Officials launch decade-long study on pesticide contamination in Nebraska

State public health and environment officials are studying the effects of using treated seed corn at an eastern Nebraska ethanol plant.

The 10-year, $10 million dollar study looks at how insecticides and fungicides found in wet cake or distiller’s grain at the AltEn plant near Mead are harmful to the environment.

Eleanor Rogan is the department chair of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health with the University of Nebraska Medical Center “We will be analyzing them in samples of the air, which has dust in it and then surface water and then eventually ground water that’s gone down through the soil and the area surrounding the plant.”

She tells Brownfield the study will determine the extent of the contamination. “We want to see what the levels of the toxins maybe in the air and water and to see how far they might have traveled,” Rogan said. “That’s two questions we’re asking. We’re also going to look at wildlife in the vicinity to see if they have been infected.”

She says they’ll begin taking samples over the next two weeks with early results expected in a few months. 

The study is a joint effort between UNMC and researchers at Creighton University.  The other half of the study investigates the effects on human health.  Rogan says they’re searching for state, public, and private funding.

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