By Melanie Benesh, Legislative Attorney
From the beginning, the Trump administration has aggressively slashed environmental regulations. A New York Times analysis identified 100 environmental protections that have been reversed or are in the process of getting rolled back. The administration's record on chemical safety has been especially hazardous for the health of Americans, especially children.
1. Failed to Aggressively Regulate Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’<p>The toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS contaminate <a href="https://www.ewg.org/interactive-maps/pfas_contamination/" target="_blank">more than 2,200 sites</a> across the nation. Because they never break down in the environment, PFAS are often called "<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/these-toxic-chemicals-are-everywhere-and-they-wont-ever-go-away/2018/01/02/82e7e48a-e4ee-11e7-a65d-1ac0fd7f097e_story.html" target="_blank">forever chemicals</a>." They build up in our bodies and are linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental harms and reduced effectiveness of vaccines. Even though the EPA has known about the risks from PFAS chemicals <a href="https://www.ewg.org/epa-pfas-timeline/" target="_blank">since at least 1998</a>, they remain virtually unregulated.</p><p>In February 2019, the EPA released a toothless PFAS "action plan" that lacked deadlines for action and failed to address the use of PFAS in everyday products, contamination from PFAS air emissions or disposal of PFAS waste, among other concerns. A year and a half later, key goals from the plan, including regulating PFAS under the Superfund law and setting drinking water standards, remain unfulfilled.</p><p>When Congress stepped in and sought to designate PFOA and PFOS – the two most notorious and well-studied PFAS – as "hazardous substances" and to set deadlines for agency action, Trump <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/SAP_HR-535.pdf" target="_blank">threatened a veto</a>. Trump's EPA also <a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/07/27/2020-13738/long-chain-perfluoroalkyl-carboxylate-and-perfluoroalkyl-sulfonate-chemical-substances-significant" target="_blank">weakened a rule</a> designed to regulate <a href="https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2020/06/final-decision-epa-fails-protect-public-toxic-forever-chemicals-consumer" target="_blank">PFAS in consumer products</a>.</p>
2. Allowed a Rocket Fuel Chemical to Stay in Drinking Water<p>Perchlorate is a component of rocket fuel that also frequently contaminates drinking water sources. Perchlorate can interfere with thyroid function, which can also harm <a href="https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2017/11/kids-still-risk-rocket-fuel-chemical-food-and-water" target="_blank">childhood brain development</a>.</p><p><a href="https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-02-11/html/2011-2603.htm" target="_blank">Almost a decade ago,</a> the EPA determined that these harms warranted regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The agency then dragged its feet for years. In 2016, the <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/media/2016/160218" target="_blank">Natural Resources Defense Council sued</a> to force the EPA to finally set a legal limit for perchlorate in drinking water. In a <a href="https://www.freshlawblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/15/2016/12/Doc-38-Consent-Decree.pdf" target="_blank">court-approved consent decree</a>, the EPA agreed to propose a standard by October 2018 and finalize it by 2019. However, the EPA sought extensions and failed to meet these deadlines.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/06/26/2019-12773/national-primary-drinking-water-regulations-perchlorate" target="_blank">EPA finally proposed a drinking water standard</a> in June 2019 but also suggested that it might not regulate perchlorate after all. <a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/07/21/2020-13462/drinking-water-final-action-on-perchlorate" target="_blank">A year later, </a>the EPA withdrew its decision to regulate perchlorate in drinking water.</p>
3. Allowed Scores of New Chemicals, Including New Toxic PFAS, Onto the Market Without Adequate Oversight<p>In 2016, Congress substantially changed the way new chemicals are approved under the <a href="https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2016/05/new-tsca-bill-falls-short-protecting-americans-toxic-chemicals#.WwLUddMvwWo" target="_blank">Toxic Substances Control Act</a>, or TSCA.</p><p>Under the old law, chemicals were frequently approved by default, often <a href="https://www.ewg.org/research/off-the-books-ii-more-secret-chemicals/new-chemicals" target="_blank">without any health and safety information</a>. As a result, unsafe chemicals were allowed to be used for years or decades before the health and environmental hazards came to light. Inadequate oversight of new chemicals can also lead to <a href="https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/harmful-chemicals-removed-from-products-often-replaced-with-something-as-bad-or-worse/" target="_blank">regrettable substitution</a> – when chemicals are finally found to be unsafe, they are often replaced by unstudied chemicals that may be just as or even more toxic.</p><p>The 2016 update was supposed to fix the new chemicals program by requiring the EPA to make an affirmative safety finding on new chemicals and restrict use if industry failed to provide sufficient safety data. Nonetheless, the Trump EPA has approved scores of new chemicals in a process that <a href="http://blogs.edf.org/health/2019/12/09/when-will-epa-fully-explain-and-legally-justify-its-reviews-of-new-chemicals-under-tsca/" target="_blank">lacks transparency</a> and <a href="https://earthjustice.org/sites/default/files/files/20200317_comms_pc_tsca_english_final.pdf" target="_blank">contravenes the 2016 law</a>. The EPA has also <a href="https://www.edf.org/blog/2018/09/05/trumps-epa-flouting-law-when-approving-new-chemicals-here-are-3-examples" target="_blank">ignored known health concerns</a>, <a href="http://blogs.edf.org/health/2019/02/21/the-trump-epa-is-throwing-workers-facing-risks-from-new-tsca-chemicals-under-the-bus/" target="_blank">limited its consideration of worker risks</a> and <a href="http://blogs.edf.org/health/2019/06/03/the-trump-epa-is-illegally-denying-requests-for-public-files-on-new-chemicals/" target="_blank">denied requests for public files</a> in the new chemicals program.</p><p>The EPA has also exploited loopholes in the new law to quickly approve new chemicals, including toxic PFAS. <a href="http://blogs.edf.org/health/2020/07/28/greasing-the-skids-the-trump-epa-is-green-lighting-dozens-of-new-pfas-under-tsca/" target="_blank">A recent investigation</a> found that the EPA has been quietly approving new PFAS chemicals, through a provision known as the low volume exemption in the new chemicals program. As a result, the EPA is greenlighting new PFAS chemicals on an expedited basis, without public scrutiny. One PFAS, <a href="http://blogs.edf.org/health/2020/01/27/what-connects-cross-country-skiing-and-chemical-safety/" target="_blank">used in ski wax</a>, was approved despite a finding that the chemical could "waterproof the lungs," resulting in severe health impacts.</p><p>Since the law was updated in 2016, the EPA has reviewed more than <a href="https://www.epa.gov/reviewing-new-chemicals-under-toxic-substances-control-act-tsca/statistics-new-chemicals-review" target="_blank">3,000 new chemicals</a> submissions. More than 1,000 of these chemicals have been approved through the low volume exemption, and since 2016, manufacturers have begun producing at least 900 new chemicals, many without adequate safety data. Environmental groups have <a href="https://earthjustice.org/sites/default/files/files/final_filed_complaint.pdf" target="_blank">sued the EPA</a> over its failures to protect the public and the environment from risks from new chemicals. </p>
