Silent Spring Lacks Funds To Expand

The Silent Spring Institute, an institute that studies exposure to toxic chemicals in drinking water and homes on Cape Cod, announced recently that it did not receive state funding it had requested that would have led to expansion of their study area.

As part of its mission to prevent environmental causes of breast cancer, members of the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition requested $1,135,000 from the state for its sister organization, Silent Spring, to expand its research on Cape Cod and into central Massachusetts.

The request also included funding to launch education and outreach projects.

“Without state funding, we will lose an opportunity to generate crucial data,” said Cheryl Osimo, MBCC executive director and co-founder of Silent Spring Institute. “To prevent breast cancer for future generations, we must reduce environmental exposures linked with the disease. Allocating funding for research and educational programs is a crucial step towards protecting public health.”

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Representative Paul K. Frost (R-Auburn) sponsored and filed legislation seeking $1,135,000, which would cover two years of research. The bill was co-sponsored by 12 Massachusetts representatives from central Massachusetts and Cape Cod.

Another bill, for $500,000 for only one year, was also voted down.

Silent Spring is seeking the same funds through the state senate, championed by Senator Daniel A. Wolfe (D-Harwich). As of Tuesday, an article number has yet to be announced, Ms. Osimo said.

Last year, Silent Spring did not receive any state funds, Ms. Osimo said. Two years ago they received $50,000. In the first 10 years of Silent Spring’s 20-year history, they have received a million dollars a year from the state, she said.

Ms. Osimo said that the funds would compare research from Cape Cod to new research in central Massachusetts.

Silent Spring researchers investigate exposure to chemical herbicides in groundwater and in homes on Cape Cod. Exposure to herbicides has been linked to hormone disruption, DNA damage, and mammary tumors in animal studies, Ms. Osimo said.

Using a combination of lab and field studies, researchers at the institute hope to evaluate the movement of herbicides into groundwater, exposures through contact with sprayed areas, migration of herbicides into homes, and to research exposure to perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in central Massachusetts and on Cape Cod.

Perfluorinated chemicals are linked to cancer and hormone disruption in people and are used in non-stick and stain-resistant products, said Ms. Osimo.

Researchers hope to assess exposures to PFCs leaching from household products, sources of PFCs into wastewater and groundwater, and PFC levels in drinking water wells in central Massachusetts.

Prior studies by the institute showed that PFCs were prevalent in Cape Cod drinking water.

This proposal would have allocated funding to Silent Spring to disseminate research results and tips to avoid toxic exposures, using videos, community meetings, and outreach to local schools and colleges. 

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