SILENT SPRING INSTITUTE
CELEBRATING 25 YEARS
2018 Impact Report
The problems we face
are truly frightening…
Toxic chemicals in products we use every day are
increasing our risk of cancer.
Drinking water for millions of Americans contains
chemicals linked to serious health problems.
Regulation of countless chemicals in our
environment is inadequate or nonexistent.
…a nd that’s just the tip
of the iceberg.
Thank goodness donors like you are
leading the way to prevent cancer by
eliminating these dangerous threats.
The following pages tell stories of some of the
amazing things your generosity accomplished in 2018.
We invite you to take a look.
THANK YOU for helping make laws
that save women’s lives
Fighting cancer is even tougher than fighting fires
THANKS TO YOU, stress about the high cost of entitled to that coverage. Initially, the proposed
treatment was not part of Nicole’s fight. bill did not include female cancers, such as breast
or reproductive cancers.
After Fire Lt. Nicole Stanley was diagnosed
with breast cancer last August, she became That changed when we shared our research
the first woman to take advantage of a new with lawmakers showing that female firefighters
Massachusetts law that provides paid leave and face an increased risk of breast and reproductive
continuing medical benefits for firefighters with cancers resulting from exposure to toxic chem-
work-related cancer. icals found on firefighting gear, in firefighting
foam, and in the smoke and fumes released
Without your support of our work at Silent during fires.
Spring Institute, Nicole might not have been
Now cancer-free after 16 weeks of grueling chemotherapy
and a double mastectomy, Nicole shares her thoughts about cancer
and how Silent Spring is helping her beat it.
I didn’t pick firefighting—it picked me. It just my Harley. My life has been on hold.
happened to be what I was meant to do. I was But I never had to worry for one minute about
the very first woman to join the Mashpee Fire
Department 28 years ago. I absolutely love my job. paying for my treatment or losing my job, and that’s
We’ve known for a long time about the high inci- because of the people at Silent Spring Institute.
dence of cancer among firefighters. Every year, we
hear about more and more of us getting sick. The Just one month before my diagnosis, the
numbers are overwhelming. ‘presumption bill,’ a bill that provides paid leave
for firefighters with work-related cancer, was
Even so, I was surprised when I was diagnosed signed into law. Thanks to Silent Spring’s work
last August. I have no family history. I work out five supporting that bill, my breast cancer treatment
days a week. I never even took Advil for anything. was covered.
It hit some of the guys at the firehouse really I just got the results of my follow-up exam.
hard. They said, ‘This is the woman that does The report said, ‘no residual carcinoma identified.’
triathlons. This is the woman who stinks up the Those are the words! I literally went to sleep hold-
kitchen, making broccoli and brussels sprouts for ing that report in my hands.
When people ask if I’m going back, I say I have
Since then, I’ve had 16 weeks of chemotherapy full intentions of returning—cancer won’t stop
and a double mastectomy. I lost all my hair and a me from going back to the career I love! And I’ll
lot of my fitness. I haven’t been able to work or ride never stop fighting for safer conditions for
Nicole, shown above before her cancer diagnosis, is at her happiest on her Harley. She’ll be riding again soon.
Your donations at work
Protecting the female firefighters who risk their lives to protect us
It’s not surprising that firefighters changed that when they formed the job. The findings will make it possi-
have higher cancer rates than Women Firefighters Biomonitoring ble to develop targeted strategies
the general population. During a Collaborative, along with San for reducing the toxic exposures
fire, they breathe in a slew of toxic Francisco firefighters, scientists at associated with breast cancer and
chemicals released from burning University of California, Berkeley, other diseases.
furnishings, buildings materials, and health advocates.
and consumer products. We know Next up: using this same meth-
that many of these toxics are This group is comparing blood odology to test nurses for toxic
carcinogens. samples from more than 80 female exposures. The goal? Preventing
firefighters with those of office cancer in the first place, so we
Most of the research about workers, allowing scientists to don’t have to worry about passing
cancer in firefighters comes from identify exactly which chemicals laws like the one that provided
studies on men. Silent Spring firefighters are exposed to on the Nicole’s medical coverage.
Why I give to Silent Spring Institute
We have the power to lower cancer risks—
Silent Spring shows us how
Jill Balmuth had long known about a couple of cases of
breast cancer in her family’s past. Her father’s grandmother and his
first cousin both died of it.
SEVERAL YEARS AGO, Jill began researching her to protect ourselves against carcinogens in the
family tree. She was shocked to discover just how environment.
pervasive breast cancer was in her family.
