Superfund Research Program

September 2023

PROTECT and Community Engagement
The PROTECT team is also committed to community engagement. Through strong community partnerships, PROTECT uses pamphlets, social media, and digital apps to share results with the public to lower rates of preterm birth and improve babies’ health. (Photo courtesy of PROTECT SRP Center.)

Led by Northeastern University and funded by the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP), the Puerto Rico Test Site to Explore Contamination Threats (PROTECT) SRP Center brings together researchers from many institutions to explore the connection between environmental exposures and preterm birth in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico has highly contaminated air, land, and water. In 2006, the state also had the highest preterm birth rate in the U.S. Using a multidisciplinary team of researchers, the PROTECT team explores the connection between environmental contaminants and preterm birth and hopes to find solutions. Since 2010, PROTECT has modeled groundwater contamination, identified personal care products as exposure sources, and cleaned up contaminated water sources.

“Because of the nature of the study, we are able to collect data about groundwater contamination, as well as lifestyle and behaviors. We can put all that together to get a broader picture of exposures,” said Akram Alshawabkeh, Ph.D., director of the PROTECT Superfund Research Center.

To learn more, see the Translational Research Stories page.