PFAS Study will Examine Hyannis Preschoolers for Exposure

HYANNIS – At the third meeting of the PFAS Task Force, members said that there is inequity in the impacts of PFAS chemicals on public health and the environment, where denser environmental justice areas bear the brunt of the contamination. 

Dr. Laurel Schaider, Senior Scientist with the Silent Springs Institute that first discovered the chemical in drinking water in 2010, said that ongoing research into contamination of Cape Cod’s drinking water has shown multiple ways that the chemical could spread.

She said that some firefighting foams have already led to relatively high levels of PFAS in some of the Cape’s groundwater, including those foams used by Joint Base Cape Cod and the Barnstable County Fire and Rescue Training Academy. 

“Lower levels of PFAS have also been found in other locations on the Cape. We think that septic systems are an important piece. 85 percent of residents rely on septic systems as their form of wastewater treatment,” said Schaider. 

“The sewage treatment plants also discharge directly into groundwater.”

Schaider also listed landfills as a possible source of PFAS contamination.

The COVID pandemic put a halt to a lot of studies and sampling that was meant to take place, said Schaider, but the organization plans to get back to testing soon. 

“We’re aiming to study links between PFAS exposures and immune system effects, including potential decreased antibody response to routine vaccinations, mainly diphtheria and tetanus. We are also considering ways to include COVID antibody testing in our study as well,” said Schaider. 

Preschool children in Hyannis will be a part of the study, who were potentially exposed to Hyannis drinking water prior to 2016 when the water still exceeded the lifetime health advisory.

About Grady Culhane

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