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Gov. Newsom’s gas price penalty proposal targeting Big Oil sails through Senate

Thu, 03/23/2023 - 12:24
Gov. Newsom’s gas price penalty proposal targeting Big Oil sails through Senate rcoleman March 23, 2023

SACRAMENTO – California’s Senate today passed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to give state energy regulators the authority to punish Big Oil refiners for hiking gas prices in the future.

The legislation, authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Dist. 9) passed by a vote of 30 to 8. It now goes to the Assembly for consideration. The Environmental Working Group supports the bill because it would help tackle California’s artificially inflated gas prices.

Below is a statement from Bill Allayaud, director of government affairs for EWG in California:

Californians need swift action to address being ripped off by the oil companies, and that is exactly what the state Senate did. During hearings on the bill, after repeated questioning, the oil companies could not give a rational explanation for their record of gouging consumers and their obscene profit margins – and that helped fuel the passage of this important measure.


The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

Areas of Focus Energy Federal & State Energy Policy Fossil & Nuclear Regional Issues California Disqus Comments Press Contact Alex Formuzis (202) 667-6982 March 23, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

With Big Oil emboldened in U.S. and around the world, it’s vital lawmakers adopt Newsom’s gas price penalty

Wed, 03/22/2023 - 07:19
With Big Oil emboldened in U.S. and around the world, it’s vital lawmakers adopt Newsom’s gas price penalty rcoleman March 22, 2023

SACRAMENTO – The fossil fuel industry has fresh swagger as Big Oil hauls in record profits while punishing hard-working Americans at the pump. It’s imperative for U.S. leaders to fight back by approving a pending plan in California to punish refiners for hiking gas prices.

Oil companies are emboldened in large part by scrambled energy markets following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, using their boosted profits to increase dividends for shareholders, give outlandish salaries and bonuses to company executives, and buy back their own shares. 

Responsible political leaders in other countries, including Great Britain and the European Union, are pursuing actions to help claw back some of Big Oil’s outrageous windfall profits. They want to use the funds those actions would raise to help ease the growing financial toll high energy and gas prices take on everyday families across that region.

California is a prime example of the industry’s greed, as five refiners rake in obscene record profits after jacking up gas prices throughout 2022 with no consequences.

To prevent a repeat this year, Gov. Gavin Newsom is urging California lawmakers to approve his gas price penalty proposal, which will make it much harder for these companies to punish at the pump the state’s hardworking families, struggling with the rising cost of living in the state. It’s a proposal the Environmental Working Group is supporting in the battle against Big Oil.

Below is a statement from Bill Allayaud, director of government affairs for EWG in California:

Big Oil in California is bolstered by the grip the industry has on consumers in the state and throughout the world. Oil giants are making record profits while pushing to expand drilling operations and scuttling pledges made a few short years ago to reduce investments in dirty energy sources in favor of renewables.

If lawmakers in Sacramento don’t adopt this price penalty proposal, the state’s refiners will have won and will use the defeat as an excuse to do whatever they want to continue profiting off hardworking families.

The only responsible path for our elected leaders in Sacramento is to stand with Gov. Newsom and support this sensible measure, which will give regulators in California the necessary authority needed to prevent this outrageous price gouging.


Allayaud and other lobbyists from the environmental and public interest communities in California have been urging state lawmakers to support Newsom’s proposal.

Today the Senate Energy Committee will hold a hearing on the legislation, and later in the day, the Assembly Energy Committee will hold an oversight hearing on the issue. The full Senate is expected to take action on the bill tomorrow while the Assembly is expected to take up the bill next week.

Allayaud is available to speak with members of the press today. Please contact Alex Formuzis to arrange interviews: 202-617-1740 or


The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

Areas of Focus Energy Federal & State Energy Policy Fossil & Nuclear Regional Issues California Disqus Comments Note: EWG staff available for press interviews Press Contact Alex Formuzis (202) 667-6982 March 22, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Loving those tasty spring holiday candies? Look out for harmful ingredients

Wed, 03/22/2023 - 05:33
Loving those tasty spring holiday candies? Look out for harmful ingredients rcoleman March 22, 2023

Spring holidays are almost here and stores are flush with popular Easter- and Passover-themed sweets, but beware, some candies often contain chemicals that can harm your health.

Dyes and other ingredients in brands like Peeps Marshmallow Chicks and Streit’s Mini Fruit Slices, found in many groceries and drug stores, have been linked to health problems, including behavioral difficulties in children, damage to DNA and even cancer.

The Food and Drug Administration should be doing more to keep these chemicals of concern out of sweet treats that children and adults alike enjoy. In the absence of federal action, states are considering bans on certain food chemicals. EWG is co-sponsoring a first-in-the-nation bill in California that would bar five toxic chemicals, including red dye No. 3 and titanium dioxide, from food sold in the state. But in the meantime, it’s a good idea to learn about what may be in your spring candy and how to avoid it.

Artificial food dyes

A particularly troubling artificial food dye is red dye No. 3. It can be found in common Easter candies like Peeps Decorated Eggs Marshmallow, Brach’s Candy, Jelly Bird Eggs and even the dyes used to decorate Easter eggs, like McCormick Assorted Food Colors and Egg Dye. It’s also in the popular Passover candy Streit's Jordan Almonds.

Studies have shown that red dye No. 3 causes cancer in animals and, like several other food dyes, has been associated with adverse behavioral changes in children.

Another concerning food dye, yellow dye No. 5, is used to color Peeps Marshmallow Chicks. Some children may be especially sensitive to artificial dyes and show behavioral difficulties, such as reduced attentiveness, after exposures as low as 1 milligram.

Titanium dioxide

Another harmful additive frequently used in Easter and Passover candies is titanium dioxide, which enhances color.

Delectables like Skittles Original Easter Candy Impossible Egg Hunt, Passover Assorted Jelly Fruit Slices, Streit’s Apple Honey Fruit Slices and Galerie Happy Easter Dispenser With Candy Pieces all contain this food chemical.

In 2021, the European Food Safety Authority labeled titanium dioxide “no longer safe” for human consumption, citing concerns about its ability to damage DNA, based on a review of hundreds of scientific studies.

Heavy metals 

Prefer chocolate for your spring candy treat? Consumer Reports in a recent study tested 28 different chocolate bars and found the harmful heavy metals lead and cadmium in dark chocolate bars from brands like Dove and Hershey’s. 

To reduce your exposure, Consumer Reports suggests choosing dark chocolates with lower levels of heavy metals, and thinking of chocolate as an occasional treat.

How can I avoid these harmful ingredients?

It can be challenging to navigate and keep track of harmful food chemicals. When you shop, check food labels and avoid artificial colors and other food additives whenever possible. You can also consult EWG’s Food Scores database to find candy without these chemicals.

Choosing packaged foods that are certified organic will help you avoid the potential health harms associated with artificial food dyes and titanium dioxide. They must meet strong standards that protect consumers from exposure to potentially harmful food additives.

Areas of Focus Food & Water Food Family Health Children’s Health Toxic Chemicals Food Chemicals Disqus Comments Guest Authors Kathryn LaLonde, EWG Communications Intern March 22, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Runaway farm subsidies, not SNAP spending, are the real problem

Tue, 03/21/2023 - 07:21
Runaway farm subsidies, not SNAP spending, are the real problem rcoleman March 21, 2023

Some people think the biggest problem facing legislators updating this year’s farm bill is that we’re spending too much on feeding too many hungry people. 

The real problem is there are too many hungry people.

Here's the other problem: We’re giving away billions in farm subsidies to folks who are simply hungry for more taxpayer handouts, including thousands of people who don’t even live or work on farms

Farmers in the districts represented by the 24 House Republicans seeking to deny hungry people food assistance have received at least $41 billion in farm subsidies since 1995. And 3,310 of the farmers in those districts have received subsidies for 37 consecutive years, according to Department of Agriculture data.

Even worse: Four members of Congress trying to make it harder for hungry people to simply get a meal are getting farm subsidies themselves, either directly or through family members.

For example:

  • A ranch owned by Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas) has received at least $369,735 in farm subsidies.
  • A farm owned by the husband of Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ind.) has received at least $991,435 in farm subsidies.
  • A farm owned by the father of Rep. Josh Brecheen (R-Okla.) has received at least $123,165 in farm subsidies. 
  • Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) received $69 in subsidies in 2013.

