Important work done by Fight For Zero Leaders and Grassroots Members
As a local advocacy group working alongside national and regional allies, we have made a substantial impact as a team coming together to protect lives from harmful pollution. Fight For Zero Executive Director Stel Bailey is a leader of the National PFAS Contamination Coalition, has been invited as a community liaison for national agencies, and works with other communities impacted by contamination. Fight For Zero is a community-based organization working to ensure our environment and disease rates in Florida are not overlooked.
Founder Stel Bailey and her family began as Florida Health Connection, crowdsourcing health data throughout Brevard County, Florida, in 2014 after beating cancer and learning their diagnosis was likely environmentally caused.
Crowdsourcing took place in a Facebook group called "Florida Health Connection" and, in collaboration with a friend and Oncologist, branched out in March of 2018 as "Satellite Beach Health and Hope for Tomorrow."
Fight For Zero was formalized by cancer survivors and their families as a nonprofit organization at the end of 2018 to develop a resource for scientific research, environmental cleanup, and disease prevention.
The group successfully organized a leadership, grassroots, and citizen science team of Fight For Zero volunteers.
The website and blog launched in early 2019 and grew to nearly 60,000 subscribers by 2022!
The team holds numerous community meetings, conference calls, and informational webinars.
Archived newspapers found on Newspapers.com
Test Drinking Water and Provided Water Filters to Families at No Cost to Them
After testing and finding high levels of perfluorinated compounds in drinking water, we provided water filters to help safeguard families.
Helped Collect Signatures to get the Right to Clean Water Passed in the City of Titusville
Worked with Families Facing End of Life Stages
Fight for Zero helped collect signatures with City of Titusville residents and organizations to get the Right to Clean Water passed in the City of Titusville and is helping gather signatures to make it a state constitutional right, hoping to place it on the 2024 Florida ballot. Visit https://nature-tribe.org/ to learn more.
We have helped countless families facing life-altering diseases and end-of-life stages by providing nature retreats, on-the-phone support, care packages, elevating fundraisers, and helping where we can.
Image by Tim Shortt on floridatoday.com
Brevard County Health Investigation
Image by Malcolm Denmark on floridatoday.com
South Patrick Shores Investigation
School Water Quality Survey Project
Starting in 2014, Stel Bailey began in-depth research on the environmental issues in Brevard County and learned of several health cluster investigations. 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 the Kennedy Space Center. Fight for Zero hosted seven community town hall meetings that year, including 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 cancer rate in two zip codes in Brevard County. We continue to raise awareness of PFAS and legacy contamination and share education on the health effects of exposure to these and other carcinogenic chemicals.
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 substantial time building a grassroots movement, doing community outreach, and bringing awareness to the debris buried underneath South Patrick Shores' homes.
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: the 2019 School Water Quality Survey
Bayshore High Cancer Investigation
Fight For Zero PFAS Fountain Project
Partnership with University of Florida
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 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 of fully remediated.
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. 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
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.
Local, State, and National Work
$20 million through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for a national multi-site health study of PFAS.
$500 million for cleanup of DOD sites through the 2022 NDAA and $168 million in 2021
Worked to educate Florida Congress members on PFAS contamination, resulting in the PFAS Action Act 2021 being passed.
$10 billion for PFAS Communities in the Infrastructure package
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new drinking water health advisory levels in June 2022 based on peer-reviewed toxicology. Levels changed to PFOAS at .004 ppt and PFOS at .02 ppt.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced action to list PFOA and PFOS chemicals as Hazardous Substances under CERCLA, clearing the way for them to be included in Superfund clean-up standards on August 26, 2022.
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 protecting 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 images of hundreds of dead fish lining the ponds and river and began receiving health complaints from surrounding communities and visitors to the park. One month later, the team started seeing deceased manatees across the river at Balckpoint Wildlife Drive.
The grassroots team helped 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 (UME) 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.