ByAnna Casey/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting |
Midwest U.S. states do not require any buffer zone between schools and crop fields and seldom require any notification that pesticides are about to be sprayed, a review of laws by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting has found. University of Iowa researchers are analyzing chemical spray drift for advice on such a buffer.
ByJackie Wang, Nicole Tyau and Chelsea Rae Ybanez/News21 |
Lynda Cochart did not realize her water in Wisconsin was contaminated with coliform bacteria until she contracted MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant skin infection. Another News21 report that puts farm run-off, including some in Iowa, into perspective.
Most of the 43 million Americans who rely on private wells — some 288,000 in Iowa — don’t know if their water is safe to drink because unlike the regulation of public water systems, there is no government monitoring of wells. Another New21 water quality report, with links to IowaWatch reporting.
ByAgnel Philip, Elizabeth Sims, Jordan Houston and Rachel Konieczny/News21 |
As many as 63 million people – nearly a fifth of the country – from rural central California to the boroughs of New York City, were exposed to potentially unsafe water more than once during the past decade, according to a News21 investigation of 680,000 water quality and monitoring violations from the Environmental Protection Agency.
The U.S. military and Department of Energy have been allowed to continue the open burning and detonation of explosives and, in a few cases, even radioactive wastes under a 1980 exemption from the Environmental Protection Agency. One of those sites is in Iowa.
According to a Pew Research Center survey, 22 percent of U.S. adults say climate change is due to natural patterns and one-quarter believe there is no solid evidence Earth is getting warmer, despite a large consensus in the scientific community. A recent national survey and an informal state survey conducted by IowaWatch, working with the Cedar Falls High School Tiger Hi-Line, show this conflict also plays out in the classroom. Check your knowledge of recent research on climate change and how climate change is taught.
A major environmental threat has emerged as factory farms take over more and more of the nation’s livestock production: Pollution from the waste produced by the immense crush of animals. Iowa has more of the massive livestock feeding lots, known as concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, than any other state and has come under fire for lax regulations.
Livestock industry groups applauded the Environmental Protection Agency’s retreat last year from establishing an information-gathering rule. Michael Formica, of the National Pork Producers’ Council, said the rule simply would have burdened farmers with pointless paperwork. “You want your farmers focused on farming and running the farm, you don’t want them worried about filling out one inane form after another,” he said. Industry leaders also expressed satisfaction that it would be more difficult for the EPA to get information without a law compelling disclosure. Ashley McDonald, deputy environmental counsel for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said his organization was pleased the effort would be more “labor intensive” because the data is “in a decentralized form that is much more difficult to ascertain.”
The state of Iowa is failing to warn people to cut back on eating locally caught fish contaminated with mercury and other pollutants at levels the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finds too risky, an IowaWatch study has found.
More than 330,000 people a year buy licenses to fish Iowa’s waters, and the contaminated fish many catch, eat and provide to their families and friends could pose serious health consequences, especially for children, women of child-bearing age, pregnant women and other vulnerable populations.
Southeast Asians and Hispanics dominate another high-risk group – people who make fish from the state’s rivers, streams and lakes a staple of their diet. But conservation officers say few people, especially minorities, know about the contaminated fish advisories state officials periodically issue. They are written only in English.