Issues Facing Florida

You may be wondering about the devastating algae blooms that killed wildlife and fouled the air. That's one of the most visible problems in Florida, but sadly there are many other issues. Discharges of polluted water, leaking septic tanks, and fertilizer runoff are just a few things degrading water quality throughout the state. Our coastal estuaries and unique ecosystem is at risk. To make matters worse Florida is rapidly rising in population and there's a growing demand for drinking water which is depleting the state's underground supply. We depend on a healthy environment and need to do better at protecting Florida's environmentally sensitive land. Our health depends on it. If you want to learn more about the issues within your community begin your research below. 

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Environmental Issues 

Why is Florida’s tap water prone to contamination?

Florida May Not Be Testing Drinking Water Correctly, Says Government Memo:

Over 77 million people spread across all 50 states have been drinking from water systems that violate the Safe Drinking Water Act..." Florida is #2 on this list:

The state of Florida wants to weaken its restrictions on roughly two dozen cancer-causing chemicals that can be discharged into its rivers, lakes, streams and coastal waters.

Florida has the sixth highest number of hazardous waste sites, known as Superfund sites, in the United States. In 2016, the state was projected to have the second largest number of new cancer cases in the country.

Under Investigation

Bayshore High: "Cancer cluster" concerns at Bayshore High are under investigation.

Fort Pierce: Rare form of cancer sickens 11 people within seven mile radius.

Miami:  Higher-than-expected rates of pediatric cancers have been identified in the Miami metro area and an area west of the Everglades. 

Palm Bay: Harris Corp., has been cited for sloppy handling of hazardous waste, including cancer- causing pollutants, flammable solvents and sludge that could contaminate groundwater. 

Palm Beach County: At least 13 cases of brain cancer.

Patrick Air Force Base: Cancer-Causing Chemicals Detected In Groundwater At Patrick Air Force Base.

Seminole County: Researcher studies number of rare childhood brain cancer cases in Central Florida.

Southwest Florida: A closer look at where a cancer-causing chemical was found in SWFL tap water.

The Silence of the State: This is a story about pediatric cancer clusters in Florida.

Image by Ben White

No community is disease-free. Florida's health department is upfront with a basic truth about cancer-cluster investigations — that they rarely pinpoint a cause, environmental or otherwise.

Did You Know?

Class I and II surface water classification requires that the surface waters of each states be classified according to designated uses. Florida has six classes with associated designated uses, which are arranged in order of degree of protection required.

  • Class I: Portable water supplied fourteen vernal areas throughout he state including: impoundments and associated tributaries, certain lakes, rivers, or portions of rivers, used as drinking water supply.

  • Class II: Shellfish propagation or harvesting generally coastal waters where shellfish harvesting occurs.

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is the federal law that protects public drinking water supplies throughout the nation. Under the SDWA, EPA sets standards for drinking water quality and with its partners implements various technical and financial programs to ensure drinking water safety.

If a community has to do a "chlorine burn" it is a drinking water utilities first step in admitting something is wrong. The length of chlorine burns should be kept to a maximum of 21 days. An event such as a chlorine burn, a switch from chloramine to chlorine, is considered to be part of the normal operations of a system for periodic maintenance. Erin Brockovich

Dozens of EPA Superfund sites such as the gasification plant, which leaked dangerous chemicals in to the ground, still exist throughout Central Florida. Read More: Superfund Sites 

As of 2011, cancer is now the leading cause of death for Floridians, surpassing heart disease. In the three year period from 2009-2011, the total number of cancer deaths was 122,921. There's an average of 100,000 new cancers diagnosed and reported each years to the statewide caner registry, the Florida Cancer Data System. Florida Health 

Florida was projected to have the second largest number of new cancer cases in the United States. Tandfonline 

Hazardous waste permits provide treatment, storage, and disposal facilities with the legal authority to treat, store, or dispose of hazardous waste. Source: EPA Hazardous Waste Permitting 

"Dr. Amin’s statistical analysis of pediatric cancers in Florida – from the years 2000 to 2007 – concluded that there are significant cancer clusters in two large areas of Florida: the southern region of Florida and in northeast Florida. That struck one of the most sensitive nerves in state government." Source:

"A statewide increase in pediatric cancer rates that started in 2005. Five separate research teams from the group Science and Public Policy analyzed data from 2000-2010. Although their methodologies were different, they were all attempting to detect cancer clusters in the Florida area. "Unusually high" cancer rates." Source:

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