These four lawmakers joined with 20 other Republicans members of Congress to introduce legislation to kick hungry people out of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

None of these members has introduced or co–sponsored bills to limit the number of “city slickers” who receive farm subsidies, or to deny subsidies to thousands of farmers who have received taxpayer funding for 37 straight years

“Work is the best pathway out of poverty,” according to Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), the lead sponsor of the bill to deny SNAP help for hungry people. But farmers represented by Johnson received more than $18.8 billion in farm subsidies since 1995. 1,714 of the farmers represented by Johnson received farm subsidies for 37 straight years.

If enacted, Johnson’s bill would put about 10 million people at risk of losing anti-hunger assistance, including about 4 million children.

SNAP cuts could not come at a worse time for hungry people. Food inflation remains high and a temporary increase in SNAP benefits to offset the Covid-19 pandemic just ended in February. 

Meanwhile, the largest farms who collect the lion’s share of farm subsidies are doing great, according to USDA data. 

Net farm income levels set records in 2021, and the largest farmers enjoyed household incomes of nearly $2 million, according to the USDA. Nevertheless, the top 10 percent of farm subsidy recipients got almost 66 percent of all commodity subsidies in 2021, and almost 60 percent of all crop insurance subsidies between 2012 and 2020. 

Areas of Focus Food & Water Food Farming & Agriculture Climate & Agriculture Subsidies Disqus Comments Authors Scott Faber March 21, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

EWG applauds deal between Gov. Newsom, legislative leaders to hold Big Oil accountable for future gas price gouging

Mon, 03/20/2023 - 13:09
EWG applauds deal between Gov. Newsom, legislative leaders to hold Big Oil accountable for future gas price gouging rcoleman March 20, 2023

SACRAMENTO – Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom and leaders from the state legislature have announced a deal to hold big oil refiners accountable for future gas price gouging, like the outrageous windfall profits the companies made in 2022 on the backs of hard-working Californians.

The revised proposal, filed today, will establish a new, independent watchdog that will be part of the California Energy Commission and be responsible for monitoring the state’s petroleum industry activities every day. The intended goal is to make sure the power refiners do not artificially increase gas prices on consumers or engage in other mischief that can foist higher prices at the pump on consumers, according to the announcement by the governor's office.

“Gov. Newsom was right to go after these big oil interests and their outrageous behavior, which brought them record windfall profits on the backs of working families who are already struggling with the rising cost of living,” said EWG president and Bay Area resident Ken Cook.

“If the legislature adopts this proposal, it will be far harder for the state’s power refiners to get away with what they did last year, raking in billions in excess profits while average people were forced to make difficult pocketbook decisions,” Cook said.

Form Newsom’s news release:

The division would have access to new information required to be reported by refiners, subpoena power to compel production of other data and records that could reveal patterns of misconduct or price manipulation, and authority to refer violations of law to the Attorney General for prosecution.

Additionally, the CEC would be authorized to set a price gouging penalty via a public rulemaking process, to hold Big Oil accountable for making excessive profits at the expense of Californian families. The CEC would establish a penalty structure that deters excessive pricing by imposing a civil penalty on refiners who charge more than a maximum allowable margin for the price of gasoline.

The Environmental Working Group and other public interest groups, including Consumer Watchdog, Center for Biological Diversity, Environment California and others have been urging members of the state legislature to support Newsom’s proposal to hold these refiners to account.


The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action

Areas of Focus Energy Utilities Federal & State Energy Policy Fossil & Nuclear Regional Issues California Disqus Comments Press Contact Alex Formuzis (202) 667-6982 March 20, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Ruffalo: ‘Approval of Willow project will undermine progress on climate change’

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 06:59
Ruffalo: ‘Approval of Willow project will undermine progress on climate change’ rcoleman March 16, 2023

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on March 13 approved the massive Willow oil drilling project in Alaska in the federally owned National Petroleum Reserve.

Below is a statement from actor and activist Mark Ruffalo.  

Simply put, President Joe Biden’s decision to approve the Willow project will undermine much of the progress his administration has made to address climate change. 

We have no time to lose when it comes to addressing the climate crisis. But the Willow project could add more than 250 million metric tons of carbon emissions to the atmosphere over the next 30 years, or the annual emissions of 66 coal plants.

Sacrificing our climate and wildlife and burdening our indigenous communities with even more pollution is the wrong course for this president and our nation. At a time when we should be rapidly reducing our reliance on fossil energy, this decision moves us in the wrong direction.

Areas of Focus Energy Federal & State Energy Policy Fossil & Nuclear Disqus Comments Press Contact Alex Formuzis (202) 667-6982 March 16, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

What they’re saying about the EPA’s proposal to regulate ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water

Wed, 03/15/2023 - 15:07
What they’re saying about the EPA’s proposal to regulate ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water rcoleman March 15, 2023

On March 14, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a historic proposal to tackle drinking water contamination from the “forever chemicals” known as PFAS. The proposed maximum contaminant levels, or MCLs, would set limits on six notorious PFAS to get these toxic chemicals out of our drinking water: PFOA, PFOS, GenX, PFBS, PFNA and PFHxS.

Here’s what leaders from environmental, health and community advocacy organizations are saying about the EPA’s announcement, which marks historic progress on addressing PFAS:

Anna Reade, Ph.D., senior scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council: “Regulating these six highly toxic PFAS chemicals in drinking water is a historic start to protecting our families and communities.” Press release

Southern Environmental Law Center: “The best way to meet the protective new standards announced today by the EPA is to stop PFAS, or ‘forever chemicals,’ pollution at its source before it gets into drinking water sources and burdens downstream communities.” Press release

Tony Spaniola, co-chair, Great Lakes PFAS Action Network: “The EPA’s proposed drinking water standards are an important milestone in the fight to protect public health and will save lives in impacted communities on the frontlines of the PFAS crisis. This is an A-plus decision by the Biden administration for frontline communities. We urge that the proposed drinking water standards be adopted and implemented with all deliberate speed.” Press statement

Buxmont Coalition for Safer Water: “We at Buxmont Coalition for Safer Water have been working for PFAS federal drinking water regulations for nearly a decade now. We have seen the devastating impacts these toxic chemicals have had on the health of children in our community. We are grateful for the strong action the EPA has taken to protect the health of America’s unborn babies: pre-polluted with these toxic chemicals before they ever take their first breath.”

Rob Hayes, director of clean water, Environmental Advocates NY: “Everyone who wants to drink clean water should be overjoyed at the EPA’s announcement. This is the national leadership on drinking water safety that we’ve been waiting for. The proposed MCLs for PFOA and PFOS will lead to cleaner drinking water for over a million New Yorkers. Today’s historic victory is the result of years-long advocacy by PFAS-impacted communities and scientists, who demanded that our government stop exposure to these cancer-causing chemicals.” Press statement

Tracy Carluccio, deputy director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network: “This action by the EPA will finally begin the process to provide equal protection for all Americans from toxic exposure through drinking water to some of the worst and most prevalently found PFAS compounds. The science-based foundation developed by the EPA for this rule provides incontrovertible evidence of the enormous risks to health posed by these PFAS compounds, including declaring both PFOA and PFOS to be ‘likely carcinogens.’ The benefits calculated by the EPA include the prevention of tens of thousands of deaths per year, making immediate action imperative. The federal rule has been a long time coming and we will advocate that the public rulemaking process move ahead on urgent footing.” Press statement

Sarah Woodburg, director of advocacy, Defend Our Health: “We applaud the EPA for taking action to set strong standards for PFAS in drinking water to stem this direct threat to public health. We have seen the serious impacts of PFAS drinking water contamination here in Maine. It’s tragic that some Mainers were exposed for years to unsafe levels of these so-called ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water. If approved, the EPA’s new drinking water standards will protect the health of thousands of Mainers across the state.” Press statement

Dana Colihan, co-facilitator, National PFAS Contamination Coalition and co-executive director, Slingshot: “This is a victory for us all, and especially environmental justice communities that have been disproportionately exposed to PFAS contamination. We urge the EPA to implement these recommendations as swiftly as possible.” Press statement

Elizabeth Southerland, Ph.D., volunteer, Environmental Protection Network, and former EPA Office of Water director of science and technology: “This is the most stringent standard the EPA can impose and is based on the best available science and the detection limit of the EPA’s analytical method. The public health benefits of these protective drinking water standards dwarf the costs of achieving them, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law offsets those costs with billions of dollars for small or disadvantaged communities to address PFAS.” Press statement

