Just how toxic is your community? No, this isn’t about contentious school committee meetings or surly neighbors. Neighborhoods across the country are contaminated with long-lasting, cancer-causing toxins called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS, and researchers at Northeastern recently unveiled an interactive, online map that identifies areas with high levels of the chemicals.
“We really hope that by putting all of this information together in one easy-to-use place that it can be a resource that is helpful to residents, advocates, and environmental health leaders,” says Phil Brown, university distinguished professor of sociology and health sciences and director of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute.
The invisible, tasteless chemicals accumulate in the blood when ingested through water, food, and air. Exposure to harmful levels of PFAS can lead to decreased fertility, developmental delays in children, and prostate, kidney, or testicular cancer.