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EWG News Roundup (3/6): PFAS Resemble Cancer-Causing Chemicals, Nitrate Taints Minnesota Drinking Water and More


In the News

This week EWG published a study in the journal International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health that reviewed 26 fluorinated chemicals, or PFAS, and found that all display at least one characteristic of known human carcinogens.

“Our research has shown that PFAS impact biological functions linked to an increased risk of cancer,” says Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., EWG toxicologist and the primary author of the new study. “This is worrisome, given that all Americans are exposed to PFAS mixtures on a daily basis, from contamination in water, food and everyday products.”

EWG also published a study that shows nitrate contamination of drinking water has increased across Minnesota’s farm country. EWG analyzed data from 115 water utilities, serving over 500,000 Minnesotans, with elevated levels of nitrate between 1995 and 2018. About 63 percent, or 72, of these systems saw increases in nitrate during that time, affecting 218,000 people.

The spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, has prompted concern and questions across the nation. EWG offered some helpful tips to keep you and your family safe.

And finally, nearly 25,000 Americans signed onto a petition urging federal regulators to require the cosmetics industry to test for the presence of asbestos in cosmetics and to share the results.

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

Children’s Health

Business Insider: I use this gentle baby balm to ease my toddler’s skin irritation when her eczema flares up

On top of that, all of their products carry the Environmental Working Group’s EWG Verified guarantee that they do not contain potentially harmful ingredients. Reprinted by News of the day

The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio): Ohio EPA: Water systems at schools, daycares being tested first for PFAS

“The states need to continue passing their own limits and not wait for the U.S. EPA to act,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs for the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

Children’s Health Defense: What’s in Children’s Drinking Water? Far Too Often, Something Neurotoxic

As the Environmental Working Group (EWG) points out, “A baby fed exclusively powdered formula mixed with tap water drinks the most water for its small size of any age group”; in this scenario, tap water may represent up to 85% of a formula-fed baby’s diet. Reprinted by Before It’s NewsWaking TimesInfoWarsHealth Nut News

Mama Natural: Diaper Rash Cream: Three We Recommend (And Two We Don’t!)

The problem? Desitin is rated as a 4 in the Environmental Working Group database, but some individual ingredients rate up to a 5.

Mini Magazine: We Tested the Cleanest Baby Products You Can Buy

It wasn’t until recently that our editors really started researching the ingredients in some of the most popular baby products on the market and cross-checking them with a handy little resource called the Skin Deep database by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Parents: How to Tame Your Kid’s Sweet Tooth in 30 Days

Cold cereals pack 9 grams of added sugar per serving on average—and ones marketed to families generally pack even more, according to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group.

Parents: These Are the Worst Sunscreens of 2018 for Babies and Kids, Says EWG

As parents, we want to believe that applying sunscreen to our children is protecting them from the sun’s potentially harmful rays. But according to a report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), some sunscreens can actually be unsafe for kids and babies.

Parents: What Parents Need to Know About Blue-Green Algae Poisoning

Some organizations also monitor algal conditions online. For example, check out this interactive map from the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Nitrate in Minnesota Tap Water

City Pages: Minnesota’s polluted drinking water is getting a lot worse

With that in mind, Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit environmental research organization, has been tracking nitrate levels in Minnesota’s water between 1995 and 2018.

Daily Yonder: EWG Analysis: Nitrate Pollution of Drinking Water in Rural Minnesota Is Getting Worse

Nitrate contamination of drinking water has increased across Minnesota’s farm country, an Environmental Working Group analysis of state data has found. Reprinted by News Break

Forum News Service: Nitrate levels on the rise in Minnesota drinking water, group says

The trend appears to be most prevalent in rural parts of the state, according to the Environmental Working Group’s report. And even though most of the nitrate levels surveyed fall below the federal legal limit, members of the group still say their findings are a cause for concern. Reprinted by Brainerd Dispatch (Minn.)West Central Tribune (Wilmar, Minn.)The Bemidji Pioneer (Minn.)Duluth News TribuneSt. Paul Pioneer Press; 9 other media outlets

Star Tribune (Minneapolis): Nitrate problem worsening in rural Minnesota’s drinking water

Using data from the Minnesota Department of Health, the Environmental Working Group studied 115 public utilities across Minnesota with elevated levels of the toxic chemical, then tracked the levels from 1995 to 2018.

