Report: Issues in air, water quality, food safety found in Dane Co.

3 days in 2011, 2012 had contaminants that exceeded state, federal guidelines
Report: Issues in air, water quality, food safety found in Dane Co.

A report card on environmental quality in Madison and Dane County show positive results in recycling and water conservation, but challenges remain in air and water quality, and food safety.

The Environmental Health Report Card for Madison and Dane County for 2012 was released by Public Health Madison and Dane County Thursday. The report consists of data and analysis assessing air and water quality, and food and home safety.

According to the report, overall air quality is good, but the area continues to have some days when contaminants exceed state and federal guidelines. Three days during 2011 and 2012 had ground-level ozone concentrations that exceeded federal or state regulatory standards. The levels found on certain days can trigger or worsen asthma symptoms.

Recycling and water conservation results were positive, and reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and water use were reported.

“These are examples that demonstrate both the commitment of the community toward sustainability and the need to make sure that these efforts continue,” a release from PCHDC said.

The data showed an increase in chloride levels in Dane County lakes, which the report attributed to road salt.

“While current levels do not pose an immediate threat to human health, they could ultimately impact the ecology of our lakes,” the release said.

Two food-borne outbreaks were reported in 2011, and four were reported in 2012, according to the release. In 2011, there were 2,409 individual violations reported during 1,482 inspections of Dane County restaurants. In 2012, there were 2,550 violations reported during 1,420 inspections.

The most common violations reported during inspections were improper hand-washing, cross-contamination and unsafe food temperatures, officials said.

The study also looked at data on healthy homes and communities, and found that the percentage of reported cases of childhood lead poisoning continues to be low in the area, while the number of children tested for lead continues to increase.

Data on sustainability show approximately 73 percent of the generated waste in the city of Madison was diverted from the landfill by reuse, recycling or both in 2011, and 69 percent was diverted in 2012, according to the release. Per-capita use of drinking water has decreased since 2005 in the city and county despite the annual increase in municipal water customers.

The report was developed through a process involving specialists from environmental organizations, city, county and state government and the University of Wisconsin, according to the release.