Promoting research and scholarly activity among faculty and students

BARS 2022, BARS Projects

Quantitative studies of lead in water

Patricia Dianne Carias
Luis Gonzalez-Urbina PhD
Lead is a naturally occurring element and has beneficial uses, but its high toxicity makes it dangerous for humans and can lead to health effects such as lead poisoning. Lead can enter our homes through drinking water when a chemical reaction occurs in plumbing materials that contain lead. Lead pipes are more likely to be found in older cities and homes built before 1986. The Flint (MI) water crisis from 2010’s decade is probably the most known case of lead contamination in drinking water in the United States, but not the only one. More recently, the city of Newark (NJ) reported lead contamination in several Newark Public Schools district schools. In New York City, most lead pipes have been removed, but they still exist under the streets or in buildings from the first half of the XXs century. We would like to introduce Lead analysis techniques to the Science for Forensics curriculum aiming to raise awareness of water pollution as well as to highlight the relevance of geoforensic science in dealing with environmental problems. Two new experiments will be developed for Quantitative analysis to characterize lead-contaminated water;  experiments in gravimetry and spectrophotometry. The two techniques will be compared by statistical methods. Additionally, the sensitivity of the results will be compared to commercially available tests. Students will be able to analyze water samples from their own homes.