Environmental News Roundup: Why Organic is ‘Cleaner,’ Teflon Chemicals Taint Military Sites

This week the Environmental Working Group EWG released an analysis that shows the great divide between the number of synthetic ingredients allowed in organic foods and in conventional foods. We also detailed the strict review process that organic ingredients must go through to become approved, compared to the largely unregulated approach that has resulted in thousands of chemical additives allowed for use in conventional packaged foods.

“Although many consumers choose organic to avoid toxic pesticides, few know that federal rules dramatically limit the use of synthetic substances in organic food,” said EWG nutritionist Dawn Undurraga, one of the authors of the report.

EWG also published a report and interactive map that delved into the growing number of military sites that have been contaminated with toxic fluorinated chemicals, known as PFAS. For nearly 50 years, many military sites used firefighting foams that contained PFAS chemicals – which could be a major reason for this nationwide contamination crisis.

A group of Democratic senators sent a letter demanding the Trump administration hand over all communications between key agencies and the White House about plans to address PFAS pollution.

The Food and Drug Administration released a shocking alert on Tuesday, warning consumers that three talc-based products sold by the national retailer Claire’s contained the deadly carcinogen asbestos. At the same time, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is preparing to introduce legislation that would go a long way toward fixing problems like this in cosmetics and other personal care products.

In other news, the Government Accountability Office released its annual risk report, which slammed the Trump EPA for stifling the implementation of a recently passed chemical safety law. Additionally, a report in Bloomberg News revealed that the president will be seeking a roughly 70 percent cut in funding for clean energy research and development.

And finally, EWG took a deep dive into the legislation soon to be proposed in California and South Carolina that would incentivize and protect homes and businesses making the transition to solar energy.

Here’s some more news you can use:

Asbestos in Makeup

New York Times: F.D.A. Confirms Asbestos in Claire’s Products and Calls for Stronger Regulation

Asbestos can contaminate talc because the minerals are often intermingled in mines. It is “one of the deadliest substances in existence,” Scott Faber, the senior vice president for government affairs for the Environmental Working Group advocacy group, said in a statement.

USA Today: FDA says tests confirm asbestos in makeup from Claire’s, Justice

VIDEO: EWG and the #BeautyMadeBetter campaign is mentioned in the video.

Inquisitr: FDA Says It Found Asbestos In Claire’s Cosmetics Products

The FDA has also been battling with the cosmetics industry at large, calling on the industry to be more transparent about its products, particularly talc, which can contain asbestos because the chemicals can combine while being mined. Asbestos is considered to be one of the deadliest substances in existence according to the Environmental Working Group’s vice president Scott Faber.

Simplemost: FDA Warns About Asbestos In Some Claire’s Makeup

You can check the FDA’s website for recalls and alerts about cosmetic products, or check with the Environmental Working Group to verify that your products are toxin-free.

Organic: The Original Clean Food Report

Food Dive: Thousands of ‘poorly regulated’ chemicals found in conventional foods, report finds

A new report from the Environmental Working Group found most consumers aren’t aware that conventional packaged foods contain thousands of “poorly regulated” chemicals, while fewer than 40 synthetic ingredients are allowed in organic packaged foods.

Mother Nature News: Thousands of unregulated chemicals are allowed in conventional processed foods

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is hard at work again, this time taking a look at the chemicals used in both conventional and organic processed foods. EWG is best known for creating the dirty dozen list of fruits and vegetables to avoid and the best sunscreens to use. This new report follows the group’s ongoing theme of helping consumers understand what’s in the products they buy.

Newsmax: Our Food Contains Thousands of Chemicals Not Approved by the FDA

A new study by the Environmental Working Group reveals that conventional packaged foods have over 2,000 chemical preservatives that don’t have approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Treehugger: The Shocking Truth About Organic vs. Conventional Packaged Foods

Here’s why, according to a new analysis by the consumer health watchdog, Environmental Working Group: Unlike organic packaged foods, conventional packaged food contains thousands of poorly regulated food chemicals.

FairWarning: With Long Delays in Safety Overhaul, Utility Giant PG&E Was Playing With Fire

Yummy: Now the Environmental Working Group is drawing attention to the difference between conventional and organic packaged foods. Conventional items can use a vast array of synthetic preservatives, flavors and colors, some of them linked to known health risks, the group reports. Fewer than 40 synthetic substances are approved for use in organic products, and those are subject to review by regulators.

Sierra: Over 2,000 Questionable Additives Are Lurking in Packaged Food

Now a new report by the consumer health watchdog Environmental Working Group offers a good reason to leave the crackers on the shelf. The group estimates that packaged foods contain over 2,000 additives whose safety has not been adequately studied.

New Hope: Environmental Working Group: If it’s not organic, it’s not clean

In a new analysis, the Environmental Working Group reports that conventional packaged food includes thousands of chemicals that are not regulated by the federal government. Most consumers do not know that fewer than 40 synthetic ingredients can be included in packaged organic foods; conventional foods are allowed to use more than 2,000 chemical preservatives, colors and other additives.

