birds-eye view of a crop field

I want to get dangerous contaminants out of Iowa's soil and waterways and keep renewable energy front and center.

One of the perks of living in Iowa is the sprawling, clean landscape that surrounds us. We've used it to harvest healthy crops and capture wind energy across the state. But even if you don't see smog or brown water coming from the faucets, some sinister chemicals are hiding in plain sight. Living in Iowa typically comes with exposure to:

  • Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS): These "forever chemicals" are incredibly hard to get rid of. They've been linked to many adverse health outcomes, and the levels in Davenport and Muscatine far exceed new water safety thresholds.

  • Lead: Lead is still a major health concern, especially in Iowa, a state that ranks toward the top of the list for lead exposure. A 2021 study found that three quarters of children under 6 years old had detectable levels of lead in their blood — and no level is considered safe, especially for kids.

  • Fertilizers: All that farmland means there's a lot of fertilizer moving through our soil and waterways. Iowa and Illinois are two of the biggest culprits of "dead zones" in the Gulf of Mexico, which gets contaminated by fertilizers flowing down the Mississippi River. Farm fertilizers also supply nutrients to toxic algae blooms across Iowa.

Keeping Iowa citizens safe from these hazards doesn't happen by accident. As your candidate for Iowa Senate District 47, I'm committed to tackling these environmental issues and maintaining our state's strong renewable energy profile.


Read Dr. Mary Kathleen Figaro's Letters to the Editor on environmental policy.

Get the Lead Out

Published on May 31, 2022, in the Quad-City Times

​Bringing new life into this world can be as overwhelming as it is wonderful. As a doctor and mother, I know how new parents feel. That’s why I’m raising awareness about this important health risk. Lead in our tap water can devastate our most vulnerable. State officials must protect us from contaminated water. The EPA oversees states to ensure water testing for potentially dangerous lead amounts. Current officials know the most recent testing results for lead in Davenport water were barely under the threshold (15 ppb) mandating corrective action. No violations meant no trigger to put anti-corrosion plans in place for water pipes, and no requirement to warn the public. Lead affects everyone. The smaller the body, the worse the effect. The CDC and APA say no lead levels are “safe” for infants or young children. They’re much more likely to suffer lead-based damage to the brain, kidneys, nervous system, or even death. A recent study found that 76% of Iowa children under age six had the lead in their bloodstreams; the fourth-worst in the nation. As your next state senator, I pledge to protect the health of Iowa families; this is among my top priorities. It's crucial we do not let water safety become stagnant. It's critical that leaders act to safeguard our children’s lives. Dr. Mary Kathleen Figaro (Dr. Figaro is a Democratic candidate for the Iowa State Senate, District 47.)

Clean Water Essential for Good Health

Published on April 27, 2022, in the North Scott Press

Preserving water is vital to protecting our community. Clean, accessible water provides a physical boost and recreational opportunities to enrich our mindsets. But is it really that important for Iowa to dedicate funding for water rehabilitation? The answer is Yes! Since our bodies are 50-70 percent water, water is more essential than food. Now, consider that thousands of rural Iowa families have a greater risk of cancer and birth defects because of contaminated well water. In the recreational season of April-October, Racoon River E. coli levels exceed the protective threshold on more than half those days (50.2 percent). The prognosis of water in Iowa is grim, requiring care and rejuvenation right away. As a physician, I encourage patients to take “nature baths” to help combat health challenges. Chronic conditions are best treated by controlling, reducing, and reversing the damage. But we must return the favor by improving the quality of our local rivers, ponds, and streams – providing flood plains and limiting the spread of infectious diseases. Organizing or joining community clean-up events can be valuable. So can state-funded testing of water that flows from taps and fills wells and lakes. Our elected officials are responsible to guard us against health dangers from polluted water. ​ By making purification a priority for water we share in Iowa Senate District 47, we’ll simultaneously supplement our own health and save this precious resource for future generations. Let’s make time to ask our representatives to fight for the protection of our natural resources, health, and water! ​ Dr. Mary Kathleen Figaro (Dr. Figaro is a Democratic candidate for the Iowa State Senate, District 47.)