Document Type


Publication Date



lead, soil, water pollution, chemistry, phytoremediation


For an analytical chemistry course at St. John Fisher College, instructors designed a servicelearning project on soil and water analysis to achieve the following two goals: 1) to introduce analytical chemistry students to soil- and water-testing methods by working in collaboration with surrounding neighborhoods residents and government agencies and 2) to prepare written reports of the results for the designated community partners. Service-learning students conducted soil testing for lead on homes and perspective community garden sites around Rochester, NY with plans to establish planting methods to revitalize polluted soil. Four different communities contributed soil samples. The entire project was performed in connection with Lynn Donahue, St. John Fisher College’s service-learning director. To analyze the lead in the soil, EPA method 3050b including acid digestion was utilized, followed by Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (FAAS). Results showed that many of the home sites contained levels of lead far above the accepted EPA guidelines of 400 ppm for play areas and 1,200 ppm for non-play areas. To further assist homeowners, students provided written reports detailing the results of the four sites tested on their property and provided suggestions of ways to rid the soil of lead and protect themselves from lead-containing soil. The students also conducted water testing on both Buckland Creek (before and after rain events) and the Genesee River in coordination with the Department of Environmental Services, Division of Pure Waters. Testing included pH, dissolved oxygen levels, buffering capacity, sulfide, carbon dioxide, chloride, alkalinity, water hardness, chemical oxygen demand, phosphorus, nitrates, zinc, lead and copper. Experimental methods involved the comparison of up to three techniques per analyte, utilizing titration methods, commercial kits, electrode probes, and spectrophotometric instrumentation.


This work is adapted from a presentation of the same name given by Kimberly D. Chichester at the New York Metro Area Partnership for Service-Learning (NYMAPS) Third Annual Symposium on March 23, 2011.

This work was printed in Issues in Engaged Scholarship and is also available here: No changes were made.

Additional Files

Included in

Chemistry Commons