A new Iowa Environmental Council report concludes excessive nitrates in Iowa’s drinking water raise a number of health concerns. The report’s lead author is Ann Robinson, an agricultural policy specialist with the Iowa Environmental Council.
“The reason we were inspired to pursue this was because we were going to meetings where more and more frequently the question was raised: is the drinking water standard unnecessarily stringent? When was the last time you heard of a ‘blue’ baby?” Robinson says.
“Blue baby Syndrome” can be dangerous and fatal. It’s caused when water with excessive nitrate levels is used in baby formula. Robinson says the parents of most infants know how to avoid the problem. However, her review of recent research indicates high nitrate levels in drinking water can put adults at increased risk of bladder cancer and thyroid cancer and cause birth defects, like brain and spinal cord abnormalities.
“These studies looked at large populations over years, even decades,” Robinson says. “…They were really just looking at the drinking water impact.”
Robinson says while more research is needed, she’s found “compelling” data to suggest efforts to reduce water pollution in Iowa should “accelerate.” The Iowa Environmental Council is among the groups lobbying Iowa lawmakers to dedicate more state tax dollars to clean-up efforts.