PFAS Contamination of Military Bases

Politico – Morning Energy: House hearing drills down on safety

The Defense Department’s top environmental official, Maureen Sullivan, will also testify. In anticipation of her testimony, the Environmental Working Group today unveiled an interactive map showing the 106 sites where the nonstick chemicals have contaminated drinking water or groundwater.

Business Insider: Dangerous ‘forever chemicals’ have been found in US drinking water at alarmingly high rates — here’s what to know about PFA

If you’re worried about your own drinking water, you can check the EPA’s annual drinking-water report online or look at an independent tap-water database from the Environmental Working Group . You can also use an NSF/ANSI-approved filter at home.

Asbury Park Press: Water near Joint Base and Earle polluted by possible carcinogen: report

Military bases, including the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and Naval Weapons Station Earle, used a firefighting foam rife with dangerous chemicals for decades after being warned of the risks, according to a new report by the Environmental Working Group.

Stars and Stripes: Water crisis: Illnesses mount for families living on military bases

A comprehensive accounting of the families impacted has yet to be seen, but they have increasingly spoken out at legislative hearings and through activist groups such as Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Environmental Working Group. On Wednesday, four families accompanied the group in the audience of a House panel, and were recognized repeatedly by lawmakers.

ThinkProgress: Toxic chemicals are poisoning communities, and those affected say EPA isn’t doing enough to stop it

On Wednesday, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a report mapping all of the areas where the Department of Defense (DoD) has found PFAS in water with levels above what the EPA has deemed “safe.” The report found at least 106 U.S. military sites where either drinking water or groundwater is contaminated with the toxic chemicals.

Times Union (Albany, N.Y.): Report identifies water contamination at 4 military sites upstate

PFAS pollution had been uncovered at each one but the report by the Environmental Working Group was the first to summarize the extent of potential contamination at Defense Department sites nationwide. “This is only the tip of a toxic iceberg that is largely hidden and still growing,” the group said in its report, issued Wednesday.

Washington Examiner: Daily on Energy: Pressure mounting against White House climate panel

The Environmental Working Group issued a report on Wednesday that identifies 106 military sites in the U.S. where drinking water or groundwater is contaminated by unsafe levels of PFAS chemicals.

Chemical Watch: NGO researchers call to ban PFASs from firefighting foam

The report, by the NGO Environmental Working Group (EWG), identifies more than 100 military sites where drinking water or groundwater is contaminated with PFASs at levels above the EPA’s health guidelines, after nearly 50 years of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) use on military installations.

Colorado Springs Independent: Former Fountain resident testifies on PFASs in D.C.

The hearing was held the same day that Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy organization, released an updated map with information on 106 military sites where drinking water or groundwater is contaminated with PFASs. (The Department of the Defense has said that there are 401 sites in the U.S. alone with known or suspected contamination.)

Asbestos

KTVZ (Bend, Ore.): Merkley, colleagues intro bill to ban asbestos in U.S.
The bill is endorsed by the AFL-CIO, the American Public Health Association (APHA), the Environmental Working Group (EWG), and Less Cancer.

Cleaners

Reader’s Digest: 15 Spring Cleaning Mistakes That Could Make You Sick

“Start with ceilings and high shelving, and work your way to the floors to limit redistribution of dust and other particles to freshly cleaned surfaces,” says Samara Geller, a senior research and database analyst at Environmental Working Group (EWG). In addition, “look for a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter to more effectively trap dust, allergens, and contaminants,” she says.

MSN: 19 Dangers Inside Your Spring Cleaning Products

Environmental Working Group has flagged some jewelry cleaners as toxic. Some contain perchloroethylene, a known carcinogen. Moreover, fumes from the toxic solvents can cause lung, eye and skin irritation.

One Green Planet: 15 Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products for a Sparkling Home!

According to the EWG, common cleaning products “can be laced with the carcinogenic impurity 1,4-dioxane” and “contain preservatives that release low levels of cancer-causing formaldehyde.” They can also cause chemical burns, allergies, and asthma.

Climate Change

Yes! Magazine: How to Talk to Kids About Climate Change (and Have Fun, Too)

“Every day we see more evidence that this administration is actively working against the health and safety of the most vulnerable Americans—our children,” said Ken Cook, the president of Environmental Working Group, an environmental health nonprofit headquartered in Washington, D.C., in October. “Tragically, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the Trump administration is waging a war on children.”

Cosmetics

Best Health: What Are Parabens? And Are They Really That Bad?

But researchers and organizations such as the U.S. Environmental Working Group say research must not just look at individual product exposure but must find a way to evaluate the cumulative impact of many products used over many years. EWG’s surveys show the average adult consumer uses nine personal care products a day.

Business Insider: The skin-care industry often treats body products as an afterthought — this startup is out to change that

They’re accompanied by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) rating for safety and potential for skin irritation.

Family Circle: Why It’s Now Easier Than Ever to Buy Sustainable Beauty Products

“Consumers are starting to push the market, and companies pick up on that,” says Carla Burns, research analyst at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG). But as lovely as it is that many big corporations have stepped up, she adds, consumers need to remain vigilant.

