A new study shows evidence that Iowa is one of the worst offending states in the country for harmful chemical emissions. The air emissions from manufacturing, power, chemical and other plants increased to 18.7 million pounds (6%) over four years. Most other U.S. states (35) reduced their harmful emissions in the same time span. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources deny the claim that the air quality is as bad as this report indicates, stating that the overall air quality has in fact improved. The worst-ranked facility in Iowa is Climax Molybdenum Company in Fort Madison that produces chemicals to be used in manufacturing steel. This facility alone is reported to have released 4.4 million pounds of toxic chemicals, including ammonia, into the atmosphere in 2014. The company reports it has opened a phone line for residents to call with questions and concerns about the facility's emissions. It also states it is working on new technology to reduce harmful emissions and is committed to producing cleaner air.
The study ranks Iowa as the 17th worst state for toxic air emissions and the 19th worst for its industrial greenhouse gas emissions, both of which contribute directly to global warming. Moreover, the chemicals being emitted have not been closely studied for the harmful effects on humans. However, people living next to the facilities have reported illnesses directly related to their close exposure to the plants, including headaches, breathing problems, burning eyes and noses, among other complaints. In addition, when the chemicals are emitted into the air, they eventually fall back to Earth and into the ground water, polluting the water supplies with nitrogen. Iowa is already dealing with nitrates in the ground from farms and trying to prevent runoff into groundwater. Emissions from chemicals plants is just another added factor Iowa must deal with in trying to prevent pollution and contamination of its resources.