Silent Spring Institute to Present Research Update

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Dr. Laurel Schaider of Silent Spring Institute talks about contaminants of emerging concern.

CCB MEDIA PHOTO: Dr. Laurel Schaider of Silent Spring Institute talks about contaminants of emerging concern. (File)

HYANNIS – The Silent Spring Institute will provide an update Thursday on its latest research of chemicals of concern in drinking water on Cape Cod.

An overview of a recent study co-authored by Silent Spring will be presented which found that more than 6 million Americans are exposed to unsafe levels of highly fluorinated chemicals, known as PFASs and PFCs, that are found in many non-stick, stain-resistant and waterproof products.

The chemicals are commonly detected in the environment and have been linked to a range of health effects which include cancer and reproductive and developmental toxicity.

The study traced the source of these contaminants to military fire training areas, airports, production facilities and wastewater treatment plants.

In May, the Environmental Protection Agency lowered its acceptable level of contaminants in drinking water.

Two wells that supply water to the Hyannis area were shut down after its levels of PFOS contaminants were above EPA standards.

Treatment systems have been placed at three municipal wells to deal with the contamination.

The contamination is believed to have come from foam used at the county fire training academy. The town has filed a lawsuit against the county to recover about $2 million in costs associated with installing treatment systems.

“We need to work together as a team to accomplish our goal so that we are not dealing with these same issues for years to come,” said Cheryl Osimo, a co-founder of Silent Spring and a board member of the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition. “We need to do this work for future generations.”

Osimo said it will take an effort from the community to secure state funding to continue the research.

“We really need Cape citizens to reach out to those who are running for public office to make sure they are going to continue to support the work of Silent Spring Institute to do the environmental research we need to do to find the links between cancer and the environment,” said Osimo.

The event will be held Thursday from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Barnstable Town Hall.

The speakers are research scientist Laurel Schaider, PhD, Environmental Chemistry and Engineering, and data scientist and software developer Herb Susmann.

Researchers will also discuss a new biomonitoring project for tracking the exposure of individuals to common household chemicals.

Individuals who sign up to participate will have their urine tested for 10 common household and environmental chemicals.

Silent Spring will send each participant a digital report comparing their results with others in the study and will include tips for reducing exposure.

The data will be used to characterize the public’s exposure to toxic chemicals, identify sources of high exposure and determine the best ways for people to avoid harmful chemicals.