4. Failed to Protect Workers From a Deadly Paint-Stripping Chemical<p>Methylene chloride is a highly toxic chemical used in paint strippers that is responsible for <a href="https://saferchemicals.org/us-deaths-from-methylene-chloride/" target="_blank">more than 60 deaths</a> since 1980. In the final days of the Obama administration, the <a href="https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0231-0001" target="_blank">EPA proposed a ban</a> on "methylene chloride for consumer and most types of commercial paint and coating removal."</p><p>After significant pressure from <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/epa-reconsiders-ban-on-potentially-lethal-paint-stripper-chemical-methylene-chloride/" target="_blank">families who lost loved ones</a> due to methylene chloride exposure, the Trump EPA eventually issued a final rule in 2019. However, the <a href="https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-bans-consumer-sales-methylene-chloride-paint-removers-protecting-public" target="_blank">EPA narrowed the rule</a> so that it would apply only to consumer<em> uses</em> of methylene chloride, not commercial uses. That means workers are not protected, even though a <a href="https://publicintegrity.org/inequality-poverty-opportunity/workers-rights/epa-restricts-sales-of-deadly-paint-strippers-after-years-of-delays/" target="_blank">Center for Public Integrity investigation</a> found that most deaths from methylene chloride take place at work.</p><p>A <a href="https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/final-risk-evaluation-methylene-chloride" target="_blank">separate EPA evaluation</a> of methylene chloride found that manufacturing, disposal and several other uses of methylene chloride pose no "unreasonable risk." Environmental groups have filed lawsuits challenging <a href="https://earthjustice.org/news/press/2019/trump-s-epa-sued-for-leaving-workers-exposed-to-deadly-chemical-in-paint-strippers" target="_blank">the rule</a> and the <a href="https://earthjustice.org/news/press/2020/trumps-epa-sued-over-understating-risks-of-deadly-chemical" target="_blank">recent evaluation</a>.</p>
5. Cooked the Books on the “Civil Action” Chemical<p>Trichloroethylene is a chemical solvent made infamous by the book and movie "<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3PHjIly2N0" target="_blank">A Civil Action</a>." The EPA considers it to be a known carcinogen, and it is one of the primary contaminants that sickened scores of veterans who served at <a href="https://psmag.com/environment/what-happened-at-camp-lejeune" target="_blank">Camp Lejeune</a>, in North Carolina.</p><p>As with methylene chloride, in the final days of the Obama administration, the EPA proposed banning three uses of TCE: <a href="https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0163-0001" target="_blank">spot cleaning, aerosol degreasing</a> and <a href="https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0387-0001" target="_blank">vapor degreasing</a>. In December 2017, the Trump EPA <a href="https://www.ewg.org/release/trump-epa-indefinitely-delays-bans-deadly-chemicals" target="_blank">shelved these proposed bans</a>, claiming that it would study those uses in a separate ongoing risk evaluation of TCE.</p><p>However, the EPA dramatically rewrote the accepted science on TCE in the <a href="https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/draft-risk-evaluation-trichloroethylene" target="_blank">draft risk evaluation</a> released in February. As <a href="https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2018/06/industry-s-behest-epa-caves-banning-civil-action-carcinogen-lays-ground" target="_blank">EWG warned</a> in 2018, the solvents industry aggressively lobbied the EPA to ignore a key <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1241384/" target="_blank">2003 study</a> finding that TCE causes heart deformities in developing fetuses. TCE's connection with fetal heart defects was an important basis for the Obama EPA's decision to ban three uses of TCE. An <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0890623816303240#bib0190" target="_blank">independent review</a> of the EPA's science found that "prenatal exposure to TCE can cause human cardiac defects" and that the study "remains a valid choice" for assessing risk.</p><p>The lobbyists succeeded. The EPA's draft risk evaluation questioned the study's design and minimized its significance. An <a href="https://www.revealnews.org/article/epa-scientists-found-a-toxic-chemical-damages-fetal-hearts-the-trump-white-house-rewrote-their-assessment/" target="_blank">investigation by Reveal News</a> compared the draft risk evaluation with a leaked earlier draft. It found that the earlier draft had relied extensively on the 2003 study and used it as a benchmark for the risk calculations. Reveal also reported that then-EPA chemicals safety chief Nancy Beck – "<a href="https://www.ewg.org/planet-trump/2017/05/scariest-trump-appointee-you-ve-never-heard" target="_blank">the scariest Trump appointee you've never heard of</a>" – ordered that the risk evaluation be rewritten to downplay the risks of TCE. With the EPA giving significantly less weight to risks from fetal heart deformities, it's unlikely the agency will finalize the proposed bans.</p>
6. Pressured EPA Scientists to Drop Evaluations of Toxic Chemicals – Including Formaldehyde<p>The Trump EPA is undermining the work of independent scientists within the Integrated Risk Information System program, known as IRIS. The program's work is supposed to be impartial and non-political. Its scientific assessments are intended to support the work of other EPA program offices and regional offices. IRIS is a <a href="https://theintercept.com/2018/02/03/epa-iris-toxic-chemicals/" target="_blank">frequent target of chemical industry attacks</a> because its independent safety assessments often don't align with industry objectives.</p><p>In 2018, the Trump EPA tried to <a href="https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3534381/Combined.pdf" target="_blank">defund</a> the IRIS program. EPA leadership also pressured IRIS to drop critical health assessments. In March 2019, <a href="https://www.gao.gov/assets/700/697212.pdf" target="_blank">a Government Accountability Office report</a> disclosed that EPA leadership directed agency offices to limit the number of chemicals they wanted IRIS to review, and cut in half the number of IRIS's ongoing or upcoming assessments.</p><p>One of the halted assessments was IRIS's decades-long review of formaldehyde, a widely used chemical and <a href="https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/content/profiles/formaldehyde.pdf" target="_blank">known human carcinogen</a>. This is surprising because former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt indicated to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in January 2018 that the report was complete and <a href="https://www.markey.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Pruitt%20Letter%20formaldehyde%20assessment.pdf" target="_blank">ready for release</a>. However, answering <a href="https://www.eenews.net/assets/2019/01/29/document_pm_02.pdf" target="_blank">questions for the record</a> following a 2019 Senate hearing, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said formaldehyde was "not a top priority."</p><p>Instead of releasing the IRIS study on formaldehyde to the public, the EPA has instead decided that the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention – under the leadership of Nancy Beck – should <a href="https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-finalizes-list-next-20-chemicals-undergo-risk-evaluation-under-tsca" target="_blank">conduct its own assessment</a> of formaldehyde. As with TCE, this action will give the agency an opportunity to distort the science and minimize risks. Because these reviews take years, it will also significantly delay any EPA regulatory action on formaldehyde.</p>
7. Rolled Back Clean Water Protections<p>Industrial chemical pollutants are often discharged into drinking water supplies. But the Trump administration has made it a priority to roll back the<a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2015/06/29/2015-13435/clean-water-rule-definition-of-waters-of-the-united-states" target="_blank"> Clean Water Rule,</a> which more clearly defined which kinds of bodies of water are subject to the Clean Water Act. EWG's analysis found that the Clean Water Rule, if implemented as proposed by the Obama administration, would have protected drinking water sources for more than <a href="https://www.ewg.org/research/trump-plan-gut-stream-protections-imperils-tap-water-117-million-americans" target="_blank">117 million Americans</a>.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/31/politics/epa-science-board/index.html" target="_blank">EPA's own science advisors</a> have opposed the rollback of the Clean Water Rule, but the Trump administration <a href="https://www.ewg.org/release/trump-completes-repeal-clean-water-rule-imperiling-drinking-water-sources-117m-people" target="_blank">repealed</a> it in 2019, <a href="https://www.ewg.org/release/trump-administration-finalizes-repeal-pollution-rule-threatening-drinking-water-sources-117" target="_blank">proposed its own rule</a> in January and <a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/04/21/2020-02500/the-navigable-waters-protection-rule-definition-of-waters-of-the-united-states" target="_blank">finalized it</a> in April. The new rule covers far fewer bodies of water and would leave 234,000 miles of small streams unprotected. EWG estimates that at least 72 million Americans draw at least half their drinking water from small streams.</p><p>Because of the repeal, those bodies of water will no longer be subject to pollution limits. Protection for small and seasonal streams and wetlands is important because they often flow into larger bodies of water, including sources of drinking water. Polluted drinking water sources <a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/money/agriculture/2017/03/17/judge-dismisses-water-works-nitrates-lawsuit/99327928/" target="_blank">strain municipal water utilities</a> tasked with filtering out contaminants regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and risk exposing the public to more <a href="https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/state-of-american-drinking-water.php" target="_blank">contaminants that aren't regulated</a> under the act.</p>
