community science


MASA and community members came together for a “science in action” lead resource fair on June 23, 2018 - titled Amani Un|Leaded. Photo: John Saller

Milwaukee Area Science Advocates Collaborate to End Lead Exposure

Anna Miller and Dave Nelson, , UCS

Lead exposure, especially from water in older pipes, is a major health problem in Milwaukee. A 2016 Wisconsin state report on childhood lead poisoning indicated that nearly 11% of children tested in Milwaukee showed elevated blood lead levels, which was double the percentage found in Flint, Michigan. Children from low-income families, especially within the African-American community, are disproportionately affected. Earlier this year, a previous employee of the Milwaukee County Health Department, emailed 15 alderman and Mayor Tom Barrett informing them that the department was not testing water in the homes of lead-poisoned children. This launched an investigation which revealed that the Milwaukee County Health Department failed to notify thousands of parents of the high blood lead levels found in their children, resulting in the resignation of the local health commissioner. Moreover, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently suspended the Milwaukee lead abatement program after an audit revealed many problems. Read more >

Photo: John Saller
Photo: John Saller
Photo: John Saller
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Photo: W.carter/Wikimedia Commons

If You Smell Something, Say Something: Identifying Local Natural Gas Leaks

Sarah Salois, , UCS

Walking my dog around my neighborhood one day, I caught a whiff of something very clearly – gas. At first, I noted the smell but assumed it was a fleeting odor and chalked it up to urban living. But soon I realized there was nothing fleeting about it.  I take the same route each day, and it became clear that specific locations  persistently smelled strongly of gas. Internal alarm bells went off in my head as I calculated the amount of gas necessary to be detected outside, in open air, uncontained. I asked my neighbors and the local utility company about the leaks – surely, I was not the only one who had noticed the smell, which led to my next question, what was being done about it? I was surprised to find that my neighbors had actually been smelling the leaks and alerting the utility companies for years. YEARS. I was shocked, and I wanted to know more.

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Photo: W.carter/Wikimedia Commons
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Photo: InTeGrate, Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College

Science Citizenship: Making Science Actionable

Sarah Fortner, , UCS

I decided to pursue a career in science in part because my high school chemistry teacher believed in me and sent me on a glacier expedition. Are you helping your students understand how to form a science supported-opinion? Are you teaching your students how to evaluate and communicate using science? Students need to learn about more than how earth and environmental systems work; they needed to know how their work connected to community and political decisions. Helping them see and realize their personal and local power is central to justice. Read more >

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The Penn State Science Policy Society: Filling the Gap Between Science and Community

Jared Mondschein, Theresa Kucinski, Grayson Doucette, , UCS

Graduate school. It’s where generations of scientists have been trained to become independent scientists. More than 60 hours per week spent in lab, countless group meetings, innumerable hours spent crunching data and writing manuscripts and proposals that are filled with scientific jargon.

Unfortunately, it’s this jargon that prevents scientists from effectively communicating their science to the non-technical audiences that need it. Penn State’s Science Policy Society aims to bridge this gap by helping current graduate students and post-doctoral fellows learn how to bring their research into the community.

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Refineries, such as the Delaware City Refinery shown here, can emit toxic chemicals that can increase risks for cancer and respiratory disease.

New UCS Report Finds High Health Risks in Delaware Communities from Toxic Pollution

Ron White, , UCS

For decades residents of communities in Wilmington, Delaware’s industrial corridor have dealt with high levels of pollution. People in these communities, which have higher percentages of people of color and/or higher poverty levels than the Delaware average, are also grappling with health challenges that are linked to, or worsened by, exposure to pollution, such as strokes, heart diseases, sudden infant death syndrome, and chronic childhood illnesses such as asthma, learning disabilities, and neurological diseases. These are some of Delaware’s environmental justice communities. Read more >

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