Sonya Lunder, senior toxics policy advisor, Sierra Club: “The EPA’s strong new limits for these six PFAS chemicals will prevent serious illnesses and save lives. The EPA must keep its momentum by issuing rules to limit the production and use of PFAS chemicals and control their cleanup and disposal. In the long term, polluting industries, not the public, must pay the full cost of removing these ‘forever chemicals’ from the environment.” Press statement

Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States, Toxic-Free Future: “We applaud the Biden administration for following the lead of the states and stepping up to protect communities from these toxic ‘forever chemicals.’ These proposed standards are a positive step forward and reinforce the need for all parts of government to address the PFAS crisis. We urge the federal government to continue to follow the lead of states and phase out the production and use of these chemicals in favor of safer solutions, so that we stop adding PFAS to our already polluted water, land and air.” Press statement

Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz, attorney, Earthjustice: “For the millions of people with PFAS in their tap water, strong national drinking water standards cannot come soon enough. Today’s proposal is a necessary and long overdue step towards addressing the nation’s PFAS crisis, but what comes next is equally important. The EPA must resist efforts to weaken this proposal, move quickly to finalize health-protective limits on these six chemicals, and address the remaining PFAS that continue to poison drinking water supplies and harm communities across the country.” Press statement

Robert Wendelgass, president and CEO, Clean Water Action: “The EPA’s proposed limits on PFAS chemicals in drinking water will prevent serious illness and death. We urge EPA to be equally decisive in holding polluters accountable for contaminated drinking water all over the country and in curtailing the many thousand PFAS chemicals in everyday use.” Press release

Linda S. Birnbaum, Ph.D., scientist emeritus and former director, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences: “I am so pleased that the EPA has finally proposed stringent regulations of PFAS in drinking water. Going forward, this will improve both public health and the environment.”

Clean Cape Fear: “No one should ever wonder if the PFAS in their tap water will one day make them sick. We all deserve access to health-protective drinking water. It's a basic human right. We applaud the Biden EPA for having the courage to do what multiple administrations could not. Today is a good step towards tackling our nation's massive PFAS public health crisis, by including commercially relevant PFAS like GenX. We now need every office within the EPA and all other federal agencies to use a whole of government approach to address PFAS as a class, stop all PFAS exposures at their source, make responsible parties pay for the clean-up, and give overexposed communities access to health monitoring.”

Matt Casale, environment campaigns director, U.S. PIRG Education Fund: “Pervasive PFAS should be a thing of the past and this EPA proposal puts us on the right path. Too many Americans are exposed every day to these ubiquitous chemicals that lurk around our house and in our pipes. Saying ‘nevermore’ to ‘forever chemicals’ in our drinking water is the right thing to do. These new standards are a realistic way to start that process.” Press statement

Dana Sargent, executive director, Cape Fear River Watch: “Our public trust waters, including the Cape Fear River – the drinking water supply for 500,000 people in North Carolina – have been assaulted by PFAS polluters who put profit over people, and who were virtually unchecked and effectively supported by our federal government for decades. Cape Fear River Watch is grateful for the strong and crucial drinking water regulations proposed by the EPA today, which alone will not hold polluters accountable, but which remain crucial steps in the colossal fight for clean water for our community and countless others across the country.”

Arthur Bowman III, policy director, Center for Environmental Health: “With drinking water standards, we can finally begin to ‘turn off the tap’ of these toxic ‘forever chemicals.’ This is a victory for the Black and Indigenous and other community-based organizations that pressured the EPA to do something about decades of PFAS contamination. But the agency must not forget the PFAS in the water came from somewhere. The EPA must now make Chemours and others responsible pay for all associated costs of PFAS contamination without placing the burden on taxpayers.”

Yvonne Taylor, vice president, Seneca Lake Guardian: “We applaud the federal government's proposal to take strong action on PFAS regulation. If finalized, this rule will prevent thousands of PFAS related deaths and illnesses. [New York] Gov. [Kathy] Hochul must follow suit. The Finger Lakes contain 8.2 trillion gallons of fresh water, which serves as drinking water for more than 1.5 million residents, providing more than 200 million gallons of drinking water every day. The state's largest landfill, Seneca Meadows, is producing 200,000 gallons of toxic PFAS-laden leachate every day, threatening our state's freshwater resources. New York's Department of Health must strengthen its PFAS MCL proposal to be in line with the EPA's and protect New Yorkers from the incredibly harmful impacts of these chemicals.” Press statement

Areas of Focus Food & Water Water Toxic Chemicals PFAS Chemicals Disqus Comments March 16, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Dirty Secrets: Vinyl Chloride

Wed, 03/15/2023 - 10:33
Dirty Secrets: Vinyl Chloride bubba_campbell March 15, 2023 May 15, 2001

"We feel quite confident, however, that 500 ppm (vinyl chloride) is going to produce rather appreciable injury when inhaled 7 hours a day, five days a week for an extended period."
- Dow scientist writing to the Director of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology, B. F. Goodrich Company, May 1959 (view entire document)

"With little persuasion, he changed the VDC reports first sentence from "Experiments on another chemical, vinyldene chloride monomer, show that it is strongly carcinogenic...' to 'Preliminary experiments on another chemical vinyldene chloride monomer, indicate that it may have carcinogenic activity in experiments similar to those described above..."
- Chemical Manufacturers Association, Trip Report, October 1974 (view entire document)

"It was the consensus of those present that ... it would be appropriate to release such information [about the research project] to the press. There will be no reference to the European studies and the nature of the project is to be referred to as a chronic inhalation study without reference to the question of carcinogenesis."
- Chemical Manufacturers Association, Vinyl Research Coordinators, January 1973 (view entire document)

The story of vinyl chloride is a tale of corporate deception in which chemical industry executives kept workers and government health officials in the dark about the debilitating and sometimes fatal consequences of working with the chemical. As evidence emerged over a 20 year period that vinyl chloride caused signature injuries such as disintegration of the bones in the fingers and then fatal liver cancer, and perhaps other cancers, the chemical industry engaged in an increasingly complex and coordinated plot to keep anyone from knowing the chemical's true hazards. There were virtually no limits to the deception.

Over a 15-year period: workers were exposed to levels of vinyl chloride that were known to cause injury and not told; scientists were pressured to rewrite publications; manufacturers and beauticians were kept in the dark about vinyl chloride in hair spray and the potential devastating risks; information was withheld from government health officials; health exams were given under false pretense to keep workers in the dark about what was happening to them; studies were terminated to avoid producing damaging evidence; and pacts of silence were agreed to and executed.

Today, thirty years after the industry first learned that vinyl chloride caused cancer, workers are still dying, and many people -including an untold number of beauty shop workers in the 1960s and 1970s- remain unaware that they were heavily exposed for years to a highly hazardous, potentially deadly substance.

From 1953 to 1972, the Manufacturing Chemists Association Chemical Safety Data Sheet for vinyl chloride recommended 500 parts per million (ppm) as an acceptable average exposure level over the course of a workday. Yet by 1959, industry scientists had compelling evidence that this level of exposure was not safe, and that vinyl chloride was injuring workers at levels well below the 500 ppm daily average. One scientist was unusually candid in his assessment of the risk:

(view entire document)

Industry sponsored animal tests at that time detected "liver injury" after inhalation of vinyl chloride for just six months at 100 ppm, 5 times less than the acceptable daily level for workers. (view entire document) After conversations with Dow scientists who were not able to find a dose of vinyl chloride in animals that did not cause harm, a Union Carbide memo reported that "vinyl chloride monomer is more toxic than has been believed." (view entire document)

But the industry did not respond. Even after Dow researchers published a paper in 1961 reporting that vinyl chloride was toxic at levels well below 500 ppm, companies did nothing to warn workers that vinyl chloride was hazardous, or to lower allowable exposure levels below 500 ppm. Dow apparently adopted a 50 ppm standard in 1961. At the time there were no legally enforceable workplace chemical exposure limits.

By the mid-1960s the first waves of injured workers were appearing. There were reports of acroosteolysis (AOL), referred to in industry documents as "the hand disease," an insidious and debilitating condition that, in the most extreme cases, was manifested by degeneration of the bones in the tips of the fingers. Workers' finger bones were dissolving, but rather than opening an investigation of the issue, the industry opted for evasive medical exams, and a gag on all dissemination to workers of information relevant to the situation.

