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Xavier Rodriguez, GES460/529: Environmental Field Methods
Faculty Mentor(s): Professor Elisa Bergslien, Earth Sciences and Science Education
Prior research indicates a correlation between the presence of slag and environmental and human health concerns. Slag is defined as radioactive, gravel-like waste and a byproduct of asphalt. According to the EPA, there were over 100 hot spots found in the Niagara County and Grand Island region over the last four decades. However, only recently have excavations and proper disposal of slag at these sites occurred. The EPA reported that excavations of 28,000 tons of radioactive waste in Lewiston, New York have been done, but there are many more sites to clean up. The radioactive material in these excavation sites contain more than 70 times the normal exposure rates and can have lasting effects to life in the surrounding areas. This leads to possible negative consequences to the health of the communities occupying these sites. The other concern is the effect on the vegetation in the surrounding area as exposure to radiation effects all life and according to the EPA, there are no harmless radiation exposures. In order to study the possible effects that slag has on the ecosystem and human health, locations of known disposal sites in Niagara Falls will be evaluated for stressed vegetation/extreme vegetation differences in the soil containing slag. To examine the effects of slag on human health with regards to the exposure of radioactive materials, U.S. census and Department of Health data on cancer rates in this region be mapped.
Rodriguez, Xavier, "Relationship Between Slag and Soil/Vegetation/Human Health in Grand Island; Niagara Falls" (2021). Physical Geography and Sciences. 21.