Hyannis residents wanted for ‘chemicals forever’ study, briefing planned

Hyannis residents wanted for ‘chemicals forever’ study, briefing planned

Silent Spring Institute will be holding an informational event at Barnstable City Hall on Wednesday, November 16 to recruit Hyannis residents for a study on exposure to chemicals called PFAS.

The Massachusetts PFAS and Your Health study is part of a national effort launched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate communities across the country, including Hyannis, that have become been affected by PFAS contaminants in drinking water, primarily from the use of firefighting foams in nearby fire training areas. Scientists involved in the research say similar “groundbreaking” studies are underway in six other states.

Locally, researchers are looking to enroll people who lived in Hyannis for any period of time between May 2006 and July 2016. Prior to 2016, PFAS levels in the Hyannis water system were higher than in any other public water supply in Massachusetts.

“The good news is that the water supply is now being treated for PFAS,” said Laurel Schaider, project leader and senior scientist at the Silent Spring Institute, a research organization dedicated to discovering the environmental causes of cancer. “However, from these past exposures, we have an opportunity to learn more about how these chemicals can affect our health.”

Exposure to so-called “forever chemicals” has been linked to liver damage, thyroid disease, and cancer. They are found in many products that are resistant to grease, stains, and water, among others.

“We are enrolling both adults and children ages 4-17. Children may be eligible if their mothers lived in Hyannis during that time period, or if the children themselves lived in Hyannis during that time period,” she said.

Schaider and his team will collect data through the end of May, and so far just over 200 adults and about 25 children have participated in the studies.

“We are quite far from our goal,” he said. “We have set a goal for our team to recruit 700 adults and 200 children from the Hyannis area.”

Participants will be invited to a clinic set up at 171 Main St., just outside of downtown Hyannis. Investigators will monitor blood pressure, measure height and weight, collect blood and urine samples, and ask a few health screening questions. Later, they will ask questions about where the participants have lived and worked over time and how they have consumed water.

“It’s a lot like going to the doctor,” Schaider said. “And then for kids ages 5 to 17, we invite them to come back for a second office visit where we administer what’s called neurobehavioral testing. So these are vocabulary exercises and drawing exercises and puzzles. They are designed to assess learning and memory. ”

Participants will receive gift cards and receive information about their health.

“[We] it can give people an idea of ​​the extent of their exposure, how they compare to other Americans or to people in their community. And as we learn more about the effects on people’s health, this may become part of their medical record,” Schaider said. “And in the future it could help you or your doctors be more aware of certain types of diseases that you might be at high risk for.”

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently issued a report recommending that people who may have had elevated exposures be offered PFAS blood tests. But for most people, he said, trying to get one of these tests is difficult.

“Insurance doesn’t necessarily cover the cost. And if you try to get tested on your own, it can cost you hundreds of dollars.”

The informational event, which will feature an overview of Schaider, along with remarks from City Manager Mark Ells and Cheryl Osimo of the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, will be held in the Second Floor Courtroom in Barnstable Town. Hall, 367 Main Street, Hyannis, 12 pm to 2 pm Community members are encouraged to learn about the objectives of the study, register to participate, and discover other ways to get involved.

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