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Updated by Environmental Illness Network Minnesota on Feb 18, 2017
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Minnesota Environmental Health Concerns

Which of these Minnesota environmental health topics is of most concern to you? What else would you add to this list?

3M's Hazardous Waste Incinerator

"Bets Thorkelson's opposition to 3M Co.'s hazardous waste incinerator began in the mid-1990s, when she learned that four moms of boys on her sons' hockey team had breast cancer."

3M's PFC Pollution

PFC pollution from 3M is a particular concern for cities like Woodbury, Oakdale, and Cottage Grove. To lean more about PFCs check out: And a connection to juvenile asthma has also been found: These pollutants are also still in the Mississippi River: The Pioneer Press reported that despite the recommendations of the Minnesota Department of Health not to stop, the State of Minnesota will no longer be monitoring PFC levels in Minnesotans' blood: Allan Muller reported in the Twin Cities Daily Planet that the PFC water pollution situation is even worse than had previously been believed: The StarTribune reported that "An analysis of PFC levels in residents of Cottage Grove, Lake Elmo and Oakdale confirms the cause-effect link between how much unfiltered water those people drank and the amount of the pervasive chemical compounds were found in their system."

Aerial "Pest Manaegment" By State and Local Government Agencies

Toxic pesticides have been found to harm human health: Nevertheless, state and local agencies have been known, over the years, to spray a variety of types of pesticides from the air using a variety of justifications for their human health-harmful actions. The question is, how well independently safety tested for human, plant, animal, and insect health are newer aerially sprayed pest control measures?

Air Pollution from Waste-to-Energy Incinerators

The above link is to the Twin Cities Daily Planet article: "Garbage burning decision still smoldering in Minneapolis." New nanomaterials that are being put in products that end up being burned as waste could make this type of energy production particularly health hazardous: You can learn more about health concerns about Minnesota Waste-to-Energy incinerators from the group Neighbors Against the Burner:

Air Pollution in North Minneapolis

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reported that: "[O]n several occasions monitoring results at the North Minneapolis site have been significantly different than other area sites, suggesting that local fine particle emissions sources may have contributed to intermittent increases in fine particle concentrations in the area around the North Minneapolis monitoring site."

Antibacterial Chemicals in Minnesota Rivers & Lakes

Carcinogenic dioxins are formed when antibacterial chemicals like triclosan break down in lakes and rivers. The level of antibacterial chemicals in the Mississippi River has increased more than 200% since the 1960's.

Climate Change: Minnesota is Heating Up Faster Than Many Other States

According to the following MPR article, Minnesota is among the top few fastest warming states in the US.: Climate change is one of the reasons Minnesota's fossil fuel consumption is a grave concern for many Minnesotans. Here is one legislator's take on how Minnesota's energy future needs to address climate change:

Coal Ash Pollution From Power Plants

The above linked article reports: "A new report released today by Earthjustice and the Sierra Club highlights the health threats from a toxic cancer-causing chemical and identifies 29 sites in 17 states with known contamination. Minnesota's Sherpo plant is on the list, with levels 5,000 times above proposed safety guidelines."

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Receipts, and in MANY Other Products

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is very concerned about our exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals like BPA in general, and BPA in receipts in particular. That is why the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is "Working to reduce BPA exposure from receipts." Low doses of endocrine disrupting chemicals may harm health:

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Water

The above linked MPR story reports that "Tiny amounts of chemicals in Minnesota lakes might be having a big effect on some fish populations." Low doses of endocrine disrupting chemicals aren't healthy for people either! You can read more on the topic of endocrine disrupting chemicals in Midwestern water in the Wisconsin Watch article "Experts avoid sounding alarm on chemicals — but adjust their own habits." The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency released this information about the extent of the problem: "MPCA studies find unregulated chemicals widespread in lakes and rivers."

Factory Farms

Minnesota is a major factory farming state. Factory farms often create water pollution. Poultry factory farms in Minnesota use arsenic, which can also be a hazardous pollutant. Also, the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms may be causing human needed antibiotics to become ineffective: and may be making people obese: b and Other factory farm livestock medications have raised health concerns as well:

You can check out the StarTribune article "Million-gallon cow manure spill fouls Root River tributaries " here: And you can read more about how factory farms threaten the health of Minnesotans from this MinnPost article:

Frac Sand

Silica sand, which is used for fracking, is so health hazardous that in workplaces it is regulated by OSHA. It is linked to a life-threatening lung disease called silicosis. Yet in Minnesota, frac sand can be found blowing around roads in some places, and being transported in uncovered railroad cars across the state; due to the newly booming frac sand mining industry.
Image via: Josh Miller from the “Stop Frac Sand Mining Solidarity Protest,” October 2012, Earl Brown Heritage Center, Brooklyn Center, MN.




