|CU SRP Community Engagement and Research Translation scientist Sara V. Flanagan discusses testing and treating well water at the Lamont Open House|
Several Columbia Superfund Research Program scientists and students participated in the full day of activities at Columbia's Lamont Open House on Saturday, October 11th. Over 2700 visitors braved cold temperatures and torrential rains to learn about the latest findings and advances in environmental science, making the connection between rational evidence-based knowledge and the difficult choices regarding the planet's stewardship.
Dr. Yan Zheng and Dr. Qiang Yang (former SRP student) along with CU SRP CE researcher Sara Flanagan answered visitors' questions regarding, "What's in your Well Water?" In the United States, 43 million people drink from private wells; however, the government does not require routine testing of these wells. Many of the Open House visitors wanted to know where they could get their water accurately tested and evaluated. Even those who have already tested their water had questions on how often to test, how to interpret the results, why the standards vary from state to state, the most effective treatment options, and when to change the filters and what to do with the old filters. Laws and services vary in the tri-state area. The SRP scientists explained the science and directed well-owners to resources available for their residences. Meanwhile, to increase an understanding of the difficulty in obtaining clean water, SRP scientist Dr. Stuart Braman helped direct the "Race for Safe Water" activity. Even in the rain, kids learned how difficult is it to pump, carry, and deliver enough safe water for daily needs both in Bangladesh and Rockland County NY. Dr. Steve Chilrud also introduced visitors to the latest equipment for measuring personal exposures to air pollutions. In the quest to find the "dirtiest kid at the Open House", Chillrud used sensors to measure the "personal cloud of microscopic particulates" of enthusiastic volunteers.
To a packed auditorium of an older crowd, SRP scientist Dr. Beizhan Yan and collaborator Dr. Martin Stute, demonstrated and discussed the physical and environmental dynamics of gas production by hydraulic fracking. Stute pointed out that the gas industry has proceded quickly, without the benefits of scientific inputs. Now science has to catch-up. There must be a better understanding of the processes in order to ensure effective regulations to protect the environment and human health. Across campus, under the protection of a tent and raingear, CU SRP RTC scientist Meredith Golden helped students, parents, and retirees use the Columbia SRP's online interactive NPL Superfund Site Mapper and think about the location and potential exposures from hazardous waste sites in close proximity of schools, residences, and natural hazards such as storm surges and fault lines.
There were over 55 exhibits and 20 lectures reflecting Lamont's global multi-disciplinary coverage of the origin, evolution, and future of our planet. Visitors received flyers and fact sheets on the Columbia NIEHS Superfund Research Program.