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California Guild Wants Tests for Aluminum in Air, Water, & Soil


Citizen Scientists Find Anomalous High Levels


Chico Community Guilds (not affiliated with the California State Grange)

Contact:     Lauren Ayers, Secretary

Email:         lauren4chico@gmail.com

Office:        530  321-4662

Website:    chicoguildhall.org


OROVILLE, November, 1, 2017— At the Guild’s annual convention in October, representatives from 40 chapters deliberated on 25 resolutions in 7 categories: Agriculture, Communities, Energy, Government, Health, Education, and Natural Resources.


“As a grassroots organization, the Guild often alerts the public about issues that are later widely recognized, such as our early work on labeling GMOs, and the recent addition of glyphosate (in RoundUp) to the Prop 65 state list of carcinogenic chemicals,” said Chico Community Guild vice president Peter Allison.


Allison pointed out that aluminum levels have risen over the decades and are now up to 18 times higher than the California EPA’s Maximum Contamination Level (MCL), as volunteer environmentalists discovered from water and soil samples submitted to state-certified labs, adding, “Whose job is it to take action when the state maximum of 1000 ppb is exceeded?”


Resolution co-author Lauren Ayers, a retired teacher from Chico, said, “It’s easy to make fun of citizen scientists, but without volunteer activists in Flint, Michigan, that city would still be drinking their high-lead tap water.”


Chair of the convention’s Water Committee, retired science teacher Jessica Denning of Sacramento, said, “We must follow the evidence where it leads. If official testing validates the activists’ tests, then we can thank them for the early warning. If state tests show no rise in aluminum, we can all breathe a sigh of relief.”


“For this pilot project, we recommend that the Assembly and Senate establish four types of testing in order to get a complete picture,” explains Ayers. Samples of air, rain water, surface water, and soil would be taken. She adds, “The soil test provides a ‘Before’ and ‘After’ comparison because the first sample would be from under houses built more than 30 years ago, which gives a reliable base amount, while the second sample from each property would be from the yard, which would reveal how much aluminum levels have risen in the decades since the house was built.” 


Ayers says that the proposed pilot project is affordable. “By making this a one-year pilot project in just 12 counties instead of all 58, we estimate that the total cost to taxpayers is only about a quarter of a million dollars, or less than half a penny per Californian.”


The citizen scientists who received lab reports with over-the-limit levels of aluminum don’t know where it is coming from. One theory is that coal burning factories and energy plants in China emit nano particles of aluminum from their smoke stacks which are carried across the Pacific to the West Coast. Another is that wind whips the subsoil into the air, and aluminum is the second highest element in the earth’s crust (after silica). However, soil-based aluminum is not likely to be the source of the sharp rise in aluminum found in insects, for instance, because it is very stable and not toxic unless exposed to very acidic rain (which the West Coast does not have). Yet another theory is that jet fuel contains aluminum.


Unlike most incorporated non-profit organizations, the Guild has a lobbyist because it is incorporated under the federal code 501c8, instead of 501c3. Among the other resolutions approved by the conferees which could become future legislation are:

  • Making External Defibrillators more widely available in public places

  • Banning toxic Pesticides on California Trails Project

  • Expanding locations for bottle and can recycling for cash (1/5 have closed)


The Chico Guild has already benefitted from the work of the Guild Lobbyist— for instance, the California Trails plan originated with the Chico Guild and subsequently was put into action by California legislators.​