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Newscast 03.23.23: Water quality in Sioux City; High levels of toxic PFAS; NE lawmakers pass a bill on gender-affirming care for minors

Map of PFAS Sampling by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Map of PFAS Sampling by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources tests of water supplies show a level of toxic PFAS in the Sioux City area that are at the health advisory level.

(PFAS) are chemicals used in water-resistant, stain-resistant, and heat-resistant products such as carpets, clothing, fire-fighting foams, non-stick pans, and food packaging. Ingestion may increase cancer risk, affect the ability to become pregnant, and interfere with pancreatic, thyroid, and liver function.

The DNR began sampling public water systems in October 2021.

And the 2022 Sioux City Water quality report shows that drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk. Immunocompromised persons such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections.

Iowa doctors may not provide gender-affirming care to transgender minors, and transgender students may not use school bathrooms that align with their gender identity under two laws signed Wednesday by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Today the Nebraska Legislature voted to advance a contentious bill that would ban gender-affirming care for minors, despite threats from some lawmakers that they would filibuster the rest of the session.

The vote came on the third day of debate, in which lawmakers angrily accused one another of hypocrisy and a lack of collegiality early on.

Members of the LGBTQ community who had gathered in the Capitol to protest the bill showed their displeasure with the outcome, booing and cursing lawmakers who voted to advance it as they left the legislative floor.

A new report downgraded Iowa’s ranking for public health preparedness as compared to last year.

The report by the non-profit Trust for America’s Health placed Iowa in the middle tier for its preparedness. It was in the top tier last year.

Dara [DAH-ruh] Lieberman is with the non-profit. She says part of the reason for the change is because Iowa has remained flat in certain areas, like public health funding, where other states have made improvements.

But she says in some areas, like flu shots and water safety, Iowa now exceeds the national average.

Lieberman says overall, the report stresses the importance of investing in public health.

House Speaker Pat Grassley says Republicans in the House plan to increase the rate at Iowa nursing homes are paid to care for residents enrolled in Medicaid.

The Medicaid program pays for the care of over half of Iowa nursing home residents. Grassley says the current reimbursement rate was set before COVID hit, based on nursing home costs in 2018. Since then, nursing homes have been dealing with inflation and paying higher wages to try to keep and attract workers. Seventeen nursing homes closed last year due to financial strain and advocates warn more closures will happen if the Medicaid reimbursement rate doesn’t rise.

Sixteen Sioux City Community School District schools have received Energy Star Certification for achieving strict EPA energy performance standards. Energy Star-certified buildings save energy and money and help protect the environment by generating fewer greenhouse gas emissions than typical buildings.

To be eligible for Energy Star Certification, a building must earn an Energy Star score of 75 or higher on EPA’s 1 to 100 scale, indicating it performs better than at least 75 percent of similar buildings nationwide. The score is based on the actual measured energy use of a building.

Buildings are also required to have 12 months of recorded data and cannot be occupied by more than 15 percent of pre-kindergarten students to be eligible for the certification. Certification is given on an annual basis. Buildings must maintain high performance to be certified annually.

Bryant Elementary School, Sunnyside Elementary School, Spalding Park Environmental Sciences Elementary School, Liberty Elementary School, Riverside Elementary School, Leeds Elementary School, Irving Dual Language Elementary School, Unity Elementary School, Loess Hills Computer Programming Elementary School, Morningside STEM Elementary School, Perry Creek Elementary School, East Middle School, West Middle School, North Middle School, North High School, and East High School.

This weekend, a 2024 GOP presidential hopeful is making a pair of stops in Crawford County with the Iowa Caucuses less than 11 months away.

Vivek Ramaswamy, a biotech businessman, investor, and author of "Woke, Inc.", is visiting the Bella Sera Restaurant in Denison, Iowa, at noon Saturday for a meet-and-greet event and then attending a "Crawford County for Life Rally" at the Our Savior Lutheran Church at 2 p.m., Sunday.

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