A 1964 internal memo from B.F. Goodrich is instructive:

(view entire document)

Continuing on, the memo states:

(view entire document)

As evidence of the disintegrating hand problem mounted throughout the 1960s in Europe and the United States, the industry attempted to directly influence the science. A 1966 internal Monsanto memo recounts B. F. Goodrich's reaction to the mere possibility of a publication describing the diseases in the peer-reviewed literature:

(view entire document)

That particular intervention was unsuccessful, but not to be deterred, the Monsanto memo further reports that:

(view entire document)

A 1967 article by B.F. Goodrich scientists in the Journal of the American Medical Association finally did report the "basic characteristics of this disease." But in line with the overall strategy of downplaying the significance of the findings in relation to vinyl chloride, the authors state that: "The specific causes are unknown" (view entire document) and that the condition is not particularly serious: "We have observed no serious disability in any of these cases." (view entire document)

But the industry knew otherwise. A November 1964 internal Goodrich memo notes that the company has observed "bone resorption" in the tips of the fingers of it workers, and that "In some cases this is quite marked." A January 1966 memo from Monsanto recounts a conversation with a B.F. Goodrich Corporate Vice President who reported that AOL was occurring in workers not directly involved in cleaning the vinyl chloride polymerization reactors, or so called "kettles":

(view entire document)

In June 1968, B. F. Goodrich was still guarding information on scores of cases of the disease at its vinyl chloride and polyvinyl chloride facilities as "confidential" and "not to be disseminated." (view entire document) A Goodrich memo at the time reports 49 cases and then goes on to say:

(view entire document)

Widespread AOL across the industry was a powerful indication that vinyl chloride was far more toxic than previously believed, and affected workers through systemic action. But the industry ignored the warning signs. On November 24, 1969, the MCA Plastics Committee resolved that it would not accept further proposals for additional research into the causes of acroosteolysis. (view entire document)

Shutting down investigations, however, could not stop the inevitable progress of the disease among vinyl chloride workers. "The hand disease" was a warning of much worse afflictions to come.

In May 1970, Dr. P. L. Viola of the Regina Elena Institute for Cancer Research in Rome, Italy reported at an international cancer research conference in Houston, Texas, that vinyl chloride caused cancer in laboratory animals at 30,000 parts per million. Dr. Viola's work was sponsored by Solvay Chemical. (view entire document) This finding was extremely significant and elevated the hazards of vinyl chloride from an issue concerning "hand problems" in workers at a relative handful of companies, to a life-threatening issue affecting the entire chemical industry. The implications were enormous: if vinyl chloride were found to cause cancer, the entire chemical industry would surely be subject to controls at its factories. Even more potentially devastating, if the cancer finding proved true, the industry was potentially liable for vinyl chloride exposure from a broad range of consumer products.

In response, the industry dug in even further, and intensified the pattern of deception and delay it had developed with the hand disease problem.

The chemical industry heavily promoted vinyl chloride as a propellant in aerosol cans throughout the late 1950s and 1960s. Yet as early as 1964, Aerosol Age, a trade magazine, reported that vinyl chloride in the air could reach very high levels in beauty parlors where hair spray was used- levels that would later be judged by vinyl chloride makers themselves to exceed the dose found to cause cancer in chemical plant workers. (view entire document) By 1969, B.F. Goodrich reported in an internal industry memo that: "People in the cosmetics trade have [become] concerned about the possible toxicity of these propellants." (view entire document)

With good reason. By that time vinyl chloride producers knew that beauticians could easily get a huge dose of vinyl in the course of an average workday. The 1969 B.F. Goodrich memo, after reviewing the evidence, concludes: "Beauty operators may be exposed to concentrations of [VCM] equal to or greater than the level" for chemical plant employees. (view entire document)

By 1971 the industry knew without doubt that vinyl chloride caused cancer in animals. (view entire document) A year later, the company acknowledged internally that beauty operators could be at greater cancer risk than chemical workers. (view entire document) In 1973 the predecessor of the Chemical Manufacturers Association was still advising VCM manufacturers to publicly make "no reference . . . to the question of carcinogensis." (view entire document)

On Jan. 30, 1973, the Manufacturing Chemists Association's vinyl chloride research team, with representatives from Dow, PPG, B.F. Goodrich, Ethyl Corporation, Union Carbide, and other major companies present, met to discuss what position the MCA should convey to its member companies regarding the continued use of vinyl chloride as an aerosol propellant. Their primary concern was to avoid "undue and premature attention on the industrial hygiene aspects of the problem," and they dealt with it by taking no position. (view entire document)

Not only was the MCA avoiding public discussion of VCM use in aerosols, they were also avoiding disclosure of the emerging evidence that VCM causes cancer. At that same meeting in January 1973, they discussed a proposed industry-sponsored VCM research project to be carried out by Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories:

(view entire document)

In the months following the meeting, internal memos from various chemical companies in attendance provide additional details of the discussion. Again and again, the chemical makers returned to a comparison of liability vs. profitability. This issue was clear: how to protect the larger vinyl market from the potential enormous liability presented by the use of vinyl chloride in consumer aerosols.

(view entire document)

(view entire document)

(view entire document)

How could vinyl producers get out of the VCM business without raising suspicion about its safety?

A 1973 document paper from Allied Chemical clarifies the range of options for the industry. (view entire document) Industry apparently choose option c, "Orderly withdrawal from market, without explanation" In the end, companies simply stopped selling VCM as an aerosol propellant, informing their clients by making "personal visits to substantial fillers" to discreetly advise them that they were cutting them off. (view entire document)

Vinyl chloride factory workers were not so lucky. There was no quiet phase-out of vinyl chloride at the plants where thousands of workers labored. There were not even any efforts to reduce exposure. Instead, industry threw its considerable resources into suppressing the flow of information on the hazards of vinyl chloride. It would not act until forced to do so.

By 1972 the industry had in place an industry-wide secrecy agreement concerning the cancer causing properties of VCM. (view entire document) The Manufacturing Chemists Association orchestrated this industry-wide non-disclosure pact, soliciting ironclad pledges of secrecy from some 25 vinyl producers and users in the Unites States and Europe. (view entire document) According to a 1972 MCA memo, companies "should feel honor bound to make sure such information remains within their own companies." (view entire document) These non-disclosures were open-ended, and could only be breached by affirmative consent of the supplier of the information, namely the European companies that had contracted for the studies. (view entire document)

By November 1972, the industry had additional study results from an independent Italian researcher, Dr. Cesare Maltoni, showing that vinyl chloride caused a rare form of liver cancer in laboratory animals at doses as low as 250 part per million after just one year of exposure (4 hours a day, five days a week). (view entire document) This potentially was very damaging information. Workers had been exposed to vinyl chloride at levels twice as high as this, or greater, for years, even decades. The risks to these workers were potentially fatal, and the industry now knew it.

But for the industry, the oath of secrecy was paramount. It even superceded their moral obligation to inform government regulators about the risks they were now virtually certain their workers faced. When MCA officials met with leaders of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in July 1973, they failed to disclose the Maltoni information to the agency. Industry disputes this fact, but testifying before the U.S. Senate in August 1974, the Director of NIOSH, Dr. Marcus Key, put it this way:

"No mention was ever made to us about liver cancer and the new Italian investigator was not named. I would like to re-emphasize that no information about liver cancers was given. If there had been, I think we would have taken an entirely different course of action in view of the widespread use of this material."

In January 1974, B.F. Goodrich announced the presence of a rare liver cancer, angiosarcoma, in its polyvinyl chloride workers at is Louisville plant. The industry purported to be shocked at the news that vinyl chloride could cause cancer, and portrayed the very rare and fatal cancers as isolated to one facility. Workers, regulators and the public were not told that two years earlier, the industry's top medical experts had evidence (which they believed was compelling) documenting these same tumors in animals exposed to doses of vinyl chloride far lower than levels commonly found in the workplace.

The strategy quickly became one of limiting liability by controlling the science, either through pressuring scientists directly, or by manipulating the study design of the only study of vinyl chloride industry workers.

In October 1974, European scientists (Viola) had more compelling evidence that vinyl chloride was "strongly carcinogenic" in animals, and had prepared a report for publication. Following on the heels of the B.F. Goodrich fatal angiosarcomas in workers, a confirmatory finding of strong carcinogenicity would be a severe blow to the industry.

