Forest City to Test Water for Lead and not Nitrates

Many Forest City residents will be subject to inspection by the Forest City Water Department. The purpose of the testing is to check for lead and contaminants in the water says Forest City Water Department Director Kevin Reicks.

The test does not include a check for nitrates. A nationwide study shows some north Iowans are at an increased risk of health effects from nitrate exposure. Researchers from the Environmental Working Group and Duke University estimate as many as 12,000 cancer cases each year nationwide may be linked to nitrates in drinking water. Alexis Temkin is one of the authors of the paper, published in the journal Environmental Research.

Forest City residents don’t have to worry about nitrate issues because of the unique way the city water department gathers its water.

Because the wells used by the city are deep wells, nitrates are naturally filtered out before they reach the water. The wells are also capped to keep out any damaging chemicals from reaching the water. City officials continually test the water for nitrates and other harmful chemicals. So far, the tests prove that the water is free of these dangers.

For those that are outside of city limits, a check of their water should always be a necessity. The current federal limit on nitrates in drinking water is ten parts per million, but recent studies suggest the risk of certain cancers and birth defects increases even at lower levels. Temkin says she and her co-authors tallied the potential cases.

Temkin says agricultural states like Iowa and California are at greater risk, due to the use of nitrate-rich fertilizer and manure. It is not clear if the study took into account metropolitan areas with higher populations and the runoff into sewer systems from lawns where fertilizers and chemicals are used for lawn care.

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