The University of Northern Iowa will partner with the Black Hawk County health department and a hospital in Cedar Valley to test the effects of nitrates on children and adults. They say the results could send message to farmers about using fertilizers. Mark Linda is public health disease prevention manager for the county.After sampling water from private wells for around fifteen years, he’s seen the amount of nitrates in the water rise, and the percent exceeding the “safe minimum standard” of nitrates go from about 7-percent in the early 90s to 17 or 18-percent. They have grant funds to test wells for about 150 Black Hawk County residents who drink from private wells known to have high nitrate levels. The National Institutes of Health grant to the University, the health department and Covenant Hospital will let them study the immune systems of the residents. Linda says earlier studies have found high nitrates in water linked with health problems for very young infants, but nothing conclusive for older kids, or adults. Nitrates are linked to fertilizers applied to farmland and Linda says there could be conclusions to be drawn from the well water study. If they find that drinking water high in nitrates also can pose health problems for the older consumers, that “opens the door to further examining the relationship between nitrates and human health.”
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