Bluestem Prairie: It’s all over now, baby blue? EWG analysis concludes nitrates rising in MN drinking water

In an analysis released today by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), In Minnesota’s Farm Country, Nitrate Pollution of Drinking Water is Getting Worse,  the  group’s Senior Analyst of Economics Anne Weir Schechinger concludes…

KWLM (Wilmar, Minn.): Nitrate Problem Worsening In Rural Minnesota’s Drinking Water

A new report shows that nitrate pollution in drinking water across rural Minnesota is getting worse. The analysis released yesterday showed that nitrate levels have increased between 1995 and 2018. The Environmental Working Group used data from the Minnesota Department of Health to complete the study.

Fox 9 (Minneapolis): Tests show nitrate increase for almost two-thirds of Minnesota farm country’s drinking water

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis, 72 systems tested out of 115 showed increases between 1995 and 2018. EWG says 218,000 people are impacted by the increases in nitrate. Reprinted by News Break

PFAS Chemicals and Cancer Study

United Press International: PFAS should be classified as carcinogens, researchers say

Researchers affiliated with the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group show in the analysis how PFAS — or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — can act like established cancer-causing chemicals by altering DNA, compromising the immune system or encouraging cell proliferation. Reprinted by Breitbart

Buzzfeed: Here Are The Ways That PFAS Chemicals Might Cause Cancer, A New Study Says

“We found that every single one of them exhibited at least one of the key characteristics” of carcinogens, said toxicologist Alexis Temkin of the advocacy group Environmental Working Group, which conducted the study with researchers from Indiana University. 

Auburn Mass. Daily: Letter Sent To The Attorney General Urging Action Towards Companies That Have Produced PFAS

According to the Environmental Working Group, these companies were aware of the serious health risks associated with exposure to PFAS. Because of the widespread use of PFAS across an abundance of industries, many people have been exposed and unknowingly consumed these chemicals.

EPA Criminal Investigations of PFAS Polluters

WTAP (Parkersburg, W.Va.): EPA launching PFAS investigations

“This is the first time in recent memory we’ve heard about the EPA considering investigating users or manufacturers of PFAS,” said Melanie Benesh, an attorney for the Environmental Working Group. “So it’s certainly a change from recent years at EPA. We think it’s long overdue, and we certainly welcome that action by the EPA.”

Trump Administration Farm Bailouts

HuffPost: Farmers Convicted Of Fraud Still Got Trump Bailout Funds

Three farm operations accused of violating federal farm subsidy rules received more than $300,000 in payments from the $28 billion agriculture bailout Trump launched in 2018, according to data that the Environmental Working Group, a liberal nonprofit that wants to reform farm subsidies, shared with HuffPost. Reprinted by Yahoo!The Union JournalHead Topics

Consumer Product Safety Commission and Nancy Beck

The New York Times: Chemical Industry Executive Nominated to Lead Consumer Watchdog Agency

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit public health advocacy organization, said the recent movement to protect the public from water contaminants came only after intense pressure from Congress, and criticized the E.P.A. for failing to consider regulations earlier. Reprinted by E-NewsThe World NewsThe Entrepreneur FundHead SNHead Topics

Chemical Watch: Trump’s intention to nominate Nancy Beck to CPSC draws mixed response (subscription)

Ken Cook, president of NGO the Environmental Working Group, said that Dr Beck “is just about the last person who should be in charge of safeguarding the American people from dangerous consumer products. “Her track record, both in and out of government, is riddled with disregard for the risks that toxic chemicals in consumer goods pose to human health. Once again, we see the president appointing someone who will work to subvert the mission of the agency she would head.”

EPA Regulation of PFAS in Drinking Water

Engineering News-Record: EPA Proposes Regulating Two PFAS Chemicals

An Environmental Working Group Study released in January found that out of 44 test samples in 31 states and the District of Columbia, only one location had no detectable levels of PFAS. PFAS has been associated with different types of cancer and thyroid problems.

