Jun 01, 2021

Silent Spring Institute Leads PFAS Study in Massachusetts Communities

The two communities in Eastern Massachusetts have PFAS contaminated public drinking water supplies due to the use of firefighting foams at nearby fire training areas.

drinking water

The CDC and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry ATSDR announced that they established cooperative agreements with seven partners across the nation to study how drinking water that contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) may harm health. 

One of the seven partners is Silent Spring Institute, which is the recipient of an initial $1 million grant for the Massachusetts PFAS and Your Health Study. The project led by Silent Spring Institute is in collaboration with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Eastern Research Group. The study is focusing on two communities in Eastern Massachusetts, Hyannis on Cape Cod and the town of Ayer. The communities have contaminated public drinking water supplies due to the use of firefighting foams at nearby fire training areas.

The team will collect blood samples from 1000 adults and 300 children, according to The Silent Spring Institute. 

According to The Silent Spring Institute, the study’s goals are to:

  • Evaluate blood concentrations of PFAS and associations with immunological, metabolic, and reproductive effects, and neurobehavioral outcomes in children;
  • Use analytical methods to measure total PFAS exposure and use non-targeted metabolomics and molecular networking to identify these additional PFAS compounds;
  • And evaluate associations between PFAS exposures and novel markers of elevated disease risks, such as lipoproteins, metabolomics markers of lipid metabolism, body fat, and antibody levels.

“Despite the growing number of towns dealing with contamination, there have been few human health studies in communities that have been exposed to PFAS in drinking water,” said co-principal investigator Laurel Schaider, PhD, an environmental chemist at Silent Spring Institute. “The ATSDR health study is the first to look at exposures at multiple sites across the country, allowing us to identify health effects that are hard to study by looking at each community separately.”

Study participants will also be asked to: provide a blood sample, urine sample, and body measurements; complete a questionnaire; and complete a neurobehavioral assessment.

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