8. Cooked the Books on Asbestos<p>Asbestos is a highly toxic, naturally occurring chemical linked to a particularly deadly form of cancer called <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mesothelioma/symptoms-causes/syc-20375022" target="_blank">mesothelioma</a>. An estimated <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/search?authors=Jukka%20Takala&orcid=0000-0001-5722-7052" target="_blank">40,000 Americans</a> die every year from asbestos-related diseases. Although the toxicity of asbestos is well understood, the EPA has never actually banned most uses. The EPA attempted a ban in 1989, but most of the rule was overturned by <a href="https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=6165892895625819539&q=corrosion+proof+fittings+v+epa&hl=en&as_sdt=20006" target="_blank">the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1991.</a></p><p>After Congress reformed TSCA in 2016, the EPA announced that asbestos would be one of the <a href="https://www.ewg.org/research/under-new-safety-law-epa-picks-first-10-chemicals-review" target="_blank">first 10 chemicals</a> reviewed under the new law. Many hoped that this time, the EPA would finally ban asbestos.</p><p>Instead, when the EPA released its <a href="https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/draft-risk-evaluation-asbestos" target="_blank">draft risk evaluation</a> in May, it found that several uses of asbestos, including import of asbestos and asbestos-containing products and distribution of asbestos-containing products, did not pose an unreasonable risk. The EPA made its risk determinations by ignoring exposure from "legacy" uses of asbestos, such as old insulation and building tiles. Although in November the <a href="https://www.ewg.org/release/court-trump-epa-acted-unlawfully-refusing-consider-legacy-use-asbestos-lead" target="_blank">Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals</a> ordered the EPA to fix this error, it has yet to do so.</p><p>Instead of banning asbestos, in April 2019 the EPA <a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/04/25/2019-08154/restrictions-on-discontinued-uses-of-asbestos-significant-new-use-rule" target="_blank">published a rule</a> requiring notice and approval before manufacturers could resume using it in some applications the agency considered abandoned. However, <a href="https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/815-e-p-a-memos-on-asbestos/12c87a96be998db10048/optimized/full.pdf#page=1" target="_blank">leaked documents</a> show that more than a dozen EPA staffers urged an outright ban on asbestos instead.</p>
9. Proposed a Loophole for Toxic Air Pollution<p>In July 2019, the <a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/07/26/2019-14252/reclassification-of-major-sources-as-area-sources-under-section-112-of-the-clean-air-act" target="_blank">Trump EPA proposed to reverse</a> a longstanding policy requiring large power plants, refineries and other industrial polluters to always meet certain strict controls, even after reducing emissions. The new rule creates a loophole in the Clean Air Act regulations that would allow large industrial facilities to <a href="https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-02/documents/reclassification_of_major_sources_as_area_sources_under_section_112_of_the_clean_air_act.pdf" target="_blank">reclassify themselves</a>, from "major sources" of air pollution to "area sources."</p><p>That change would allow them to opt out of strict pollution control standards, called "maximum achievable control technology," and substantially increase their emissions of dangerous air pollutants. EPA's own data shows that more than <a href="https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-07-26/pdf/2019-14252.pdf" target="_blank">3,900 large facilities</a> that <a href="https://www.epa.gov/haps/initial-list-hazardous-air-pollutants-modifications" target="_blank">emit pollutants like mercury and benzene</a> could take advantage of this loophole. <a href="http://blogs.edf.org/climate411/2020/02/19/epa-data-emphasizes-danger-of-trump-administrations-air-toxics-loophole/?conversion_pg=www.momscleanairforce.org%2Fthe-racism-of-the-epa-agenda%2F" target="_blank">The Environmental Defense Fund</a> estimates the loophole could increase toxic air emissions by as much as 480 percent, or almost 50 million pounds per year. </p><p>This rollback is especially alarming in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic. Studies have found that people who live in areas with <a href="https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2020/07/17/why-air-pollution-is-linked-to-severe-cases-of-covid-19/" target="_blank">high levels of air pollution</a> are at greater risk for severe cases of COVID-19.</p>
10. Continuing Its Quest to Censor Science<p>In 2018, the EPA <a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/04/30/2018-09078/strengthening-transparency-in-regulatory-science" target="_blank">proposed a disastrous rule</a> significantly limiting the kinds of science the agency can rely on to justify environmental regulations. The rule would have prohibited the agency from using studies that don't make their underlying data publicly available or whose results can't be replicated. That change would prevent the EPA from including in its future risk assessments most <a href="https://www.aaas.org/news/scientific-medical-academic-groups-urge-epa-drop-transparency-rule" target="_blank">human health studies</a>, because personal medical data must remain confidential. The rule would undermine studies that are foundational to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/11/climate/epa-science-trump.html" target="_blank">clean air regulations</a>.</p><p>The proposal sparked enormous opposition from scientists, academics and environmental health advocates. More than 600,000 public comments were submitted to the agency, the vast majority in opposition. In September 2019, the EPA dropped the proposal from its regulatory agenda. </p><p>But the Trump EPA is at it again. In March, the agency issued a <a href="https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2020-03/documents/supplemental_notice_of_strengthening_transparency_in_regulatory_science.pdf" target="_blank">supplemental proposal</a> that is actually <a href="https://www.ewg.org/testimony-official-correspondence/ewg-comments-epa-strengthening-transparency-regulatory-science" target="_blank">worse than</a> the original proposal. The 2018 proposal applied to all "dose response" studies, but the new proposal applies to all studies. The new proposal also applies retroactively, which means the EPA could use it to gut existing regulations.</p><p>As these actions – and dozens of others – show, the Trump EPA has aggressively worked to erode and eliminate vital environmental and public health protections. The public needs an EPA that will prioritize people and planet over polluters and profit.</p>
- Trump EPA OK's Rocket Fuel Chemical for Water Supplies - EcoWatch ›
- Trump EPA OKs 'Emergency' Use of Bee-Killing Pesticide on 13.9 ... ›
- Trump Admin Weakens Obama-Era Rule to Limit Toxic Waste From Coal Plants - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Ketura Persellin
Gift-giving is filled with minefields, but the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) got your back, so you don't need to worry about inadvertently giving family members presents laden with toxic chemicals. With that in mind, here are our suggestions for gifts to give your family this season.
