PROTECT Research Center

Investigating environmental contamination and adverse birth outcomes in Puerto Rico

Our Work

Supported with funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ Superfund Research Program, the PROTECT Center studies exposure to environmental contamination in Puerto Rico and its contribution to adverse pregnancy outcomes, including preterm birth (less than 37 completed weeks of gestation).

Why Puerto Rico?


of all live births are preterm (2022)

Superfund sites on the island (2022)

  • Puerto Rico’s Median Income: $24,002 (2022)
  • Overall US Median Income: $74,580 (2022)

Poverty Rate: 41.7% (2022)

Puerto Rico has a long history of environmental contamination, including a high concentration of EPA Superfund Sites, particularly along the north coast of the island. Evidence of water contamination is extensive, and extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods, and droughts may affect rates of contamination. People in Puerto Rico also face significant health disparities compared with the mainland US, including high rates of adverse birth outcomes. Rates of preterm birth and infant mortality in Puerto Rico are among the highest of all US states and territories. The median income of Puerto Rico in 2022 was $24,002, less than 1/3 of the US median income. The combination of these factors presents a major environmental justice issue.

Hear from PROTECT researchers and learn more about the center’s work:

PROTECT Publications

Find our research findings in leading environmental health journals.

PROTECT Data Dictionary

View our Data Dictionary to see all variables collected by PROTECT.

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