Partnerships For The Common Good

Teaming with the Mystic River Watershed Association and the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences to Restore The Malden River

River with banks lined with trees and calm water

Gradient is collaborating with the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) and the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences (MIT CEHS) to perform a risk assessment examining the potential health impacts to humans who may come into contact with legacy and modern-day contaminants while boating in the Malden River.

During the mid-1800s to early 1900s, numerous industries operating along the Malden River relied on the river for transportation, water supply, and waste disposal.  Following World War II, many of these operations closed or moved to other locations, but the manufacturing sites and river sediments were contaminated with residual hazardous materials.  Additionally, historical and current urban stormwater runoff, and possibly other discharges, have contributed and continue to contribute contaminants to the river.  A recent desire to increase public access to the Malden River area for recreational purposes, including both activities along the banks and on the water, has raised interest in clarifying the uncertainty about the potential health impacts of increased contact with water and sediments in and around the river.

To help clarify water and sediment contact related health risks, Gradient is assessing available data and identifying data gaps that need to be filled to perform a comprehensive risk assessment.  Gradient will be assisting MIT with the development of a sampling protocol for future sediment sampling.  Using procedures consistent with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and US EPA guidelines, this assessment will quantify potential risks associated with boaters’ exposure to river contaminants.  The results of the risk assessment will inform Gradient’s recommendations of safe practices for boating activities and help determine whether further assessment or remediation is needed.