Summer CSGC Grant Update: Water Testing

Earlier this year a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio caused dangerous chemicals to be released into the environment. In order to prevent an uncontrolled explosion, authorities were quick to act and burned these chemicals, which removed them, but resulted in the creation of other chemicals. Most of these chemicals have been tested for and regulated by the government, however one of these chemicals, 2,3,7,8 -Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD dioxin) has not been tested for. This dangerous dioxin causes cancer and has been cited as having “one of the lowest known LD50 values ((LD50 is the amount of a material, given all at once, which causes the death of 50% of a group of test animals)),” as well as being, “the most toxic man-made chemical.”[1] As a resident of Louisville, Kentucky I had great concern due to the fact that my drinking water comes from the Ohio River, which was located near the derailment and may have been contaminated.

My plan is to drive along the Ohio River to test for TCDD with kits funded by the CSGC office. I have five kits and plan to collect samples on July 15th. I will go to towns that rely on the Ohio River’s water to drink, just like my own.

In the past few months I have contacted professors and local scholars for advice and help for this project. Using a method recommended by several of them, as well as their help, I will collect these five samples in equidistant locations, starting from the source, and ending in my hometown. Also, I have connected with Mr. Chris Bobay, the Manager of Water Quality and Compliance at Louisville Water Company, for more advice. When I am done with this project I plan on publishing my results in local newspapers in order to spread the word.

Originally, I received funding to cover one test kit, but to ensure a better data set, I requested funding for up to five test kits, and was thrilled to receive it. Thanks to the Workman family for providing funding for this project!

– James ‘25