Still bound by their secrecy agreement with the European producers, American vinyl producers crossed the Atlantic with the expressed purpose of diluting the publication of these pivotal study results. This pressure was successful. After a visit from a representative from the MCA, the study author, Dr. P. L. Viola, changed the all-important first sentence of his report to dramatically downplay the seriousness of his findings:

(view entire document)

In May of 1974, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed a maximum exposure level for vinyl chloride at a no detectable level, using equipment with an accuracy of 1 part per million.

Industry strenuously opposed this standard. A May 24, 1974 special meeting of the Vinyl Chloride Safety Association was attended by 55 people representing 27 companies. Many claimed that protecting workers from vinyl chloride would put them out of business. A Union Carbide memo describing the meeting reports that companies still felt the proposed standard was "not necessary" and that they could not "take risk of an industry shutdown." (view entire document)

But the industry did not shut down. Instead, the no detectable level and 1 part per million standard was implemented on January 1, 1975 and after decades of heavy exposure to vinyl chloride worker risks were dramatically reduced.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Ruffalo applauds historic PFAS drinking water standard

Mon, 03/13/2023 - 10:25
Ruffalo applauds historic PFAS drinking water standard rcoleman March 13, 2023

The following is the statement of Activist and Actor Mark Ruffalo on the Environmental Protection Agency’s new PFAS drinking water standard.

After decades of delay, President Biden’s EPA has delivered a drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS which, when finalized, will be the toughest in the nation. By proposing to regulate four other PFAS as a mixture, the Biden EPA is also putting our communities ahead of the polluters. President Biden and his team pledged to make PFAS a priority and he has delivered. No Administration has done more to address the urgent threat posed by these toxic forever chemicals than the Biden Administration.

My message to polluters is simple: after poisoning your workers and neighbors for decades, it is time to make our public health, not your profits, our top priority. My message to communities devastated by PFAS pollution is equally simple: help is finally on the way.

Areas of Focus Food & Water Water Toxic Chemicals PFAS Chemicals Disqus Comments Press Contact Monica Amarelo (202) 939-9140 March 14, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

California could ban a toxic preservative lurking in pastries

Mon, 03/13/2023 - 07:22
California could ban a toxic preservative lurking in pastries rcoleman March 13, 2023

Many people love a tasty treat like Casey’s Cinnamon Roll or First Street Sugar Cookies – but they might not know these pastries often have a toxic preservative baked in them. Now California lawmakers are weighing a bill that could ban the use of this chemical in processed foods.

The legislation, if passed and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, would be a first-in-the-nation ban on the toxic preservative propyl paraben and four other chemicals in food, and apply to items sold in the state. Given the size of California’s economy, history shows that its pioneering health and environmental laws can drive positive change in the industries they target.

Propyl paraben has been linked to hormone disruption and harm to the reproductive system and may be especially harmful to children. EWG is supporting the bill, introduced by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-San Fernando Valley), as a vital step to protect people.

California’s potential action on this issue also shows the ongoing flaws in our federal food oversight, as the Food and Drug Administration still permits some harmful chemicals in many of the popular items we eat – even when the risks of these substances are well known.

A prominent, problematic preservative

According to EWG’s Food Scores Database, the preservative propyl paraben has been found in over 50 food products, from Goya Corn Tortillas to Publix Nut and Chocolatey Trail Mix. The database ranks foods based on ingredient, nutrition and processing concerns.

“Concern” is the right word for propyl paraben. The European Food Safety Authority issued an advisory in 2004 saying it could not be safely used in food, based on evidence that all doses of the chemical changed hormone levels and reduced sperm production in animals. The European Union in 2006 then removed the chemical from its list of authorized food additives.

Other researchers confirmed propyl paraben’s effects on the hormone system. It acts as an artificial estrogenic compound and can alter hormone signaling and gene expression. Exposure to propyl paraben might be associated with lower fertility, Harvard researchers have found.

Endocrine signaling is particularly important during critical windows of development, such as fetal, childhood and adolescence. Any chemical that disrupts endocrine signaling can harm development, reproduction and the nervous and immune systems.

Low doses of propyl paraben damaged the DNA in human breast cells and mice’s mammary cells in a 2020 study. A study from 2021 provided strong evidence that propyl paraben interferes with hormones and changed the structure and cells of mammary glands in pregnant and lactating mice. The effects were observed at doses much lower than humans usually consume. 

Propyl paraben exposure at levels in the FDA’s “human acceptable daily intake” limits changed gene expression and increased growth of mammary tumors in mice, a 2023 study found.

Get Your Free Guide: EWG's Guide to Food Additives Time for change

So how is this chemical still in our food, if we know these potential health hazards? Because the FDA has classified the chemical as generally recognizable as safe. This designation is the result of a loophole that allows chemical and food companies to certify that an ingredient is safe in food, despite continued evidence of its harm to humans and animals. 

The food industry as a whole has not dropped use of propyl paraben, although several companies, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Kroger, have taken steps to move away from using it. And restaurants like Chipotle and Panera don’t use it in their foods. 

Change has already happened in other industries, as propyl paraben began to be phased out of personal care products years ago, and many are now advertised as “paraben free.”

For example, in 2012 Johnson & Johnson under market pressure pledged to remove propyl paraben and other parabens from its baby products. Brands such as Alba, Origins and Burt’s Bees don’t use parabens at all. In 2015, the EU began to restrict the chemical from personal care products because of health harms.

Unless and until the FDA ends allowable uses of propyl paraben, there are some steps you can take when shopping for food to reduce your exposure to this chemical.

Choosing less processed food and fresh food ingredients is a great way to avoid harmful food chemicals. Selecting organic food is another option. In contrast to conventional packaged foods, organic packaged foods must be formulated in keeping with strong standards that protect consumers from the use of artificial food chemicals, including propyl paraben.

In the absence of a federal ban on propyl paraben, efforts like the proposed bill in California can help to fill the gap and keep harmful chemicals out of products we eat every day.

EWG 2023 communications intern Kathryn LaLonde contributed to this article.

Areas of Focus Food & Water Water Family Health Children’s Health Toxic Chemicals Food Chemicals Disqus Comments Guest Authors EWG Science Team March 13, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

EWG testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate and Nuclear Safety on the impacts of crypto-mining

Wed, 03/08/2023 - 06:13
EWG testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate and Nuclear Safety on the impacts of crypto-mining rcoleman March 8, 2023

Attached is EWG’s testimony for the record to the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate and Nuclear Safety hearing on the air, climate and environmental impacts of crypto-asset mining.

File Download Document EWG crypto bill testimony.pdf Areas of Focus Change the Code, Not the Climate Energy Disqus Comments Authors Jessica Hernandez March 7, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

EWG applauds North Carolina court denying Chemours’ motion to dismiss ‘forever chemicals’ lawsuit

Fri, 03/03/2023 - 11:10
EWG applauds North Carolina court denying Chemours’ motion to dismiss ‘forever chemicals’ lawsuit rcoleman March 3, 2023

WASHINGTON – A Superior Court in North Carolina on Thursday denied a motion by the chemical giant Chemours to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the company over its years of releasing the “forever chemicals” known as PFAS into the environment.

The lawsuit alleges Chemours is responsible for decades of discharging “vast quantities” of the toxic chemicals from its Fayetteville Works site into the Cape Fear River watershed, which provides drinking water for roughly 1.5 million North Carolina residents. The lawsuit was brought by state Attorney General Josh Stein.

“The court’s decision is a major victory for the people of North Carolina and sends a message to Chemours that it will be held accountable for its years of knowingly dumping these toxic chemicals into the environment,” said Jared Hayes, a policy analyst at EWG.

Using federal, state and industry data, EWG has mapped locations in North Carolina and beyond where industrial PFAS chemicals have likely occurred.


The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action

Areas of Focus Food & Water Water Toxic Chemicals PFAS Chemicals Disqus Comments Press Contact Alex Formuzis (202) 667-6982 March 3, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Feds cave to PG&E over license exemption for aging Diablo Canyon nuclear plant

Thu, 03/02/2023 - 13:56
Feds cave to PG&E over license exemption for aging Diablo Canyon nuclear plant rcoleman March 2, 2023

 SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Ignoring long-standing precedents, statutes and regulations, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission today gave Pacific Gas & Electric the green light to operate California’s last remaining nuclear plant for up to 20 more years without a safety review or license renewal.    

