The Wall Street Journal has published a series of data visualizations showing that heavy rainfalls are flushing an increasing amount of nitrates from farms into the Mississippi River, thus contaminating the river. Nitrates are used in fertilizers but are associated with birth defects, thyroid problems, and cancer. The visualizations show that the Mississippi River Basin is experiencing an agricultural boom and that Iowa, which is 70 percent farmland, has tripled the annual amount of nitrate it sends into the river since 2000.
Visualizing the Pollution of the Mississippi River
Michael McLaughlin is a research analyst at the Center for Data Innovation. He researches and writes about a variety of issues related to information technology and Internet policy, including digital platforms, e-government, and artificial intelligence. Michael graduated from Wake Forest University, where he majored in Communication with Minors in Politics and International Affairs and Journalism. He received his Master’s in Communication at Stanford University, specializing in Data Journalism.
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