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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 12, 2007

Nov. 14 symposium marks 20 years of UI center, state groundwater protection

The University of Iowa Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination (CHEEC) will mark its 20th anniversary by hosting a symposium from 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Nov. 14, in Room S401 of the John Pappajohn Business Building on the UI campus.

The event also marks the 20th anniversary of the Iowa Groundwater Protection Act. The landmark legislation established comprehensive policies regarding groundwater contamination and the use of pesticides and fertilizers; the disposal of household hazardous wastes; and the maintenance of public and private wells, watersheds and wetlands. Today, much of this regulatory work is conducted under the direction the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa State University Extension.

The act -- passed by the Iowa General Assembly in May 1987 and signed into law by then-Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad -- also mandated the establishment of CHEEC to assess pollution's impact on human health; the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at ISU to study the agricultural impacts on groundwater quality; and the Iowa Waste Reduction Center at the University of Northern Iowa to help businesses properly handle and dispose of hazardous materials.

Leaders from CHEEC, the ISU Leopold Center, and the UNI Waster Reduction Center will attend the Nov. 14 symposium to discuss their groups' efforts over the past 20 years.

"The Iowa Groundwater Protection Act was groundbreaking legislation that many states across the U.S. used as a model to develop their own source-water protection programs," said Gene Parkin, CHEEC director. "CHEEC's research and education programs have focused on environmental public health issues, particularly water quality, that impact all Iowans."

Other symposium presenters include David Osterberg, professor of occupational and environmental health in the UI College of Public Health and a former state representative who was instrumental in the creation of the Iowa Groundwater Protection Act, and George Hallberg, a former UI and state DNR research scientist who will discuss future challenges for water and environmental health.

The Nov. 14 event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact CHEEC at 319-335-4550 or, or go online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, 319-335-8032,