By KEN MUNSON
Jul 3, 2008, 13:43
A few weeks after the project was announced, Hopewell residents got to
do some hands-on training with the Sierra Club's bucket brigade, in
order to test the air quality in the city.
Jim Gould, a Hopewell native and program coordinator for the Sierra
Club, said the testing was a cooperative project between the
government, the local industries and the residents; the club hopes that
the results will help "enhance the environment, preserve jobs and
The testing will be done not by activists or by government officials,
but by residents via a simple looking device consisting of a vacuum
pump attached to a plastic bag inside a clear plastic bucket. These
buckets (the cheaper versions of more complicated devices called Suma
canisters) suck in and trap outside air, which the Sierra Club sends
off to be tested.
The testing will check for 87 different chemicals in the atmosphere,
many of which are carcinogenic. The tests can detect chemicals at
levels of less than one part per billion, said Denny Larson of Global
Community Monitor, the company that oversees the testing.
"If it's out there, we'll find it," said Larson.
Ruth Breech, project director for Global Community Monitor, says she
has seen incidents where residents and grassroots activists could not
make any headway with local industries because the two sides weren't
speaking the same language. Cold hard data such as the ones provided by
the bucket tests, said Breech, helps level the playing field.
"When you put data on the table, people can understand each other," said Breech.
Residents are in charge of the project rather than environmental
workers or government officials because residents would better know the
trouble spots. Any time residents detect odors in their neighborhood,
they're advised to take an air sample.
"We're kind of at the same place as we were with cigarette smoking in
the '40s, suspecting that there might be a problem but without any
confirmation," said Breech.
Even without the buckets, citizens were also advised to start taking
logs of anything they detect and turn them into the Sierra Club. The
logs, said Breech, are the foundation of the monitoring process and are
much easier to process than the air samples.
Residents seemed encouraged by the informative meeting.
"I'm hoping it'll make us more aware of what's going on around here and
curb the pollution we've got," said Hopewell native Eric Jones.
Any citizen wishing to join the project can contact Gould at his office
(804) 225-9113 ext. 105 or his cell phone at (804) 225-9114.
© Hopewell News 2007