In its March 2 decision, the NRC exempted PG&E from regulations that required a license renewal review by the NRC before the two Diablo Canyon reactors could operate beyond their operating license expiration dates. 

The decision is unprecedented. The NRC has never approved an exemption for a license renewal applicant that would allow it to operate a nuclear reactor past its 40-year legal limit without a comprehensive safety and environmental review. The NRC’s own rules recognize that continued operation of a reactor past that limit poses safety risks that are different from the operational risks of a facility’s first 40 years in operation and require a separate review.

But the NRC, in its bow to PG&E, completely ignored its own rules, with far-reaching implications for all its safety standards.

“This decision is frightening, because it casts aside the serious safety and environmental issues raised by operating Diablo Canyon past its expiration dates without a comprehensive safety and environmental review,” said Diane Curran, lead attorney for San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace. “The NRC calls the exemption a mere ‘administrative’ decision, as if it were choosing paper clip sizes. There is nothing ‘administrative’ about allowing this aging reactor duo to continue running for days, months or years, when each day of operation poses the risk of an accident that could devastate the entire state and beyond.”

“Public safety concerns were blatantly ignored by the NRC over this politically motivated and reckless decision to bend the law for PG&E,” said Environmental Working Group President and California resident Ken Cook. “A federal agency responsible for protecting public safety is now simply serving as the consigliere of the nuclear industry.”

"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is contorting its rules and procedures in granting this exemption to Pacific Gas and Electric,” said Hallie Templeton, legal director for Friends of the Earth. “Nearly five years ago, Pacific Gas and Electric withdrew its license, and the NRC closed the renewal process. The NRC cannot simply invent new rules just because the state of California is having second thoughts about the decision.”

“This is an ominous warning sign for how independent the NRC will be in evaluating the earthquake risk and the overall operational integrity of the Diablo Canyon reactors,” said Templeton. “We will consider all available means to ensure that they are held to the letter of the law on this and future decisions and do not put people and the environment at risk."

Major safety and environmental risks will only increase if Diablo Canyon’s twin reactors continue running past their expiration dates. First, the reactors are sited on a web of earthquake fault lines. A recent New York Times article detailed how similar the fault lines beneath Diablo are to those that caused the recent 7.8 earthquake that has killed roughly 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria combined.

Furthermore, the NRC is proposing to let Diablo Canyon continue operating without environmental review of the significant adverse effects on the marine environment from the plant’s once-through cooling system. PG&E was due to replace the system with cooling towers in 2024 and 2025 but now will be allowed to abandon that effort without an environmental risk evaluation. 

The groups that opposed the exemption are considering next steps, including federal court action over the NRC’s clearly unlawful and dangerous decision. 

Background: CEC rubber-stamps dangerous plan to keep Diablo running

The decision by the NRC comes just days after the California Energy Commission, or CEC, backed the ill-conceived plan by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration, the state legislature and PG&E to keep Diablo Canyon operating.

On February 28, the CEC approved recommendations made by its staff to extend the operating life of the aging plant beyond 2030. In a statement, the CEC claimed the facility needs to continue running to prevent energy supply shortages during extreme weather events.

The plant that rests along the central coast of California in San Luis Obispo supplies less than 9 percent of the state’s electricity, whereas nearly 35 percent comes from renewable sources like solar, wind and hydropower, according to the CEC. At one point last May, the state generated 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, demonstrating the enormous gains renewables have made in California’s energy supply.

Fearing backlash from voters following last summer’s record heat waves, which raised the specter of rolling blackouts, the state legislature – at Newsom’s urging – reversed the California Public Utilities Commission, or CPUC, 2018 approval of a previous decision by PG&E to shutter both reactors by 2025. 

PG&E had reached the shutdown decision in a carefully crafted 2018 settlement with local environmental organizations and labor unions. But the legislature approved Senate Bill 846, which cleared a path to keep the plant operating until at least 2030. It also provided PG&E a $1.4 billion taxpayer-funded loan to cover costs to keep the aging nuclear power facility running.

Continued operation of Diablo Canyon is not a given. Under the new law, the CEC is required to determine whether an extension of the plant’s operating license is needed to supply enough energy to the state’s electric grid. The CPUC must agree that it is needed.

In January, the CPUC ordered the opening of a formal proceeding to consider Newsom’s and the legislature’s proposal to extend Diablo Canyon’s life. San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace has called on the CPUC to hold evidentiary hearings and receive testimony directly from independent experts as to whether it is cost-effective and prudent to keep Diablo open past 2025.

Sabrina Venskus, attorney for San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, noted that “there are conspicuous holes in the CEC’s analysis.” Considering the significant safety and environmental risks posed by extending the operating license terms for this aging and earthquake-prone nuclear plant, Venskus asserted that the CEC’s claim that Diablo Canyon is needed past 2024 and 2025 deserves careful, rigorous and transparent review in the upcoming CPUC rulemaking (R.23-01-007). Venskus urged the CPUC not to limit itself to the less rigorous processes of taking written public comments and holding workshops.    


The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

Areas of Focus Energy Utilities Federal & State Energy Policy Fossil & Nuclear Regional Issues California Disqus Comments NRC’s betrayal of public safety comes days after California energy commission rubber-stamps PG&E plan to keep Diablo operating beyond 2030 Press Contact Alex Formuzis (202) 667-6982 March 2, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Popular sweetener erythritol, found in Truvia, linked to heart risk, new study says

Thu, 03/02/2023 - 12:20
Popular sweetener erythritol, found in Truvia, linked to heart risk, new study says rcoleman March 2, 2023

A new study finds a link between erythritol – a common artificial sweetener also used as a filler in stevia and monk fruit sweeteners and some keto products – and risk of harm to the heart and blood vessels, including clotting, stroke, heart attack and even death. The study suggests erythritol is concerning for the people it’s marketed to, who are already at risk for cardiac problems. 

Erythritol is “on par with the strongest of cardiac risk factors, like diabetes,” the lead author writes. The peer-reviewed research was published this week in the journal Nature Medicine.

Found naturally in some types of fruits and fermented foods, erythritol is added as an an artificial sweetener to processed foods at levels 1,000 times higher than the amounts than would be otherwise be found in those food, sometimes making up over half of the weight of the item.

It's popular partly because its aftertaste doesn’t linger. About 70 percent as sweet as sugar, erythritol “looks like sugar, it tastes like sugar, and you can bake with it,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. Stanley Hazen, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic. Erythritol adds bulk to the widely used artificial sweeteners stevia and monk fruit. 

The new study isn’t the first to question the safety of artificial sweeteners. They’ve been under fire for years. Last year a large study showed a connection to heart disease and stroke, and earlier research connected them to Type 2 diabetes and cancer.

Despite these increasing concerns, there is no accepted daily intake of erythritol set by the Food and Drug Administration, which considers it generally recognized as safe, or GRAS. Nearly all food chemicals introduced since 2000 were greenlighted by the food and chemical industry rather than the FDA, using a GRAS loophole that lets companies decide substances are safe.

Erythritol is often used instead of table sugar by home bakers in no-sugar-added food, which is especially desirable for people, such as diabetics, who are trying to control their sugar intake. It’s become more popular in recent years, in part as a result of its use in processed foods consumed as part of a keto – low carb and high fat – diet. Keto diets are criticized by some as more of a quick fix for some health conditions than a safe and tested long-term food plan.

Get Your Free Guide: EWG's Guide to Food Additives Study’s accidental findings

The study’s authors stumbled on the link between erythritol and heart problems by chance. They were researching blood samples from people at risk for heart disease, seeking characteristics that might predict heart problems, and found erythritol to be a common factor. 

Further research confirmed their findings – a link between the artificial sweetener and a tendency for the blood to clot: Among 4,000 people in Europe and the U.S., those with higher levels of erythritol in their blood had a higher risk of a major heart-related event. 

As the study’s own authors point out, most participants already had coronary disease, high blood pressure or diabetes, which may skew the results. 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death globally.

Then, as a final part of the research, they asked eight healthy volunteers to consume a drink containing 30 grams of erythritol, about the amount in a pint of keto ice cream or a can of artificially sweetened soda. Their blood levels of the chemical went up a thousandfold and stayed elevated for days. As the lead author explains it: “If your blood level of erythritol was in the top 25% compared to the bottom 25%, there was about a two-fold higher risk for heart attack and stroke. It’s on par with the strongest of cardiac risk factors, like diabetes.”

