The STEEP Superfund Research Program Center was established to address the emerging and expanding problem of PFAS in drinking water—how these contaminants move through our environment, how we are exposed, and how they affect our health.
Cape Cod

The five-year project, led by the University of Rhode Island (URI), is a collaboration between URI, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Department of Environmental Health, and Silent Spring Institute. 

PFAS are a class of chemicals added to consumer products to make them non-stick, waterproof, and stain-resistant. They are also used in firefighting foams and industrial processes. These chemicals are showing up in drinking water supplies across the United States. Scientists are concerned about these chemicals because of their potential impacts on health. One of the communities that is on the front lines in dealing with exposure to PFAS is Cape Cod, Mass. As a result, Silent Spring Institute and their STEEP collaborators are conducting a number of activities on the Cape, including:

  • Testing private wells for PFAS
  • Studying how PFAS enter groundwater from firefighting foams used at Joint Base Cape Cod
  • Field testing new methods to detect PFAS in surface waters
  • Engaging with residents and officials to share STEEP research findings and address local concerns

STEEP scientists are also studying the chemical properties of PFAS and their specific impact on human health through a long-term health study of children in the Faroe Islands complemented by laboratory studies.

Local project partners include the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) and the Sierra Club, Cape Cod Group. This project is funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

For more information, visit the STEEP website.

News & Updates


EPA announced drinking water standards for six PFAS chemicals, marking the first time in more than 20 years the federal agency has set an enforceable limit on a new unregulated drinking water contaminant.


In a comment submitted to EPA, Silent Spring affirms its support for the agency’s new proposed drinking water standard for PFAS chemicals.


Barnstable County residents invited to have their private well water tested for harmful PFASs