What is Love Canal?

Love Canal is a part of Niagara Falls, New York that became infamous in 1978 when residents realized that many of their health problems resulted from living next to a dump containing over 20,000 tons of chemicals. The Love Canal Homeowners' Association, under the leadership of its determined spokesperson, Lois Marie Gibbs, attracted national recognition to the community’s plight and to its right to a safe environment. In the following months and years, state agencies and independent researchers conducted numerous health studies, many of which generated additional controversy. Follow-up health studies on Love Canal residents continue today.

Why a collection of Love Canal health studies?

Many community groups around the U.S. request health studies to examine associations between environmental contamination and perceived health problems. Love Canal and other community battles have taught us that how studies are conducted and by whom is crucial to deriving useful and credible information. At the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH), we push for community concerns and insights to be part of the study process from the beginning to the end.

Some Love Canal studies have become models for the way we do community environmental health studies today. We hope this collection of lessons learned over three decades of controversy at Love Canal represents initial steps toward building a resource for future community-based studies.

What’s in the collection of Love Canal health studies?

Our collection includes original health studies from Love Canal, along with journal articles, government hearings, and correspondence about the health studies. We also collected related books and videos on Love Canal. Please see “Health Studies” for detailed, searchable bibliographies of our collection, and for lists of additional Love Canal materials not in our collection.

Please visit other sections of this website for the story of what happened at Love Canal as told by Lois Gibbs, links for more information and organizations working today on environmental health issues, and upcoming community education opportunities.

How can I see the collection?

We invite activists, students, health and environmental professionals, and any other interested parties to view our collection. All original documents, books, and videos in our collection are available for on-site use in the Environmental Health Department of the BU School of Public Health. Please call 617-638-4620 prior to your visit. We are located in the South End of Boston at the corner of Albany Street and East Concord Street in the Talbot Building. Click here for a campus map.

Community training sessions and workshops

The Boston University School of Public Health organizes training sessions and workshops on-site and at regional conferences to address approaches to examining health effects in communities. These sessions are designed in collaboration with grassroots organizations. Please see “Workshops” for more information.

Program for the Ecology of Human Systems

“Lessons from Love Canal” is a project of the Program for the Ecology of Human Systems (PEHS), which is jointly sponsored by the Boston University School of Public Health and the Resource Institute for Low Entropy Systems (RILES). PEHS seeks to increase popular understanding of the implications to human and environmental health of technological choices and to influence public policy respecting those choices. PEHS is funded by a grant from Abby Rockefeller.

How to contact us

For further information on the “Lessons from Love Canal,” please contact or Richard Clapp, BUSPH, 715 Albany St., #T4W, Boston, MA 02118, phone: 617-638-4620.


This website was created and is maintained by Rob Schadt as a project of the BUSPH Office of Teaching, Learning, and Technology. If you encounter any problems with the website, please contact Rob Schadt, BUSPH, OTLT.

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