For Babies<p><strong>Safer Toys</strong></p><p>Grandma may be surprised to find out that cherished heirlooms from her childhood may be covered with lead-based paint, and this year's plastic "It" toy may contain PVC or other harmful chemicals. Steer well-meaning friends and family toward safer options, like toys made of natural materials like untreated wood, bamboo, hemp or organic cotton.</p><p><strong>Healthy Bath Time</strong></p><p>Babies' developing brains, organs and hormonal systems are especially sensitive to chemicals of concern hidden in bath products like shampoo, lotion and diaper cream. However, there are an increasing number of EWG VERIFIED™ <a href="https://www.ewg.org/ewgverified/products.php?type=baby+kids" target="_blank">baby care products</a>, which meet our scientists' strictest ingredient and transparency standards.</p>
For Kids and Teens<p><strong>Environmental Activism on Trend</strong></p><p>Believe it or not, you may see <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/eco-friendly-drinking-straw-alternatives-2571689759.html">reusable straws</a> on your kids' holiday wish list this year, as teens and tweens are rejecting single-use plastic, pushed by the <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/14/cnn-underscored/what-is-a-vsco-girl/index.html" target="_blank">VSCO girl</a> trend and images of sea turtles killed by plastic waste ubiquitous on social media. Choose from one of the many metal or silicone straws available this season, now in a rainbow of colors, some even sporting their own little carrying case.</p><p>Your teen may also appreciate a reusable coffee tumbler to go with that straw.</p><p>This way they'll be avoiding the PFAS chemical coating used on paper coffee cups and the side-eye from their friends for using single-use cups and plastic lids. Look for one made of ceramic or stainless steel.</p><p><strong>Safer Clothing</strong></p><p>Many types of clothing come with chemicals that can be harmful to children's health, like children's pajamas treated with flame retardants and winter coats coated with PFAS chemicals for waterproofing. To avoid this, choose children's pajamas made out of cotton and/or marked as not flame resistant on the tag. To make sure what you're giving doesn't contain toxic fluorinated chemicals, check out this list of companies making <a href="https://pfascentral.org/pfas-basics/pfas-free-products/" target="_blank">PFAS-free clothing and shoes</a>.</p><p><strong>Clean Beauty</strong></p><p>Clean beauty and elaborate skin care routines are also trending this year. Children are the most susceptible to the health harms associated with endocrine disruptors, carcinogens and other chemicals of concern in personal care products. Use EWG's Skin Deep® and EWG VERIFIED™ databases to find gift ideas for the kids on your list – without dangerous chemicals. These include:</p><ul> <li>Stuff stockings with green-rated <a href="https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/browse/category/lip_balm" target="_blank">lip balm</a>.</li></ul><ul> <li>Clean makeup options – like <a href="https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/browse/category/Eye_shadow" target="_blank">eye shadow</a>, <a href="https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/browse/category/Bronzer__Highlighter" target="_blank">highlighter</a> and <a href="https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/browse/category/Mascara" target="_blank">mascara</a> – that will let them keep up with the latest makeup tutorial while still protecting their health.</li></ul><ul> <li><a href="https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/browse/category/Mask" target="_blank">Face masks</a> – trendy among the teenage set – but who knows what ingredients they typically contain? Steer clear of harmful chemicals by finding one that's Skin Deep® green-rated or EWG VERIFIED, like one of <a href="https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/browse/category/Mask" target="_blank">these</a>. (Keep in mind that single-use products have more of an impact on the environment.)</li></ul><ul><li>The gift of an after-shave <a href="https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/browse/category/After_shave?marketed_for=men&page=1&per_page=12" target="_blank">lotion or balm</a> made with safer chemicals. Kids who have just started to shave will be pleased to have that milestone acknowledged.</li></ul>
For your Partner or Spouse<p>If you're lucky enough to have another adult along for the ride during your childrearing years, thank them with a holiday gift that's free from chemicals of concern.</p><p><strong>Detox Their Coffee Routine</strong></p><p>There are many beautiful and plastic-free options for the sleep-deprived adults on your list – pour-over coffee makers are simple for making a single cup and come in many glass and ceramic styles. You can even find a reusable stainless steel filter. For multiple cup operations, choose a double-wall glass French press (the double wall keeps coffee warmer, longer) or a stainless steel percolator.</p><p><strong>Grown-Ups Love Clean Beauty, Too</strong></p><ul> <li>A splurge for a special man or woman on your list is Henry Rose, the fragrance created by EWG board member Michelle Pfeiffer. It's EWG's first fine fragrance that's 100 percent transparent – made without EWG's chemicals of concern, with full ingredient disclosure on the label and to EWG.</li></ul><ul> <li>A luxurious beard oil and brush kit makes a great gift. Look for <a href="https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/browse/category/Beard_oil?marketed_for=men" target="_blank">beard oils</a> with a green rating in the Skin Deep® database and brushes with wood or bamboo handles.</li></ul><ul><li>Makeup wipes are hot right now, but their disposable nature and questionable ingredients are not as fun. Look for reusable cotton wipes in undyed organic cotton.</li></ul><p><strong>Green Kitchens Are More Than a Design Trend</strong></p><p>If you're like most parents, you try to feed your family without exposing them to harmful chemicals. So it's a disappointment to discover that the cookware and food storage you've been using might be toxic. Surprise the chef on your list with a few cleaner, greener product swaps:</p><ul> <li>Cast iron or carbon steel sauté pans and griddles are beautiful, long-lasting alternatives to nonstick cookware, which is often made with toxic PFAS, the notorious Teflon chemical.</li></ul><ul> <li>Enamel-coated pots and Dutch ovens in bright, beautiful colors that any chef would be happy to add to their collection.</li></ul><ul><li>Waffle makers and crepe pans are a gift everyone can enjoy – but they're typically coated with nonstick chemicals. Instead, choose a waffle maker made of cast iron or coated with enamel, or a crepe pan made of lightweight carbon steel.</li></ul>
Support EWG<p>You want to feed your family more vegetables, but getting your kids' buy-in is no small challenge. One approach: Your purchase of the <a href="https://act.ewg.org/onlineactions/xpK5DUDfFE-PM8bYOYd8sA2?sourceid=1018019&_gl=1*wayh0y*_gcl_aw*R0NMLjE1Njg2NDUwMjEuRUFJYUlRb2JDaE1JeGEtNmlNclY1QUlWaDR6SUNoMXVSZ0YzRUFBWUFTQUFFZ0piaGZEX0J3RQ..&_ga=2.129134415.290585068.1574696568-757456667.1543852855" target="_blank">2019 EWG Holiday Gift Box</a> includes the new cookbook by noted chef Abra Behrens, <em>Ruffage</em>, lauded as a both an homage to vegetables and a practical guide. Bonus: Proceeds support EWG's ongoing research and advocacy work.</p>
- EcoWatch's Favorite Green Gifts for the Holidays - EcoWatch ›
- How to Shop Sustainably - EcoWatch ›
- 4 Eco-Friendly Drinking Straw Alternatives So You Can Skip Plastic ... ›
By Karen Spangler
If you're a new parent, it can be confusing to keep up with the latest recommendations about how to give your baby a healthy start. As scientists learn more about the dangers of toxic chemical exposure to babies' developing bodies and brains, some products haven't stood the test of time. Here are three of the biggest differences about what parents do now compared to just a generation ago.
