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EWG’s News Roundup (3/9): Shazi Visram Joins EWG Board, Pruitt Gets ‘Report Card’ and More

In the News
Friday, March 9, 2018

This week, EWG proudly announced that entrepreneur, philanthropist, and founder and chairmom of Happy Family Brands Shazi Visram has joined our board of directors.

“Shazi’s commitment to helping others has been at the cornerstone of her work – in business and philanthropy, and as a parent and mentor. We couldn’t ask for a better mix of talent and passion for EWG’s board,” EWG president and board chair Ken Cook.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt released a list of “accomplishments” for his first year in charge of the agency. He patted himself on the back for such actions as blocking a ban of a pesticide that causes brain damage in children, rubber-stamping toxic chemicals, and repealing programs to limit greenhouse gas emissions and protect drinking water sources for about 117 million Americans.

On behalf of those who care about public health and environmental protections, EWG decided to mark up Pruitt’s “report card” and send it back. Spoiler alert: He didn’t pass.

News broke this week that a top press aide to Pruitt was granted a waiver to set up a side hustle as a media consultant for undisclosed clients on top of his day job at the EPA, which pays him a $145,000 a year.

And yesterday we learned the Interior Department spent nearly $139,000 – more than twice the U.S. median income – to upgrade the doors to Secretary Ryan Zinke’s office.

“Taxpayer dollars don’t grow on trees, but Mr. Zinke and his fellow grifters in the Trump administration repeatedly raid the federal treasury like it does,” Cook said. “Secretary Zinke shouldn’t be buying doors, he should be shown the door out of the agency.”

Additionally, we took a close look at a new federal farm subsidy program for cotton growers that  could send hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into the pockets of cotton farmers – even as the price of cotton soars.

For coverage on these developments and more, here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.

California Oil and Gas

Chico News Review: Finally reform – State oil and gas regulator gets a makeover, but is it enough?

“They were essentially lap dogs for the oil industry,” said Allayaud, a lobbyist with the Environmental Working Group. He attached the ever-expanding list to his office wall. With the way things had been running at the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), Allayaud had little confidence the list would ever grow smaller or come down. “This was a backwater agency in charge of multibillion-dollar corporations,” he said. “It was a wink and a nod; that’s the way it went for decade after decade.” Reprinted from CalMatters.

California Ruling on Pesticides

KQED: Defeat of Pesticide Bill Highlights Ag Industry's Campaign Donations

The Environmental Working Group, Pesticide Action Network, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners and California Rural Legal Assistance were officially on record supporting the legislation. Only California Rural Legal Assistance made campaign donations.

Department of the Interior and Ryan Zinke

Reuters: Interior Department pays $139,000 to fix doors in Zinke's office

Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said, “Taxpayer dollars don’t grow on trees, but Mr. Zinke and his fellow grifters in the Trump administration repeatedly raid the federal treasury like it does.” Reprinted 28 times.

Environmental Protection Agency and Scott Pruitt

Think Progress: Top EPA officials are working for private companies on the side

“Konkus could be counseling Pruitt on EPA business by day and providing strategic advice to industry at night. This could only happen in the Trump administration, where commitment to public service is as foreign and irrelevant as ethical behavior,” Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said Tuesday in a  statement.

Baby Food

The Trumpet: Commercial Baby Food: A Formula for Health?

The Environmental Working Group found up to 16 pesticides in eight leading baby-food brands, including three probable human carcinogens, eight neurotoxins, five pesticides that disrupt normal functioning of the hormone system, and five categorized as oral toxicity category one, the most toxic designation. While these levels are considered below federal standards for adults, they do not specifically incorporate protection for the immature bodies of infants or young children.

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations

Associated Press: Hogs v. humans: Neighbors fight back against swine waste

An analysis by the Environmental Working Group and Waterkeeper Alliance, two environmental groups, in 2016 estimated that North Carolina's hog operations generate more than 9.5 billion gallons (35.96 billion liters) of fecal waste a year. Hog farms here tend to be much smaller than their Midwest counterparts. But they're clustered in low-lying, flood-prone counties with sandy soils and shallow aquifers. Reprinted by Washington PostSan Francisco Chronicle, CBS SacramentoWRALWTOP and 322 more media outlets.

