By The Guardian
It has been just over a year since state regulators stepped in to close down the AltEn LLC ethanol plant on the outskirts of Mead, Nebraska, a small village of about 500 people near Omaha. The plant was found to be the source of huge quantities of toxic, pesticide-laced waste, which was stored in lagoons and piled into hills of a putrid lime-green mash. That waste then was accidentally spilled and intentionally spread throughout the area, including on to farm fields and into waterways that provide drinking water for people and wildlife several miles downstream.
Researchers from the University of Nebraska, including Jesse Bell, DWFI Director of Water, Climate and Health, Dan Snow, Water Sciences Lab Director and DWFI Faculty Fellows Eleanor Rogan, Elizabeth VanWormer and Shannon Bartelt-Hunt, are launching a study to try to assess if there are any long-term health impacts from the contamination. They will soon start collecting blood and urine from people in the area looking for pesticide contamination, and they have set up an online human health survey to gather more information.
“We think that some of the human health consequences of this are not going to show up in a few days, they are going to show up maybe in a few years,” said Rogan, interim chair of the department of health promotion, College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.