Bring out your dirt! Bring out your dirt!

What secrets lurk in the Gowanus Canal? via Flickr user Jackie Weisberg
What kind of crap has Gowanus Canal washed ashore? via Flickr user Jackie Weisberg

The Gowanus Canal is legendary for its pollution, invisible shrimp and possible canal monster. Basically all it hasn’t done is catch fire like the Cuyahoga River, but we shouldn’t give up hope on that one yet. In the wake of it getting all up in our business because Sandy pushed it out of its borders and into our yards, we can find out if the canal has infected our soil like a wave of STDs thanks to a new study called Send Us Your Dirt from Sandy (SUDS).

Vassar professor Alison Keimowitz is asking New Yorkers to send her bagged soil samples from their yards or anywhere else they come across dirt in areas where Sandy’s storm surges washed ashore. It’s not necessarily the case that all of the soil in Red Hook, Gerritsen Beach and Gowanus is contaminated, but if it is, Keimowitz and her colleague Neil Fitzgerald plan on notifying the EPA. Hopefully your backyard doesn’t get declared a Superfund site, but better to know those tomatoes you’re growing are PCB-free than just wiping them off on your shirt and hoping for the best. If you’d like to get an answer for sure, send a plastic baggie full of dirt to:

Alison Keimowitz

Chemistry Department

Vassar College

124 Raymond Avenue

Poughkeepsie, NY 12604

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