FIGHTING FOR WHAT IS RIGHT. TOGETHER.
Fight For Zero knows that our strength lies not only in the words we stand by, but most notably, through the actions of our initiatives. Since 2014, we have been determined to make an impact.
Our grassroots movement began with a group of cancer survivors and caregivers who learned of Florida's carelessness with its environmental resources. Our common bond was illness and the discovery of harmful chemicals in our water. We found that the risk of developing rare diseases at young ages was much higher with our exposure to toxic substances from chemicals dumped into our waterways.
We became advocates and stood at podiums, some for the very first time. We worked tirelessly to build relationships with both communities and experts, attended local and regional meetings, and organized our own.
The lack of standards and accountability had affected human life, marine survival, wildlife, and water quality. Each of our experiences against life-altering diseases and learning that our water was contaminated transformed into a strong desire to save lives.
Our work goes beyond the environment as we observe how pollution contributes to cancer and other debilitating diseases in communities exposed to harmful chemicals. We realized that by working together, we could overcome our challenges much more efficiently. That is why we ultimately decided to launch a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization with a home office in Brevard County, Florida.
A single goal drives us; to promote clean water, air, and soil because maintaining a pristine ecosystem improves our quality of life. Our team is dedicated to the environment and defending everyone's right to a healthy community.
We have worked diligently on numerous environmental health issues in Florida. Our efforts include building community engagement, education, advocacy, citizen science, building resources, and delivering effective solutions to improve our damaged ecosystems.
Comprehensive studies and high-quality data inform our decision-making process. We strive to build productive relationships and make a positive impact with all of our pursuits.
We are passionate about making a difference and saving lives. With your help and that of our many allies, we can make a difference in combatting pollution and disease rates.
Important work done by Fight For Zero
Brevard County Health Investigation
Starting in 2014, we began in-depth research in the environmental issues in Brevard County and learned of several health cluster investigations in the county. There were ALS cluster concerns at Kennedy Space Center and South Patrick Shores and cancer cluster investigations in Port St. John, South Patrick Shores, and Palm Bay.
In 2018, a Department of Defense report showed PFAS contamination at several active installations in Brevard County including NASA. We hosted a total of seven community town hall meetings that year, one with Erin Brockovich, regarding water quality and health concerns.
We successfully got a state health assessment in 2019 that showed a statistically significant higher rate of cancer in two zip codes in Brevard County. We continue to raise awareness of PFAS contamination and share education on the health effects of exposure to these chemicals.
South Patrick Shores Investigation
At the beginning of 2018, Fight for Zero spent three weeks going door-to-door, investigating independent research using historical documents indicating that homes in the South Patrick Shores community were built on a landfill. After documenting military debris at several homes, we did mapping and began reaching out to residents to do metal detecting in their yards and see more debris.
Our volunteers' dedicated work brought awareness to a decades-long issue, which helped push for a Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) investigation in South Patrick Shores.
Fight For Zero was honored as the story of the year and featured on the front cover of the December 2018 Florida Today issue. We spent a substantial amount of time building a grassroots movement, doing community outreach, and bringing awareness to the debris buried underneath South Patrick Shores' homes.
School Water Quality Survey Project
We did an independent project that included submitting public record requests to 67 school districts and 42 colleges as a statewide survey to see what schools in Florida were testing their drinking water. The project took six months to complete and brought awareness to the districts taking preventative steps to ensure children were drinking safe water.
Fight For Zero carefully organized the project using spreadsheets, creating a professional email made explicitly for the requests and connecting with a public records expert who helped us through obstacles.
We learned that some counties hadn't tested their drinking water in decades, and a few schools were taking preventative steps to ensure kids were not drinking lead-tainted water. To read more about the project visit: 2019 School Water Quality Survey
Bayshore High Cancer Investigation
Fight For Zero Director Cheryl Jozsa pushed the Department of Health in Manatee County to launch a cancer study after learning that over 500 Bayshore High School graduates were diagnosed with rare diseases at young ages. Among the alumni was Cheryl's sister, Terri, a 1979 graduate of Bayshore High School.
Experts determined that a former machine parts manufacturing company, Riverside Products, was a potential contributor of toxins to Bayshore High School's area. A Florida Department of Environmental Protection Memo dated 1995 regarding the property stated, "Sufficient data exist which clearly indicate that contamination from the site is threatening public health and the environment." To date, the former Riverside Products property still has not been given the status as fully remediated.
