For Immediate Release — March 7, 2005


Mary E. McCrank

Media Relations Officer

(585) 245-5516


Ohio State University geologist to discuss research on childhood leukemia

GENESEO, N.Y. — A scientist who investigated a cluster of childhood leukemia cases in Massachusetts that formed the basis for the film "A Civil Action" will deliver the second annual American Rock Salt Lecture on Geology at the State University of New York at Geneseo on March 23.

E. Scott Bair of The Ohio State University will talk about this case in his presentation titled "What the Judge, Jury and John Travolta Didn’t Know About the ‘A Civil Action’ Childhood Leukemia Cases." The talk is free and open to the public and will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Room 202 in Newton Lecture Hall on campus.

Professor and chair of the geological sciences department at Ohio State University, in 2000 Bair served as the twenty-third Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lecturer, sponsored by the Geological Society of America’s Hydrogeology Division. He presented lectures to 53 colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada and Japan about the work he and his graduate students are doing related to the infamous Wells G&H Superfund Site in Woburn, Mass., portrayed in the movie starring John Travolta.

Bair entered academia after working for six years in Boston and Philadelphia in the Geotechnical Division of Stone & Webster Engineering Corporation. Tired of corporate politics, he took a faculty position at The Ohio State University in 1985. He teaches courses in water resources, hydrogeology, hydrologic field methods, and computer modeling of groundwater flow and contaminate transport. In 1991, he received Ohio State’s highest teaching award. He has advised 33 masters and doctoral students and has received more than $1.8 million in research grants.

In the landmark 1986 trial described in "A Civil Action," the plaintiffs allege that groundwater contamination from W.R. Grace and Beatrice Foods was captured by the city’s municipal wells, labeled G and H, in Wolburn, Mass., and that ingestion of the toxic chemicals caused severe health effects in people who drank that water, including childhood leukemia cases.

To provide insight into the possible amounts of trichloroethene and perchlorothene exposure at residences across the city and each plaintiff’s residence between 1964 and 1979, when the wells operated, Bair and his researchers linked the results of a contaminant transport model to an existing water distribution model of the city’s pipeline network. Trichloroethene and perchlorothene exposure histories for the 54 water districts indicate that more than 4,000 residences likely received concentrations of the chemicals exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s health-based standard.

Bair received his bachelor’s in geology from the College of Wooster and his master’s and Ph.D., specializing in hydrogeology, from The Pennsylvania State University.

For more information on Bair’s visit, contact Assistant Professor of Geological Sciences Amy Sheldon by phone at (585) 245-5988, or by e-mail at

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