Register now for the PFAS-REACH Children’s Health Study
Register now for the PFAS-REACH Children’s Health Study

Almost 10 years ago, the community of Pease learned that our drinking water had been contaminated with high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from the firefighting foam used when the commercial port of Pease was an Air Force base.

PFAS are a large class of man-made chemicals that are persistent in the environment and some PFAS bioaccumulate and remain in the human body for years. PFAS are toxic and the science of human health effects continues to evolve. Research so far has shown that some PFASs are associated with multiple adverse health effects that affect many body systems, such as various cancers, increased cholesterol, lower antibody response to certain vaccines, changes in liver enzymes, pregnancy-induced hypertension and reduced birth weight in infants. More research is needed to fully understand how PFAS exposure—from drinking highly contaminated water or other sources—affects human health over time.

The Pease community was one of the first communities in the nation to grapple with this problem. Since 2014, we have been on the cusp of significant advocacy, leadership, resources, and support that paved the way for a community-based PFAS blood testing program, two PFAS human health studies, Pease drinking water filtration, decontamination, and PFAS regulations.

One of the PFAS health studies funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is called PFAS-REACH and is currently recruiting participants to study the potential effects of PFAS exposure on the immune systems of young children exposed to contaminated with PFAS drinking water in Pease prior to May 2014. My community advocacy group, Testing for Pease, advocated for this study and served as the community partner for the PFAS-REACH study. The study recently expanded its eligibility criteria to include older children. If you currently have children between the ages of 11-15 who attended Pease Tradeport Kindergarten prior to May 2014, please consider signing up for the survey. Also, if you are a woman who worked at Pease Tradeport prior to May 2014 and currently have children aged 4-8, please consider not signing up for the survey.

My daughter has been attending Kindergarten in Pease since she was 12 weeks old. She was 3 years old when we learned that she had consumed water at her kindergarten that was heavily contaminated with PFAS. Not a day goes by that I don’t worry about how the impact of drinking highly contaminated water at a critical time in her development will affect her health over time. She is now 13 years old and recently participated in the PFAS-REACH study because it is important for us to learn how exposure to PFAS early in her life may affect her health now that she is older. We also want to know what her current blood PFAS levels are now that her exposure to highly contaminated drinking water stopped nearly 10 years ago. This survey will provide answers and meaningful information for my daughter and our family.

We can’t undo the PFAS exposure our community has experienced at Pease in the past, but we can learn from it and participate in research that will help advance the science of human health and PFAS exposure. There are few human health studies on PFAS and it is a privilege to be in a community where we are given this opportunity. Therefore, I strongly encourage anyone with children who may be eligible to consider signing up for the PFAS-REACH study. Community participation in this study not only helps the Pease community better understand the impact of PFAS-contaminated water on our health, but will also help inform the thousands of other communities and millions of people across the country who are also struggling with the consumption of PFAS-contaminated drinking water, but we don’t have access to the options we have.

The study includes children until the end of April 2024, so now is the time to sign up! Participating in the study is easy – a one-time blood and urine sample is taken from your child and the parent completes a questionnaire over the phone and responds to text messages every two weeks. You get detailed survey results and up to $125 in gift cards for participating.

To learn more or see if your children are eligible to participate in the PFAS-REACH study, please email [email protected], call/text 617-221-6428 or visit https:/ / /learn kids/

Andrea Amico is a Portsmouth resident and co-founder of Testing for Pease.

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