Dr. Laurel Schaider is a Research Scientist at Silent Spring Institute and a visiting scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She currently leads Silent Spring’s water quality research on highly fluorinated chemicals (PFASs) and other contaminants of emerging concern. Her research focuses on characterizing PFAS exposures from drinking water, understanding health effects associated with PFASs, identifying other sources of PFAS exposure such as food packaging, investigating socioeconomic disparities in exposures to drinking water contaminants, and working with communities to develop research studies and resources to address their concerns.
Dr. Schaider is the principal investigator for the PFAS-REACH (PFAS Research, Education, and Action for Community Health) study, a researcher-community partnership that is evaluating PFAS exposures and immune system effects in children in communities with PFAS water contamination and developing an online resource center for PFAS-affected communities. As co-leader of the Community Engagement Core for the STEEP (Sources, Transport, Exposure and Effects of PFASs) Superfund Research Program at the University of Rhode Island, she is leading a study to evaluate PFAS levels in private wells on Cape Cod and identify contamination sources. She was the lead author of two papers documenting septic systems as sources of PFASs and other emerging contaminants to public and private drinking water wells, and led a critical review of removal and discharges of emerging contaminants from septic systems, which treat the wastewater of nearly one in four Americans.
Dr. Schaider has gained nationwide recognition as an expert on PFAS contamination and water quality. Her research has been covered in the media by National Public Radio, The Washington Post, The Dr. Oz Show, Chemical & Engineering News, Environmental Health News, and many other news outlets. She is a technical advisor to ATSDR’s Community Assistance Panel at the Pease Tradeport and is vice-chair of the Contaminants of Emerging Concern committee for the New England Water Environment Association. Dr. Schaider earned her MS and PhD in Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and an SB in Environmental Engineering Science from MIT. She has taught ecology and environmental engineering courses at MIT and Northeastern University.