EWG News Roundup (12/4): Pressure Mounts on Automakers To Back California Emission...

EWG News Roundup (12/4): Pressure Mounts on Automakers To Back California Emission Standards, Defense Bill Falls Short on PFAS Protections for Service Members and More

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Car manufacturers are abandoning support for the outgoing administration’s scheme to gut California’s tough tailpipe emissions and mileage standards. Last week, General Motors announced it would now back California’s new standards, and this week Ford sent a letter to major industry holdouts, including Toyota and Fiat Chrysler, urging them all to get on board.

“By continuing to support this futile fight, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler are signaling their disregard for cleaning our air, curbing the climate crisis and saving motorists millions at the gas pump,” said EWG President Ken Cook, a California resident. “But they’re also doing lasting damage to their brands and reputations. Even if they eventually come around, car buyers will not soon forget which companies put the health of their customers and the planet ahead of profits and political pandering.”

On Thursday evening, the House and Senate approved a final version of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2021. The funding bill includes provisions concerning the toxic fluorinated “forever chemicals” known as PFAS. Although these provisions are a great first step in the right direction, the bill failed to enact key provisions to protect service members and their families from PFAS chemicals.

“Tragically, this bill will do little to clean up the existing legacy contamination at bases and nearby communities and does nothing to hold polluters or the Pentagon accountable when they fail to act to protect us,” said EWG’s Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber.

Earlier in the week, both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) and a bipartisan group of senators introduced two new attempts at a Covid-19 relief package. Both proposals fall way short when it comes to protecting food and farm workers.

And finally, the Environmental Protection Agency released an “interim strategy” for addressing industrial discharges of PFAS. The strategy lacks any enforceable standards or plans to set standards down the road.

“Today’s announcement is an insult to the millions of Americans who are drinking water contaminated with PFAS,” said Faber. “The EPA should be issuing tough, mandatory standards to regulate PFAS discharges from thousands of industry facilities, not ‘encouraging’ industry and regulators to ‘consider’ whether to limit releases of toxic chemicals building up in the blood of every American. The PFAS pollution crisis is a big problem that we should not be making bigger through unlimited pollution.”

Here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.

Children’s Health

Healthline: The Best Baby Soaps on the Market Today, According to Dermatologists

We also considered Environmental Working Group (EWG) ratings as well as customer reviews.

Asbestos and Talc Products

HealthDay: Some Talc Products Contain Asbestos: Study

Environmental Working Group (EWG) — an American advocacy nonprofit that commissioned the tests and did the analysis — said methods used by the cosmetics industry to screen talc supplies are inadequate. The voluntary testing method developed by industry is not sensitive enough to screen for asbestos when compared to electron microscopy, the group said. Reprinted by US News & World ReportDrugs.comDoctors LoungeUnited Press International; and other media outlets.

Bestlife: The Product You Use Every Day Contains Asbestos, Study Says;

In their research, the EWG identified more than 2,000 personal care products sold in the last three years that contain talc—and this includes eye shadows, foundation, blush, face, and body powders.  

Treehugger: Stay Away From Talc-Based Cosmetics;

new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveals that asbestos contamination in everyday consumer products is more prevalent than you may think. The EWG commissioned a series of laboratory tests of talc-based cosmetics by the Scientific Analysis Institute in Greensboro, N.C. 

ZME Science: Do your beauty products have talc? There’s a good chance they also have asbestos?

More than 2,000 personal care products sold in the last three years contain talc, according to a recent survey of the Environmental Working Group (EWG). 

National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2021 (NDAA)

E&E News: Negotiators release NDAA: What’s in and what’s out

“Tragically, this bill will do little to clean up the existing legacy contamination at bases and nearby communities and does nothing to hold polluters or the Pentagon accountable when they fail to act to protect us,” Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement.

New EPA Guidance for PFAS Testing of Some Wastewater

Chemical & Engineering News: US EPA recommends testing wastewater for PFAS

“The EPA should be issuing tough, mandatory standards to regulate PFAS discharges from thousands of industry facilities,” Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, says in a statement. Faber notes that PFAS are virtually ubiquitous in the blood of Americans. The EWG estimates that 2,500 US manufacturers likely discharge PFAS to rivers and lakes or to wastewater treatment plants, which aren’t designed to remove these chemicals.