That’s why Jill is so enthusiastic about donat-
Going back four generations, she found one ing to Silent Spring. She loves the action steps we
breast cancer death after another. In addition to recommend because they’re easy to do—like swap-
the two she already knew about, she learned that ping out plastic water bottles for glass or metal,
her father’s great-grandmother also lost her life and getting rid of those nonstick pans.
to breast cancer, as well as two cousins from Jill’s
own generation. Another cousin was diagnosed but “Most people think there’s nothing they can
survived. do to protect their health beyond exercise and
diet,” Jill says. “Silent Spring shows there are
Even more alarming, she spotted an eerie many other actions they can easily take—and
trend: those diagnosed in recent decades became scientific research shows these actions can make a
sick much younger than her ancestors from long difference.”
ago did. Those with breast cancer who were born
in the 1800s got sick in their 40s or 50s. The ones A woman born in the US today has a 1 in 8
born since 1950 were only in their 20s when they chance of developing breast cancer at some point
got sick. in her life. “Every woman worries about breast
cancer,” Jill says. She agrees with Silent Spring
“According to Silent Spring’s research, there that stopping breast cancer before it strikes is the
may be an environmental component at work. I best way to beat it.
feel that too,” she says. After World War II, indus-
try began releasing large quantities of synthetic “They’re the only organization I know of that is
chemicals into the environment, including pesti- talking about prevention. When you give to Silent
cides, plastics, solvents, and other chemicals that Spring, you see the outcomes of their research.
science has shown to be linked to breast cancer. They’re actually changing the way people live their
lives. That’s not something you often see with
“Knowledge is power,” says Jill, “and the other organizations.”
more you know, the better.” That goes for your
own health as well as the steps we all can take
“Everyone is so thankful when
we tell them about Silent Spring.
They say, ‘I threw out my nonstick
frying pans and plastic water
bottles.’ People’s eyes really
open when they discover the
supporting science is out there.”
Your donations at work
Protecting our daughters and granddaughters
from breast cancer
Research shows the seeds of Health, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Thanks to your support, we
breast cancer may be sown early and the University of Chile—and are learning about the impact of
in life. A young girl’s adolescence a group of 500 Latina girls in a variety of endocrine-disrupting
is an important “window of Santiago, Chile. chemicals on breast density and
susceptibility,” a time in her life other changes that are associated
when she is especially vulnerable. These young teens are the with increased risk for breast cancer.
perfect study participants,
To find out whether early expo- because investigators have been Because of you, our daughters
sure to common chemicals in the collecting data on their growth and granddaughters will benefit
environment is linked to increased and development since the age of from new understanding of breast
risk for breast cancer later in life, four—and because they are exposed cancer risk factors, safer products,
Silent Spring is collaborating with to the same kinds of chemicals and and better policies to protect their
the UCLA Fielding School of Public products as girls here in the US. health. THANK YOU.
THANK YOU for
scientists as they
work to make our
Research scientist Laurel Schaider strikes back
against toxic chemicals in our everyday lives
LAUREL studies the health impacts of chemical Where did your passion for protecting the
contaminants in consumer products and drinking environment come from?
water supplies. She was trained at MIT and I wasn’t really aware of environmental issues
the University of California, Berkeley. Through until I was in high school. My freshman year was
her work at Silent Spring, she has become the 20th anniversary of Earth Day, and we talked
a sought-after authority on PFASs (a class about it in class. I immediately became an avid
of toxic chemicals—see next page) and other recycler and joined the school’s environmental
contaminants in our environment. group. I’m not sure my parents appreciated me
sifting through the trash to find every recyclable
can and bottle, but I know they were proud of me.
What experiences early in your career shaped years. PFASs have been linked to cancers, immune
the way you approach your work? suppression, and many other serious health
As a postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard School problems. And they’ve been in the environment for
of Public Health, I went to Oklahoma to study decades—with little or no regulation.
the effects of exposure to metal mixtures from
mine waste on children’s health. I loved working You have two young kids. Did becoming a parent
with the community to answer questions that real affect your sense of urgency about finding ways
people care about—not just other scientists. to reduce environmental toxics?
I started my research on flame retardants and
That’s one reason I find working here to be so plasticizers in consumer product chemicals at
rewarding. At Silent Spring we are all committed about the same time I became a new parent. What
to designing research studies with practical impli- I learned at work made me really concerned about
cations, sharing what we learn, and working with the long-term effects on children’s bodies.