Algae Blooms

The Press (Millbury, Ohio): Bihn cautiously optimistic by EPA’s plan for TMDL in Lake Erie

A March 2019 report by the Environmental Working Group estimates that the number of CAFOs in the Maumee Watershed has increased by 126 percent between 2005 and 2018. 


Legal Newsline: Johnson & Johnson claims FDA’s new asbestos testing based on ‘faulty assumptions’

Organizations allied with plaintiff lawyers including the American Association of Justice and the Environmental Working Group filed thousands of signed form letters from citizens concerned about talc safety. 

Cleaning Products

ABC 10 (Sacramento, Calif.): Non-toxic cleaning products explained | Meg Unprocessed

Megan Evans shares a few alternatives that she uses at home to help reduce some of the indoor air pollution for her family. For more information on clean and safer products for the home and more check out the Environmental Working Group.  

Business Insider: 11 natural cleaning brands that don’t use harsh or harmful chemicals

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), these are common but problematic ingredients you should look out for and avoid while shopping for cleaning products: 

  • Formaldehyde (respiratory irritant, carcinogen)
  • Sodium hypochlorite (respiratory irritant)
  • Ammonium hydroxide (respiratory irritant)
  • Borax and boric acid (possible reproductive or developmental irritant) 

MSN: Effective Natural Cleaing Products That Have No Mystery Ingredients

Whether you want to add a capful to your mopping bucket or to a spray bottle filled with water, it revitalizes stained or dingy floors without any superfluous additives or fragrances. Even better, it has an A rating from the Environmental Working Group!


Refinery 29: Biossance Is The Cult Skincare Brand NYC Girls Love – & It Just Arrived Here

Biossance prides itself on not using any of the EU’s 1,500 banned ingredients in its products and has even been verified by the Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by Yahoo!MSN

Ask Men: Editor Approved Grooming Brands for Women’s History Month

The brand was created based on some of the strictest health, safety and environmental standards set forth by two industry leading non-profit organizations — the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and the Environmental Working Group (EWG), of which Pfeiffer sits on the board.

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Buzzfeed: 28 Beauty Products You Should Have On Hand At All Times, I’m Serious

It’s also free of parabens, baking soda, phthalates, and made with six ingredients rated green for safety by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Buzzfeed: 40 Highly-Reviewed Beauty Products From Amazon That I’m Surprised You Haven’t Bought Yet

“I found this gem on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website. Do you know how hard it is to find a skin product that is safe from dangerous chemicals, gentle on sensitive skin, and that despite all this, still works effectively?…” 

Sierra Club: Is There an Eco Way to Brush My Teeth?

According to the Environmental Working Group, even “natural” toothpastes have ingredients that can be toxic to humans, animals, or the environment, including titanium dioxide, limonene, and sodium lauryl sulfate.

AARP: How to Extract Helpful Info From Online Users’ Product Reviews

In the beauty area, check sites like TotalBeauty and Good Housekeeping; for ingredient safety, I like to consult the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database at

Glam: A Case For Clean Fragrance: The Brands That Believe In Ingredient Transparency

The priority was always to protect the secret sauce behind perfumes, but for consumers concerned with the ingredients they are putting on their bodies, this vague language is problematic. According to the Environmental Working Group, the average fragrance product contains 14 secret chemicals.

EWG’s Consumer Guides

Delicious Living: A doable environmental detox

For more information on how to avoid common environmental toxins, check out the Environmental Working Group Consumer Guides (

EWG’s Healthy Living App

Essence: The Upgrade: 3 Apps To Help You Become A More Conscious Consumer

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) knows that knowing which products to choose from the thousands on shelves can be a daunting task, that’s why they created the Healthy Living app to “empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment.”

Farm Subsidies

Reason: Trump’s Proposed Cuts to Farm Subsidies Don’t Go Nearly Deep Enough

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office is one of many offices and groups that’s long urged a reduction in crop-insurance subsidies. The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) is another. Reprinted by Before It’s News

Green Chemistry

Green Biz: Signs of progress for green chemistry

GC3 is part of a broad alliance of industry associations, chemical manufacturers, consumer product companies and the nonprofit Environmental Working Group that is working to pass a bill that would coordinate federal research and development into sustainable chemistry. Reprinted by FocusTechnica

Insect Repellent 

Business Insider: The best bug sprays and repellents

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) does not recommend using any bug spray on children under six months of age but suggests treating clothes with permethrin. 