Cleaning Products

People Magazine: 13 Things to Buy for a Healthier Home in 2018

Then we hunted for goods that not only checked off every box but also met our requirements for value and quality. We also considered third-party ratings, such as the product safety grades from the Environmental Working Group. Here, the top picks in the categories of air quality, improved sleep, and cleaning products.

Reader’s Digest: 11 Household Items That Are Literally Poisoning Your Air

Some people looking for a pleasant-smelling abode turn to air fresheners. "These can emit over 100 different chemicals; some of these can react to form a new set of pollutants," explains Dr. Colbeck. The cocktail can trigger migraines, asthma attacks, and breathing troubles. To keep air smelling clean, the Environmental Working Group suggests a simple solution: Open a window or run a fan.

MSN: The 15 Hidden Dangers of Spring Cleaning

Asthmagens are any chemicals that can lead to the development of asthma in healthy people. Check the label of the cleaning products, including floor and tile cleaners, you use and avoid anything that contains ethanolamines and formaldehyde. EWG’s assessment of more than 2,000 cleaning products found that 438 contain at least one chemical that the AOEC has identified as an asthmagen.

MSN: 25 Ways to Allergy-Proof Your Home

To eliminate allergens, you need to scrub. Problem is, some cleaners can make symptoms worse. In fact, one study of more than 3,500 people found that those who used spray cleaners at least once a week had a 30 to 50 percent increased risk of asthma. Check out EWG's guide to green, lung-friendly products at

Sun Sentinel: Spring cleaning: Bust dirt with DIY cleaning products that cost pennies to make

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group rates the safety of 2,500 products at Some products get A ratings, but plenty score big, fat Fs.

KHOU: Using household cleaning products could be as bad for you as smoking

While there are organizations like Environmental Working Group that test and grade products for their safety, the study recommends using simpler methods like soap, water and a micro-fiber cloth to do a lot of the jobs we currently use cleaners for. Reprinted by three media outlets.


Health: Why Apple Cider Vinegar Might Be the Secret to Stronger, Shinier Hair

If a full-blown ACV rinse seems daunting, try incorporating it into your routine with a nourishing product like Avalon Organics Smooth Shine Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo ($18; and Conditioner ($18; This duo is EWG-verified, meaning it meets the Environmental Working Group’s strict ingredient standards, so you can guarantee smooth, shiny hair without the risk of applying anything too harsh directly to your hair. Reprinted by MTV Lebanon.

Cosmetics Legislation

WeAreGreenBay: The makeup and hygiene products you're using may have toxic ingredients unregulated by the FDA

Prange teamed up with the Environmental Working Group, as well as Senators Dianne Feinstein and Susan Collins, who together co-sponsored a proposal that would give the FDA more power to regulate ingredients in makeup and personal care products.

Skin Deep®

Baby List: Best Baby Shampoo & Body Wash of 2018

There are lots of options and lots of ingredients to obsess about. So how do you know what products are actually safe? Simplify your search by checking out the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database. This go-to resource breaks down exactly what’s in your family’s skin care products, giving you the info you need to make an informed purchase. EWG researchers rigorously assess and rate product ingredients based on potential hazards and health concerns. The rating system works on a 1-10 scale from low to high hazard.


Glossy: With new funding, W3ll People wants to make its clean beauty more accessible

In 2016, W3ll People became the third brand to receive verification from the Environmental Working Group, a third-party vendor that requires companies to disclose everything about their formulations and manufacturing processes to ensure a product’s health, lack of toxicity and environmental impact. That’s resulted in a line of products — from concealer to makeup brushes — that are 100 percent natural, hypoallergenic, chemical-free, cruelty-free and non-comedogenic. Reprinted by Women’s Wear Daily.

HAPPI: Hero Wipes Are EWG Verified

Hero Wipes—decontamination wipes for firefighters designed to remove toxic, cancer-causing carcinogens from the skin before they leave the scene of a fire— are now EWG Verified by the Environmental Working Group.

Crop Insurance

POLITICO – Morning Agriculture:  Flake, Duncan present either/or choice to farmers

Longtime critics of farm subsidy programs, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and John Duncan (R-Tenn.), introduced a bill on Wednesday that would prohibit row crop farmers from participating in both the crop insurance and commodity support programs — a practice they called “double-dipping.” The proposal would save an estimated $60 billion over a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Flake, who is retiring at the end of his term this year, and Duncan have the support of taxpayer watchdog and free-enterprise organizations, as well as the Environmental Working Group. More here.