1. Choosing Organic<p>Parents have been making their own baby food at home for generations, and it's a great way to know what's on your baby's plate. Who doesn't love some home-mashed sweet potatoes smeared across that cute face? But today we know more about the damaging health effects of pesticide exposure, and how long pesticide residue can linger in the fruits and vegetables we buy. Doctors <a href="https://www.ewg.org/release/just-released-ewg-s-2019-shopper-s-guide-pesticides-produce" target="_blank">recommend</a> limiting babies' pesticide exposure as much as possible due to increased risks of tumors, leukemia and effects on brain development from these chemicals.</p><p>When you're making your baby's first foods, consider organic fruits and vegetables, or those with lower levels of pesticide residues. EWG's <a href="https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/full-list.php" target="_blank">2019 ranking</a> of pesticide contamination in produce found that avocados were No. 1 on the Clean Fifteen™ list of produce least contaminated with pesticide residue. Of all the produce tested, strawberries, spinach and kale top the Dirty Dozen™ list of fruits and vegetables most likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue. To reduce your baby's exposure, buy versions of these items produced with organic farming methods.</p><p>If you're short of time, don't forget you have more options than ever for organic premade baby food, both at specialty retailers and major grocery stores.</p>
2. Tossing the Baby Powder<p><br>Baby powder is another classic you'd think would be great for, well, babies. But <a href="https://static.ewg.org/ewg-tip-sheets/EWG-5TipsSaferCosmeticsKids.pdf?_gl=1*85c97l*_gcl_aw*R0NMLjE1NjcwMDk0MDkuRUFJYUlRb2JDaE1JMEtIcDlfeWw1QUlWbUlqSUNoM3YyUXhGRUFBWUFTQUFFZ0x0VV9EX0J3RQ..&_ga=2.117949578.2042356046.1567109717-2011668135.1528827282" target="_blank">airborne particles</a> can make their way into a baby's lungs, which is especially concerning since talcum powder can contain <a href="https://static.ewg.org/ewg-tip-sheets/EWG-5TipsSaferCosmeticsKids.pdf?_gl=1*85c97l*_gcl_aw*R0NMLjE1NjcwMDk0MDkuRUFJYUlRb2JDaE1JMEtIcDlfeWw1QUlWbUlqSUNoM3YyUXhGRUFBWUFTQUFFZ0x0VV9EX0J3RQ..&_ga=2.117949578.2042356046.1567109717-2011668135.1528827282" target="_blank">unknown amounts</a> of asbestos. Asbestos is a deadly carcinogen, and inhaling even a tiny amount can cause cancer later in life. Make sure to check <a href="https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/" target="_blank">EWG's Skin Deep®</a> so you avoid using other products on your baby that could contain talc.</p><p>There's another reason to ditch the baby powder: It often contains fragrance, a common <a href="https://static.ewg.org/ewg-tip-sheets/EWG-5TipsSaferCosmeticsKids.pdf?_gl=1*85c97l*_gcl_aw*R0NMLjE1NjcwMDk0MDkuRUFJYUlRb2JDaE1JMEtIcDlfeWw1QUlWbUlqSUNoM3YyUXhGRUFBWUFTQUFFZ0x0VV9EX0J3RQ..&_ga=2.117949578.2042356046.1567109717-2011668135.1528827282" target="_blank">cause</a> of skin irritation. Manufacturers are allowed to keep the exact <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wAToqkcAow" target="_blank">fragrance ingredients</a> under wraps, but they can include chemicals such as phthalates, which have been linked to harmful health effects.</p><p>Good alternatives: Zinc-based diaper creams create a strong protective barrier, and there are a number of <a href="https://www.ewg.org/ewgverified/" target="_blank">EWG VERIFIED™</a> options. You can also find safer alternatives for your baby's personal care products in <a href="https://static.ewg.org/ewg-tip-sheets/EWG-5TipsSaferCosmeticsKids.pdf?_gl=1*1em6xc9*_gcl_aw*R0NMLjE1NjcwMDk0MDkuRUFJYUlRb2JDaE1JMEtIcDlfeWw1QUlWbUlqSUNoM3YyUXhGRUFBWUFTQUFFZ0x0VV9EX0J3RQ..&_ga=2.44390755.613739430.1568812661-2011668135.1528827282&" target="_blank">EWG's guide</a> to choosing safer personal care products for kids.</p>
3. Avoiding Flame Retardants<p>Decades ago, concerns about the fire danger of foam furniture, like sofas and mattresses, led manufacturers to add flame-retardant chemicals to many kids' products. Today scientists know these toxic <a href="https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2017/02/flame-retardant-roulette-swapping-one-toxic-compound-another" target="_blank">chemicals</a> carry their own serious health effects, including cancer and disruption of the endocrine system.</p><p>Penta-BDE, for years the main flame retardant added to foam products, is now banned, due to reproductive toxicity. But its replacement, triphenyl phosphate, has also been<a href="https://www.ewg.org/research/nailed/nail-polish-chemical-doubles-furniture-fire-retardant" target="_blank"> shown</a> to accumulate in the bloodstream and cause reproductive and developmental abnormalities in animals. Considering that the average infant sleeps 12 to 16 hours a day, it's worth scrutinizing that mattress label.</p><p>To keep your baby safe, choose a <a href="https://www.ewg.org/healthyhomeguide/mattresses/" target="_blank">crib mattress</a> made with wool or polylactic acid for flame resistance, rather than chemical flame retardants. You should also make sure to check with the manufacturer on any hand-me-downs for flame retardants.</p><p>Additionally, avoid PVC or vinyl waterproof mattress covers; choose natural cotton with a PUL layer, or polyethylene instead.</p><p>To steer clear of flame retardants in your baby's clothing, choose snug-fitting cotton or wool pajamas, as "loose-fitting" kids' sleepwear is <a href="https://www.cpsc.gov/Business--Manufacturing/Testing-Certification/Testing/Childrens-Sleepwear-Lab-Bulletin/%3Futm_source%3Drss%26utm_medium%3Drss%26utm_campaign%3DLab%2BBulletins" target="_blank">required by law</a> to be flame resistant, often using toxic chemicals.</p><p>To learn more about protecting your child's health as they grow, see EWG's <a href="https://www.ewg.org/childrenshealth/" target="_blank">Children's Health Initiative</a> for the latest research and tip sheets.</p>
By Grace Francese
Outbreaks of potentially toxic algae are fouling lakes, rivers and other bodies of water across the U.S. Nationally, news reports of algae outbreaks have been on the rise since 2010.
What are algae blooms?<p>These smelly blooms <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tZooDsX8Fo" target="_blank">aren't actually algae at all</a>, but photosynthetic microorganisms called cyanobacteria.</p><p>Runoff from farm fields is often polluted with phosphorous and other chemicals in manure and commercial fertilizers. When this polluted runoff gets into lakes, it feeds the growth of cyanobacteria, especially in warm weather. Increasingly heavy rains and flooding, exacerbated by the climate crisis, make the problem worse. </p>
What are microcystins?<p>Many algae blooms are gross, forming a foul-smelling slime on a lake's surface, but not hazardous. But for reasons no one yet understands, some produce poisonous chemicals called cyanotoxins, including the group known as microcystins.</p>
What are the health risks?<p>Microcystin-producing cyanobacteria are a hazard to anyone, but the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/habs/" target="_blank">Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a> says children are especially vulnerable, since they're most likely to ingest water while swimming. Exposure can cause coughing, nausea, weakness, cramping and headaches, as well as long-term health effects such as liver failure.</p><p>Contact with skin, drinking <a href="https://www.ewg.org/toxicalgalblooms/#map" target="_blank">contaminated tap water</a> or eating contaminated fish can also cause health problems. Even breathing in microcystins can be harmful, and recent studies have shown that the <a href="https://www.news-press.com/story/tech/science/environment/2019/03/15/new-health-questions-raised-fgcu-research-toxic-algae-dust/3176195002/" target="_blank">toxins can become airborne</a>, drifting a mile or more from the site of the outbreak.</p>
How can I recognize and avoid algae blooms?<p>The best approach is to check with your city, county or state health departments, which may issue warnings. You can also use EWG's <a href="https://www.ewg.org/interactive-maps/2019_microcystin/map/" target="_blank">map</a>to see whether authorities have found microcystins in a particular lake in the past few years.</p><p>If you can't find information about a specific lake, get to know the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsgg2rqPKEE&feature=youtu.be" target="_blank">warning signs</a>. Look out for dead fish or animals in or near the water, and slime that looks like blue, blue-green, bright green or dark green spilled paint.</p><p>Only experts who test the water can determine definitively whether an algae bloom is toxic. So if you come across what looks like an algae outbreak, stay away – even if you're not sure it's toxic. Don't swim in it, and do your best to avoid breathing the air around it. Contact your health department and alert local news media.</p>
What should I do if I think my child has been exposed to a toxic algae outbreak?<p>If you think your child has come into contact with toxic algae, or shows flu-like symptoms after playing in or near it, rinse them off with water. Make sure they also drink plenty of water. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.</p>
How can we prevent algae blooms?<p>Farming practices like vegetative buffers along streams and rivers help minimize runoff, but these practices won't be widely implemented without regulations that require farmers to apply them. </p><p>Ideally, states would test lakes and other bodies of water for microcystins and other cyanotoxins and warn the public when there's danger. But EWG's new report found that only 20 states test regularly for microcystins and make the data public, and often only after a delay.</p><p>The Environmental Protection Agency should regulate these toxins to protect our tap water supplies. <a href="https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi/P100N2VG.PDF?Dockey=P100N2VG.PDF" target="_blank">More than two-thirds</a> of all Americans get their drinking water from utilities that rely at least in part on lakes, rivers or other surface water. Yet the EPA doesn't regulate the level of microcystins and other cyanotoxins in drinking water.</p><p>For more info about toxic algae outbreaks, check out this <a href="https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2019/05/toxic-algae-blooms-what-you-should-know" target="_blank">overview</a>. EWG also maintains a resource center on algae blooms <a href="https://www.ewg.org/key-issues/water/toxicalgae" target="_blank">here</a>.</p>
By Nicole Ferox
When my daughter was in preschool, she told me that instead of washing hands before lunch, the children used hand sanitizer. The thinking behind this was probably that hand sanitizer kills bacteria and viruses and therefore — presto! — problem solved. Hands are clean, and it's so much quicker.
