Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Lumberton, North Carolina after Hurricane Florence. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Five days of flooding in North Carolina, the state with the second-most pigs in the United States, continues to submerge hog lagoons that set up residents nearby for a slew of health, air and environmental problems.

The big picture: North Carolina is home to nearly 10 million pigs, and as water rises more feces and urine from the pig-manure lagoons is exposed at a increasing rate. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality said its inspectors have been unable to visit the hardest hit areas or collect samples of the flood water for lab testing, per the Associated Press.

By the numbers: As of noon on Thursday, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality said 30 swine lagoons have overtopped, a number that more than doubled since Tuesday.

  • At least 132 hog lagoons are at risk and the number has continued to rise, according to data issued Thursday.
  • Six hog lagoons had suffered structural damage, another 40 have are at the brim, meaning overtopping is likely.
  • About 3.4 million chickens and turkeys and 5,500 hogs have been killed in flooding from Florence as rising North Carolina rivers swamped dozens of farm buildings where the animals were being raised for market, according to state officials.

Threat level: The lagoons, dug into the earth next to pig housing, are where the state’s more than 2,000 industrial-sized hog farms pump animal waste, which is then treated with waste-eating bacteria. The bacteria give lagoons a distinctive pink color.

  • Studies have shown hog lagoons, sometimes called concentrated feeding operations, can cause health problems for those who neighbor them naturally due to how they carry pathogens and unsafe chemicals.
  • The lagoons also have a large amount of nitrates, which can cause algae blooms that deprive fish of oxygen.
  • Also, excess nitrates that seep into water supplies can cause "blue baby syndrome," when nitrogen obstructs red blood cells' abilities to carry enough oxygen, causing a baby's skin to turn blue, according to the New York Times.

Reality check: The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality said it has limited resources in testing the harm the flooding is doing in real time, as flooding from all waterways "could last weeks," per a previous Axios report.

Go deeper: The ties between Hurricane Florence and climate change

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Key government agency says Biden transition can formally begin

General Services Administrator Emily Murphy. Photo: Alex Edelman/CNP/Getty Images

General Services Administrator Emily Murphy said in a letter to President-elect Joe Biden on Monday that she has determined the transition from the Trump administration can formally begin.

Why it matters: Murphy, a Trump appointee, had come under fire for delaying the so-called "ascertainment" and withholding the funds and information needed for the transition to begin while Trump's legal challenges played out.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Key information about the effective COVID-19 vaccines — Oxford and AstraZeneca's vaccine won't just go to rich countries.
  2. Health: U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations keep breaking recordsWhy we're numb to 250,000 deaths.
  3. World: England to impose stricter regional systemU.S. hotspots far outpacing Europe's — Portugal to ban domestic travel for national holidays.
  4. Economy: The biggest pandemic labor market drags.
  5. Sports: Coronavirus precautions leave college basketball schedule in flux.

Michigan board certifies Biden's win

Poll workers count absentee ballots in Detroit, Michigan on Nov. 4. Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers certified the state's election results on Monday, making President-elect Joe Biden's win there official and granting him the state's 16 electoral votes.

Why it matters: Republican Party leaders had unsuccessfully appealed to delay the official certification, amid the Trump campaign's failed legal challenges in key swing states.