The study’s authors call for further study on the safety of artificial sweeteners. The higher clotting risk after exposure is concerning, they say, because the people to whom artificial sweeteners like erythritol are marketed – those with diabetes, obesity, history of cardiovascular disease and reduced kidney function – are typically already at higher risk. 

What you can do

It’s up to the federal government to protect shoppers from food chemicals, such as artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes, whose safety has not been established. In the meantime, some states are stepping up to fill the gap. 

For instance, legislation has been introduced in the bellwether state of California to ban or restrict the use of five common highly toxic food chemicals. And EWG is helping lead the fight on Capitol Hill against harmful chemicals in our food. 

Until harmful chemicals are banned from our food supply, here are steps you can take:

  • Study ingredient labels. Try to avoid food products with ingredients whose names you can’t pronounce. 
  • Eat fewer processed foods, such as those sweetened by erythritol. They’ve been shown to have a negative association with good health. Choose foods that are not processed or have been processed very little, such as whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Consult EWG’s Food Scores database to find out which foods are more and less healthy for you. It includes thousands made with erythritol. 
  • Download EWG’s Guide to Food Additives for quick tips to reduce your exposure to questionable chemicals in our food:
Get Your Free Guide: EWG's Guide to Food Additives Areas of Focus Food & Water Food Family Health Toxic Chemicals Food Chemicals Disqus Comments Authors Ketura Persellin Tasha Stoiber, Ph.D. March 2, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

White House advances proposal to limit ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water

Thu, 03/02/2023 - 11:45
White House advances proposal to limit ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water rcoleman March 2, 2023

WASHINGTON – On Friday, the White House advanced a proposal to impose new drinking water limits on two of the most notorious toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.

The Environmental Protection Agency has a legal duty under the Safe Drinking Water Act to propose limits on two PFAS chemicals – PFOA, once used to make Teflon, and PFOS, formerly an ingredient in Scotchgard. The rule was cleared on Friday by the White House, but the EPA missed the legal deadline for issuing the proposal.

From the time the EPA decides to regulate a chemical by imposing limits, the water law gives the agency two years. The agency made the decision to impose new drinking water limits on PFOA and PFOS on March 3, 2021.

In October 2022, the EPA sent the proposed rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget for mandatory pre-publication review. While the rule was cleared today by the White House, the EPA will miss the legal deadline for issuing the proposal.

“Residents in contaminated communities across the country have waited decades for clean water,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group. 

“The EPA has done its job, and now the White House has done their job. After making campaign promises to get PFAS out of drinking water, it’s good news the Biden administration is not letting the polluters and their fellow travelers within government hold this rule hostage,” said Faber.

PFOA and PFOS are just two types of PFAS, a large family of fluorinated chemicals that are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic. They have been linked to cancer, reproductive harm, immune system damage and other serious health problems, even at low levels. The EPA has known about the health risks from PFAS since at least the 1990s

In June, the EPA proposed updated lifetime health advisories for PFOA and PFOS and published new advisories for replacement chemicals GenX and PFBS. These guidelines provide information about drinking water contaminants that can harm people who are exposed to them throughout their lives. 

The new EPA health risk assessment for the health advisories for the first time included studies on people, including children. It showed that PFAS exposure can cause health harms at levels much lower than the agency’s previous health guideline of 70 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS in water.

PFAS have been found in the drinking water and ground water of more than 2,800 communities. But the true scale of contamination is likely much greater. 

EWG estimates there could be nearly 30,000 industrial polluters releasing PFAS into the environment, including into sources of drinking water. Restricting industrial discharges will reduce the amount of PFAS that drinking water utilities must treat. In January, the EPA delayed proposed rules limiting discharges of PFAS from certain industries. 

Because of current EPA guidelines, between 2023 and 2025, water utilities will be required to test drinking water for 29 PFAS. That effort will provide more insight into the extent of contamination from those chemicals, which may prompt regulation of other compounds. 

Tell Congress: Stop the PFAS Contamination Crisis

We need your help to protect our environment from toxic PFAS chemicals.

Tell Congress


The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action

Areas of Focus Food & Water Water Toxic Chemicals PFAS Chemicals Disqus Comments Press Contact Monica Amarelo (202) 939-9140 March 6, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

EWG’s quick and dirty guide to spring cleaning

Thu, 03/02/2023 - 06:51
EWG’s quick and dirty guide to spring cleaning rcoleman March 2, 2023

It’s that time of year when people jump on the idea of spring cleaning – getting rid of clutter and thoroughly scrubbing their living spaces. And that means hauling out the cleaning supplies.

But it’s tough to know which are safe to use. It’s important to avoid exposing yourself or your family to harmful substances, especially children, who are particularly vulnerable to potentially hazardous chemicals that might be in everyday cleaning products.

Conventional cleaning product manufacturers can use almost any ingredient of their choice, and they don’t have to fully disclose the formulas. The federal government needs to do more to protect you from exposure to harmful cleaning chemicals. 

Until then, EWG is stepping in to fill the gap, highlighting some of the worst chemicals to avoid and other cleaning tips to reduce exposure to the most toxic chemicals.

Cleaning chemicals to avoid

Make sure to study cleaner ingredients labels carefully and follow instructions for using them.

Here are a few cleaning chemicals to avoid, whenever possible:

  • Ethylene glycol ethers – including harsh solvents like 2-butyoxyethanol and butyoxydiglycol in soil and stain removers. They’re hazardous air pollutants linked to  reproductive and developmental effects. 
  • Sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid – corrosive chemicals that can cause severe skin and eye damage. They’re typically found in products like oven cleaners, drain openers, hard water stain removers and toilet cleaners. 
  • Quaternary ammonium compounds, or quats, found in fabric softeners and disinfectants and sanitizers. They’ve been linked to asthma as well as reproductive harm and birth defects in animals. Avoid distearyldimonium chloride, benzalkonium chloride and other ingredients ending in “-onium chloride,” as well as non-specific terms like “cationic surfactant.”
  • Sodium hypochlorite, the active ingredient in chlorine bleach, which is associated with respiratory damage. 
Choosing healthier cleaners

To get your place to sparkle without introducing toxic chemicals into the mix, we suggest:

Looking for the EWG VERIFIED® mark. Products carrying the EWG VERIFIED mark are produced according to the strictest standards and are free from chemicals of concern. Get to know the names of the brands with EWG VERIFIED products:

These brands offer dozens of currently verified products to choose from. 

Consulting our guide. Let us do the heavy lifting. Consult EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, which rates over 2,500 cleaning products from “A” to “F” based on their hazard profile and manufacturing transparency. Choose products that rate A or B or that bear the EWG VERIFIED® mark. And check out our Healthy Living App for product ratings on the go.

Steering clear of ambiguous mixtures. Look for products that disclose all ingredients, including those hidden behind vague terms like “fragrance,” “surfactant” and “preservative.” 

Avoiding marketing hype. Stay away from potential greenwashing, such as words like “green,” “natural” and “non-toxic.” There are no regulatory standards for these terms, but EWG’s guide to decoding labels may help. 

Trying gentle cleaners first. Our Tip Sheet for Healthy Cleaning includes suggestions for healthier approaches to cleaning, akin to your grandmother’s special formula that – surprise! – really does work. Or try an all-purpose cleaner – formulated to be more gentle, yet effective – and may suffice for many cleaning tasks. Then swap in a heavier-duty product to tackle more difficult cleaning tasks, if necessary. 

Other ideas for healthier cleaning 

Here are some additional ways to avoid exposure to harmful chemicals in cleaning products:

  • Wear gloves and other protective equipment.
  • Read instructions and warnings and use your cleaning products as directed.
  • Look for products that disclose all ingredients – terms like “fragrance” or “surfactant” may indicate undisclosed ingredients. 
  • Keep the area you’re cleaning ventilated, or wear an N95 mask to limit exposure.
  • Take special care with products used for more difficult cleaning, like drain cleaners and clog removers, as harsher solutions can cause serious and permanent injury.
  • Avoid combining products, such as mixing disinfectants with everyday cleaners because dangerous fumes can result. 
  • Store all cleaning products safely when they’re not in use.
Areas of Focus Household & Consumer Products Cleaning Supplies Family Health Reproductive Health Children’s Health Toxic Chemicals Disqus Comments Authors Hong Lin Samara Geller March 2, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

‘City slickers’ receiving federal farm subsidies soared under Trump

Thu, 03/02/2023 - 06:15
‘City slickers’ receiving federal farm subsidies soared under Trump rcoleman March 2, 2023

From coast to coast, almost 29,000 people in the 50 largest U.S. cities had received a combined $555 million in farm subsidies as of 2021, as the payments soared during the Trump administration.

