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Our Troubled Waters

The first forum– Our Troubled Waters – was held at Willey Hall on the University of Minnesota’s West Bank on March 6 from 10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Kathy Lee, program manager with the US Geological Survey gave a presentation about the contaminants researchers have measured in the effluent from wastewater treatment facilities. Dr. David Wallinga, Food and Health Director at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, discussed the known health effects of those contaminants, and Representative Paul Gardner described policy initiatives to reduce the negative effects on Minnesota’s water.

An emerging water quality concern is the detection of chemicals from pharmaceuticals and personal care products that are not effectively treated by wastewater treatment plants or septic systems. Some of these chemicals may mimic or block normal hormonal function in animals and humans, and others disrupt the neurodevelopment of fetuses, babies, and young children. Many of these compounds are being found in our streams, lakes and aquifers and have also been found in treated drinking water in homes throughout the nation.

A study along the Mississippi River from Bemidji to the Iowa border found feminization (presence of female egg yolk protein) of male fish at approximately 50% of all sampling sites that correlated to detected levels of endocrine disrupting compounds.

Concerns about health risks of these varied chemicals include a lack of understanding about the risks of cumulative lifetime exposures and concentrations in sensitive subpopulations such as children, as well as the effects of complex mixtures and possible synergistic effects of these compounds. Growing evidence indicates that chemical mixtures can act collectively to cause adverse effects, even when each component is below its individual effect level.

Individuals can make a difference in keeping these compounds out of wastewater and water resources by making informed choices about products to use and by properly disposing of unused pharmaceuticals.

Resources for this forum are listed below.

Safe Drug Disposal Act

03/03/10 Strib article on Drop off Program for Unwanted Pill

Minnesota research probes enocrine disruptor threat

Reconnaissance of Organic Wastewater Indicators in Minnesota Water Resources

Water Resources of Minnesota

Ecological Medicine

New Report Demonstrates Reductions in Toxic Chemical Exposure Would Make Americans Healthier, Wealthier

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families

The Health Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act:  Executive Summary

Pretty Scary:  Heavy Metals in Face Paints


Pharmacetical Wastes in Health Care Facilities

Water is Life:  Protecting a Critical Resource for Future Generations

Where Does Your Water Come From?

To the Source: Moving Minnesota's Water Governance Upstream
This Citizens League 2009 report states that the principal causes of water impairments are widespread 'nonpoint sources' of pollution, coming from behaviors on the land across the state. We are all contributors to this type of pollution and, rather than relying on government to solve our water issues (something it cannot do alone), we all need to be part of the solution. "[T]he people and organizations that contribute to water problems must play a central role in the actions and decision making to address these problems. Minnesota needs a model of water governance that takes advantage of the imagination and capacity of the public to confront these challenges."

Minnesota Research on Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDCs)

EDCs: What is their impact on humans?

A key recommendation is that Minnesota redesign government roles and responsibilities to promote a collaborative model with the public and among government entities, including state and local entities.


Facts Sheets below---Groundwater Sustainability, Groundwater Quality and the Value of Water

 Groundwater Quality Fact Sheet  
 Groundwater Sustainability Fact Sheet  
 Value of Water  

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