2019 Water Quality Campaign

A Call to Action!

Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) is reaching out to our supporters to contact Martin Suuberg, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), for greater protection of our drinking water.

Millions of people unknowingly have toxic chemicals in their drinking water and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is doing little to regulate them. In the absence of guidance from the federal government, states are taking their own steps.

PFASs, a class of toxic chemicals in drinking water and consumer products, have been linked to a wide range of health effects including immune system toxicity, elevated cholesterol, delayed mammary gland development, effects on the thyroid and liver, and cancer. Scientists are concerned that exposures to chemicals that alter mammary gland development may increase the risk of breast cancer.

The Time to Act is Now!

In June 2018, the MassDEP issued a guideline to regulate PFASs. The guideline is 70 parts per trillion for the total amount of 5 PFAS chemicals in drinking water. MassDEP recommends that public water supplies take steps to keep PFAS levels below this guideline, and pregnant women, nursing mothers, and infants are urged to avoid water that exceeds this guideline. MassDEP’s guideline is somewhat more restrictive than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s guideline, which only considers two of these chemicals.

However, scientists are concerned about health effects at lower levels of exposure, and some states have taken action to further restrict PFASs in water. For instance, Vermont’s drinking water guideline is just 20 parts per trillion for the same 5 chemicals-three and a half times lower than MassDEP’s guideline-and New Jersey has developed drinking water standards of just 13 or 14 parts per trillion for three of these individual chemicals.

MassDEP Can Do Better!

While MBCC appreciates that MassDEP is concerned about PFAS and has taken some steps to limit exposure from contaminated public drinking water supplies, additional measures are needed to protect our water supplies and our health.  We are urging MassDEP to issue a more stringent drinking water limit in light of the extreme toxicity of PFAS chemicals, develop requirements for cleanup of PFAS at contaminated sites, and make sure that the public is informed if their water supply has PFAS.

We ask you to please contact Commissioner Martin Suuberg at the MassDEP to urge the Department to protect Massachusetts residents by:

  • Establishing enforceable drinking water standards for PFASs in drinking water below the current 70 parts per trillion consistent with approaches adopted by other states.
  • Establishing soil and groundwater standards for PFASs at contaminated sites. These standards are critical for ensuring that contaminated sites are adequately cleaned up to protect drinking water sources.
  • Asking water testing laboratories to publicly release additional information about PFAS levels in Massachusetts drinking water and make sure consumers are informed. Testing conducted in 2013-15 found that over 40 public water supplies in our state have PFASs but only a handful had levels high enough to be reported.

Contact information for Commissioner Martin Suuberg, MassDEP
by email: martin.suuberg@mass.gov
by phone: 617-292-5856
by mail: One Winter St., 2nd floor, Boston, MA 02108

Join MBCC in our efforts to protect future generations!

With over 4,000 PFASs on the global market and emerging understanding of toxic health effects, PFASs pose an enormous public health challenge.

PFASs are a class of toxic chemicals used in many consumer products such as stain resistant carpets, non-stick pans, waterproof jackets, and grease-proof food packaging. These chemicals are extremely persistent, and some can linger in our bodies for many years. Nearly all Americans carry traces of these chemicals in our bodies.

PFASs are also showing up in a growing number of drinking water supplies across the U.S. Often this contamination is linked to the use of firefighting foams commonly used at military bases, airports, and fire training areas. Some contamination comes from industrial sources. In 2016, an estimated six million Americans were served by a public water supply that exceeded an EPA health guideline for two PFAS chemicals. More recently, the Environmental Working Group estimated that over 100 million Americans have these toxic chemicals in their drinking water.

Communities in Massachusetts are affected too. PFASs have been detected in drinking water sources serving Hyannis, Westfield, Mashpee, Ayer, Devens, Danvers, Hudson, and most recently, Martha’s Vineyard. Other water supplies may have undiscovered contamination.

Thank You for Prioritizing Breast Cancer Prevention!  