2018 Farm Bill

National Review: Will Congress Pass a Bloated Farm Bill?

Many billionaires have received farm subsidies. Looking from 1995 to 2014, the Environmental Working Group found that 50 people on the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans have received farm subsidies. But today the largest pot of subsidies is laundered through crop-insurance companies, a practice that hides the identities of the recipients. However, the Government Accountability Office found that at least four current recipients of these subsidies have a net worth of more than $1.5 billion.

Food Policy

Food Tank: The Importance of Representation in Agriculture

Melony Edwards, Farm Manager at Willowood Farm of Ebey’s Prairie, will be speaking at the Inaugural Seattle Food Tank Summit, “Growing Food Policy,” which will be held in partnership with the Environmental Working Group, Food Action, Garden-Raised Bounty, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Seattle University’s Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability on March 17, 2018. Reprinted by Resilience.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

MLive: SavingsAngel: When are organics worth the extra money?

Based on data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, The Environmental Working Group has come up with two lists called the "Clean 15" and the "Dirty Dozen" to help consumers gauge whether or not they should spend the extra money on organic produce.

The Country Today: Gardeners facing difficult planting decisions 

Cleanliness counts. Each year, the Environmental Working Group publishes a list of the “dirtiest dozen” fruits and vegetables, based on test results of pesticide residue present on the food. This year strawberries topped the list followed by conventionally grown spinach. Other garden favorites included tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. All of these are super easy and cheap to grow at home. Get the Dirty Dozen list as well as the Clean 15 at​foodnews/​index.php

Delaware Online: 5 things to know about eating organic

Yes, says Cohen, and they’re often called the “dirty dozen.” These foods are recognized and tested as having more pesticides than average, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) determined. If given the option, Cohen recommends purchasing these products organic.

The Garden Island: Is it really worth it to buy organic?

The Environmental Working Group ( have collected a huge volume of resources after their detailed studies, and they list produce with the highest pesticide levels as well as those with the lowest levels. I’ve mentioned them before in many of my previous articles, but if you’ve not visited their website then please do check it out.

Tap Water Database

CBS3: WREB (Memphis, Tenn.): Research study examines the quality of water in the Mid-South

Dr. David Andrews works for the Environmental Working Group, which is also a watchdog organization. "This was a value set by state scientists in California who looked at the weight of evidence and the potential for chromium to cause cancer," Andrews said.

The Denton Record-Chronicle (Denton, Texas): State investigating complaints into Ponder's water supply

Some of the solvents have been found in other public water supplies around the country, according to a recent analysis by the Environmental Working Group. After poisonous lead was found in Flint, Michigan's water supply in 2014, the nationwide tax-exempt organization compiled five years of public data in a user-friendly website to help consumers better understand what has been found in their drinking water.

Nitrate in Drinking Water

Natural News: Tap water in Illinois is polluted with high levels of nitrate from the GMO corn belt

Based on data gathered in the report, which was published by the Environmental Working Group, the heavy use of fertilizer and manure on GMO corn fields is to blame for the high level of nitrate pollution in the region. To be more specific, the available tap water in the communities have been contaminated by nitrates. According to the National Cancer Institute, this could lead to increased risk of diseases like cancer, as well as cause serious illness or even death to infants.

Radium in Drinking Water

GOOP: Is There Radioactive Radium in Your Tap Water?

To follow the news is to know that there are chemicals in our waterways and carcinogens in our food supply. But what and where and how much? That’s when things get murky. Which is why we tapped Nneka Leiba, the director of healthy living science at Environmental Working Group. This will be the first of a monthly column in which Leiba answers our most pressing concerns about toxicity, the environment, and the health of the planet.

Mother Nature Network: The tap water of 170 million Americans may contain unsafe levels of radium

Feeling thirsty? Before you pour yourself a glass of water, you might want to take a closer look at a new map released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that pinpoints the locations in the United States where drinking water contains high levels of radium, a naturally-occurring radioactive element that's also a known carcinogen.

Bottled Water

Mountain News (Lake Arrowhead, Calif.): Bottled Is Not Better

Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and The Environmental Working Group all confirmed that bottled water contamination is a concern. When 10 major brands were tested, scientists found that 38 different chemicals (averaging eight contaminants per brand) could be found in the bottled waters.


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