New study links nitrate pollution in water to birth defects

Local health officials say water is OK

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A new study released today identified a link between nitrate pollution in water and crippling birth defects.

The study released by Texas A&M explains how contaminated water can cause spina bifida, cleft palate, and missing limbs in newborns.

Nitrate contamination effects nearly 250,000 people from Fresno down to Bakersfield, but health officials say residents in the Kern County area do not have to worry.

"When you look at the study itself, it may not be conclusive," said Donna Fenton, from the county's Environmental Health Services.

Fenton explained that many homes in the county are set up with public water, therefore, the water is already tested for nitrate.

"In most cases your on a water system that has many users and is required to reduce that nitrogen," said Fenton.

Private wells, which are more prone to contamination, need to be checked regularly. Yet, as long as they have the right filtration system, they should not pose a health problem.

Although nitrate levels are blamed on farming agriculture methods, such as, fertilization. Benjamin McFarland with the Kern County Farm Bureau said the farming is trying to do what they can to keep levels low.

"The farm bureau has sponsored many bills to get money to those folks in the communities that need filtration systems," he said.

If you are still worried about the water in your area, Fenton advised calling your water company and asking for a quality water report.


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