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Progress Reports: University of Rhode Island: Community Engagement Core

Superfund Research Program

Community Engagement Core

Project Leader: Alyson McCann
Co-Investigator: Laurel Schaider (Silent Spring Institute)
Grant Number: P42ES027706
Funding Period: 2017-2022
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Progress Reports

Year:   2019  2018  2017 

The sand and gravel aquifer of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is the sole source of drinking water for residents and is vulnerable to contamination from septic systems, runoff, landfills, and other pollution sources. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals have been found in public and private drinking water wells, in some cases at levels that exceeded health guidelines. The Sources, Transport, Exposure and Effects of PFASs (STEEP) Community Engagement Core (CEC) is addressing community concerns about water quality and identifying potential sources by conducting a private well testing program and partnering with local organizations to engage with diverse audiences. STEEP’s private well testing program is providing new insight into the possible extent and concentrations of PFAS in Cape Cod private wells. In Year 3, the CEC completed data analysis for the first 101 wells, in collaboration with STEEP’s Exposure Assessment and Chemometrics of PFASs Project, and calculated correlations with nitrate and boron in order to evaluate the contributions of septic systems as sources of PFAS. The CEC used Silent Spring Institute’s Digital Exposure Report-Back Interface (DERBI) to create customized, context-rich reports for participants, and collaborated with the Research Translation Core (RTC) to create a lay summary of key findings. The annual Science Day brought STEEP researchers and trainees together with local high school students and teachers, members of local environmental organizations, officials from town, county, and state government, journalists, and other residents to share updates on STEEP research and on the evolving landscape of PFAS regulations. The CEC continues to engage with diverse audiences on Cape Cod by hosting community events, such as film screenings, presenting at local conferences and civic associations, and engaging with media.

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