Paper No. 9-6
Presentation Time: 5:30 PM
USING CITIZEN SCIENCE TO COLLECT PRIVATE WELL WATER DATA IN MAINE AND NEW HAMPSHIRE TO ADDRESS ARSENIC CONTAMINATION OF WELLS
Arsenic is linked to increased bladder cancer, increased blood pressure, gestational diabetes, changes in the body’s hormones, and changes in the role lungs play in the immune system, among other things. Arsenic also naturally occurs in private wells, which are unregulated; it’s up to the homeowner to test for, and mitigate, well contamination. 56% of people in Maine and 46% of people in New Hampshire rely on private wells for their drinking water, and many wells remain untested, for various reasons. Data to Action, a secondary school-based citizen science project to address arsenic contamination of well water, seeks to crowdsource information about wells in Maine and New Hampshire by engaging teachers and students in testing wells in their community. Families enter information about their wells, such as the latitude and longitude, well type, if it has been tested for arsenic before, where the water sample came from, if it was filtered, and what type of filtration system the home has into a global citizen science data portal called Anecdata. Anecdata provides an easy way to collect, manage, and share citizen science data. Public-facing observations are anonymous, with any identifying information, such as names and addresses, removed or obscured. Families can access their full results at any time, and anyone can download a full or partial dataset, sans identifying information. Students use the dataset downloaded from Anecdata to analyze local and regional trends, answer questions about filtration efficacy, and identify correlations between data types. Students translate the data and their analyses to action, such as writing letters to the editor, contacting legislators, designing brochures and infographics, hosting community meetings, and more, with the goal of reducing the short-term and long-term effects of arsenic and other well water contaminants.