The Stream, September 20, 2019: Chemicals in U.S. Tap Water Could Cause up to 100,000 Cancer Cases

The Global Rundown

Chemical contamination in U.S. tap water could cause up to 100,000 cancer cases over a lifetime. Drought and high temperatures cause a large fish kill in Lake Koroneia in northern Greece. Tropical Depression Imelda deluges parts of Texas with heavy rainfall. A report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) states that algae blooms have occurred in 41 U.S. states so far this year. As rainfall becomes more erratic, indigenous farmers in Costa Rica begin adapting to climate change.

“Before, you already knew in which months you could grow beans. But there are changes now. If we sow on the dates we used to, the rain comes early and we can no longer collect on time. You can’t be sure anymore.” –Maura Lupario, a farmer in southern Costa Rica, in reference to the unpredictable weather patterns brought on by a changing climate. Lupario and other indigenous farmers are reorganizing and diversifying their farms in hopes of boosting sustainability. Reuters

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By The Numbers

41 U.S. states that have experienced algae blooms this year, according to the EWG, which also notes that the overall number of reported algae blooms has increased 22 percent compared to this time last year. Scientists say that the frequency of blooms, which are sometimes toxic to humans and animals, is likely to keep increasing due to pollution and climate change. Reuters 

2.8 meters (9 feet) Depth of Greece’s Lake Koroneia in 2014. As of 2019, water levels in the lake have dipped as low as 60 centimeters (1 foot) due to high temperatures and dry conditions. Recently, thousands of fish washed up onshore in the lake’s fourth large fish kill since 1995.

Science, Studies, and Reports

A new analysis by the Environmental Working Group calculated the health impacts of 22 carcinogenic contaminants across nearly 50,000 public water systems in the U.S. The results of the study show that chemical contamination in tap water may cause up to 100,000 more cancer cases in the U.S. over a lifetime. Most of the risk comes from naturally-occurring arsenic, disinfection byproducts, and radioactive contaminants. The Guardian

On the Radar

Slow-moving Tropical Depression Imelda is deluging southeastern Texas with rainfall and flash flooding, prompting Texas Governor Greg Abbott to declare a state of emergency in 13 counties. Forecasts show that some areas could receive up to 35 inches of rain by Friday evening. NPR

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