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PFAS and Flame Retardants: Community Education and Toxics Use Reduction

Project Details

Year: 2020-2022
Location: Boston
Project Manager: Elizabeth Saunders, Clean Water Fund; Laura Spark, Clean Water Fund; Mary Cordero, Community Action Works

Reducing Exposure to PFAS

This page describes two related projects. The most recent project, led by Community Action Works and Clean Water Fund, provided training and education to communities affected by PFAS contamination.

The project team provided workshops and resources to community members about PFAS contamination in drinking water and options for reducing PFAS use. The workshops shared information about health and environmental concerns, safer alternatives and practical steps to reduce the use of, and exposure to, PFAS.

The project team worked to educate Massachusetts residents about the specific steps needed to restore local water safety, and about the broader problem of PFAS contamination and the need to sharply reduce the use of this class of chemicals. Through statewide and local workshops, the project team trained more than 200 Massachusetts residents. In addition to explaining basics of PFAS science and options for reducing PFAS use in everyday products, the project team helped residents to understand how to interpret lab testing results and conducted additional research to help answer questions generated by communities on a wide range of PFAS-related topics.

The project team created a series of educational fact sheets: a Massachusetts and PFAS Overview; a PFAS Glossary; a Water Testing Glossary; a Shopper’s Guide to Avoiding PFAS; and Elevated PFAS in Water: Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself.


Flame Retardants and PFAS

The first project (2020-2021), led by Clean Water Fund, aimed to educate Massachusetts residents about the prevalence of toxic flame retardant and PFAS chemicals in everyday products and in their communities. The project raised awareness about exposures that people may be experiencing themselves, or that members of their families and communities may be experiencing (such as children and first responders), and the harm to health that those exposures can cause.

Clean Water Fund created fact sheets on PFAS and flame retardants and made them available on the Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund websites. They created an infographic on PFAS and updated an existing infographic on flame retardants and began distributing them via their blog, social media and email lists. They wrote a blog post on PFAS and one on toxic flame retardants. Both fact sheets have been translated into Spanish and Haitian Creole and the PFAS fact sheet into Portuguese.

The team held the workshop three times -- for the staff of Cerulli Associates (a Boston based financial firm), one for Clean Water’s membership and broader community (which was attended by one state legislator and one legislative staff person among many others) and for youth at Propa City Community Outreach (a Dorchester based organization). The workshop for Clean Water Fund’s broader community was recorded and posted on the Clean Water website.


This page updated Tuesday July 05 2022