shampoos.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), federal law regulating such products hasn’t changed much since 1938. The FDA doesn’t test the ingredients of these products for efficacy or safety. Only colored additives require the agency’s approval. The agency can’t issue recalls on cosmetics or hygiene products either.
You do not have to buy a particular brand to ensure that your makeup is the cleanest it can be. You can mix and match from various non-toxic companies. She recommends that you look at what you are purchasing, read labels, and compare them to the knowledge of what you know to be safe and unsafe. According to the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization “dedicated to protecting human health and the environment,” other ingredients such as synthetic colors, fragrances, phthalates, and triclosan may cause effects from minor skin irritation to respiratory distress and cancers.
The non-profit organization best known as EWG has put together a team of environmental experts, scientists, researchers, policy makers, and lawyers who dedicate their work to promoting human and environmental health. They’ve spent years compiling data on ingredients and products so that people can find products that are truly safe. Visit their Skin Deep cosmetic database for in-depth reports, or use their Healthy Living app for quick info.
We’re products of our environment, and it has an impact on fertility. A 2005 study by the Environmental Working Group found 287 industrial chemicals, pollutants, and pesticides in the umbilical-cord blood of 10 U.S. newborns chosen at random. Many toxins have been shown to trigger inflammation, suppress the immune system, impair fertility, or result in pregnancy complications and birth defects.
Some critics of chemical-intensive agriculture have begun to see the crisis as a parable — and a prediction — for the future of farming in the United States. Scott Faber, a vice president at the Environmental Working Group, says farmers have become “trapped on a chemical treadmill” driven by the biotech industry. Many farmers say they think they could not continue farming without new herbicide technology. Reprinted by AgWeek, The Denver Post, The Duluth News Tribune, the Santa Fe New Mexican, Goshen News and Kokomo Tribune and 12 others.
Ken Cook, founder of the Environmental Working Group, which monitors agricultural policy and has been critical of farm subsidies to large farming operations, said: “We’re seeing consolidation in every aspect of agriculture. “We end up with bigger and fewer farms, livestock operations, grain companies and most dramatically, seed and pesticide companies,” Cook said. “It makes it harder and harder for farms to operate sustainably and profitably when so much control is in the hands of gigantic companies that sell farm inputs and market farm products.” Reprinted by the Mansfield News Journal, Asbury Park Press and 50 others.
Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in ProduceTM
You can also check websites such as the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) for their ‘dirty dozen’ and ‘clean fifteen’ — a list of fruit and vegetables that are most and least contaminated with pesticides, respectively.
But what we do know is that, according to the USDA, a conventional tomato you buy in the grocery store has an average of 35 pesticides in it. The Environmental Working Group has placed tomatoes on their Top Ten Dirtiest Produce list.
EWG’s Guide to Sunscreen
Whatever you do, just don't go for the 14 worst sunscreens for kids and babies, as ranked by the Environmental Working Group.
Tap Water Database
In December 2010, the Environmental Working Group also reported finding hexavalent chromium (chromium-6), the “Erin Brockovich” contaminant that the EPA considers “likely to be carcinogenic to humans,” in the drinking water of 31 U.S. cities, including Chicago and Los Angeles. In the wake of this report, the EPA is reassessing the “oral reference dose”?(or upper limit of what is considered safe), with a final ruling expected by the end of the year.
“They (EPA guidelines) are not purely based on a health value,” Leiba said. “In our estimate, when a consumer looks at information about the chemicals in their water, what they are interested in knowing is if that level of contaminant can affect their health. Therefore, we utilized health guidelines, which are levels that scientists have determined will pose negligible risks over a lifetime of exposure.”
EWG published the database to compare “the legal limit to the ideal limit, based on health studies,” said the group’s senior scientist, David Andrews. “Often times, the legal limit involves much more than considerations of health: economic costs, political costs and much more negotiation by industry lobbying groups.”
The Environmental Working Group advocates for stronger regulation of public drinking water systems. It lists contaminants found in trace amounts in Rockford’s water, 12 of which exceed the group’s chosen “health guidelines,” which are more stringent than government standards. And although Rockford’s water is in compliance with all state and federal EPA regulations, some of the contaminants listed by the Environmental Working Group are unregulated. The group argues that “getting a passing grade from the government does not mean water is safe.”
You will never view tap water the same way. In fact, spend some time poking around on the Environmental Working Group's Tap Water Database and you'll desire more information about the water provided by your local utility. We guarantee it.
The Environmental Working Group created a database with information on water systems across the country. The information regarding the Mohawk Valley Water Authority came from a sample the authority took in 2015. There were four contaminants found in that sample that caught the assemblyman's eye, including chloroform. Also covered by Spectrum News Northern New York and One News Page.
Clean Water Rule
“The Clean Water Rule, also known as WOTUS, resolved longstanding confusion over which bodies are protected under the Clean Water Act, including small streams and wetlands,” said Melanie Benesh, a legislative attorney at the Environmental Working Group. “More than 117 million Americans get at least some of their drinking water from these sources. Clarifying that they are covered under the Clean Water Act allows the government to take actions limiting pollution into these bodies of water.”