EWG News and Analysis
The latest from EWG’s staff of experts >>
EWG’s News Roundup (10/27): Chemical Industry Lackey Approved by Senate Committee, Competing Cosmetics Reform Bills and Rising Organic Demand
EWG has long sounded the alarm on President Trump’s nominee to head of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention at the Environmental Protection Agency. The widely opposed nominee, Michael Dourson, was approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee along a party line vote Wednesday. The full Senate is expected to vote on his confirmation in the near future.
“Just because President Trump insists on nominating someone so exceptionally unfit to serve as Mr. Dourson, doesn’t mean the Senate should throw their support behind him,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “If the Senate confirms Dourson, he will almost certainly tear down barriers in place at EPA to protect the public from toxic chemicals and the diseases they trigger.”
This week also saw Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, introduce his weak personal care product reform bill. We stacked it up against the EWG-supported bill introduced by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, showing that only the bipartisan bill promises real reform.
Pesticides were also in the news this week. First, the EPA released a sweeping report on the damage pesticides and other industrial chemicals inflict on our children. Its findings conflict with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s actions and those of other Trump EPA appointees.
In another report released this week, researchers estimated that Americans’ exposure to the herbicide glyphosate, a possible carcinogen and the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, has increased by nearly 500 percent since the chemical was introduced into agriculture more than two decades ago. EWG has long recommended for stricter regulations on glyphosate – both in fields, and in our food and water.
Finally, in much better news on the pesticide front, EWG documented a boom in organic agriculture, both in foreign imports and domestic demand.
For coverage on these stories and more, here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.
EPA and Nancy Beck
Dr. Naidenko, a staff scientist at the Environmental Working Group, was there to plead with the agency to ignore a request from the American Chemistry Council to make more than a dozen last-minute changes, some pushed by Dr. Beck while she was at the council.
EPA and President Trump
“With each cut in EPA funding, each regulatory rollback, each special favor for polluters, it becomes more clear that for President Trump, public health protection is not a priority, but a target,” said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group.
Although, according to Scott Faber Sr. VP at Environmental Working Group, Dow AgroSciences itself makes safer alternatives, confirmed by Dow. Still and remarkably, really-really remarkably, considering Dow’s confirmation of safer alternatives, chlorpyrifos is the most widely used insecticide in the country. Registered uses include apples, lettuce, peaches, and potatoes. Reprinted by Dissident Voice and Pacific Free Press
Naidenko, a staff scientist at the Environmental Working Group, was there to plead with the agency to ignore a request from the American Chemistry Council to make more than a dozen last-minute changes, some pushed by Beck while she was at the council.
EPA and Michael Dourson
More than 100 organizations signed a letter opposing Dourson’s nomination and more than 145,000 Americans have contacted their senators through organizations like Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, CREDO, Center for Environmental Health and Environmental Working Group.
EPA and Roundup
California’s move is “a huge step and has global implications,” said Olga Naidenko, senior science adviser for the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization. “California is the first state in the U.S. that said … we will take regulatory action to protect our residents from this chemical.” Reprinted by Los Angeles Daily News, Orange County Register and five other media outlets.
Trouble in Farm Country
A new report and two interactive maps reveal that more than 3,300 rural water utilities contain questionable and sometimes downright illegal levels of harmful chemicals—nearly half of them in counties where none of the money available from federal conservation programs to reduce agricultural pollution has been spent.
Variety’s Power of Women Award
This year’s honorees included Priyanka Chopra (UNICEF), Kelly Clarkson (XQ Institute), Patty Jenkins (Anti-Recidivism Coalition), Michelle Pfeiffer (Environmental Working Group), and Octavia Spencer (City Year).
"It's hard to know what's in cleaning products. There are no federal regulations that require manufacturers to disclose all of their ingredients to the public," says Samara Geller, a database and research analyst with the Environmental Working Group.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the average woman uses 12 products day, containing 168 unique ingredients. And let's be real—I'm not the average woman. My last count was 18, and that was just on a normal day with simple skin care and makeup. EWG also says that one in 13 women are exposed to ingredients that are known or probable carcinogens in their personal care products every day. Given my increased exposure, I don't think those odds are in my favor.
The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that is "dedicated to protecting human health and the environment," also researches environmental health issues, like pesticides, GMOs, and chemicals in consumer goods. As part of their work, EWG powers the Skin Deep database, cataloging more than 60,000 cosmetic products. While the HERMOSA study focused on hormone disruptors, cosmetics can include other harmful chemicals, and Skin Deep screens for those as well.
2018 Farm Bill
So, who are these groups that so prematurely and publicly are badmouthing the farm bill? It’s the usual suspects, as well as a few names you may not have heard: Environmental Working Group, the Heritage Foundation, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Club for Growth, R Street Institute, National Taxpayers Union, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Heartland Institute, Citizens Against Government Waste, and the Campaign for Liberty and Taxpayers Protection Alliance.
PFCs in Food Wrappers
Chemicals in the lining of microwavable popcorn bags make it a major no-no, Olga Naidenko, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, said to Prevention. These chemicals are linked to infertility, and in animal testing the chemicals have caused liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. The microwaving process causes the chemicals in the bag to vaporize and work their way into your snack.
EWG's Consumer Guide to Seafood
And a 2016 Environmental Working Group report found that eating tuna steaks, sushi tuna, sea bass, halibut and marlin could also be risky. Still, there's no clear cutoff. Women who are or may become pregnant or are breast-feeding, and young children should avoid high-mercury fish.
Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in ProduceTM
The Environmental Working Group tested more then 35,000 samples of fruits and veggies to find out which ones have the highest level of pesticide residue. Reprinted by 26 media outlets.
Apples rank high on the Environmental Working Group’s list of fruits with the highest levels of pesticide residue. While these chemicals are EPA-approved and thought to be safe in low doses, some research suggests it's difficult to accurately assess their impact on health over time, leading many consumers to want to limit exposure as much as possible.
While pesticides boost crop yields, there are concerns about the impact on people who consume food produced this way — even with Maximum Residue Limits (MRL) of pesticides that have been set by the government. On the Environmental Working Group’s annual Dirty Dozen list of pesticide-laden fruits, apples are at number four this year.
Apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce and kale/collard greens are the worst offenders in the produce aisle, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), so definitely spring for organic versions of these particular fruits and veggies. Reprinted by Atlantic Broadband, The Paper Magazine and Augusta Free Press.
Tap Water Database
According to testing conducted by the Environmental Working Group, 250 chemicals were detected in American drinking water overall (160 of which are not regulated by the federal government). Even more worrying, 81 percent of systems tested had contaminants that have been linked to cancer. Some of the most notable offenders include Chloroform and Chromium-6, though more research still needs to be done on exactly how much of these we need to ingest to be at risk.