Study: Early Results Show Fertilizer Chemicals in Drinking Water Could Lead to Pediatric Cancer

Feb. 16, 2022, 2:53 p.m. ·

Eleanor Rogan poses for a photo in a black-and-white top and a yellow jacket.
Eleanor Rogan is a Public Health expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. (Photo courtesy of UNMC)

High amounts of fertilizer and other ag chemicals in Nebraska drinking water could be increasing the rates of childhood cancer. A study from the University of Nebraska Medical Center is testing ground and surface water in select rural areas as part of the research.

The study’s early data show a correlation between places with high chemical content and areas with high pediatric cancer rates, especially central nervous system tumors, leukemia, and lymphoma. Dr. Eleanor Rogan is a researcher for UNMC’s study and said it’s important to check your drinking water.

“At the moment, what we’re doing is encouraging people to have their well water tested, if they don’t happen to be one of the farms where we happen to be testing it,” Rogan said.

Rogan said there are two bills presented in the Nebraska Legislature that could help the situation. One would provide more reverse osmosis filtering systems to rural areas, even for private wells. The other would help educate farmers on how to prevent nitrate contamination in drinking water, the common chemical in agricultural fertilizer.