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Latinos in agricultural areas exposed more to groundwater contamination

 

Narrator:       This is Science Today. New research has revealed that Latino communities in California's San Joaquin Valley are exposed to disproportionately high levels of the agricultural chemical nitrate through their drinking water. Researcher Carolina Balazs of the University of California, Berkeley's Energy Resources Group, explains.

Balazs:           What we found is that Latinos are disproportionately impacted by higher nitrate levels. These trends are particularly strong in smaller water systems, so these are water systems that have fewer resources where we see some of the biggest disparities. And a lot of those systems are farm-working communities.

Narrator:       Agricultural communities in California, which tend to have larger Latino populations, are at the greatest risk of groundwater nitrate contamination, because common fertilizers contain high doses of the chemical.

Balazs:           There are key health implications with nitrate contamination. At high levels, babies develop "blue baby syndrome," which can be fatal; and there are reproductive effects that can harm women. And there's potential links with thyroid cancer.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.