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Thank You for Supporting Health & the Environment

The Institute is making solid progress on two environmental fronts – confronting microplastics in the sea and protecting Americans from exposure to toxic, cancer-causing chemicals. For highlights of our latest initiatives in research, outreach, and public health policy, click here.

Institute Announces Plans To Study Exposure and Fire Fighter Cancer

Fire fighters' exposure to flame retardants and other cancer-causing chemicals was the topic of a recent talk "Is Firefighting Carcinogenic?" by Dr. Susan Shaw. During her talk, Shaw announced the Institute’s plans to study the links between occupational exposure among US fire fighters and health outcomes including cancers. Read More >

Fire Fighters Sound Alarm on Toxic Chemicals

From Spokane, Washington, to Augusta, Maine, firefighters are calling for stricter regulations on flame retardants and other toxic chemicals they say are causing cancer and other diseases among their ranks.
Click here to read the article >

Nationwide Conversations About Protecting Fire Fighter Health

Across the country – from Minnesota to Maine – the Institute is informing fire fighters about ways to reduce harmful exposure in the fire environment. “Cancer is touching almost everyone in the fire service today, “ says Dr. Susan Shaw, “and it’s a top priority to reduce the exposure...” To read the full story, click here >

Study Shows Fire Fighters Face Higher Cancer Risk than Previously Thought

A groundbreaking study published by Dr. Shaw and co-authors is the first study to measure flame retardants and their combustion by-products of flame retardants – brominated dioxins and furans – in firefighters’ blood. The high levels found after firefighting may carry even higher risks for cancer and other health problems than previously demonstrated. Click here to read the highlights of the study >

Microplastics in Maine Waters: Are They In Our Food?

Numerous studies show that small organisms readily ingest microplastics, introducing toxic pollutants to the food chain. According to Abby Barrows, Monitoring Coordinator, MERI researchers collected 4.935 pieces of microplastics, averaging 14 pieces per liter of seawater in 2013 alone. The Institute is now looking at commercial marine species to see to what extent they eat microplastics and the pollutants that stick to them.
Click here to see the story >

Lonely Fight Against Plastics in the Food Chain

Microplastics are extremely difficult to measure in marine waters. MERI Researchers have found plastics in more than 150 one-liter water samples collected from shorelines in Maine and around the world. Ecologist Mark Browne proposes a solution: better textile design to prevent the migration of toxic fibers from clothing in washing machines into water systems.
Click here to see the story >

Blue Hill Group Studying Plastic in Maine Sea

The Institute's microplastics monitoring program was featured on WABI-TV's evening news.
Click here to see the story >

Scientists Eye New Threat to Gulf of Maine Ecosystem: Microplastics

Listen to Tom Porter's story on our microplastics monitoring program and volunteer initiative which aired July 8th on "Maine Things Considered".
Click here to see the full story >


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Fire Fighters At Greater Risk
for Cancer

MERI research points to carcinogen exposure during fire fighting. Read more >

The Bay Around Us Blog

Keep up to date on our coastal monitoring efforts, microplastics research, the state of Blue Hill Bay and more.
Click here to visit the blog >
Click here to view bacteria levels >

Reckless Endangerment: The Gulf Oil Spill Revisited

Dr. Susan Shaw at TEDxMidAtlantic 2013
Click Here to Read About Dr. Susan Shaw >

Maine Scientist to Study Link Between Fire Fighters and Cancer

Maine Scientist to study link between fire fighting and cancer

Dr. Shaw recently appeared on the WABI-TV evening news to discuss our upcoming study of chemical exposure and cancer in Maine fire fighters. In Maine most of our 12,000 career and volunteer fire fighters do not have a backup set of gear and must wear dirty gear when on call.
View the WABI-TV story >

Maine Firefighters' Toxic Exposure to be Subject of Study

Listen to Dr. Shaw's interview with Tom Porter which aired on MPBN Radio's "Maine Things Considered"
Click here to listen >

Institute Research Supports Toxic Flame Retardant Exposé

Hot off the presses, a four- part expose by the Chicago Tribune “Playing With Fire” documents the collusion, deception and distorted science of the chemical industry in promoting neuro toxic brominated flame retardants. Dr. Susan Shaw first published on the dangers of PBDEs, the most notorious of the fire retardants, in 2007 when she detected it in northwest Atlantic harbor seals and their prey fish. Later that year this research helped persuade the Maine legislature to ban Deca PBDE, making the state the second to do so and prompting reforms nation wide.
Read More >
Read the Chicago Tribune's Exposé

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