Fight For Zero PFAS Fountain Project
The PFAS Fountain Project aimed to collect data and learn if public drinking water sources were contaminated with PFAS chemicals. We tested drinking water fountains across Brevard County for 45 PFAS compounds. PFAS do not easily break down in the environment and are linked to debilitating health issues.
The chemicals were detected at Sandpoint Park in Titusville, Howard E. Futch Memorial Park in Melbourne, and Turkey Creek Sanctuary in Palm Bay. The highest result came from Turkey Creek Sanctuary in the City of Palm Bay, with PFOA testing at 8.9 parts per trillion and PFOS at 7.3 parts per trillion. There were also six short-chain chemicals detected.
Fight For Zero urges residents to use filtration systems that remove harmful contaminants from their drinking water and for cities to publicize their drinking water results not shared in the annual drinking water quality reports. To review the testing visit: Brevard County PFAS Fountain Project
Partnership with University of Florida
We partnered with researchers from the University of Florida in a community-driven 3-year study in Brevard County on Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and other contaminants to help build resilience to environmental contamination in the face of flooding and hurricane risks.
The team consists of environmental health and environmental engineering experts from the University of Florida (UF) and community members. This study will help us better understand PFAS contamination health risks and preventing exposures.
The data and information from this study will allow the UF team to develop comprehensive approaches for environmental protection, emergency management, and exposure mitigation, targeted at building healthy and environmentally resilient communities beyond the case study area.
Independent Testing and Projects
Community members came to Fight For Zero concerned about dangerous toxins in beach renourishment sand. The community raised money to test VOCs, SVOCs, TRPH, 8 RCRA Metals, and Mercury.
The testing report on the sand for the 'Mid-Reach project area in Brevard County' showed Arsenic levels exceeded SCTL for Residential Direct Exposure. Additional testing of at least seven other places on the beach would need to be done to determine the natural background levels of Arsenic in the native soil. Projects like this are essential in collecting data and helping communities determine if their environment is safe.
Your generous donations allow us to continue doing independent testing on our waterways, drinking water, fish, soil, biosolids, and produce. We understand that communities want to know where these chemicals are and how they could be exposed to make the best decisions on how to protect their families.
Manatee Unusual Mortality Event
In December 2020, a pipe at a park in Titusville, Florida, broke, spilling over 7 million gallons of sewage into several retention ponds connected to the Indian River Lagoon. Fight For Zero began documenting the event. Our team captured hundreds of dead fish images that lined the ponds and river and began receiving health complaints from surrounding communities and visitors of the park. One month later, we started seeing deceased manatees across the river at Balckpoint Wildlife Drive.
We assembled a grassroots team to help document and report distressed manatees in the lagoon in the following months. Our organization also collaborated with Edgewater Environmental Alliance and Bear Warriors United to bring mass awareness and push for an Unusual Mortality Event when the number of deceased manatees began to climb into the hundreds. We collected over 200 muck-filled jars from the sewage spill site, where manatees washed ashore emancipated and sent them to Tallahassee legislators who provided another 8 million dollars to FWC.
About the Founder
Stel Bailey is the Chief Executive Director of Fight For Zero, Co' Facilitator of the National PFAS Contamination Coalition, and a recognized environmental health advocate who has worked as an assistant environmentalist collecting samples and gathering critical data.
Bailey's life took an unthinkable turn in 2013 when her father, brother, the family dog, uncle, and herself were diagnosed with cancer and with no family history. Their case was so unique that they had genetic testing, which showed no mutation genes, indicating they did not have an increased risk of developing the disease. Determined to find answers, she began to crowdsource cancer cases in her hometown on Florida's space coast. As she spoke out about her family's case, she connected with others affected by diseases in unusual ways.
Through extensive research, Bailey learned that her family was exposed to man-made substances and legacy contamination from the Department of Defense and space industry activities. There was careless dumping of hazardous chemicals into the county's waterways, multiple cancer cluster investigations dating back to the 1970s, ALS cluster concerns, and in 1978 the drinking water in Brevard County was rated the worst in the United States.
As a cancer survivor and military dependant, Bailey became passionate about clean water, toxic exposures, the environment, and disease prevention. Her powerful testimony of overcoming illness and losing her family to environmentally caused diseases has given her an influential platform to educate and inspire others to care more about the ecosystem. She leads creative efforts to inform the public on the burdens of contamination and related chronic diseases. As a mom of two, she strives to transform her children's future by taking action to protect their future.
Everyone we collaborate with has a personal connection to the environment and is a dedicated agent of empowerment with a deep investment in this mission. That's why Fight For Zero is funding research and holding ourselves accountable to real results that save lives.