Waterloo, Muscatine, and Burlington Have Most Cancer-Causing Air Pollution in Iowa
On November 2 of this year, Al Shaw, Lylla Younes, and Ava Kofman came together for projects.propublica.org to put together a report of The Most Detailed Map of Cancer-Causing Industrial Air Pollution in the U.S.
According to the site,
ProPublica’s analysis of five years of modeled EPA data identified more than 1,000 toxic hot spots across the country and found that an estimated 250,000 people living in them may be exposed to levels of excess cancer risk that the EPA deems unacceptable.
Not so surprisingly, Iowa was not a state that held a plethora of cities with major, cancer-causing pollution filling the air. Cities and states like Port Arthur, Texas, Hawesville, Kentucky, and Radford, Virginia were listed towards the top.
The Hawkeye State is not without its problems, though. Small towns like Corning, Lenox, Pella, and Newton are above the EPA's recommended level of risk.
While there were other areas of concern in the state, Waterloo, Muscatine, and Burlington were the key points of highest danger when it comes to air-pollution caused cancer.
Waterloo's hot spot near John Deere Waterloo Works Drivetrain Operations and Foundry leaves residents with a 1 in 2,900 chance of getting some form of cancer over their lifetime. Per the site, this specific industrial area "contributes 99.9% of the estimated excess cancer risk there." Chromium, Chromium compounds, Benzene and others carcinogens are the prevalent pollutants.
For the area near Muscatine, Harsco Metals contributes 99.9% of the estimated cancer risk, leaving those in there with a 1 in 3,400 chance. Chromium and Nickel compounds are the known pollutants.
In and around Burlington, there are several places that have added to the issue over the last five years. Modern Welding Co. of Iowa Inc. puts 99.6% of the contaminants in the air. though. Chromium and Nickel are the problem factors. Burlington's risk has significantly dropped, though. Starting in 2016 the risk dropped significantly. ProPublica did not specific as to why the air pollutants dropped here, but the site did have this to say:
The risk within a hot spot varies widely based on weather patterns and proximity to facilities. Some facilities that contribute to the risk here may be in other nearby hot spots.