Hyannis PFAS Study Seeks Volunteers

CCB MEDIA PHOTO: Dr. Laurel Schaider with the Silent Spring Institute.

HYANNIS – In an effort to learn more about the lingering health risks of being exposed to PFAS, researchers are recruiting volunteers who lived in Hyannis when the village detected higher levels of the chemical. 

The Massachusetts PFAS and Your Health Study—one of seven projects funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)—is being led locally by Silent Spring Institute Senior Scientist Dr. Laurel Schaider.

“Despite the growing number of towns across the country dealing with these contaminants, there’s been very little research on the human health impacts in communities that have been exposed,” said Schaider. 

“By joining this study, Hyannis residents can help us advance science on the impacts of PFAS on human health and inform drinking water guidelines to better protect communities from these harmful chemicals.”

One such community more recently hit by PFAS contamination is Chatham, which had to shut down one of its wells when water tests showed contaminant levels higher than what regulation allows. 

Local health officials said there is no risk to public health, and work is already underway to build both temporary and long-term facilities that will solve the issue. 

For the Hyannis study, Schaider and her team are recruiting both adults and children who lived in the area between May of 2006 and July of 2016, when the bulk of any contamination likely occurred. 

Studies show that children can also be exposed to PFAS in the womb and through breast milk, so children whose mothers lived in Hyannis during the time period are also eligible to participate in the study. 

Schaider said that the results from the study will hopefully be useful for policy-making as soon as next year.

PFAS is a man-made chemical used in a variety of products from stain-resistant carpets to firefighting foams, the latter of which was determined to be the major cause of contamination in Hyannis water supplies prior to July 2016. Local drinking water supplies have since been treated to remove PFAS from tap water.

Schaider described PFAS as a “forever chemical”, as it does not break down readily in either the environment or human body, instead lingering for years. 

The chemical has been linked to cancer, high cholesterol, and decreased effectiveness of vaccines by a number of studies, though the Hyannis and other six investigations are among the first to dig into the long-term effects of exposure, according to Schaider. 

An open house on the study will be hosted on Feb 19 from 11 am to 1:30 pm, which will feature Barnstable Water Superintendent Hans Kaiser as a speaker, alongside an opportunity to meet with study team members.

Those interested in the study can also sign up by contacting the team at [email protected], or by calling (508) 296-4298. 

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native from Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the CapeCod.com News Center in 2019.

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