Leadership Grant

Community-based research and action on drinking water contaminants

$22,000 awarded to Silent Spring Institute in

Lauren Richter was hired as Research Scientist with Silent Spring Institute to lead a community-based participatory research project on highly fluorinated chemical contamination of drinking water in New England. Per- and polyfluorinated compounds (PFAS) are a pressing public health and environmental challenge across the country, are largely unregulated, and are currently contaminating the drinking water of about 15 million Americans.  PFAS chemicals are also found in many products we use today, including fast food packaging, Teflon pans, Goretex products, and others.  Lauren Richter is a social scientist who has deep knowledge of the history of, and scientific controversies around, chemical exposure and human health effects from this class of chemicals.  Through this Switzer Leadership Grant, she joined an interdisciplinary team that monitored targeted towns in New England with known contamination; provided tools and support to help educate affected community members; and provided evidence of the contamination and its health impacts to government, news media, industry leaders and the general public with the ultimate goal of seeing this class of chemicals fully regulated.