Barnstable Youth Highlight Public Health Study

Barnstable Youth Commission

HYANNIS – The Barnstable Youth Commission invited public health officials to a recent meeting to learn about a study on the forever chemicals PFAS and what the group could do to help with community outreach.

Dr. Laurel Schaider with the Massachusetts PFAS and Your Health Study explained Hyannis has been a focus for the research because the village used to have the highest levels of PFAS of any public water supply in Massachusetts.

Although Hyannis’ drinking water is currently treated for PFAS, the Silent Spring Institute study is aiming to learn more about health impacts from PFAS exposure.

Schaider said one associated health effect is immune system suppression. She commented on how that might be connected to being at-risk to COVID-19. 

“So there are concerns that people who’ve had higher PFAS exposure might be more vulnerable to COVID and the vaccines might potentially be less effective,” Schaider said. 

“We don’t know yet one way or the other because COVID is so new, but that’s one of the things we hope to learn from the study,” she added.

The study is working to recruit 700 adults and 200 children who lived in Hyannis between May 2006 and July 2016 to participate. 

As of November, the study had reached around 30% of its goals for adult participants and only 12% for children. 

Youths on the commission asked if the study had a deadline or if it would be allowed to continue until it reached the necessary numbers.

“CDC is going to require us to wrap up collecting data by the end of May of next year,” Schaider said. 

“We’re definitely aiming to ramp up the rate of people signing up,” she noted.  

The public health officials involved with the study cannot directly contact minors, but parents are able to provide information about their children to the study if they wish to participate.

Youth commission members discussed plans to organize a film screening and panel discussion that could help raise awareness about the PFAS study in the community. 

Results from the study can be shared with medical teams of those who participate. Those who take part in the study also receive gift cards for either $50 or $75. 

Head to Silent Spring’s site to learn more. 

By Brian Engles, NewsCenter

About Brian Engles

Brian Engles is a longtime local of the Cape. He studied Film & TV at Boston University and in addition to his role at Cape Cod Broadcasting Media, he also works as a music instructor and records original songs.
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