From the fungi threatening the health of important pollinating bats to the aflatoxins threatening Minnesota GMO crops , fungi appear to be an increasing threat to Minnesota's agriculture. What is causing the surge in a wide variety of fungal problems across the country is not yet fully understood.

GMO Industrial Agriculture Appears to be Harming Minnesota Soil

Brian DeVore reports: "Good health starts with good soil, and ours has seen better days."

Hazardous Materials Being Transported Across Minnesota on Trains

The linked article reports: "The amount of crude oil being transported by rail has jumped substantially in the past couple of years as the Bakken oil fields have ramped up production. The result is a growing number of oil-laden trains moving across Minnesota to refineries around the United States..." The transport of Bakken Crude may come with increased hazards: Canadian tar sands are also being transported through Minnesota via train. Hazardous spills are already happening: And hazardous frac sand has also been encountered in Minnesota blowing off trains, and there has already been a frac sand train accident.

Mercury Poisoning (via Eating Toxic Fish)

Coal energy is known for causing air pollution saturated with mercury. Some of that mercury ends up in Minnesota lakes and rivers, and some of that ends up in fish that gets eaten by Minnesotans. Mercury can harm the brain, among other things. Information from the Minnesota Department of Health:

Mississippi River Degredation by Locks and Dams

IATP reported: "The locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River have significantly damaged—and continue to degrade—the Mississippi River."

Nanoparticles in the Sewage Sluge Being Used to Fertilize Many Minnesota Farms

The above link goes to an MPR story about the potential risks from nanoparticles in consumer products, sewage, and agriculture.

Nitrate Water Pollution

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued a troubling report about the severity of nitrate pollution in Minnesota water. And the report says that 70% of the nitrate pollution comes from cropland! Josephine Marcotty at the StarTribune reported: "Several [environmentalists] expect [the report] will inspire a debate about the fundamental problem — the agriculture industry’s reliance on just two crops — corn and soybeans, both of which are primary drivers of the pollutant.” Most corn and soy grown in Minnesota is GMO.

Nuclear Power Plants: Minnesota's are Old, with Radioactive Waste Piling Up

Two of Minnesota's nuclear reactors have had trouble after trouble recently, some of which have required emergency shutdowns. They also are storing radioactive waste on-site. Some of those living nearby are very concerned about how their health will be affected. Are old nuclear reactors safe to have in our backyard?

Oil Refinery Pollution

Oil refining is a dirty, polluting business. And Minnesota's refineries are making our air less healthy.

Oil Sands' Pipeline Through Minnesota. Risk of Spills...

"The pipeline, which began operating in 2010, brings up to 450,000 barrels of crude oil per day through northern Minnesota from the oil sands of Alberta, Canada." Here is an article about health risks from tar sand spills: And here is information about a tar sands pipeline spill that has already happened in Minnesota:

Oil/Tar Sands may Start Being Shipped on Lake Superior. Potential Spill Risks...

"A petroleum refiner is exploring whether to build a crude oil loading dock on Lake Superior, near its refinery in Superior, Wis., to ship crude oil on the Great Lakes. Jennifer Straumins, president of Calumet Specialty Product Partners, says the project would provide refineries more access to heavy crude oil from Canada as well as light crude from western North Dakota and eastern Montana." You can read an editorial, expressing concern about it, here:

Pesticide Drift

Pesticides, which have been linked to extremely health harmful consequences, are getting into Minnesota air and water (and rain). More on the topic here: Plus, a new pesticide (the main ingredient of which was used in Agent Orange, and is known to "drift") is likely to be used in huge quantities soon in Minnesota: For more on Pesticides & Health:

Pesticides are Being Used in Public Spaces

The above link takes you to a discussion on the Twin Cities Daily Planet website about how Monsanto's toxic pesticide Roundup is being used in Minneapolis parks. Minnesotans are becoming increasingly concerned about how pesticides harm health, which is why petitions are springing up to try to get them banned from public spaces. Here are two examples: and