About Us

The PFAS-Exchange is part of a multi-year project called PFAS-REACH (Research, Education, and Action for Community Health) funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

PFAS-REACH is led by Silent Spring Institute in collaboration with Northeastern University and Michigan State University. The community partner organizations are Testing for Pease, Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, and Toxics Action Center.
The project has three main goals:
  • To evaluate potential effects of PFAS exposures on the immune systems of young children in two communities that have had PFAS water contamination.
  • To develop an innovative online resource center, called the PFAS Exchange, with data interpretation tools, tap water testing, and educational materials for affected communities and other audiences.
  • To conduct a social science analysis of affected communities to assess individual, family, and community-level experiences of residents in areas impacted by PFAS-contaminated drinking water.
PFAS-REACH will provide new scientific evidence on the health effects associated with exposure to PFAS–information that could be used to inform new policies and drinking water guidelines that protect the public, in particular vulnerable populations, from these harmful pollutants. Furthermore, through its public outreach and engagement activities, the project aims to support communities across the nation by offering them new tools and information to help them reduce their exposures and safeguard their health.

Our Team

Laurel Schaider, PhD

Laurel is the Project Leader and Co-Principal Investigator for PFAS-REACH. She is a Research Scientist at Silent Spring Institute, where she leads water quality research on PFAS and other chemicals of emerging concern. Her expertise is in environmental chemistry and engineering and public health. Her research focuses on characterizing PFAS exposures from drinking water, understanding health effects associated with PFASs, identifying other sources of PFAS exposure such as food packaging, investigating socioeconomic disparities in exposures to drinking water contaminants, and working with communities to develop research studies and resources to address their concerns.

Phil Brown, PhD

Phil is the Co-Principal Investigator for PFAS-REACH. He is the University Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Health Science at Northeastern University and the Director of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute and its PFAS Project Lab, where he leads research on social policy and activism concerning PFAS. His research includes disputes over environmental causation of illness, community response to toxic waste-induced disease, biomonitoring and household exposure to toxics, environmental health research ethics, and health social movements. His main responsibility in REACH is working on report-back of results to participants, studying individual and community involvement, and developing overall qualitative analysis.

Courtney Carignan, PhD

Courtney is a Co-Investigator for PFAS-REACH. She is an Assistant Professor in Food Science and Human Nutrition and Pharmacology and Toxicology at Michigan State University. Her expertise is in environmental epidemiology and environmental exposure science. Her research helps protect reproductive and child health by investigating exposure to mixtures of ingredients and contaminants in consumer products, drinking water and food. She has conducted biomonitoring and health studies for a wide range of populations including infertile couples, pregnant women, infants, new mothers, office workers, gymnasts, and communities exposed to contaminated drinking water. She’s helping lead the child health study for PFAS-REACH and supporting development of the PFAS Exchange.

Maia Fitzstevens, MS

Maia is the study coordinator for PFAS-REACH. She is a Research Assistant working with Laurel Schaider at Silent Spring Institute, where she works on PFAS-REACH and other water quality projects. She has previously worked on projects examining remediation of lead in urban garden soils and compost, community health interventions to prevent chronic kidney disease of uncertain etiology (CKDu) in Sri Lanka, and the use of bone charcoal to remediate groundwater co-contaminated with fluoride and arsenic in Mexico. She helps coordinate all aspects of PFAS-REACH.

Andrea Amico, MS

Andrea represents Testing for Pease as a community partner with PFAS-REACH. She is a co-founder of the Testing for Pease community action group. She started advocating for more answers and action for the Pease community impacted by PFAS water contamination at the former Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, NH in 2014 after learning her husband and two small children were impacted by highly contaminated drinking water. She is passionate about raising awareness of PFAS water contamination, providing education to impacted communities, lowering standards for PFAS in drinking water, and collaborating with others from all aspects of PFAS (communities, physicians, legislators, researchers, government agencies, etc) to achieve a common goal of reducing PFAS exposure through drinking water. She coordinates outreach activities at the Pease Tradeport near Portsmouth, NH for PFAS-REACH.

Cheryl Osimo

Cheryl represents the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition as a community partner with PFAS-REACH. She is the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition and the Cape Cod Coordinator and co-founder of Silent Spring Institute. She has been a devoted breast cancer activist and advocate since 1991, and has been a catalyst in raising public awareness of the possible environmental links to breast cancer on Cape Cod. Her commitment to this and other studies is a result of her belief that the findings will benefit women not only on the Cape, but worldwide. She coordinates outreach activities in Hyannis, MA for PFAS-REACH.

Shaina Kasper

Shaina represents Toxics Action Center as a community partner with PFAS-REACH. She is the Vermont and New Hampshire State Director with Toxics Action Center, where she works side-by-side with community groups on the frontlines of local environmental and health threats. She also facilitates the National PFAS Contamination Coalition, a network of over 25 grassroots groups fighting forever chemicals in their communities. Shaina’s work with PFAS-REACH is to connect our study sites to PFAS contaminated communities across the country and the world and to advise on study design and the PFAS Exchange.

Other Team Members

Vincent Bessonneau, PhD (Silent Spring Institute)
Julia Brody, PhD (Silent Spring Institute)
Sylvia Broude (Toxics Action Center)
Michelle Dalton (Testing for Pease)
Alayna Davis (Testing for Pease)
Alexandra Goho, MS (Silent Spring Institute)
Erik Haugsjaa, MS (Silent Spring Institute)
Farzad Noubary, PhD (Northeastern University)
Ruthann Rudel, MS (Silent Spring Institute)

Science Advisory Board

Dick Clapp, D.Sc., (Boston University School of Public Health)
Alissa Cordner, PhD (Whitman College)
Jamie DeWitt, PhD (East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine)
Alan Ducatman, MD  (West Virginia University School of Medicine)
Edward Emmett, MD (University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine)
Tony Fletcher, PhD (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
Philippe Grandjean, PhD  (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health)