1. Do the kids wash their hands before they eat?<p>Requiring hand washing with soap and water, especially after kids have been outside and before they eat, is arguably the easiest change schools can make to reduce kids' exposure to chemical pollutants from dust and other sources.</p>
2. What cleaning products does the school use?<p>We recommend schools use cleaning products that are <a href="https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/faq#q41" target="_blank">third-party green certified</a>, which means their ingredients are safer for everyone, especially children, or products with an A, or green, rating in our <a href="https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners" target="_blank">Guide to Healthy Cleaning</a>. For institutional cleaning supplies, schools should choose Green Seal, EcoLogo or EPA's Safer Choice-certified products only.</p>
3. Has the school had its drinking water tested for lead?<p>There's no safe level of lead exposure, but most states don't require schools and child care centers to <a href="https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/prc/projects/school-research/early-adopters/" target="_blank">test their drinking water for lead</a>. If the water hasn't been tested at your kids' school, urge administrators to contact the local health department to start the process. Since lead levels in a single building can vary, all faucets and drinking fountains should be tested. In California, <a href="https://www.ewg.org/release/lead-detected-drinking-water-almost-1-5-california-schools" target="_blank">one in five schools</a> has found at least one faucet on their campus with water containing lead.</p>
4. What landscaping chemicals are used?<p>Chances are good your school uses chemical fertilizers, weedkillers and other pesticides for playground and grounds maintenance. Many of them, especially pesticides, are toxic and linked to <a href="https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2015/09/important-new-reason-keep-pesticides-away-children" target="_blank">childhood cancer</a> and <a href="https://www.ewg.org/childrenshealth/22674/it-s-personal-pesticide-exposures-come-cost" target="_blank">autism</a>. <a href="https://www.ewg.org/childrenshealth/22740/roundup-recess-how-get-cancer-causing-pesticides-your-local-playground" target="_blank">Talk to your school about safer landscaping alternatives</a>, with EWG's guide and collection of resources as a starting point.</p>
5. Does the school serve organic foods?<p>A good first step is to focus on foods where switching from conventional to organic will make the biggest impact: milk and <a href="https://www.ewg.org/childrenshealth/22109/ask-ewg/organic-hot-dogs" target="_blank">meat</a>, fruits, and veggies with <a href="https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php" target="_blank">the most pesticides</a>; foods grown with particularly toxic pesticides; and snacks with the <a href="https://www.ewg.org/childrenshealth/22626/five-kids-snacks-you-should-always-buy-organic" target="_blank">worst food additives</a>.</p>
Questions to ask your kid’s child care center or preschool:
6. Are the nap mats made without flame retardants?<p>A study conducted by the Washington state-based nonprofit <a href="https://toxicfreefuture.org/" target="_blank">Toxic-Free Future</a> found that when child care providers replaced <a href="https://www.ewg.org/childrenshealth/22050/advice-parents-find-nap-mats-without-flame-retardant-chemicals" target="_blank">nap mats</a> with chemical-free versions, the levels of flame retardants polluting children's bodies <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749118302690?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">decreased by 40 to 90 percent</a>. It's a safe guess that mats made in 2014 and earlier were treated with chemical flame retardants; <a href="https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2014/09/california-makes-it-law-label-toxic-flame-retardants-furniture" target="_blank">2015 or newer</a> mats are more likely to be untreated and are required to bear a label stating whether they have added flame retardants.</p>
7. What kind of laundry detergent does the facility use?<p>To avoid fragrances, allergens and other ingredients that can irritate children's skin, we recommend child care providers choose detergent with a green A rating in our <a href="https://www.ewg.org/guides/categories/9-Laundry" target="_blank">Guide to Healthy Cleaning</a>.</p>
8. What kind of sunscreen do care providers use?<p>Sunscreen is especially important for kids, who are more susceptible to the ill effects of the sun. We recommend care providers avoid chemical sunscreens and instead choose a broad spectrum <a href="https://www.ewg.org/childrenshealth/22673/ask-ewg-how-choose-best-sunscreen-your-kids" target="_blank">mineral sunscreen</a> with active ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Use <a href="https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/" target="_blank">EWG's Guide to Sunscreens</a> to find products that offer adequate protection from both UVA and UVB rays without the addition of hazardous chemicals.</p>
By Grace Francese
You may know that many conventional oat cereals contain troubling amounts of the carcinogenic pesticide glyphosate. But another toxic pesticide may be contaminating your kids' breakfast. A new study by the Organic Center shows that almost 60 percent of the non-organic milk sampled contains residues of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide scientists say is unsafe at any concentration.
Dangerous but Legal<p>Chlorpyrifos is a neurotoxin — it affects the nervous system and brain, and even small amounts of exposure can cause permanent health damage to babies and children. These health effects can include impairment of children's IQ and harm to the parts of the brain that control language, memory, behavior and emotion. A new <a href="http://cphpost.dk/news/link-between-insecticides-and-adhd-among-kids-danish-study.html" target="_blank">study</a> from the University of Southern Denmark also links chlorpyrifos exposure in pregnant women to ADHD in their children.</p><p>Because millions of pounds of chlorpyrifos are sprayed on crops every year, most Americans are exposed to it through milk, fruit and other produce. Research by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that babies and developing fetuses are exposed to about five times more chlorpyrifos than what the EPA's standard deems safe, and children consume chlorpyrifos at 11 to 15 times the EPA standard.</p><p>Despite this, in 2017 the Trump EPA <a href="https://www.ewg.org/release/two-years-and-10-million-pounds-trump-epa-blocked-ban-brain-damaging-pesticide" target="_blank">decided</a> to ignore science in favor of the pesticide industry and cancelled a proposed ban on chlorpyrifos. Now the EPA won't act to keep it out of milk and produce for at least another five years. While the EPA waits to evaluate chlorpyrifos again, roughly <a href="https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2018/03/thanks-scott-pruitt-30-million-pounds-brain-damaging-pesticide-will-be" target="_blank">30 million pounds</a> of this chemical will be sprayed on crops, risking the health of children across the U.S. </p><p>The EPA's failure to ban chlorpyrifos has even more harmful consequences for farm workers and their families. According to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/17/california-pesticides-central-valley-trump" target="_blank">The Guardian</a> newspaper, parents in California's Central Valley, which has some of the heaviest use of chlorpyrifos in the country, fear that drifting clouds of pesticides are causing their children's chronic health problems, including learning problems and attention deficit disorders. They're just not sure about possible solutions.</p><p>"We know this is dangerous for the kids," said one mother of five, "but what are we supposed to do?" </p>
Keeping Your Family Safe<p>The Environmental Working Group (EWG) supports a complete ban on chlorpyrifos, such as <a href="https://www.tomudall.senate.gov/news/press-releases/udall-senators-introduce-bill-to-ban-toxic-pesticide-chlorpyrifos" target="_blank">a bill</a> currently under consideration in the Senate. EWG is also urging grocery stores to stop supplying foods that could have residues of chlorpyrifos.</p><p>In the meantime, switching to organic milk and organic versions of the most potentially contaminated produce is a great way to <a href="https://www.ewg.org/planet-trump/2017/04/don-t-want-eat-pruitt-s-pesticide-here-s-what-avoid#.WrPxnJPwY3i" target="_blank">cut this pesticide out of your diet</a>. Chlorpyrifos residues are most often detected on some imported produce, so skip buying peaches and nectarines imported from Chile, bell peppers and hot peppers imported from Mexico, and domestic and imported cilantro.</p>
By Nicole Ferox
It's that time of year: Mosquitoes and ticks are out in full force, and so are all the latest bug repellent products claiming to keep them at bay. So what bug repellent ingredients do Environmental Working Group (EWG) scientists recommend for kids? Our top picks are DEET, Picaridin and IR3535. These ingredients have low safety concerns and offer a high level of protection from a variety of biting insects and ticks.