E&E News: EPA pitches PFAS strategy. Could it help Biden? (subscription)

Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, called the announcement “an insult to the millions of Americans who are drinking water contaminated with PFAS” and said more work is needed.

POLITICO – Morning Energy: Write this down

Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group called the announcement “an insult to the millions of Americans who are drinking water contaminated with PFAS,” in a statement.

Inside EPA: EPA’s Interim CWA Permitting PFAS Plan Targets Monitoring, Management (subscription)    

But environmentalists are criticizing the strategy for failing to take tough action on PFAS, with Environmental Working Group (EWG) Senior Vice President Scott Faber calling it in a Nov. 30 statement “an insult to the millions of Americans who are drinking water contaminated with PFAS.”

Biden Administration: Plan for PFAS

North Carolina Health News (N.C.): Pittsboro task force recommends “deep discounts” so poor residents can afford clean water

The federal government does not regulate PFAS or 1,4 dioxane, a substance commonly used by industry as a solvent stabilizer. U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Michigan Democrat and a leader in environmental issues, said Tuesday during a Zoom conference with the Environmental Working Group that Congress will push President-elect Joe Biden’s administration to make the regulations a top priority.

MLive (Mich.): Democrats, advocates ready to move on PFAS regulations under Biden

“A lot of the legwork has already been done by EPA and we really just need the new administration to take it across the finish line,” said Melanie Benesh, a legislative and regulatory attorney with the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which hosted a half hour online discussion last week on the PFAS outlook under President-elect Biden.

Biden Administration: Tailpipe Rules

Bloomberg: Biden Win Is Pressuring Carmakers to Unite on Tailpipe Rules

Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization in Washington that advocates for environmentally-friendly policies, chided Fiat Chrysler and Toyota for declining to join GM in backing the California gas mileage agreement after Biden’s victory.  

Reuters: Automakers pledge to work with Biden to reduce emissions

Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said Tuesday “by continuing to support this futile fight, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler are signaling their disregard for cleaning our air, curbing the climate crisis and saving motorists millions at the gas pump.” 

Inside EPA: Environmentalists Boost Pressure On Automakers To Pivot On GHG Rules (subscription)

The statement also echoes a Dec. 1 statement from Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook specifically urging Toyota and Fiat Chrysler to drop their support of Trump’s auto GHG policies.

Biden Administration: Agricultural Policy

Farm World: Election results may signal ag power shift away from Midwest

While the leadership implications are important, crucial issues won’t change, said Craig Cox, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the Environmental Working Group. 

Giving Tuesday

Parade: Spread a Little Love- Here’s 120+ Ideas to Give Back on Giving Tuesday The Environmental Working Group (EWG) uses the power of public information to protect public health and the environment.

Justice for Black Farmers Act

BET: Black-owned Farmland Could Expand Under New Senate Bill Introduced by Cory Booker

“The Justice for Black Farmers Act is the most ambitious legislative proposal ever developed to address historic and ongoing discrimination against Black farmers,” said John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, and Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group, two groups that endorsed the bill. 

Cleaning Products

Purewow: 7 Small Steps You Can Make Every Day To Help The Environment

Fabric softeners and dryer sheets can leave your clothes wrinkle-free and smelling great…but they’re not so great for the environment. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends against using either, due to the chemicals many brands contain.

Well & Good: A Home Detox Expert ‘Audited’ My Place- And These Are The Changes I Made

When she ran my unscented “green” dish soap through the Environmental Working Group’s database, its ingredients rated a D due to potential DNA damage (among other issues). Reprinted by MSN

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Treehugger: The Best Cyber Monday Deals of 2020

Both the cleanser and the face oil in this kit (which is currently 20 percent off!) earned positive ratings on EWG’s Skin Deep database. As a bonus, this kit includes a facial roller and a reusable bag for an eco-friendly alternative to gift wrap.

Mother Earth Living: Best Natural Skin Care for Every Skin Type

Always steer clear of products made with a laundry list of synthetic ingredients, and check the safety of any ingredients that seem worrisome with the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.

Good Housekeeping: What is Clean Beauty? The Real Meaning, According to Beauty Scientists For a deeper dive into beauty product ingredients, the GH Beauty Lab recommends consulting resources like the Made Safe Hazard List and the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep database.

