Volunteers Sought for Tonawanda Coke Soil Study: One of Nation’s Largest Citizen Science Projects

In March 2014, Tonawanda Coke Corp. was ordered by a federal judge to fund a $711,000 soil study submitted by a group of Tonawandas’ community activists, calling themselves Citizen Science Community Resources (CSCR), in concert with the University at Buffalo and SUNY Fredonia.

In 2012, CSCR members and residents wondered if Tonawanda Coke emissions were responsible for the black soot pollution that was interfering with their quality of life. They also wondered if this mess had entered the soil in their backyards and was cause for a health concern. They grabbed a shovel, a few jars, dug samples in several yards and sent them to a nearby laboratory for testing. Many dangerous chemicals were found.

CSCR Director Jackie James-Creedon explains, “This project started with our community and continues with our community. We are offering this opportunity for anyone and everyone who is eager to learn about science, data collection, activism, and creating solutions to a potential environmental threat within our community”.

The University at Buffalo is leading the study with CSCR and SUNY Fredonia as collaborators. UB’s Chemistry Professor Dr. Joe Gardella, the Principal Investigator adds, “UB staff and students will be leading sampling teams for the largest part of the Phase 1 sampling from August through September. Over 270 samples will be collected from homes, public spaces and corporate sites from the Town and City of Tonawanda, Kenmore, Buffalo and Grand Island. This will be complemented by results from 30 initial samples we have completed. Volunteers will help with documentation of the sampling process.”

The Tonawanda Coke Soil Study leadership is hoping to gain the help of committed volunteers, who can join CSCR in the field. The volunteer opportunity requires attendance at a 90-minute training session either on Aug. 5th from 11-12:30 or Aug. 9th from 5:30-7pm at 465 Natural Science Complex at University at Buffalo. Additionally, CSCR is asking the volunteer to commit to at least one-half day four-hour time slot in August. For more information or to sign up (deadline is August 1st), contact CSCR office at 716- 873-6191, email at katie@csresources.org, or website: csresources.org Citizen science is the practice of public participation and collaboration in scientific research to increase scientific knowledge.