Can I really use DEET? I thought it was dangerous.<p>Yes, DEET is a reasonable choice when used as directed, even for children. Still, after reviewing the evidence, EWG researchers concluded that it is best to use the lowest effective concentration of DEET, even though it's effective and generally safer than is commonly assumed.</p><p>Picaridin is a great alternative to DEET. It effectively repels both mosquitoes and ticks and, compared to other repellents, is less likely to irritate eyes and skin.</p><p>EWG research indicates that, in general, "natural" bug repellent ingredients like castor, cedar, citronella, clove, geraniol, lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary and/or soybean oils are often not the best choice.</p>
How do I know if there’s a risk of insect-borne disease in my area?<p>Ask your pediatrician or check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maps listed below. If you're traveling internationally, check the CDC website for information about the <a href="https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/world-map-areas-with-zika" target="_blank">Zika virus</a>.</p><ul><li><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/statsmaps/index.html" target="_blank">U.S. Map of Reported Cases of West Nile Virus</a></li><li><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/maps.html" target="_blank">U.S. Map of Reported Cases of Lyme Disease</a></li><li><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/geographic_distribution.html" target="_blank">U.S. Maps of Ticks Carrying Lyme Disease</a></li></ul>
More Information<p><a href="https://www.ewg.org/research/ewgs-guide-bug-repellents" target="_blank">EWG's Guide to Bug Repellents</a></p><p><a href="https://www.ewg.org/childrenshealth/22197/ask-ewg-what-s-best-bug-spray-buy-my-kids" target="_blank">Ask EWG: What's the Best Bug Spray to Buy for my Kids?</a></p><p><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/prevent-mosquito-bites.html" target="_blank">CDC: Protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites</a></p>
- How to Choose the Best Sunscreen for Your Kids - EcoWatch ›
- Nitrates in Tap Water: What Parents Need to Know - EcoWatch ›
By Anne Schechinger
Over the Fourth of July holiday, many of us love to beat the heat in a favorite lake, pond or river. But this year, vacationers from coast to coast will have to look out for a potentially record-breaking number of algae blooms.
By Grace Francese
A new Environmental Working Group (EWG) study published in Environmental Research found that nitrate, one of the most common contaminants of drinking water, may cause up to 12,594 cases of cancer per year, but that's not its only danger: It can pose unique health risks to children.
Why is nitrate dangerous?<p>Most of the nitrate that ends up in public water systems comes from agricultural runoff that contains nitrogen fertilizer and manure. Although everyone may be exposed to nitrate, it poses the greatest risk <a href="https://www.ewg.org/research/drinking-water-and-children-s-health" target="_blank">to infants and pregnant women</a>.</p><p>The potential harm of nitrate may begin during pregnancy, and at levels far lower than the legal standard. EWG <a href="https://www.ewg.org/release/ewg-nitrate-pollution-us-tap-water-could-cause-12500-cancer-cases-each-year" target="_blank">estimates</a> that every year, it may cause up to 2,939 cases of very low birth weight, up to 1,725 cases of very preterm birth and up to 41 cases of neural tube defects.</p><p>Infants fed formula made with water contaminated by nitrate above the federal legal standard run the risk <a href="https://www.ewg.org/childrenshealth/20214/how-avoid-added-nitrates-and-nitrites-your-food" target="_blank">methemoglobinemia</a>, also known as "blue baby syndrome" — a rare but serious condition that blocks the blood's ability to carry oxygen. The EPA's current limit for nitrate in drinking water — 10 parts per million, or ppm — was set to prevent blue baby syndrome. <a href="https://www.ewg.org/research/introducing-ewg-standards-benchmarks-protect-public-health" target="_blank">Current research</a> suggests that the standard, set in 1962, is long past due for an update.</p><p>Research shows that even a level of nitrate less than one-tenth of the current legal limit may cause harm to a developing fetus, but earlier this year, EPA suspended its planned reevaluation of the nitrate standard.</p><p>Although nitrate can be removed with at-home water filtration technologies, options are limited and can be expensive. It's less costly to keep nitrate out of drinking water in the first place, with policies and community-based efforts to protect source water, such as installing nitrate-removal treatment at water treatment plants.</p><p>"Millions of Americans are being involuntarily exposed to nitrate, and they are also the ones paying the heavy costs of treating contaminated tap water," said Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., a toxicologist and author of EWG's new nitrate study. "But the federal government is not doing enough to protect Americans from tap water contamination."</p>
What can you do?<p>EWG has tools you can use to protect your family from nitrate contamination to your drinking water.</p><p>First, use <a href="https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/index.php" target="_blank">EWG's Tap Water Database</a> to find out whether you may be exposed to nitrate. If you have your own well, a <a href="https://www.epa.gov/dwlabcert/contact-information-certification-programs-and-certified-laboratories-drinking-water" target="_blank">state-certified facility</a> can test for nitrate and other contaminants. Your local county cooperative extension program may provide well testing, maybe even at reduced or even no cost. It is especially important to get your well water tested if you live in farm country, where nitrate pollution is <a href="https://www.ewg.org/research/nitratecost/" target="_blank">often worse</a>.</p><p>If your water contains nitrate levels close to the EPA limit of 10 ppm, <a href="https://www.ewg.org/research/nitrate-us-tap-water-may-cause-more-12500-cancers-year" target="_blank">switch immediately</a> to a different source of drinking water and install a water filtration system designed to remove nitrate. Even if your nitrate level is lower, you may want to install a water filter. Just be aware that carbon filters won't suffice to reduce nitrate. The EPA recommends reverse osmosis or ion exchange systems. Consult EWG's <a href="https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/water-filter-guide.php#findfilter" target="_blank">Water Filter Guide</a> for filters that can protect against ntirate and other contaminants.</p><p>If you have a formula-fed baby, instead of using unfiltered tap water to mix formula, follow EWG <a href="https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/reviewed-nitrate.php" target="_blank">guidelines</a> to find a water filter system that will remove nitrate. Or use water that's been filtered by distillation or reverse osmosis, as indicated on the label.</p>
By Ketura Persellin
You've likely heard that eating meat and poultry isn't good for your health or the planet. Recent news from Washington may make meat even less palatable: Pork inspections may be taken over by the industry itself, if a Trump administration proposal goes into effect, putting tests for deadly pathogens into the hands of the industry.
