Water is essential to everyday life. It provides habitats for animals, feeds our crops, and is a vital necessity for us to live. If it’s that essential, why do we have the sixth worst waterways in the nation. Chris Janicek is ready to do something about it and keep our waters clean. The main issue is nitrate contamination. Nitrates not only hurt water habitats but also health problems. High concentrations of nitrates in water can create a “dead zone” meaning nitrogen becomes more abundant that the oxygen killing off the sea life like plants and fish that need it to survive. Nitrates also can affect human health. Although nitrates won’t hurt full grown adults, it can create condition in infants that could be lethal. If infants are drinking water or formula made with contaminated waters, they can develop a condition called infant methemoglobinemia better known as “blue-baby syndrome”. The high level of nitrates in the water reduces the amount of hemoglobin which carries oxygen throughout the infant’s body. Without sufficient oxygen, the infant will begin experiencing symptoms and without treatment can cause infant death.

You may ask where is this abundance of nitrates in our waters coming from? It is coming from widespread usage of fertilizers and pesticides and industrial facilities dumping toxic chemicals into rivers and streams. There are many alternatives to fertilizers, however at this moment, Nebraska relies on nitrogen-based fertilizers to promote growth and nitrogen-based pesticides to kill unwanted creatures. In 2012, Nebraskan industrial facilities dumped over 10 million pounds of toxic chemicals into our rivers exponentially increasing contamination rates in waterways. Now what can we do to change this? On an individual level, you can do many things like cutting back usage of fertilizers and pesticides on your yard, disposing of your trash properly, and conserving water. Along with these little changes, you can vote Chris Janieck who is committed lowering water pollution as well as fighting climate change head on in Washington.  

Air pollution is another aspect that needs to addressed both in state and nationwide in the climate change spectrum. For more than 20 years, Nebraska has remained an average middle contributor to air pollution with California at the top and New Hampshire at the bottom. A study, however, that came out in April 2019, showed that Nebraska is heading in the wrong direction. At the end of 2019, Omaha was ranked 64th out of 201 cities for most particle pollution. With a city with a population just under 500,000 people ranking with some big cities this is quite surprising and frightening. Now how is such a small city “competing” with the big boys. Nebraskan air pollution, in particular particle pollution, can be found anywhere from construction, to grain handling, and demolition. The three biggest contributors to any cities or states air pollution is industrial smokestacks pollution, automotive diesel exhaust emissions, and coal combustion.

Particulate pollution is dangerous for both humans and the environment. While some pollutant particles can give you cancer or disease, the most common health issues that result from particulate pollution involve the lungs and/or heart. Particulates are taken in when breathing and can penetrate deeply into lung tissue and either stick there forever or enter the bloodstream. Many particulates from automotive emissions and smokestacks are toxins that bioaccumulate (meaning your body cannot get rid of it) and will just sit in your lungs or bloodstream. Particulate pollution can lead to decreased lung function, chronic bronchitis, irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, and other respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Most common however is asthma and that has been directly linked to air pollution and air quality by the EPA. Particulate pollution also hurts the environment. With air streams and weather, particles often find themselves near either the North or South pole. When they land on the ice, the particle absorbs the sunlight and not only dissolves but causes a snowball effect to the ice around the particle.

How can we fight this? We will work in Washington for your interests and fight for bills fighting climate change but also benefit the everyday person. As a community or individual you can go green by switching to a hybrid or electric car, switching to green energy (i.e. solar or wind). You can also carpool, use public transport, bike, or walk to lower automobile emissions.