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Experts Warn Of Potential Health Impacts Associated With Nitrates & Other Contaminants In Some Drinking Water Sources In Parts Of Iowa

Mon 8-13-2018

            (Arnolds Park)-- Some water quality experts who spoke at a forum Saturday in the Iowa Great Lakes had some dire warnings about potential health impacts associated with long-term exposure to nitrates and phosphorous in drinking water. Mary Skopec, Executive Director of Lakeside Lab on West Lake Okoboji, says the issue is being overlooked here in Iowa...Skopec01 

            "So whether it's thyroid cancer, bladder cancer, ovarian cancer, a number of health affects, we are seeing in Iowans, health affects at levels of nitrates half of the drinking water standard. So the drinking water standard is 10 and we're seeing health affects at 5. So this is an Iowa issue, this is not just Gulf Of Mexico shrimp farmers. This is actual Iowans, your neighbors, your family members, and whether or not we're going to have severe and long term health affects. And that conversation kind of gets lost and I really want to bring that forward that there is a lot of research that suggests that we need to pay attention to that because of our health issues."

David Osterberg, an environmentalist and former state lawmaker, sites what happened in one Iowa town a few weeks ago...Osterberg01 

"For a long time we haven't seen an outbreak where you have to close down your water supply because the water is toxic, you can't use it. We finally saw that four weeks ago, three and-a-half weeks ago, in Greenfield, Iowa. All of a sudden they didn't have water that they could use."

And Bill Stowe, Superintendent of Des Moines Waterworks, expects to see more and more of that happening in the future...Stowe03 

"Cyanotoxins emerge because of too many nutrients in the water. Too much phosphorous, too much nitrogen. You're going to hear more and more about that, and in particular in lake communities because lake communities, whether it's here in Dickinson county or whether it's around Lake Erie in Toledo, Ohio where it's more susceptible because the water is standing rather than flowing. Cyanotoxin in my business is a huge concern, and a concern we keep an eye on constantly."

Skopec, Osterberg and Stowe were among seven water quality experts that spoke at a forum Saturday that was held as part of the Blue Water festival at Arnolds Park.