Suds: Send Us your Dirt from Sandy

Principle Investigators:

Alison Keimowitz, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Vassar College, Poughkeepise, NY
Neil Fitzgerald, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY


On Monday October 29, storm Sandy hit the east coast with surge of up to 13 feet of seawater. Many thousands of people are affected by flood waters which brought sediment (mud, sand, and dirt) into homes and businesses.  While the initial response must be to support those directly suffering from the aftermath the storm, clean-up of the flood waters, destroyed homes and deposited sediment is a necessary next step. We are interested in learning what chemicals may be present in this sediment and in the flood waters.

Sorry, we are no longer accepting samples.

Study Objectives

In this study we have collected soil and sediment samples from areas of flooding in New York sent to us by citizens. The collected samples will be analyzed for a variety of organic and inorganic contaminants including heavy metals, organic compounds from gasoline and other fuels, pesticides and other industrial effluents.


Study Outcomes

We plan to post major results from the study on this website. More detailed results will also be published in a scientific journal.

Sampling site with high lead and arsenic levels (defined as >30 mg/kg As and > 1,200 Pb) can be found here.

Map of PCB results can be found here.

ACS talk slides here.


About Us:

Alison Spodek Keimowitz is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Vassar College Chemistry Department. She earned her Ph.D. from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences of Columbia University in 2006 and had a Fulbright Fellowship in the Microbiology Department at the University of Tel Aviv thereafter.

Ms. Keimowitz's research focuses on the behaviors of contaminants in the environment, particularly arsenic, manganese, and other redox- sensitive metals.

Neil Fitzgerald is the Assistant Dean of Science at Marist College and an Associate Professor of Chemistry. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Massachussetts in 1999. He joined Marist in 2001 after a working for a year at Barnard College.

Dr. Fitzgerald’s research interests involve improvement of atomic analysis methods including the use of flow-through and microwave energy. He is also interested in the analysis of chemical contaminants in the environment.


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