End of Year Message from MBCC’s Executive Director

Dear Friend in Prevention,

I’m writing this letter to ask you to support the vital work Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) is doing to prevent breast cancer for future generations. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women – 1 in 8 will be diagnosed in their lifetime. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women, taking the lives of over 40,900 women in just this year alone. The statistics are alarming and the toll this disease is taking on families is just too high.

We are long overdue for a systematic change.

MBCC’s mission – to prevent the environmental causes of breast cancer through community education, research advocacy, and changes to public policy – has never been more urgently needed. As the only advocacy organization focused on breast cancer prevention, we are proud of our accomplishments over the past year:

  • Our award-winning community education program, Let’s Talk Prevention (LTP): Reducing Toxic Exposures, was exhibited in 150 locations throughout Massachusetts and expanded into seven languages;
  • We created a special hands-on version of LTP for high school students and presented it in classrooms from the Berkshires to Cape Cod. For this work, MBCC was recognized by the Toxics Use Reduction Institute as a “Champion of Toxic Reduction”;
  • We brought life-saving health information from renowned scientists directly to citizens through expansion of the MBCC Webinar Series, including topics such as drinking water pollutants and cell phone risk;
  • As part of a dynamic coalition, we met with the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to advocate for the establishment of stronger standards for common drinking water contamination;   
  • As a Community Partner of the STEEP Superfund Research Program, we worked with researchers from University of Rhode Island, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, and Silent Spring Institute to share information on exposures to PFASs, a class of toxic chemicals in drinking water and consumer products, through community events, the LTP tour, and the MBCC Webinar Series. 

These and other initiatives are gaining momentum. In 2019, we will tailor LTP for middle school curriculums and lay the groundwork for working with elementary schools. MBCC plans to deepen our unique role as a bridge between the research and medical communities and the public as we embark on a five-year study with researchers from Silent Spring Institute, Northeastern University, and Michigan State University on PFAS-REACH (PFAS Research, Education, and Action for Community Health) to address the harmful effects of PFASs in children and support communities affected by contaminated drinking water. With increasing evidence that some water supplies contain dangerous levels of contaminants, MBCC will continue to press state legislators to support comprehensive drinking water and groundwater research and will urge them to adopt stricter drinking water and environmental standards for PFASs.  We are determined to reach more residents with vital health information about how to reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals and make changes to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.

We cannot take on these initiatives without your help.

Your generous support makes our ongoing work possible and helps us to meet the growing demand for our programs and resources. A gift from you is a practical, immediate way of joining the fight for prevention.

If you have supported us in the past, please, won’t you consider increasing your gift?

If you are new to our work, will you please make a first-time contribution today?

Every tax-deductible dollar you contribute goes directly to MBCC’s efforts to make our environment safe and free from disease for ourselves, our families, and our communities. As I have often said, this is not a job for our children and grandchildren – this is our job. And, we need your help.

Our work is far from over. Please help ensure that prevention is a priority.

With deep gratitude,

Cheryl Osimo Executive Director

MBCC and MA Citizens Advocate for Clean Water Research at State House

As part of its mission to prevent environmental causes of breast cancer through community education, research advocacy, and changes to public policy, Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) has requested funding from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for its sister organization, Silent Spring Institute. The funding will be used to study exposure to toxic chemicals in drinking water and homes throughout Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition at the State House on October 4th, 2017, advocating for funding its sister organization, Silent Spring Institute’s, comprehensive water quality research.

On Wednesday, October 4th advocates from MBCC and citizens throughout the Commonwealth of MA met with state legislators and their staff to request funding for comprehensive water quality research.

With the requested state funding, Silent Spring Institute researchers would be able to:

  1. Test for health effects of highly fluorinated chemicals
  2. Test for emerging contaminants in private wells
  3. Evaluate enhanced removal of emerging contaminants from household wastewater
  4. Develop online water quality information tools for residents

MBCC is urging Massachusetts citizens to:

First, contact Senator Anne M. Gobi (anne.gobi@masenate.gov, 617-722-1540) and Representative Smitty Pignatelli (rep.smitty@masshouse.gov, 617-722-2210), Chairs of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, and ask them to support Bills H.2919 and S.455An Act relative to drinking water and ground water research, that would establish a research trust fund for Silent Spring Institute’s water quality research, and to support funding for this research trust fund.

