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EWG News Roundup (9/7): Pesticides in Playgrounds, Kavanaugh’s Checkered Public Health History and More

In the News
Friday, September 7, 2018

This week, EWG highlighted a little-noticed provision in the House version of the farm bill that would likely preempt local governments from adopting their own pesticide regulations. EWG analyzed data collected by our colleagues at Beyond Pesticides that found 58 local ordinances that ban the use of the harmful herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, as well as 155 ordinances that restrict  the use of other toxic pesticides in parks, playgrounds and on school grounds.


We also have been closely following the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. First, we took a deep dive into the nominee’s record, which shows that, as a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, he consistently sided with polluters rather than protecting public health. Then, following his first day of questioning, EWG corrected the record on Kavanaugh’s embellishing of his environmental  record.

More than 1,500 drinking water systems across the country, serving an estimated 110 million Americans, may be contaminated with the nonstick chemicals PFOA and PFOS. This week, EWG laid out tips for folks to remove these harmful nonstick chemicals from their home taps.

Disgraced former Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt was in the news again this week, when the EPA’s inspector general released a report on Pruitt’s frivolous spending while leading the agency.

“Scott Pruitt’s been gone more than two months, but the swampy stench he brought to EPA continues to waft from agency headquarters,” said EWG President Ken Cook in response to the IG report. “From the moment President Trump nominated him, it was evident that Pruitt not only held the EPA’s mission in contempt, but saw his post as a chance to pamper himself on the American taxpayer’s dime.

And finally, we applauded California lawmakerts, who voted overwhelmingly to approve five bills that will safeguard Californians, from preschool to the workplace, from lead. If Gov. Jerry Brown signs the bills, California will begin to reverse decades of failure to protect children and workers from lead exposure.

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

Pesticides in Playgrounds

Civil Eats: How the Farm Bill Could Keep You from Banning Roundup at Your Kid’s Playground

And Montgomery County is one of 155 such localities across the nation that could see its pesticide laws stripped away, according to an interactive map published today by the nonprofit advocacy groups Beyond Pesticides and Environmental Working Group (EWG).


Environmental Health News: Farm Bill: House proposal could wipe out communities’ power to prohibit pesticides

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) today released its analysis of data from the nonprofit group Beyond Pesticides, including an interactive map of local policies that it says could be scuttled if the House measure passes. Those regulations vary widely—some communities restrict neonicotinoid use to protect pollinators, while others map out pesticide-free buffer zones or require that public notice be posted when pesticides are applied on public or private property.


Truthout: House Farm Bill Could Wipe Out Communities’ Power to Prohibit Pesticides

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) this week released its analysis of data from the nonprofit group Beyond Pesticides, including aninteractive map of local policies that it says could be scuttled if the House measure passes. Those regulations vary widely — some communities restrict neonicotinoid use to protect pollinators, while others map out pesticide-free buffer zones or require that public notice be posted when pesticides are applied on public or private property.


EPA Inspector General’s Pruitt Report

AP News: EPA Watchdog Faults Agency for Pruitt's 24/7 Security Cost

Ken Cook, president of the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, said Pruitt, who had been an avid enforcer of Trump’s mission to roll back environmental regulation deemed unfriendly to business, “not only held the EPA’s mission in contempt but saw his post as a chance to pamper himself on the American taxpayer’s dime.” 

Reprinted by ABC NewsWashington PostChicago Tribune and Boston Herald.


USA Today: Scott Pruitt's $10K per day for protection not justified, EPA watchdog says

Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group and a frequent Pruitt critic, said the report suggests the former administrator should never have been appointed.


Filtering PFAS from Water

EcoWatch: Removing Toxic Fluorinated Chemicals From Your Home’s Tap Water

Repost of EWG’s article.


California Lead Bills

NBC Los Angeles: Proposed Law Would Require Child Lead Testing Disclosure

Despite this mandate, in 2000 the bill’s sponsor, the Environmental Working Group, found that between 1992 and 1998, the State failed to identify, test, or provide care to an estimated 200,000 lead-poisoned children aged 1-5.


Supreme Court Nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh

Bustle: 11 Reasons Brett Kavanaugh's Confirmation Process Has Faced Such Intense Blowback

According to the Environmental Working Group, Kavanaugh has ruled in favor of more pollution in 16 cases throughout his career. Kavanaugh does believe in climate change, according to EWG — he's just not convinced that the EPA has the authority to do anything about it.


NBC News Center Maine: Mainers react to Kavanaugh hearing, listen to legal experts at town hall

The Environmental Working Group said Kavanaugh is no friend to the environment, and his rulings could negatively impact Mainers. They said Kavanaugh often rules in favor of polluters, and against public health.


Utility Dive: Kavanaugh says he is 'not a skeptic of regulation'

Kavanaugh's critics questioned the presentation of his record, which they say reveals a persistent skepticism toward environmental regulation. At the D.C. Circuit, Kavanaugh voted to loosen air and water rules in 16 of the 18 cases he heard, the Environmental Working Group said in a blog post after the hearing.



The Intellectualist: Trump’s EPA Is Now Allowing Asbestos-Containing Products Into New Buildings

In June, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) flagged a controversial post on Uralasbest’s Facebook page showing photos of company pallets stamped with a seal of U.S. President Donald Trump’s face.


Politico: Trump rolls back worker safety rules

“What the Trump EPA has done is essentially cooked the books to undervalue the risks posed by asbestos,” said Scott Faber, a top lobbyist for the Environmental Working Group, which has opposed a variety of Trump policies. “You don’t need to be a toxicologist to understand that you can’t determine whether a chemical is safe or not if you don’t understand the whole picture.”


