As evidenced by the successful coalition of citizen involvement at Love Canal, NY, Woburn, MA and Times Beach, MO, lay perception is gradually being recognized as a legitimate force in discoveries of human-produced toxic contamination. For the purposes of studying the process by which lay perception of toxic contamination translates into community action, lay perceptions of cancer risk and causation are examined using survey data and interviews that were carried out within a community located about 60 miles southwest of Chicago, IL. There, citizens have been at the forefront of a battle to address radioactive water leaks that have occurred over the past decade at the Braidwood Generating Station and at the Dresden Generating Station. Because communication is an important part of addressing human-produced toxic contamination, interactions between laypeople, government, and businesses are also examined. The results of the interviews and survey suggest that a more serious consideration of lay perception is essential to properly identifying and addressing human-produced instances of toxic contamination.