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IWU Professor: EPA Rollbacks Raise Water Contamination Risk

corn plans sprouting in a field
David Mercer
Recently sprouted corn plants grow in a field in Savoy, Ill., on May 16, 2016

An environmental sciences instructor at Illinois Wesleyan University is concerned that the Trump administration's rollback of regulations could be making our drinking water less safe.

Assistant professor of environmental studies Aaron Wilson said the Waters of the U.S. rule, which the Trump administration rescinded in September, could have limited the spread of certain compounds that could come from fertilizers and agriculture chemicals that are prevalent on Central Illinois farmland.

Aaron Wilson headshot
Credit Illinois Wesleyan University
Assistant professor of environmental studies at Illinois Wesleyan University Aaron Wilson said the Waters of the U.S. rule could have limited the spread of certain compounds from farm chemicals that are prevalent near Central Illinois farmland.

“They can impact fish. If they get into the drinking water supply, they can impact humans,” Wilson explained. “It’s the fact that the very, very low concentration may have an effect, that I would say would be most concerning to me.”

Wilson's said his greatest worry is the presence of what are called endocrine disruptors.

“These are contaminants that can have effects at very low concentrations, there’s some evidence for that,” Wilson said. “They have effects on how children develop. They have effects on how your body regulates itself.”

Wilson says there's still scientific debate about what constitutes a safe level of certain chemicals, including atrazine.

The Trump administration called the Waters of the U.S. a regulatory overreach. The Environmental Protection Agency is developing its own guidelines for which waterways should be subject to government oversight.

Wilson was a guest on Illinois Public Media's The 21st show.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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