“HYANNIS — Cape Cod residents with private wells may be eligible for free testing to determine if potentially harmful substances found in items ranging from firefighting foams to nonstick cookware are present in their drinking water.

The program, which has a goal of testing up to 250 private wells during a five year period — 50 each year — began this week and is part of a federally-funded research effort called STEEP for Sources, Transport, Exposure and Effects of PFAS. PFAS are perfluorinated chemicals found in a wide range of consumer products, and there is evidence that exposure to them can lead to adverse human health effects, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Launched late last year in Hyannis, STEEP is a collaboration between the University of Rhode Island, the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Silent Spring Institute. It is funded by an $8 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

The goal of the study is to gain a better understanding of how people get exposed to PFAS through well water, determine where the contaminants are originating and identify methods to limit public exposure. The 50 slots in the study are expected to fill up fast, said Laurel Schaider, a research scientist at Silent Spring Institute, adding that there were 100 volunteers for 20 well tests during a similar 2011 research project.

The Cape has been a hotbed of concern for PFAS contamination in recent years, most notably with the chemicals being found in groundwater and soil on and near Joint Base Cape Cod, at Barnstable Municipal Airport and at the Barnstable County Fire and Rescue Training Academy in Hyannis.”

Read the full article by Geoff Spillane