Many of your projects at Silent Spring involve What would you like your legacy to be, when you
studying PFASs. What are PFASs, and why are look back on your career someday?
you so concerned about them? I would like to know that my work led to tangible
PFASs are chemicals used in countless products changes—that people are less exposed to harmful
from fast food wrappers to nonstick pans to chemicals—either through retailer action and
waterproof clothing to dental floss. They are also consumer demand or through regulation. Having
used in firefighting foams for putting out fuel products that don’t have harmful chemicals added
fires. They can even get into the dust on our floors in the first place. Having drinking water regula-
and our drinking water. PFASs are often called tions that are protective of health. Staying ahead of
“forever chemicals” because they can remain in the curve and staying proactive rather than react-
the environment for decades and in our bodies for ing after contaminations have already occurred.
Your donations at work
Your donations are protecting children from
Here’s one of the scariest project funded by the National their drinking water and lead to
discoveries about the effects Institutes of Health. They will cleanup strategies and protec-
of toxic chemicals in our envi- study the impact of PFASs on tion policies for children and
ronment: scientists suspect vaccine effectiveness in two their families.
that exposure to PFASs are groups of 4- to 6-year-olds who
depressing the effectiveness of have been exposed to PFASs Your generosity supports
diphtheria and tetanus vaccines through their drinking water. the careers of all our Silent
in small children. Spring scientists, who
Their findings will help are working to make our
To investigate this, Laurel dozens of communities across world safer.
is leading a team of scientists the nation that were horrified to
in a $2.5 million research discover PFAS contamination in THANK YOU.
From Research to Real World Impact Because of you, hair and
Your support is powering more far-reaching changes
and discoveries than we have room to list. Here are nail salon professionals
just a few of the victories that could not have happened
in California have the
without you in 2018.
knowledge to protect
You are leading the way to legislation guaranteeing
toxic-free fast food wrappers. themselves from toxics in
WHAT DO FAST FOODS like burg- fertility, are known as “forever their workplaces.
ers, french fries, and pizza have in chemicals” because they remain in
common? They are served in grease- our bodies for years and don’t break COSMETOLOGISTS AND NAIL SALON
proof packaging that was recently down in the environment. workers endure prolonged exposure
analyzed in the most comprehensive to a range of toxic chemicals, and
study ever on fast food wrapping Based in large part on our studies show they have an increased
materials. The goal? To find out research, San Francisco and risk of reproductive disorders. Yet
whether they contain PFASs— Washington state issued bans last although federal law requires retail
toxic chemicals that make them year on food packaging containing cosmetic manufacturers to label all
grease-proof. these dangerous chemicals. Several ingredients in their products, those
other states, including California, marketed to salons are not covered by
Silent Spring’s Laurel Schaider led New York, and Rhode Island, are the same regulation.
this research, which found PFASs in following their lead by introducing
up to 50% of the items tested. These similar policies. With your support, That will change in California
chemicals, associated with cancer, this wave of change will continue to on July 1, 2020, thanks to a new law
thyroid disease, immune suppression, spread—thank you, donors! requiring professional cosmetics
low birth weight, and decreased manufacturers to label the ingredi-
ents used in their products.
Ruthann Rudel, director of
research, and Jessica Helm, a post-
doctoral research fellow, submitted
testimony that was instrumental in
the passage of this new law. “People,
most often minority women, who
work with hair, nail, and other beauty
products have a right to know what
ingredients are in their workplace,”
they wrote. “Ingredient disclosure
empowers people to make choices
with their health in mind.”
Choose your dental floss
Thanks to you, Silent Spring treats research participants IF YOU HAVE BEEN USING Oral-B
as partners—not subjects. Now the rest of the scientific Glide dental floss or a store brand
community is catching on. look-alike, it might be time to
A 2018 REPORT by the National with participants provoke pointless
Academy of Sciences, Engineering, worry and fear? Silent Spring Institute recently
and Medicine validates a method of published findings on connections
reporting back to study participants After weighing the pros and cons, between various consumer behav-
that Dr. Julia Brody, Silent Spring’s we decided that our study partic- iors—including flossing—and PFAS
executive director, pioneered in 2003. ipants had the right to know what levels in women. PFASs are toxic
The report encourages researchers chemicals they’ve been exposed to. chemicals associated with a number
nationwide to make the practice So we developed a reporting method- of serious health conditions, includ-
more routine. ology that provides each participant ing cancer.