Meat Eaters Guide to Climate Change + Health

The GW Hatchet (George Washington University): Milken leader educates public about antibiotic resistance through new website

More than three-quarters of meat and poultry products available in U.S. supermarkets contain “superbugs” – bacterial strains resistant to antibiotics – according to a 2018 report from the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit environmental research organization.

Mashed: What you’re really eating when you eat a Beyond Burger

A study by the Environmental Working Group (via Scientific American), said red meat products are responsible for up to 40 times more greenhouse gases than most vegetable and grain products.

New PFAS Testing Report 

NBC News: How DuPont may avoid paying to clean up a toxic ‘forever chemical’

A 2019 study by the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University and the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit focused on the environment, identified at least 610 locations in 43 states that are known to be contaminated by PFAS, including drinking water systems serving an estimated 19 million people. Reprinted by The World News

Dissident Voice: Forever-Chemicals Tap Water

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Washington, DC, for the first time: Toxic fluorinated chemicals, known as PFAS (a family of manmade Forever Chemicals – lasting forever in the environment) have been discovered in drinking water in dozens of cities, including the major metropolitan areas of America. Reprinted by Counter CurrentsAxis of Logic;City Watch LA

The McDonough County Voice (Ill.): Many drinking-water systems contaminated: study

Illinois may not have the worst contamination of PFAS “forever chemicals,” according to a new study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), but the toxic compounds are present in water systems and groundwater in Bloomington, Chicago, Galesburg, Peoria and the Quad Cities, and state Attorney General Kwame Raoul and the legislature recognize the danger, and some are pressing for reforms.

The Register-Mail (Galesburg, Ill.): Bill Knight: Many drinking-water systems contaminated: study

Illinois may not have the worst contamination of PFAS “forever chemicals,” according to a new study by the Environmental Working Group, but the toxic compounds are present in water systems and groundwater in Bloomington, Chicago, Galesburg, Peoria and the Quad Cities, and state Attorney General Kwame Raoul and the legislature recognize the danger, and some are pressing for reforms. Reprinted by Canton Daily Ledger (Ill.)

Village News (Fallbrook, Calif.): Recent study shows most water filters do not remove cancer-linked PFAS chemicals from drinking water

According the Environmental Working Group, an independent, nonprofit environmental watch group, those levels are “hundreds or thousands of times too week.” Instead, they endorsed 1 ppt which they said is the same as what is recommended by the best independent studies of PFAS.

Nitrate in Tap Water

Lancaster Online (Penn.): Can your well water make you sick? No testing is required in Pennsylvania

The nitrate standard of 10ppm was set in the 1960s based on methemoglobinemia, or blue-baby syndrome, said Sydney Evans, science analyst with the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental health research organization.

WHYY PBS: Can your well water make you sick? No testing is required in Pennsylvania.

The nitrate standard of 10ppm was set in the 1960s based on methemoglobinemia, or blue-baby syndrome, said Sydney Evans, science analyst with the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental health research organization.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Eating Well: 7 Tips for Clean Eating

Choose organic produce where you can, focusing on buying organic foods from the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list and cutting yourself some slack with the Clean 15 foods list.

U.S. News and World Report: Organic Meal Kit Delivery Services

Nevertheless, if you’re looking to boost your intake of organic items, start with foods where the organic label makes more of a difference. Berkman suggests reviewing the “Dirty Dozen” list compiled by the Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by WTOP News (D.C.)

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

Health First Network: Stay Healthy While Traveling

If you’re travelling to a sunny destination, don’t forget your sunscreen. There can be a lot of harmful chemicals in sunscreen products so check out Environmental Working Group’s “Guide to Sunscreens” to help choose the best one for you and your family.

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About Zohe

Environmentalist, Futurist, Lightworker, Wannabe naturalist. The way we are treating our world and environment is not going to end well! We need to change course NOW.

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