The surge in Department of Agriculture farm subsidy recipients in these cities was mostly due to payouts from two Trump-era disaster programs – the Market Facilitation Program and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, an Environmental Working Group Analysis finds.

In Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and other major cities, between 1995 and 2021, exactly 28,831 people got subsidies totaling just under $555 million. That’s a significant increase over the number of recipients and value of subsidies just a few years ago.

In 2018, an EWG analysis identified 19,832 “city slickers” – urban dwellers – in the nation’s largest cities who had received $109 million in farm subsidies as of 2017. Those figures also represented an increase over previous years – EWG found that 17,836 people living in the 50 biggest U.S. cities got $63 million in farm subsidies in 2015 and 2016.

The size of payments to city slickers and the amount of recipients has increased significantly in the years since 2017. Since then, the average payment has increased, from just over $3,000 going to just over 16,000 people, up to its highest in 2020, when average payments reached nearly $22,000 going to more than 20,000 people.

Farm subsidy recipients must be “actively engaged” in farming. But under current law, urban residents can and do get farm subsidies even if they do not live or work on a farm. 

The Government Accountability Office in 2018 found that roughly one-fourth of farm subsidy recipients do not contribute personal labor to farms.

By contrast, anti-hunger assistance programs are subject to much stricter income and asset tests, so people living on low income stay eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for only 12 months, on average.

Rather than closing loopholes that allow city slickers to receive farm subsidies, the 2018 Farm Bill created new subsidy loopholes by allowing a farmer’s cousins, nieces and nephews to receive payments, whether they live or work on a farm or not.

Table: Farm subsidies rose during Trump administration for people in 50 largest U.S. cities

City Recipients Total Albuquerque,  N.M. 468 $5,771,058.69 Arlington, Texas 429 $3,640,827.72 Atlanta 351 $3,147,202.18 Austin, Texas 1,287 $15,537,323.24 Bakersfield, Calif. 474 $61,044,895.85 Baltimore, Md. 43 $1,000,288.84 Boston 25 $837,805.07 Charlotte, N.C. 210 $2,621,918.84 Chicago 526 $6,324,579.32 Colorado Springs, Colo. 589 $6,582,394.43 Columbus, Ohio 321 $4,411,185.39 Dallas 1,318 $17,172,774.93 Denver 975 $10,657,980.86 Detroit 40 $290,485.73 El Paso, Texas 209 $5,984,905.26 Fort Worth, Texas 865 $17,215,142.34 Fresno, Calif. 1,266 $97,680,950.65 Houston 1,992 $21,181,654.30 Indianapolis 731 $9,109,378.78 Jacksonville, Fla. 202 $1,883,606.30 Kansas City, Mo. 1,337 $14,189,115.33 Las Vegas 253 $4,350,693.56 Long Beach, Calif. 76 $1,703,985.70 Los Angeles 223 $9,490,534.54 Louisville, Ky. 467 $3,736,138.60 Memphis, Tenn. 999 $14,482,809.39 Mesa, Ariz. 321 $8,240,067.71 Miami 403 $25,711,196.50 Milwaukee 114 $1,236,818.69 Minneapolis 720 $10,908,305.55 Nashville, Tenn. 440 $3,732,030.10 New York 191 $2,733,103.60 Oakland, Calif. 81 $770,859.82 Oklahoma City 1,267 $13,826,522.53 Omaha, Neb. 1,602 $26,807,446.88 Philadelphia 39 $922,061.15 Phoenix 436 $13,268,156.76 Portland, Ore. 450 $5,127,831.47 Raleigh, N.C. 249 $3,813,354.85 Sacramento, Calif. 227 $7,490,124.81 San Antonio 1,078 $16,900,412.28 San Diego 315 $3,494,921.68 San Francisco 202 $3,498,127.90 San Jose, Calif. 192 $5,321,126.13 Seattle 465 $5,014,325.01 Tucson, Ariz. 430 $6,565,064.45 Tulsa, Okla. 719 $9,312,075.32 Virginia Beach, Va. 173 $4,043,436.94 Washington, D.C. 165 $2,141,955.14 Wichita, Kan. 2,876 $34,052,859.60 Total 28,831 $554,981,820.71


Areas of Focus Farming & Agriculture Subsidies Disqus Comments Authors Jared Hayes Eve Devens March 9, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Study: Toilet paper a major source of toxic ‘forever chemicals’ in wastewater

Wed, 03/01/2023 - 11:38
Study: Toilet paper a major source of toxic ‘forever chemicals’ in wastewater rcoleman March 1, 2023

WASHINGTON – Researchers found toilet paper to be a sizable source of the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS in wastewater, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

University of Florida scientists recruited volunteers and professors to collect toilet paper sold in the Americas, Africa and Europe. They tested samples of the paper, as well as sewage sludge samples from eight wastewater treatment plants in Florida, for 34 different PFAS compounds. 

In both the toilet paper and sewage sludge, 6:2 fluorotelomer phosphate diester, or 6:2 diPAP, was the most prevalent PFAS detected. DiPAP fragments into smaller compounds that are very persistent in the environment and harmful to human health.

“No one should have to worry about their exposure to a toxic forever chemical, especially when they are using the bathroom,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group.

Paper mills are a known source of contamination – PFAS are used during the wood-to-pulp conversion process in paper production.

The researchers tested for PFAS in non-organic toilet paper and rolls made from recycled paper. Both types of paper were made with contaminated fibers. The recycled content of the toilet paper did not affect the diPAP concentrations.

“Given the known health risks linked to PFAS exposure, it is concerning that these chemicals are present in such a common household item as toilet paper,” said Tasha Stoiber, Ph.D., a senior scientist at EWG. 

“This study further demonstrates the ubiquity of these toxic chemicals in our daily lives. We need to reduce PFAS contamination, phase out nonessential uses and protect public health,” she said.

“Manufacturers should take immediate steps to eliminate PFAS from their products,” she added. 

All PFAS are among the most persistent toxic compounds in existence, contaminating everything from drinking water to food, food packaging and personal care products. They are found in the blood of virtually everyone on Earth, including newborn babies.

Very low doses of PFAS in drinking water have been linked to the suppression of the immune system and are associated with an elevated risk of cancer, increased cholesterol, and reproductive and developmental harms, among other serious health concerns.

These chemicals are used in a wide range of consumer products, including personal care products, food packaging, textiles like waterproof clothing, and many others. They have also been widely used in firefighting foams and gear, a major source of contamination in the environment.

In 2020, EWG scientists concluded that flushing materials, as well as discarding or incinerating products, containing PFAS did not contain or destroy the compounds. Instead PFAS “disposal” is just another step in the contamination cycle – either the chemicals or their byproducts were just returned to the environment.

“It is critical that the Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration start regulating PFAS – now,” added Faber.

Tell Congress: Stop the PFAS Contamination Crisis

We need your help to protect our environment from toxic PFAS chemicals.

Tell Congress


The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

Areas of Focus Food & Water Water Toxic Chemicals PFAS Chemicals Disqus Comments Press Contact Monica Amarelo (202) 939-9140 March 1, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

EWG testimony to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry on the 2023 Farm Bill

Tue, 02/28/2023 - 12:04
EWG testimony to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry on the 2023 Farm Bill rcoleman February 28, 2023

Attached is EWG’s testimony to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry on conservation and forestry programs in the 2023 Farm Bill.

File Download Document 230301 - EWG Conservation Program Testimony.docx.pdf Disqus Comments Authors Geoff Horsfield March 1, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Harry Liu

Mon, 02/27/2023 - 06:48
Harry Liu rcoleman February 27, 2023 Harry Liu Front-End Web Developer

Harry joined EWG as a web developer, focused on developing and maintaining EWG’s web properties. He started his career as a web designer after graduating from George Mason University with a degree in IT. Born in China, Harry grew up there and in Canada before coming to the U.S. In his spare time, he loves to capture new people and new places both in digital and film images.  

Categories: G1. Progressive Green


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