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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 - World

HRW: Over 100 former Afghan security members dead or missing under Taliban rule

Members of the Taliban movement patrol Kabul's airport in September. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

The Taliban have "killed or forcibly disappeared" over 100 former members of Afghanistan's security forces since the group took power in August, a Human Rights Watch report published Tuesday found.

Why it matters: Former military members and officials from the ousted government, activists and other Taliban critics are facing peril amid executions driven by revenge — despite Taliban promises of an "amnesty" with no retributions, notes the New York Times, which first reported the news.

5 hours ago - World

Barbados becomes a republic, replacing U.K. queen with president

Combination images of Dame Sandra Mason, president of Barbados, and Britain's Prince Charles at her swearing-in ceremony in Bridgetown, Barbados, late Monday.

Barbados officially became a republic at midnight local time after Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as the Caribbean nation's first president in a ceremony attended by the United Kingdom's Prince Charles.

Why it matters: Mason replaced Britain's Queen Elizabeth as head of state Tuesday — removing the country's final remaining colonial tie to the U.K. almost 400 years after the first British ships arrived in Barbados.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.