Andy Whelton, PhD, University of South Alabama, packed up supplies, four students, and the Chair of his department and traveled over 800 miles to collect samples and to interview the folks to learn some important lessons from this serious accident. Utilizing Facebook, local non-profits helped Dr. Whelton find people willing to allow his team into their homes to take samples, to encourage them to flush out their pipes, and to survey their experience through this horrible ordeal. I witnessed first hand how the efforts of this group has helped restore some confidence to the community and Whelton's personal page provides information for the residents as well as a forum for them to ask questions.
Once the residents understand this, they are more than likely to flush out their pipes, but without the involvement of some outsiders, many of the folks would not have understood nor taken action. Dr. Whelton has teamed up Krista Bryson, a student working on a full-length documentary on the water crisis in West Virginia and she is helping him get this valuable information to the community.
Research is so vital to understanding how we can improve our uses of chemistry while treading gently on the planet protecting all living things on it.