Byrdie: “Slugging” Is The K-Beauty Skincare Trend Going Viral on Reddit

The EWG or Environmental Working Group ranks petrolatum as a “1-4” due to contamination concerns and The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has a post that, without context, would make you think that most petrolatum causes cancer. 

Epicurious: 8 Black-Owned Businesses to Support on Black Friday
It consistently scores the best ratings you can get on the Environmental Working Group’s safety page.

The Wichita Eagle (Kan.): The European Union has banned this ingredient in beauty products, yet it’s common here

If you are struggling with a skin allergy, consider checking your products for formaldehyde-containing and formaldehyde-releasing ingredients, many of which are included in this list from the Environmental Working Group.  

EWG VERIFIED™

Hola!: Trends that will help shape the skincare industry in 2021

Codex Beauty believes in transparency (in fact, it’s the basis of The Codex Code) and offers clinical data for all products, along with a multitude of third-party certifications from organizations including EWG, EcoCert, MyMicrobiome, Leaping Bunny, and Vegan.

HAPPI: Just Hit Refresh

That means tons of lather and fragrance, while still meeting the strict clean beauty standards of the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

PFAS in Water

Consumer Reports: Solvay Workers Found to Have Unregulated PFAS in Their Blood, Documents Show

“The testing results that EPA provided indicate that the new perfluoro ether compounds detected in the water and soil in New Jersey are a serious concern from a public health perspective,” says David Andrews, senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy group, who reviewed the documents for CR. Reprinted by Yahoo!

The Intercept: Toxic PFAS Chemicals Discovered in Hundreds of Products

“It is the best inventory to date,” David Andrews, senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, said of the paper. Andrews himself has spent time going through trademark applications and cataloguing the PFAS chemicals he finds. “This expands on that work by a factor of 10.”

Colorado Sun (Colo.): Agricultural water contaminated with “forever chemicals” could taint produce, Colorado study finds“There is some level of choice people can make to reduce exposure,” including filtering their water and avoiding processed food packaging, said Sydney Evan, an environmental science analyst with the Environmental Working Group, a research, consumer action and civic policy advocate based in Washington, D.C. “But they don’t have control. It’s not something they can face alone, it’s going to take broader change.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pa.): ‘Dark Waters’ attorney: New ‘forever’ chemicals pose threat to environment, human health;

According to the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, PFAS are found in the blood of 99% of Americans. Reprinted by Lancaster Online (Pa.)

Smart Water Magazine: Interview: Dr. Olga Naidenko (page 38)

Through research and advocacy, EWG works to educate consumers so they can make informed decisions about the products they buy. In this interview, we ask her about PFAS (per and polyfluoroalkyl substances), a group of toxic manmade substances that have been associated with adverse health effects and have been found in the drinking water of many communities across the United States.

PFAS in Firefighting Foam

Bloomberg Law: Firefighters Fret Over Health Threats From What Protects Them

The chemical industry has resisted efforts to ban PFAS in firefighting gear, said Bill Allayaud, the Environmental Working Group’s director of California government affairs, who worked on a recent California law that bans the toxic fluorinated chemicals in firefighting foams.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

MSN: 50 Terrible Ways to Try and Save Money

The EWG has identified the “dirty dozen” foods that have the most pesticides when nonorganic: strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery and potatoes. Reprinted by Yahoo Finance.

MSN: 50 ways to save when you visit the grocery store

The Environmental Working Group has a list that outlines conventionally farmed fruits and vegetables that you don’t have to buy organic.

Valley News (Calif.): Medical expert says, ‘We are living in a very toxic society’

The Environmental Working Group identifies the Top 12 “Dirty Dozen” of non-organic foods: strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery and potatoes.

Experience Life: What’s in Your Wine?

Grapes rank near the top of the Environmental Working Group’s annual “Dirty Dozen” list of vegetables and fruits carrying the heaviest pesticide-residue loads. 

Tap Water Database

WBOY (Clarksburg, W.Va.): Climate Change in W. Va.: ‘Nobody Wants to Drink Unsafe Water’

EWG’s Tap Water Database provides more specific information on water utilities and the violation points the EPA has imposed on them between 2012 and 2017. 

ZME Science: It’s Erin Brockovich all over again: rusty iron pipes are exposing us to cancer-causing chemical

About 200 million Americans across all 50 states are exposed to unsafe levels of hexavalent chromium, according to a report released by the nonprofit research and advocacy organization Environmental Working Group (EWG).



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