PFAS-REACH study recruits Hyannis preschoolers

PFAS-REACH will evaluate potential health effects of PFAS exposures on the immune systems of young children. Image Credit: Silent Spring Institute

The Silent Spring Institute has launched PFAS-REACH (Research, Education, and Action for Community Health), a new study to evaluate the effects of PFAS exposure on preschool-aged children and create resources for affected communities to evaluate their exposure and reduce their risk. Residents of Hyannis, Cape Cod have been invited to participate in the five-year project, which is funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. 

Laurel Schaider, Silent Spring’s senior research scientist and a STEEP partner, led a free webinar about the study on January 27th. “PFAS can stay in our bodies for long periods of time,” said Shaider. “We’re concerned about the potential long-term effects from past exposures.” Children, in particular, may be more vulnerable, as studies show that PFAS exposure appears to cause lower levels of antibody production, which reduces the effectiveness of vaccines. 

To be eligible for the study, children need to have lived in Hyannis for a least one year prior to May 2016, when the town installed activated carbon filters to address PFAS contamination in the town’s drinking water supply. Participants will be monitored for a year and given individualized reports when the study is completed. 

Another goal of the study is to develop PFAS Exchange, an interactive, online resource designed for affected community members to get more information on their exposure levels, understand what their risks are, and how to mitigate it. “The exchange website will be for anybody across the country, who can plug in levels and find out how they compare,” said Phil Brown, Professor at Northeastern University and director of the Silent Spring PFAS Lab.

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