Hot enough for ya? Toxic enough? Scary enough?
Indiana is profoundly challenged from all sides, literally and figuratively, when it comes to its environment.
The following stories address aspects of that, because we couldn’t possibly encompass our beleaguered landscape in one issue. Nor do we want to evoke just the doom of our situation. There are remediation efforts, and we’ll detail some of those.
The release of this print issue coincides with an ambitious project for our website. We created a glossary of definitions for toxins, plus explanations of commonly used, but sometimes misunderstood, environmental terms. We have also assembled a database of organizations you can support and actions that you can take. If we’ve missed your organization, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our eco-challenges are giant, but the good news is they can only be solved on a local level. We’ll need all of us to pitch in; so let’s get on it.
Indiana by the numbers list:
compiled by Jordan Martich and Josh Watson
Indiana is home to 6.5 million people (U.S. Census 2011)
14.8 million acres of land used for agriculture.
Fossil fuels are the predominant energy sources for Indiana.
Coal provides fuel for more than 50 percent of all energy consumed in Indiana and about 95 percent of the energy for the generation of electricity.
Petroleum accounts for 30 percent of all energy used in the state and natural gas an additional 18 percent.
Less than 2 percent comes from biomass and hydroelectric power.
4,578 oil wells exist in Indiana, most of them in the southwestern area.
(U.S. Energy Information Administration)
No. 3 state in toxic air emissions.
No. 3 state in sulfur dioxide emission (384,961 metric tons in 2010).
No. 4 state in carbon dioxide emissions (116,282,506 metric tons in 2010).
No. 5 state in mortality risk rate due to coal emissions.
Air toxins emitted from coal-fired power plants can cause cancer, damage the liver, kidney, nervous, and circulatory systems, and respiratory effects, including asthma, decreased lung function, and bronchitis.
It is estimated that proposed EPA regulations on a national level will prevent between 6,800 and 17,000 premature deaths from power plant air toxins each year, and will result in annual savings of $48 billion to $140 billion.
Indiana has roughly 2,000 confined feeding operations, 628 of which are the larger CAFOs.
CAFOs are responsible for about 80 percent of all livestock raised in Indiana which includes approximately 850,000 cows and calves, 3,650,000 hogs and pigs, and more than 42 million birds per year.
A single livestock operation with 5,000 pigs is estimated to produce the same amount of raw sewage as a town of 20,000 people.
A single dairy cow produces 148 lbs of manure per day. 45,917,000,000 lbs of manure is estimated in a year from Indiana cows alone.
Swine CAFOs have been linked to the dangerous MRSA bacterial disease. Outbreaks in Camden, Ind., made national news in The New York Times, as more than 50 contracted the infection in a town of just over 500.
16th highest rate of adult obesity in the nation, at 27.4 percent.
31st highest of overweight youths (ages 10-17) at 29.9 percent, according to a new report by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
We have 72 total landfill facilities in the state, occupying 3,658 acres of land (IDEM 2008).
In 2008 we deposited 16,030,976 tons of waste into our landfills.
65 percent of Indiana’s waste stream could be reclaimed through composting and recycling, according to a recent (May 25, 2012) Purdue study submitted to IDEM.
We have the highest percent of plastic in our waste stream of any state in the country (16.7 percent)
In 2010 the EPA estimated every American throws away 4.43 lbs of waste day. According to IDEM 2008 (10,687,317 tons municipal solid waste per year) statistics and the 2011 Census data (6,516,922 people), Indiana residents throw away approximately 9lbs per day.
In 2008, we buried 2,889,984 tons of waste from out of state sources.
No. 1 state in water pollution by Environment America, a citizen-funded advocacy group.
Overall, contaminants in Indiana waterways include pesticides, priority organics, copper, lead, ammonia, cyanide, low dissolved oxygen, total dissolved solids and chlorides, habitat alterations, oil and grease.
Specifically, the Rockport, Ind., AK Steel plant is one of the biggest toxic water polluters nationwide.
30,321,380 lbs of toxic chemicals per year.
67,205 tons of sulfur dioxide per year.
21,122 tons of nitrogen oxides per year.
17,422,315 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
1,492 lbs of mercury per year.
Nearly 60 percent of Indiana’s land is devoted to agriculture. Of Indiana’s 23 million total acres of land, 13.4 million acres are devoted to crops. The state’s agricultural economy is dependent on health of the soil.
Contaminants in our soil can be found on roadways, in older homes, near brownfields (property contaminated with a hazardous pollutant), near lead smelters and in enriched soils near contaminated sites.
Lead naturally occurs in soil at 10 parts per million. A 2011 study conducted by IUPUI Center for Urban Health found that average soil samples in Indiana have 200 ppm, with some areas reaching 2,300 ppm or more.
2,270 brownfield sites are listed by the Indiana Brownfields Program. This is not an inventory of all brownfield sites in Indiana, but rather those sites at which the Indiana Brownfields Program has considered or provided financial, legal or technical assistance.
In Indianapolis alone there are over 162 brownfields.
In pre-settlement times Indiana was approximately 23,157,000 acres in total area and approximately 85 percent, or 19,683,450 acres were forested.
By 1900, the forested acreage of Indiana had been cut down to an estimated 7 percent, or 1,620,990 acres.
Today, state forest properties have approximately 148,650 acres of land, of which 20,000 acres do not have timber management as one of the objectives at this time.
All five pieces of the Squandered Indiana series can be found here.