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Author: Wisconsin Watch

Children exposed to lead in drinking water at schools and day care

Gaps in federal drinking water standards enforced by state leave sites untested, numerous lead service lines remain. Almost two weeks into the school year, Melissa Corrigan got an email from the principal and superintendent of her daughters’ elementary school. Water from four West Middleton Elementary School faucets taken Sept. 1, the first day of school, had tested high for levels of lead or copper. As a safety precaution, the school would provide bottled water to students until the issue was resolved. Corrigan — whose daughters Brooklyn and Carly are in first and fourth grades — thought little of the...

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In wake of Flint crisis, Wisconsin DNR testing remains outdated

The Department of Natural Resources has not alerted public water systems to stop flushing before testing, which can understate the level of lead in drinking water. Nine months after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warned against flushing water systems before testing for lead, the state Department of Natural Resources has not yet passed that advice on to public water systems in Wisconsin. The EPA issued a memo in late February as the lead-in-drinking-water crisis in Flint, Michigan was exploding into public view. The memo, intended to clear up confusion over testing procedures, declared that flushing water systems before sampling...

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Milwaukee families suffer as cost of prescription drugs skyrocket

Costs of widely prescribed drugs jumped up to 5,241 percent in recent years, joint investigation shows. University of Wisconsin doctor says this is what families agonize over. Jess Franz-Christensen did not realize the seriousness of her son’s Type 1 diabetes diagnosis until staff in the doctor’s office offered to call an ambulance to take him to the hospital. Her next shock: The cost of Jack’s medicines. The drugs, administered through an insulin pump, cost $1,200 a month. “We’re really fortunate. We’re able to pay for stuff,” said Franz-Christensen, whose husband, Scott, is a physicist, while she stays home to...

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Wisconsin Millennials could influence 2016 elections

Dissatisfaction with the two-party system, mobility and a different view of politics are features of voters 18 to 35 who make up one-third of the voting age population. Millennials get a bad rap. They’re labeled narcissistic, self-absorbed and apathetic. (Just look at their nicknames: the selfie generation, generation me, the unemployables.) And they’re the least likely generation to turn up at the polls this November. However, many young Americans do care about politics. They may just show it differently than their parents. At a recent Black and Brown Vote event at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, many of the attendees...

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Pesticide rules fail to protect Wisconsin’s drinking water

A 2007 survey of private drinking water wells found 1 out of 3 had pesticides or their breakdown chemicals; farm groups oppose push for tougher atrazine rules. In 2014, Doug and Dawn Reeves discovered the well supplying water to their home in rural Stoughton was contaminated with atrazine, despite the fact that they live in an area where use of the pesticide has been banned for 20 years. During an Easter celebration that year, their son Jacob, fell ill, his body swelling up. Then he developed an unusual rash. After multiple hospital visits, a doctor at American Family Children’s...

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White working-class voters turn to Trump over frustration with Democrats

Although polls show Trump trails Democrat Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin, the Republican’s message likely will appeal to many rural Wisconsin voters. “The disenfranchised voter who has lost their job as a result of policies affecting the coal industry and other heavy manufacturing jobs are feeling very frustrated with Washington,” said Rex Repass, founder and CEO of Repass, a national public opinion research and strategic consulting firm. “Even though many are historically Democratic counties, they have become very red and very angry.” University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor Kathy Cramer also found discontent among Wisconsin’s mostly white, rural residents while...

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