Read the full article by Cynthia McCormick

“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…

Speaking Wednesday during an annual Silent Spring update at Barnstable Town Hall, Schaider said scientists will be recruiting parents this spring to enroll children ages four through six in the PFAS-REACH project.

PFAS are perfluorinated chemicals found in firefighting foams and a wide range of consumer products, ranging from nonstick cookware to stain-repellent fabrics. REACH stands for Research, Education and Action for Community Health.

The Cape has been a hotbed of PFAS contamination concerns in recent years, 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.

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.

During the advisory periods, pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants were warned to avoid consuming water from the public supply.

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…

Researchers will seek out participants by contacting pediatrician offices and day care centers and attending parent fairs, she said.

The study, in which [ Northeastern University’s SSEHRI ] 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.

A previous study of children exposed to PFASs in the Faroe Islands in Denmark showed a decreased response to vaccines, raising concerns about other immune effects that are harder to test, Schaider said.

Children with higher level PFAS ‘seem to have an impaired immune system,’ Schaider said.

PFAS has been associated with many ill health effects, including lower birth weight, testicular and kidney cancers, liver damage and pre-eclampsia, Schaider said.

Families participating in the project will get personalized reports on results of the testing as well as information about the health effects of PFAS and reduction tips, Schaider siad.

Another part of the study will look at how parents, other people and whole communities respond to cases of water contamination, Schaider said.”