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Clean up the Lead Pollution at Ithaca Falls

This petition had 370 supporters

Honorable Mayor Svante Myrick,

You recently declared that no further action concerning the removal of lead from Ithaca Falls was necessary, however many people are still concerned with the unsafe levels of lead present in this area. Swimming is currently prohibited in Ithaca Falls due to the health risks of high exposure to lead. You are probably aware of some of these potential health problems, including nausea and headaches, as well as an increased risk for heart and kidney disease and likely even cancer. Besides posing potential health risks, and turning a beautiful waterfall into an area of potential hazard, the lead contamination also poses threats to the natural environment and to various other life forms which use the waterfall for food and habitat. This, in turn, spreads the pollution and its negative health impacts beyond the initial site of contamination. For instance, the process of bio-magnification kills organisms of some species, off-balancing the ecosystems, and resulting in more potential harm. It also poses health risks to any person who consumes plants or animals which have either taken in lead from the water or from other organisms who have absorbed or consumed lead.

There have already been multiple attempts to remove the lead; however, the area still has a concentration higher than 400 parts per million, the concentration limit declared by the EPA. Last July, this concentration was found to be 702 ppm in some areas. Moreover, other toxins have also been left behind as remnants of the gun factory, including trichloroethylene, and cyanide, which was used for heating treatment. The former causes potential health issues such as drowsiness, dizziness, and increased cancer risk, and the latter poses risks of nausea, headaches, loss of consciousness, and even cardiac arrest. These contaminants give additional reason for public health and environmental concern. It is thought that the recurring levels of lead and other pollutants are due to the recontamination of the falls from areas at the top of the gorge which were not adequately cleaned. 

I understand the concerns in terms of funding the project.  However, please reconsider your declaration of “no further action” in the name of environmental and public health. A thorough cleaning of Ithaca Falls and the surrounding area, including the top of the gorge, is clearly necessary to restore the health of this beautiful water system.

Thank you for your consideration. If you have any further questions concerning the topic, please contact me using the information below.

A concerned community member,


Fenya Bartram


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