The University of Rhode Island Superfund Research Program (URI SRP) Center has produced a variety of resources to explain the potential effects of poly- and perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) and ways to reduce exposure. The URI SRP Sources, Transport, Exposure, and Effects of PFASs (STEEP) Center is addressing the emerging and expanding problem of PFAS contamination.
PFASs are industrial compounds that have been used in many consumer products, such as non-stick cooking pans, due to their unique oil- and water-repellent properties. They also result from the use of aqueous film forming foams at airports, military installations, and firefighting training sites. PFASs are very stable and do not break down quickly, leading to long-term exposure and accumulation in humans and the environment.
The team created materials for a range of audiences, including coloring sheets geared toward younger and older children to help them identify potential sources of PFASs in the home, a four-page brochure with a plain-language overview of PFASs and the STEEP SRP Center, and a fact sheet with basic information about STEEP's goals, research projects, and cores. STEEP also initiated a study to test for PFASs in private drinking water wells on Cape Cod and made and distributed an informational flyer to provide details and guidance on how the Cape Cod residents could participate.
In addition to informing the public about potential sources, they also developed tip sheets with actionable ways to reduce PFAS exposure. For example, their Tips Before Taps two-page sheet includes ways to avoid PFASs in the home and tips for buying products without PFASs. They also created several tip sheets that use illustrations to convey important messages about PFASs. Tips for Infants provides important information about limiting PFAS exposure before, during, and after pregnancy. Tips for Families offers a short visual quiz to identify potential sources of PFASs in the home.
They also have created bookmarks, stickers, and other useful materials for the public and their stakeholders. These materials are helping the STEEP team to increase environmental health literacy, communicate their science, and support the needs of communities impacted by PFASs.