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It is still unknown whether the cluster of childhood leukemia cases in east Woburn was caused by TCE and PCE contamination from five known sources of contamination within the capture zones of municipal wells G and H, or whether the leukemias were caused by induced infiltration of Aberjona River water, which may have contained dissolved concentrations of arsenic, chromium, and lead. Several papers have been written about the arsenic, chromium, and lead contamination in Woburn. These papers could be read, combined with a broad discussion about mobility of heavy metals under different oxidation states, hypotheses drawn by the class, and experiments designed by the students to ascertain whether contaminated river water could have reached wells G and H. Designing an experiment to test an hypothesis is a higher-order thinking skill needed by all scientists and engineers.
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