with a comprehensive, easily under-
That was the year we conducted stood report, providing personalized When researchers discovered
our first major study on household results and recommendations on that women who used Oral-B Glide
exposures to environmental pollut- addressing findings—including how had higher levels of the toxic chem-
ants. We went to 120 Cape Cod to reduce toxic exposures. icals in their blood, they decided to
homes to interview people about test 18 different brands of dental floss
their consumer product use, collect Now this methodology has for the presence of fluorine, an indi-
dust samples, and ask them for urine become a model for the entire cator for PFASs. Sure enough, Oral-B
samples. scientific community. “Research has Glide and similar flosses designed to
become more collaborative,” says pass through the teeth more easily
When participants asked for their Brody, “with study participants than traditional varieties tested
individual results, we grappled with treated as partners rather than as positive.
a difficult decision. The scientific ‘subjects,’ and by learning their own
community had long opposed provid- results, they gain the ability to take But don’t give up on flossing!
ing such information. After all, they action.” Many flosses don’t have PFASs. And
reason, if the findings are not yet like your parents always told you,
fully understood, won’t sharing them Thank you, donors—and study flossing is good for you!
participants!—for leading the way.
From Research to Real World Impact 2019 Gala
Your generosity helped lead to California’s ban on the sale of SAVE
many products containing toxic flame retardants. THE
SILENT SPRING INSTITUTE was the Flame retardants get into the DATE
first to measure flame-retardant dust in our homes, where babies and
chemicals in US homes over 15 years toddlers are exposed to them as they 25th ANNIVERSARY
ago, and the findings were alarming. crawl and play on the floor. They are
Our research showed that levels in found in high levels in college dorms. Celebration
the US were ten times higher than And firefighters are exposed to these
in Europe, and that blood levels in chemicals when products burn Keynote Speaker
California residents were the highest during a fire.
in the world. Nancy Koehn
Kathryn Rodgers, one of our staff
Used in products like upholstered scientists, explained all this in writ- Harvard Business School
furniture, foam mattresses, bassinets, ten testimony last April to California historian and bestselling
highchairs, infant carriers, and stroll- lawmakers. Governor Jerry Brown author of Forged in Crisis
ers, these chemicals are associated was persuaded, and a few months
with a range of adverse health effects later, he signed a ban on the use of Hosted by
such as endocrine disruption and these chemicals in residential uphol-
cancer. Even more shocking, inde- stered furniture, children’s products, Meredith Vieira
pendent scientists say they don’t even and mattress foam.
provide significant protection against Wednesday,
the risk of fires! October 23, 2019
at 6:00 pm
Financial Information — Fiscal Year 2018
DONORS—WE CAN’T DO IT WITHOUT YOU. The chart below proves Board of Directors
it. Last year, your gifts made up more than 60% of our income,
powering the bulk of everything we do. Thank you for your David Bellinger, PhD
farsighted generosity. Treasurer
Harvard Medical School
We promise to invest your donations for the greatest possible
impact. If you would like more information, please contact Sarah DeVan
Rachel D’Oronzio Sarvey, Director of Development, at: 1774 Inn, Phippsburg, Maine
[email protected] or John K. Erban, MD
617-332-4288 x215 Tufts Medical Center
Individuals $ 1,173,416 Lisa Goodwin-Robbins, RA, CCS, LEED
Foundation Grants $431,070 Travaglini, Eisenberg & Kiley
(17%) Margaret Kripke, PhD
University of Texas
Government Grants $951,665 MD Anderson Cancer Center
Georgia McGaughey, PhD
Total Income $2,556,151 Vertex Pharmaceuticals
Administration $284,427 Jeanne Mockard, CFA
(12%) JLM Capital and Consulting
Fundraising $317,084 Cathie Ragovin, MD
Programs $1,714,228 Cindy Shulak-Rome
Total Expenses $2,315,739
Patti A. Stoll
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Lawrence N. Bailis, PhD
Julia Brody, PhD
Detox Me, our app for Top tips you can put into practice right now
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“Your support makes these
victories possible... You are
proving that by working
together, we can lift the
burden of breast cancer.”
JULIA BRODY, PHD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Thank you. We look forward to many more
victories in the next 25 years with you by our side!
SILENT SPRING INSTITUTE SILENT25SPRING INSTITUTE
320 Nevada Street, Suite 302
Newton, MA 02460
Researching the environment and women’s health