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Nitrates and Farming: Tainted Groundwater Worse Than Thought in California's Central Valley

Nitrates and Farming: Tainted Groundwater Worse Than Thought in California's Central Valley

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agriculture, nitrates, environmental health, reporting on health, stett holbrook

Much has been written about tainted groundwater used by people living in California's fertile but polluted Central Valley agricultural communities, but a new study suggests that nitrate contamination from fertilizer and animal manure is much more severe than previously thought, Stett Holbrook reports in a story for California Watch, the Food and Environment Reporting Network and MSNBC:

High nitrate levels in drinking water are known to cause skin rashes, hair loss, birth defects and "blue baby syndrome," a potentially fatal blood disorder in infants. A recent National Institutes of Health study linked increased risk of thyroid cancer with high nitrate levels in public water supplies.

The agricultural industry has denied it's to blame for the contamination, Holbrook writes, but:

according to the UC Davis report, 96 percent of nitrate contamination comes from agriculture, while only 4 percent can be traced to water treatment plants, septic systems, food processing, landscaping and other sources.

How clean is the groundwater in your community? Is the health of residents at risk? Here are some resources for your reporting.

Related Resources:

Covering Environmental Health

Employing Human Testing to Tell Stories about Environmental Health Risk

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Photo credit: David Prasad via Flickr

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