Bug Repellent Guide

Wirecutter: The Best Bug Repellent

According to scientific research and the Environmental Working Group’s well-researched and surprisingly sensible Guide to Bug Repellents, four insect repellents work pretty well. They are DEET, picaridin, the creatively named IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus.


Cleaning Products

Edible: 8 Great Sustainability Tip

Ditch Dryer Sheets: Use wool dryer balls. They’re natural, nontoxic, hypoallergenic, energy-saving and sustainably made. You’ll be helping sheep ranchers with a market for their wool, and you’re not throwing away a dryer sheet after each load. What’s more, the Environmental Working Group recommends skipping fabric softeners in general, as they may contain unhealthy chemicals and compounds. Dryer balls are available at The Refill Shoppe in Ventura (TheRefillShoppe.com).



Beauty Independent: Tween Beauty Products Are The Latest Back-To-School Must-Haves

Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, wasn’t surprised by the asbestos revelations. He says, “There are two main reasons why products for younger people are more likely to be contaminated. One: No regulation. We need to ensure all products on shelves meet a basic safety threshold. Two: Tweens and teens don’t have income, so they are buying cheaper products, products from brands that cut corners.”


Trump Farm Bailout

AgriMarketing: Ag Groups, Others Challenge USDA's Methodology in Calculating Trade Aid Payments

The Environmental Working Group last week announced it had filed a FOIA request seeking documents that shed light on how the multi-billion dollar trade assistance program was developed. It wants relevant e-mails, text messages, meeting logs and informational material.


The High Plains Journal: Congress, farm groups, others, react to Trump farmer bailout plan

The Environmental Working Group’s Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber, said in a statement, “Today’s announcement by USDA is a disaster for the small, family farmers hurt the most by Trump’s trade war. By failing to put more reasonable limits on farm bailout payments, Trump’s USDA will provide the lion’s share of the payment to the largest and most successful farmers.


Farm Subsidies 

The Journal: Take conflicts of interest out of farm payouts

Add to that list 33 members of Congress, 12 of whom got farm subsidy checks last year, according to studies by the Environmental Working Group and OpenTheBooks.

Reprinted by the Intelligencer.


The Washington Times: Wealthy urbanites from Hollywood to Manhattan cash in on farm bill

“We could have a sensible safety net for those who actually depend on farming for their livelihood, and who through no fault of their own, such as drought or floods, are facing big losses,” said Craig Cox, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the Environmental Working Group, a longtime critic of farm spending.


Food Scores Database

San Diego Entertainer: So What Exactly Are ‘Natural Flavors’?

There are over 80,000 foods created by the Environmental Working Group, and natural flavoring is the fourth most common ingredient found on labels, outranked only by salt, water, and sugar. Natural flavoring essentially plays the role of giving the food you eat flavor, making it more appealing. When food is processed, pasteurized, or stored, a lot of flavor is lost during this process, which is then restored due to natural flavors.


Glyphosate in Oats Report 

Cadillac News: Herbicide found in cereal concerning to some, others not so much

A report published by the Environmental Working Group — which describes itself as a non-partisan, non-profit organization with a mission to empower people to live healthier lives — found what they considered to be unhealthy levels of glyphosate in many common food products, including Cheerios and granola bars.


New Jersey Patch: The Toxic Troubles From Glyphosate (Roundup)

Environmental Working Group scientists determined that 31 of those 43 products had glyphosate levels at levels that were potentially hazardous to children's health.


Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ 

Hawaii Tribune Herald: Let’s Talk Food: Natural and organic foods

When purchasing fruits and vegetables, these are the ones you should buy organic. According to the nonprofit research firm Environmental Working Group, this list could reduce your pesticide exposure as much as 90 percent.


Healthline: The Dirty Dozen: 12 Foods That Are High in Pesticides

Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases the Dirty Dozen™ — a list of the 12 non-organic fruits and vegetables highest in pesticide residues.


Metro: Organic food doesn’t have to break the bank, says these five experts

Organic fruit and veg can be costly — so how do we eat organically without breaking the bank? The Environmental Working Group has compiled two lists. The first is the Dirty Dozen, those that contain the most amount of pesticides: strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes, bell peppers. So best to invest in organic here.


MSN: 30 supermarket buys that are a waste of money

Eating plenty of fruits and veggies is sure to keep you healthy, right? Not if they’re loaded with pesticides. The Environmental Working Group lists strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples and peaches as the five most chemically contaminated produce items you can buy. Opt for cleaner choices such as avocados, pineapples and cabbage instead.



Business Insider: 4 changes you should make to your skin-care routine in the fall

There are plenty of environmentally safe options approved by the EWG. and on days that you forget, an SPF-infused setting spray or powder provides.


PFAS in Drinking Water

NJ Spotlight: NJ Becomes First State to Regulate Carcinogenic Chemical as EPA Lags

But the Environmental Working Group, a national advocacy and research group, said the absence of EPA regulation on the issue exposes people to health risks in drinking water.


Quartz: The DDT of this generation is contaminating water all over the US and Australia

 In Battle Creek, Michigan, PFAS levels in the groundwater were recently found to be up to 757 times higher than the recommended limit—and the recommended limit was found to be as much as 10 times higher than what could really be considered safe. That’s just one case; Department of Defense and Northeastern University data tally 172 known contaminated sites, and those numbers do not account for contaminated public water systems, which the Environmental Working Group estimates could add up to over 1,500 additional sites.


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