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Juan and Maria had been trying to have a baby for 2 years. Their first child, Elaina, conceived before they moved to their current home and born without a problem, was now 4 1⁄2 years old. But yesterday, Maria experienced her third miscarriage in the past 14 months. Before they moved into their current home, about 3 years ago, Juan and Maria had taken a sample of the well water and had it tested. At that time, the water was determined to be safe to drink. Six months after that, however, a large-scale, rural hog farm had been built less than one-half mile away and began operations shortly afterward. At first, the smell wasn’t noticeable, but now the stench from the huge waste lagoon was evident most days. State inspectors had made several visits to the operation in the past year. Juan wondered whether the water in their well was still safe to drink. He decided to have their well water tested again.
Read the scenario at the beginning of Chapter 14 (p. 407). Then reflect on the questions that follow.
- Many people like Juan and Maria live where industrial poultry or livestock operations have become established. List three additional precautions Juan and Maria could have taken to protect their health before moving into their current home.
- Suppose the well water is found to contain high levels of nitrates. Assuming that Juan and Maria cannot move, what steps could they take to improve their chances of a successful pregnancy? What might they do to restore the safety of their well water? What local, state, or federal agencies might be able to help them? A term used to describe situations in which undesirable industries or waste disposal sites are preferentially located in minority areas is environmental injustice. Is there anything about Juan and Maria’s situation that might suggest that theirs is a case of environmental injustice?
- Are industrial hog farms a problem in the county or state where you live? What about cattle feedlots? What are your state’s regulations regarding the establishment of huge factory farms?
- Not only must residents who live in rural communities be aware of water contamination, but they also must be aware of air pollution and soil toxicity. Prior to reading this scenario, were you aware of the dangers posed to these residents?
The Environmental Health assignment
Carefully review the Grading Rubric (Links to an external site.) for the criteria that will be used to evaluate your assignment.