Chris Swartz, PhD

Chris Swartz
Managing Director

As Managing Director, Swartz leads the organization’s systems and operations to support the Executive Director and ensure the Institute’s management, growth, and development. As part of the leadership team, he also works to identify the Institute’s short and long-term strategic priorities and facilitate their implementation.

Swartz’s formal training is as an environmental geochemist and hydrogeologist. Earlier in Silent Spring’s history, he contributed to the Cape Cod Breast Cancer and Environment Study, helping to develop GIS-based approaches to assess exposures to pesticide spray events on the Cape and reconstructing historical land use impacts on groundwater supplies for public drinking water. In 2006, Swartz along with Silent Spring colleagues and collaborators, published one of the first studies to document the introduction of hormones and hormonally-active pollutants into shallow groundwater via wastewater leaching from septic systems.

Prior to rejoining Silent Spring as Managing Director in 2019, Swartz was the Financial Director for the U.S. Center of Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI U.S.), which he helped found in 2006. While also wearing his scientist hat at SEI U.S., Swartz developed integrated water resource decision support tools and climate adaptation strategies for a number of U.S. and international contexts, including the city of Philadelphia and its upstream suburbs, the eco-region surrounding Beijing, the Mekong River basin, and coastal and highland areas of Yemen. His interest in the intersection of international development and environmental concerns was ignited during his work as a post-doctoral associate at MIT, where he worked to identify factors controlling arsenic contamination in Bangladesh aquifers, which continues to affect the health of millions of people who rely on these aquifers for drinking water as well as agricultural irrigation.

Swartz received his PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from MIT in 1998.  In his spare time, Swartz enjoys tending his garden and fixing up the house that he and his partner share.


Publications & Presentations

  • Swartz, C.H., R.A. Rudel, J.R. Kachajian, J.G. Brody. 2003. Historical reconstruction of wastewater and land use impacts to groundwater used for public drinking water: exposure assessment using chemical data and GIS. Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology, 13(5):403-416.

  • McKelvey, W., J.G. Brody, A. Aschengrau, C.H. Swartz. 2004. Association between residence on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and breast cancer. Annals of Epidemiology, 14(2):89-94. doi:10.1016/S1047-2797(03)00120-0

  • Brody, J.G., A. Aschengrau, W. McKelvey, R.A. Rudel, C.H. Swartz, T. Kennedy. 2004. Breast cancer risk and historical exposure to pesticides from wide-area applications assessed using GIS. Environmental Health Perspectives, 112(8):889–897. doi:10.1289/ehp.6845

  • Swartz C.H., S. Reddy, M.J. Benotti, H. Yin, L.B. Barber, B.J. Brownawell, and R.A. Rudel. 2006. Steroid estrogens, nonylphenol ethoxylate metabolites, and other wastewater contaminants in groundwater affected by a residential septic system on Cape Cod, MA. Environ. Sci. Technol., 40 (16), 4894 -4902.

  • Brody, J.G., A. Aschengrau, W. McKelvey, C.H. Swartz, T. Kennedy, R.A. Rudel. 2006. Breast cancer risk and drinking water contaminated by wastewater: a case control study. Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source, 5:28.

  • Standley, L.J., R.A. Rudel, C.H. Swartz, K.R. Attfield, J. Christian, M. Erickson, J.G. Brody. 2008. Wastewater-Contaminated Groundwater as a Source of Endogenous Hormones and Pharmaceuticals to Surface Water Ecosystems. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 27(12):2457–2468. doi:10.1897/07-604.1