Arsenic In Private Wells, Spin And American Politics, Daily Fantasy Sports Betting

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Daily fantasy sports leagues have become big business in recent years, and lawmakers in Wisconsin and around the country are questioning their legality. Our guest explains how these leagues have gotten so big and why playing them isn’t always a sure thing. We also learn about the history of “spin” in politics, and explore the state’s continuing problem with arsenic in private wells.

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  • Dangerous Arsenic Levels Detected In Private Wells Across Wisconsin

    A new report shows high levels of arsenic have been detected in private wells in more than 50 counties around Wisconsin.

    The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism released the report over the weekend that shows that wells in certain areas, particularly in Outagamie and Winnebago counties, have more than 10 times the federal health standard.

    Experts say the high levels of arsenic are partially due to Wisconsin’s geographic make up, but studies show human activity can add to the problem as well.

    “First of all, we have to remember arsenic is a poison,” said Dee Hall, managing editor of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. “So, if you keep that in mind, you’ll recognize that it’s got wide ranging health effects, including cancer, nerve damage, diabetes cardiovascular problems.”

    In 2001, the parts per billion standard was lowered from 50 to 10 in recognition of arsenic’s severe consequences. Some private wells around the state are currently reporting levels around 50 parts per billion. Hall said the highest level detected over the last several years was 15,000 parts per billion.

    Hall said most private well owners don’t test for arsenic if they test at all. That’s a problem, she said, because arsenic can’t be detected by taste or discoloration. Moreover, private well owners don’t receive reminders through the mail or any other channel.

    “You are on your own when it comes to protecting the quality of your well when it comes to private wells,” she said.

    Public water supplies, however, are required to test for arsenic. Hall said, “You can be much more confident in the quality of your water coming from a public utility.”

    The problem is worse off in northeastern Wisconsin because the region is built on a particular kind of sandstone that when disturbed or exposed to oxygen mobilizes the arsenic. Both natural elements and man-made activities, well maintenance for example, can introduce oxygen to the sandstone and endanger the health of the water.

    Hall said owners of contaminated private wells do have several options, including installing reverse osmosis systems, relying on bottled water or drilling a new well. She added that some are able to join municipal water systems.

  • Arsenic Levels Cause Problems In Private Wells Across Wisconsin

    A recent report shows thousands of private wells across Wisconsin contain high levels of arsenic. A reporter takes us through the report and explains what resources are available for testing a well or digging a new one.

  • The History Of Political Spin, And How It's Being Used In Elections This Year

    Political “spin” gets a bad rap, but our guest says it’s necessary for an engaged and active democracy. A political scientist takes us through the history of spin and explains how it’s being used on the campaign trail this year.

  • New Fantasy Sports Leagues–Big Money, Big Backlash

    Weekly fantasy sports websites have quickly become big business–and face legal restrictions from state regulators, who say the sites are a form of illegal gambling. A sports writer shares the rapid rise of the new fantasy sports programs–and why they are likely a sucker’s game for most casual fans.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Matt Oleson Producer
  • Rob Ferrett Producer
  • Dee Hall Guest
  • David Greenberg Guest
  • Jay Caspian Kang Guest

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