Iowa’s environmental protection efforts are carried out by the state Department of Natural Resources. The department’s activities in this sphere are overseen by the state Environmental Protection Commission, which establishes policies, guidelines, and rules.
Air quality in Iowa is generally quite good. Except for infrequent failures to meet the federal standard for carbon monoxide in the Des Moines and Mason City areas, the quality of the state’s air exceeds federal clean-air standards.
In 2008 Iowa had 11 hazardous waste sites on a federal priority list for cleanup because of their severity or proximity to people. Between 1995 and 2000, the amount of toxic chemicals discharged into the environment increased by 2 percent. The state has taken steps to reduce the disposal of household hazardous materials in landfills. Such materials include certain cleaning agents, solvents, used motor oil, paints, and insecticides. Since 1986 the state has sponsored “toxic cleanup days,” encouraging residents to take their household hazardous materials to centralized drop-off points in various counties for collection, treatment, and safe disposal. The state’s waste management authority has developed several programs to provide alternatives to landfill disposal, including curbside recycling and yard waste composting. Groundwater contamination has been the most widespread environmental problem in Iowa since at least 1970.
Groundwater provides much of the state’s drinking water. The major sources of groundwater pollution are agricultural chemicals, leaking underground storage tanks, agricultural drainage wells, livestock waste, and improperly managed hazardous substances. In 1987 the legislature passed a comprehensive groundwater protection act. The law maintains the state’s long-standing emphasis on a nonregulatory program of research, education, and monitoring. "Iowa" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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