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Kathryn Rodgers

Staff Scientist, Silent Spring Institute
Chapter Member: Boston SSN
Areas of Expertise:
  • Environment & Energy
  • Health Care
  • Public Health

About Kathryn

Rodgers's research focuses on exposures and sources of endocrine disrupting chemicals in the indoor environment. Rodgers brings her training in toxicology and risk assessment to public health research. Rodgers also leads science translation work for policy-makers in governments and businesses.

Contributions

In the News

Kathryn Rodgers quoted on the global rise of breast cancer and its link to pollutants by Molly M. Ginty, "Pollution Risks Worse for Developing World Women" Women’s eNews, May 20, 2013.

Publications

"Pruning Chemicals from the Green Building Landscape" (with Lisa J. Goodwin Robbins, Bill Walsh, Rachelle Ain, and Robin E. Dodson). Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology (October 2019).

Notes green building design has made major advancements in reducing carbon emissions. Notes, however, as health has become more central to sustainability, there is a need to similarly reduce the use of toxic chemicals in sustainable building design. Outlines five major areas where scientists and architects can work together to achieve this goal: building codes and standards, green building certifications, the marketplace, design and construction, and building occupants.

"Dietary Habits Related to Food Packaging and Population Exposure to PFASs" (with Herbert P. Susmann, Laurel A. Schaider, and Ruthann A. Rudel). Environmental Health Perspectives 127, no. 10 (October 2019).

Finds, through a study of a representative sample of Americans, that people who ate more meals at home had significantly lower levels of PFAS in their bodies. Finds, in contrast, people who consumed more fast food or ate more frequently at restaurants, including pizza places, tended to have higher levels of PFAS in their bodies. Suggests that fast food and food from other restaurants is more likely to be contaminated with PFAS, which may be due to greater contact with PFAS-containing food packaging.

"Health Toll from Open Flame and Cigarette-Started Fires on Flame-Retardant Furniture in Massachusetts, 2003–2016 " (with Lucien R. Swetschinski, Robin E. Dodson, Hillel A. Alpert, Joseph M. Fleming, and Ruthann A. Rudel). American Journal of Public Health 109, no. 9 (September 2019): 1205-1211.

Finds that between 2003 and 2016 in Massachusetts house fires, overall furniture fires were rare; yet, they were significantly deadlier than other kinds of fires. Shows that among furniture fires, those caused by smoking products were the deadliest. Calls into question fire safety regulations that compel manufacturers to add toxic flame retardants to furniture and suggests other non-toxic measures are more effective and could save more lives.

"Environmental Chemicals and Breast Cancer: An Updated Review of Epidemiological Literature Informed by Biological Mechanisms" (with Julia O. Udesky, Ruthann A. Rudel, and Julia Green Brody). Environmental Research 160 (January 2018): 152-182.

Synthesizes the findings from 158 epidemiology studies on environmental chemicals and breast cancer published between 2006 and 2016. Finds that results from key studies suggest that exposure to chemicals early in life—in the womb, during puberty, and through pregnancy—increases the risk of developing breast cancer later on. Reveals the strength of evidence for early exposure to DDT, dioxins, the highly-fluorinated chemical PFOSA, solvents, and air pollution and breast cancer. Creates a roadmap for researchers studying environmental chemicals in humans.

"Flame Retardant Chemicals in College Dormitories: Flammability Standards Influence Dust Concentrations" (with Robin E. Dodson, Gale Carey, Jose Guillermo Cedeno Laurent, Adrian Covaci, Giulia Poma, Govindan Malarvannan, John D. Spengler, Ruthann A. Rudel, and Joseph G. Allen). Environmental Science & Technology 51, no. 9 (2017): 4860-4869.

Finds 47 flame retardants in 100 dust samples collected from two U.S. college campuses in the northeast. Finds widespread exposure to flame retardants, with some of the highest levels reported in the literature, especially on the campus with the more severe flammability standard for furniture. Shows that standards matter can impact people’s exposures to flame retardants, which can have significant impacts on their health.

"Contaminants of Emerging Concern and Septic Systems: A Synthesis of Scientific Literature and Application to Groundwater Quality on Cape Cod," (with Laurel Schaider and Ruthann Rudel), Silent Spring Institute, August 31, 2013.
Synthesizes existing information on removal and discharge of contaminants of emerging concern from conventional septic systems and centralized wastewater treatment plants. Shows that while reductions in these contaminants occur during onsite treatment, substantial quantities are released in Cape groundwater, particularly in densely developed areas.