UB launches health study of Tonawanda Coke emissions


If you live near Tonawanda Coke Corporation, the University at Buffalo is asking for your input in a study of possible health effects caused by emissions from the plant.  

Top researchers for UB’s School of Public Health and the Medical School are hoping to gather information from as many as 35,000 residents of the Town of Tonawanda, the City of Tonawanda, and Grand Island, to see if there are any links between their medical conditions and airborn emissions from Tonawanda Coke. 

Neighbors of the River Road facility have been complaining for years of illnesses, medical conditions, and overall air quality. Jackie James-Creedon, director of Citizen Science Community Resources suspects those coke oven emissions may have even led to the premature deaths of neighbors.

“I have heard so many stories of folks sick and dying.  We have lost people that have joined our cause.”

Jackie James Creedon has suffered from a medical condition herself that she believes can be linked to Tonawanda Coke.

The University at Buffalo is asking folks in the Town and City of Tonawanda, and Grand Island to take part in a 10-year study, whose $11 million price tag is funded by the coke production faciltiy.

Matthew Bonner, PhD., is associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health for the School of Public Health and is the lead researcher for the Environmental Health Study for Western New York.

“We have our chemical constituents that we know are coming from Tonawanda Coke and coke oven emissions, and we know at very exposures these things are known to cause lung cancer, bladder cancer.”

A federal judge ordered the study five years ago, after Tonawanda Coke and a top company executive were convicted of violating the U.S. Clean Air Act.

While researchers are working toward a 10-year Environmental Health study, Prof. Bonner believes their findings might be examined, re-examined, and applied toward a number of other medical studies beyond the initial research period.

Study participants will receive a $10 stipend for filling out a personal health survey, but participants must be at least 18 years old.

To sign up for the study, the University at Buffalo has set up this website.

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