Group to study effects of contaminated water on Cape
Steve Heaslip/Cape Cod Times @Cmccormickcct HYANNIS — A new federally funded study by the Silent Spring Institute will test the blood of dozens of young children from the Hyannis area for health effects from exposure to contaminated drinking water.
Levels of the contaminants above the Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory threshold in the Hyannis water system triggered temporary public health advisories twice since 2015.
The PFAS-REACH project will collect and analyze blood from 60 children from Hyannis, as well as 60 children from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which Silent Spring officials said has also been affected by drinking water contaminated with PFAS from firefighting foams.
“It’s new to us to reach out to young parents specifically,” Schaider said.
The study, in which Northeastern University and Michigan State University are also participating, will look at whether children with higher levels of PFAS are more likely to have impaired responses to immunization and whether they have a different biological or inflammatory profile than children with lower PFAS levels, Schaider said.
Researchers will specifically examine antibody levels in response to diphtheria and tetanus vaccinations one month after children’s final DTaP boosters, Schaider said.
Children are eligible to participate in the study if they lived in or attended day care in Hyannis for at least one year prior to May 2016 or if their mothers lived in Hyannis for at least one year before May 2016, Schaider said.
Children with higher level PFAS “seem to have an impaired immune system,” Schaider said.
The goal during the course of the five-year study is to test a total of 250 Cape wells for 20 chemicals, as well as nitrate and boron.
Thousands of chemicals and polymers belong to the PFAS family, which are known as “forever chemicals” for their persistence in soil and water, Schaider said.