Water Research

To protect Cape Cod’s coastal marine sanctuary, wastewater is disposed on land, primarily in septic systems that allow pollutants to seep through porous soils, often reaching shallow drinking water wells. Silent Spring Institute is undertaking a number of initiatives aimed at understanding the role that such polluted water may play in the disproportionately high levels of breast cancer on Cape Cod.

Estrogens and Other Hormonally Active Pollutants in Groundwater and Drinking Water

Drinking water for Cape Cod residents comes from a sole-source aquifer. Because the Cape has a shallow water table and sandy, porous soil, the aquifer is particularly vulnerable to land use activity. Silent Spring Institute’s study Tracking Estrogens and Other Hormonally Active Pollutants in Cape Cod Groundwater and Drinking Water focuses on measuring degradation to groundwater quality from wastewater leaching from septic systems and into the aquifer. This research is critical because 85 percent of Cape residences use septic systems. This research has provided some of the first data to quantify the levels of hormonally active compounds introduced into groundwater from septic systems and how these compounds behave as they travel through groundwater systems.