As with so many things in parenting, choosing a sunscreen for kids can be confusing and anxiety-provoking. You don't want your kids to get sunburned or have other skin damage that can lead to premature aging and cancer later in life. But neither do you want to coat them in sunscreen — and get yelled at while doing it — only to find out later that it's loaded with chemicals that may cause other health problems.
Can you just tell me what *&#%! sunscreen to buy?<p>No, sorry, we can't.</p><p>But you can choose one from <a href="https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/best-kids-sunscreens/" target="_blank">our list of Best Scoring Sunscreens for Kids</a>. We can also teach you how to shop, which is especially helpful when you don't have access to the web. Knowing what to look for on the label will help you make the best choice for your kids.</p><p><strong>Avoid:</strong></p><ul><li>Spray sunscreens and bug-repellant-and-sunscreen combo sprays</li><li>SPF greater than 50</li><li>Oxybenzone (in the active ingredients)</li><li>Fragrance</li><li>Retinyl palmitate, retinol or vitamin A</li></ul><p>We don't recommend spray sunscreens or those with SPF over 50, so eliminate those right off the bat. Sunscreen sprays pose <a href="https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/executive-summary/#.W1oJh9hKhcC" target="_blank">inhalation risks</a> and may not offer a thick and even enough application to protect against the sun's rays. Meanwhile, sunscreens with SPFs over 50 provide only <a href="https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/whats-wrong-with-high-spf/#.W1oJqthKhcA" target="_blank">slightly better protection</a> than those with low SPF values, and they have a worse balance of protection, especially for UVA rays. But they often fool people into thinking they can stay outdoors longer. We don't recommend bug repellant and sunscreen combination products because you don't necessarily need one just because you need the other, so why use the chemicals unnecessarily?</p><p><strong>Choose:</strong></p><ul><li>A mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (in the active ingredient(s))</li><li>If you must choose a chemical sunscreen, look for avobenzone (3 percent; in the active ingredients)</li></ul><p>Avobenzone reduces UVA damage that can lead to skin aging and cancer. However, choose products carefully: Avobenzone is often used in combination with other chemical active ingredients, many of which are hormone disruptors.</p>
Help! Sunscreen is messy and frustrating and has to be reapplied so often! What’s the best way to get it on my kids and keep it there?<p>We can relate. Putting sunscreen on wet, fussy kids can suck all the joy out of a relaxing summer day. But then again, so can a sunburn.</p><p>First, dress kids in shirts and shorts, even at the pool. Reducing the amount of sunscreen needed by covering your kids up with fabric means you've cut your battle in half or more. Shirts and shorts help protect their skin during hikes and play time out of the water, and rashguard-type clothing can be used on top of (or instead of) swimsuits. Plus, kids' shoulders and backs are prone to serious sunburn — especially when they're playing in water — so using a barrier of clothing between their skin and the sun is simple and important. Add a hat and you've reduced your kids' chances of major sunburns and skin damage.</p><p>Second — and sorry if we're boring you — but avoid the sun as much as you can, especially with infants and young children. Plan to bring kids in for lunch or a nap midday, when the sun's rays are strongest and the risk of UV damage is highest. And come equipped with a plan for shade — whether it's a tree at the park, a pop-up shade tent or a dash for an umbrella-covered spot at the pool. In short, don't go outside unless you have a plan to give the kids a place to sit, eat and hide from the sun for periods of time.</p>
EWG’s Top Tips: Sunscreen Should Be Your Last Resort<p><strong>1. Wear Clothes.</strong></p><p>Shirts, hats, shorts and pants shield your skin from the sun's UV rays, reducing burn risk by 27%.</p><p><strong>2. Plan Around the Sun.</strong></p><p>Go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky.</p><p><strong>3. Find Shade — or Make it.</strong></p><p>Picnic under a tree or take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade, reducing the risk of multiple burns by 30%.</p><p><strong>4. Don't Get Burned.</strong></p><p>Red, sore, blistered skin means you've gotten far too much sun.</p><p><strong>5. Sunglasses Are Essential.</strong></p><p>Not just a fashion accessory, sunglasses protect your eyes from UV radiation.</p><p><strong>6. Check UV Index.</strong></p><p>The UV Index provides important information to help you plan your outdoor activities in ways that prevent sun overexposure.</p>
By Ketura Persellin
Global consumption of beef, lamb and goat is expected to rise by almost 90 percent between 2010 and 2050. But that doesn't mean you need to eat more meat. In fact, recent news from Washington gives you even less confidence in your meat: Pork inspections may be taken over by the industry itself, if a Trump administration proposal goes into effect, putting tests for deadly pathogens into the hands of line workers.
1. Environmental Damage<p>Industrial-scale <a href="https://www.ewg.org/release/new-investigation-recent-explosion-poultry-factory-farms-nc-piles-manure-515m-chickens-waste" target="_blank">meat and poultry production</a> harms the <a href="https://www.ewg.org/meateatersguide/a-meat-eaters-guide-to-climate-change-health-what-you-eat-matters/" target="_blank">environment</a> — from the pesticides used to grow feed and the manure that runs off into waterways to the fertilizer that releases greenhouse gases and then pollutes rivers, lakes and oceans. You know that slime covering your favorite lake? You can blame that largely on industrial-scale agriculture.</p>
2. Climate Change<p>Cow flatulence isn't just a laugh line; it's a significant contributor to <a href="https://www.ewg.org/meateatersguide/interactive-graphic/" target="_blank">climate change</a>. Burps make an even bigger contribution. Your support of the meat industry helps fuel climate change, and eliminating or reducing meat from your diet is the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/30/dining/climate-change-food-eating-habits.html" target="_blank">biggest contribution an individual can make</a> to fighting climate change.</p>
3. Environmental Justice<p>Those who can least afford to escape the damage caused by industrial-scale meat production – the stench of manure in the factory farms and spread around nearby – are those most affected by it. When a factory farm floods, it's likely to be a <a href="https://www.ewg.org/research/under-radar" target="_blank">minority neighborhood</a> overtaken by runoff that includes manure, fertilizer and other debris.</p>
4. Drug Resistance<p>The overcrowding of animals in factory farms increases their chance of getting sick. Farmers try to "solve" the problem by routinely dosing even healthy animals with <a href="https://www.ewg.org/research/superbugs/" target="_blank">antibiotics</a>. But that's leading to antibiotic-resistant "superbugs," reducing the effectiveness of life-saving medications for people.</p>
5. General Health<p>The hormones fed to animals produced in a conventional setting may increase the chance of cancer. What's more, red and processed meat have been linked to <a href="https://www.ewg.org/meateatersguide/a-meat-eaters-guide-to-climate-change-health-what-you-eat-matters/meat-and-your-health/" target="_blank">chronic disease</a>. By contrast, a plant-based diet can help reduce the <a href="https://www.ewg.org/cancer/keys-to-a-healthy-diet" target="_blank">risk of cancer</a>and lower the incidence of heart disease. One large study shows vegetarians are one-fourth less likely to <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/becoming-a-vegetarian" target="_blank">die</a> of heart disease. One more reason: Vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index than meat eaters.</p>
6. Sustainability<p>Animal-derived protein hogs resources. It uses grass-covered land in a way that's inefficient, and a tremendous amount of water, just for starters. Cutting it out entirely, or even reducing your consumption, will benefit the environment.</p>
7. Expense<p>The cost of meat is coming down as demand for it grows. Still, a diet that doesn't include meat is <a href="http://money.com/money/4066188/vegetarians-save-money/" target="_blank">easier</a> on the wallet. For instance, as a source of protein, legumes are far less expensive than meat and poultry.</p>
By Grant Smith
From 2009 to 2012, Gregory Jaczko was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves nuclear power plant designs and sets safety standards for plants. But he now says that nuclear power is too dangerous and expensive — and not part of the answer to the climate crisis.