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Harvard researcher to present Lafarge findings

It's been a season full of developments for the Lafarge Cement Plant in Ravena, and another big one is set to break Thursday, Jan. 6, when researchers from Harvard University present findings of a study on heavy metal levels in the village.

Michael Bank, research associate in the school's Department of Environmental Health, will give a presentation and take questions at the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk High School at 8 p.m.

Bank and his researchers in May collected hair and blood samples from 185 human volunteers in a 10-mile radius around the plant to analyze for the presence of heavy metals, including mercury, lead and cadmium.

Bank was tight lipped on the results of the study. Check www.spotlightnews.com for updates on the findings.

Elyse Kunz, of the local group Community Advocates for Safe Emissions, said while the group worked closely with the researchers she hasn't been made aware of the results, either.

We don't really know for sure what they're going to say, she said. "We're as curious as everybody else is, I guess."

The state Department of Health is also conducting a study on the cement plant, which is among the leading emitters of mercury in the state. At an early-December public hearing, advocates criticized the DOH for not including samples from the community in its study.

Kunz said that's largely why CASE has been eagerly awaiting the results of the Harvard investigation.

"This is actual hard science, as opposed to what DOH did, and this is current science that is done at the forefront of the technology that is available today," Kunz said. "What DOH unfortunate did is just meaningless."

The RCS High School is located at 2025 Route 9W in Ravena.

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