Cosmetics and Kourtney Kardashian

Women’s Wear Daily (WWD): Kourtney Kardashian Is Launching a Brand Called Poosh

Last year Kardashian teamed with the Environmental Working Group on a trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with staffers from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to discuss the Personal Care Products Safety Act, which would update 80-year-old FDA regulations in the beauty industry. Kardashian has been a vocal advocate for clean beauty since giving birth to her first child.

Evening Standard (London, U.K.): What is Poosh? Kourtney Kardashian’s lifestyle brand Poosh could give Goop a run for its money

Last year, she worked closely with an activist organisation called Environmental Working Group and actually went to congress as part of its #BeautyMadeBetter campaign.

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Well Being: How to Switch to Green Beauty

When it comes to searching for ingredients, the Environmental Working Group is my go to. They’ve done the heavy lifting for you and created the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.

EWG VERIFIED™

Elite Daily: The 4 Best Organic Shampoos For Color-Treated Hair

This pick from Avalon Organics meets the NSF/ANSI 305 organic standards and is also verified by the Environmental Working Group (which you can read more about here) but, in short, that means it’s totally non-toxic and meets the strictest, safest manufacturing standards.

EcoParent: Indulge in the Sumptuousness of Serums

C2 California Clean’s Apple Stem Cell Regenerating Serum uses the magic of science (and apples!) to stimulate regeneration and preservation of skin cells. Proudly EWG VERIFIED, the bioactive ingredients will help reduce wrinkles, even skin tone, stimulate collagen production, encourage elastin synthesis, and bring back your gorgeous glow!

Energy

National Review: San Bernardino County Says No to Big Renewables

In January, some 600 environmental groups, including 350.org, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, and the Environmental Working Group, submitted a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives, which said that the U.S. must shift to “100 percent renewable power generation by 2035 or earlier.”

Ethanol

Politico – Morning Agriculture: Ethanol retains grip on Iowa primary politics

“This should be an early test of whether candidates are really committed to attacking the climate crisis,” said Scott Faber, an Environmental Working Group lobbyist who focuses on ag issues. “You can’t be for the status quo with ethanol and also be for saving the planet.”

Politico Magazine: How the 2020 Democrats Learned to Love Ethanol

“This should be an early test of whether candidates are really committed to attacking the climate crisis,” says Scott Faber, an Environmental Working Group lobbyist who focuses on agricultural issues. “You can’t be for the status quo with ethanol and also be for saving the planet.”

Monsanto’s Glyphosate

EcoWatch: WATCH: EWG Asked People If They’d Like to Eat Cereal With Monsanto’s Weedkiller in It

On a recent afternoon, across the street from the White House, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) set up an impromptu taste test and asked participants to choose between two oat-based cereals: one that likely contained a pinch of Monsanto’s weedkiller linked to cancer, glyphosate, and another that did not.

Well+Good: Are these 5 questionable ingredients lurking in your breakfast food?

One place you might not have considered pesticide residue? Your breakfast cereal. According to a recent report published by the Environmental Working Group, your morning bowl of oatmeal, oat-based cereal, or granola isn’t exactly safe from chemical weed killers, which can seep in through direct application on crops (like the oats in your ’meal) or spraying of the land itself.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Woman’s World: 5 Hormones That Hold in Fat — And How to Fix Them

If it’s not possible to eat an entirely organic diet, the US’ Environmental Working Group advises you to at least choose organic soft berries and salad leaves, as non-organic versions more easily absorb pesticides and preservatives used than food with a tough skin, which you can remove, such as bananas and avocados.

Sunscreens

Yahoo! News: The Best Sunscreens to Protect Kids and Babies From Sun Damage

Sunology Kids & Baby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50: Along with the EWG’s high marks, this fragrance-free formula is certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny and offers the highest level of water resistance.

KJZZ (Tempe, Arizona): How Safe Is Sunscreen? We Don’t Know

AUDIO – Nneka Leiba is director of the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) [Healthy’] Living Science program. EWG is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to protect human health and the environment.

HAPPI: Sea Change – As mineral-based options rise in popularity and by legislation, stakeholders on both sides agree that FDA needs to take action on new filters.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), for example, has been calling for a ban on oxybenzone for years (and is demanding companies drop the ingredient entirely by 2020). “We support the fact that certain stares are bringing attention to the ingredients of concern in sunscreen; in those states, like Hawaii, it is because of reef effects. We have been calling attention because of public health,” said Nneka Leiba, who is EWG’s director of healthy living science and manages its annual update to its “Guide to Sunscreens.”

PFAS in Drinking Water

E&E News/Greenwire: Frustrated by EPA, states blaze ahead on PFAS

PFOA was discovered in water sources in New York’s Hoosick Falls in 2015, according to a map of contaminated sites by the Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University’s Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute.

About the Author

Truman Lewis
Truman has been a bureau chief and correspondent in D.C., Los Angeles, Phoenix and elsewhere, reporting for radio, television, print and news services, for more than 30 years. Most recently, he has reported extensively on health and consumer issues for ConsumerAffairs.com and FairfaxNews.com.