Second, ask their State Representative and State Senator to contact Senator Gobi and Representative Pignatelli to express their support for Bills H.2919 and S.455. Click these links for a list of legislators already supporting these bills.

Third, ask their State Senator to support a veto override of line item #4510-0600 to restore $25,000 to support Silent Spring Institute’s water quality research in the FY 2018 budget.

Fourth, request their State Representative and State Senator’s support in the amount of $647,500 for the first year of a three-year proposal for comprehensive water quality research to be conducted by Silent Spring Institute.

To find contact information for legislators, go to: https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator

Are you concerned about drinking water quality?

Take Action! Make Phone Calls or Send emails to Support Clean Drinking Water and Ground Water Research!

Most Americans assume that their drinking water is safe, but there is increasing evidence that some water supplies contain dangerous levels of contaminants. While the health risks associated with certain contaminants are well-established, as in the case of lead, other unregulated contaminants are just being discovered. It is these contaminants of emerging concern that should give us all pause. Do we really know what’s in our drinking water?

Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) is advocating for funding to support an innovative research and education initiative from our sister organization, Silent Spring Institute. MBCC is seeking $1,590,000 in funding over a three-year period of time to support comprehensive clean water research. With this funding, Silent Spring Institute researchers will be able to:

  • Evaluate potential health effects of exposure to highly fluorinated chemicals in drinking water
  • Test for emerging contaminants in private wells across Massachusetts
  • Evaluate methods to enhance removal of emerging contaminants from household wastewater
  • Develop online water quality information tools for Massachusetts citizens

MBCC encourages you to contact your State Senator and Representative to request support for this critical clean water research to take place over the next three years. Go to https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator or call 617-722-2000 to find contact information for your legislators.

2017 Drinking Water Advocacy – MA Citizens Action Needed

Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) has requested funding from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for its sister organization, Silent Spring Institute. The funding will be used to study exposure to toxic chemicals in drinking water throughout Massachusetts and provide online tools for residents to learn about their drinking water quality. MBCC needs your help to support the passage of the bill, filed by Representative Paul K. Frost (7th Worcester), Bill H.2919 An Act Relative to Drinking Water and Ground Water Research, to establish a research trust fund. If you have not already done so, we urge you to:

1) Contact the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture to request support of Bill H.2919.  In addition, ask for their support to find funding for this trust fund.

Senator Anne M. Gobi, 617-722-1540; email: anne.gobi@masenate.gov

Representative Gailanne M. Cariddi, 617-722-2210; email: gailanne.cariddi@mahouse.gov

2) Also, please contact your State Legislators to support clean water research funding for Silent Spring Institute. You can find the contact information for your legislators at https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator or call 617-722-2000

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Pictured: Dr. Laurel Schaider, Research Scientist, Silent Spring Institute; Representative Paul K. Frost, 7th Worcester; Cheryl Reeve, MBCC Volunteer Event Chairwoman; Margo Simon Golden, President, MBCC Board of Directors; and, Justine Dymond, MBCC Board of Directors Member

This advocacy effort follows the forum MBCC co-hosted on January 25th with Representative Frost at the State House. Over 60 Massachusetts state legislators and aides came to learn about drinking water quality at the Educational Forum on Water Quality Research in Massachusetts.

Representative Frost and Margo Simon Golden, President of MBCC’s Board of Directors, explained the need for water quality research and shared their motivations for protecting water quality and public health in Massachusetts. Dr. Laurel Schaider, Research Scientist at Silent Spring Institute, provided an update on Silent Spring Institute’s ongoing research on hormone disruptors and other unregulated chemicals of emerging concern in drinking water and groundwater on Cape Cod, as well as priority areas for water quality research in other parts of the Commonwealth.