Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Challenges to Providing Safe Drinking Water in the Midwest

Water taken from Taylor County

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that levels of nitrate in drinking water at or above 10 parts per million are unsafe, particularly for infants, who could develop a potentially fatal blood disorder called "blue-baby" syndrome.

The Interim Director for the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination at the University of Iowa, Pete Weyer, says that the latest research shows negative health impacts—particularly cancer—for infants and even adults at a much lower limit.

"Years ago, we thought the [10 parts per million] level was good enough, but now we see it’s not," he says. "We've been looking at cancer and birth defects as possible outcomes from nitrate in drinking water, and doing some research in Iowa over the years, and it's shown that we have some associations with some cancers related to nitrate in the drinking water, as well as birth defects."

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Weyer, as well as Neil Hamilton, professor of law and director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University, and State Senator David Johnson of Ocheyedan. They discuss drinking water contamination as well as new and emerging threats to quality drinking water. 

Learn about the Iowa Cyber Hub - River to River

The second half of the show is a conversation about cybersecurity. Cyber-attacks are on the rise in the U.S., at a time when there’s a shortage of cybersecurity workers.

Last year, there were one million job openings in the field worldwide, and the cybersecurity research and market intelligence firm, Cybersecurity Ventures, predicts that cybercrime will more than triple the number of job openings over the next 5 years – meaning there will be 3.5 million cybersecurity job openings worldwide by 2021.

In this segment, Kieffer talks with those involved in the newly created Iowa Cyber Hub that's addressing the severe shortage of cybersecurity workers in Iowa. The Iowa Cyber Hub is a partnership between DMACC (Des Moines Area Community College) and Iowa State University.

Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River