It’s Official – Dover’s Gone Organic!

Without much fanfare, the Dover City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday, June 24th to award the turf services contract to the same vendor doing our Stonyfield site at Woodman Park School ball field.

This means that all city owned property is now maintained using organic methods.

We are grateful to the staff and Council for taking these important steps to protect public health and the environment.

View the June 24th TurfTreatmentAgendaMaterials2020

Thank You Dover! Implementation

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City Site Conditions – First Report

This year has been challenging for all due to the pandemic, and the turf services contract is no exception. The starting conditions of the city’s turfgrass areas being maintained under a contract by vendor PJC Organic are less than desirable as is the weather – high temps and drought conditions. The severe drought means that irrigation has ceased for the athletic fields that have it. From a report in Foster’s Daily Democrat:

“Dover officials announced earlier this week that they were not going to water athletic fields in the city because of the drought. “Other noticeable impacts will be seen in the drying of our athletic fields in the weeks ahead due to the lack of irrigation of the turf,” Joyal said.”

A late start adds to the challenge. None of these odds are insurmountable, but it’s very important to remember that the fields and turfgrass areas did not get in this condition overnight, and they will need time to recover. 

PJC Organic tells us they are planning to start aeration/overseeding and product applications next week.  With the cooler night time temperatures it will help to break the product down.  The goal is to open up the soil and get product into the root zone so as the turf comes out of dormancy there will be a ready food source. They will be doing another aeration/overseeding and product application the first week of October as well.

This will help prepare us for next spring where work can start on time and the city, mowing, and turf vendors will continue getting things on track.


Malagras Field July 2020 – Looking forward to improved conditions on the horizon…

View the vendor’s site report Maps of Dover Parks site visit 6.29.20

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Independent Testing of Artificial Fields for PFAS Needed Now

June 9, 2020
For Immediate Release
Non Toxic Portsmouth NH & Non Toxic Dover NH


Dangerous PFAS Chemicals Detected in PHS Synthetic Field

Groups call for independent testing of proposed new artificial fields

Portsmouth, NH—Independent field testing of Portsmouth High School’s artificial turf athletic field shows that toxics known as PFAS contaminate its green, grass-like blades. PFAS have been linked to pediatric health problems from learning disabilities to cancer.

The synthetic field testing of the high school’s Tom Daubney Field was commissioned by the local citizen’s group Non Toxic Portsmouth.

In a June 1, 2020 letter to the Portsmouth City Council, the Ecology Center, a respected environmental research organization in Ann Arbor, Michigan, warned that independent lab testing of samples collected from the PHS synthetic turf field had a total fluorine content of 79 ppm, showing that PFAS contaminate the field.

“This means that for nine years, our kids have been playing on a field containing PFAS,” objected Ted Jankowski of Non Toxic Portsmouth. “Now the city is poised to construct two more, brand-new synthetic fields with no assurance that the fields will be PFAS free. Can’t we keep our kids safe?”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PFAS exposure can affect children’s growth, learning and behavior, and lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant. PFAS persist in the environment and bioaccumulate in humans, hence their nickname “forever chemicals.”

Last October, the Boston Globe and the Intercept reported that independent tests overseen by the Ecology Center found for the first time evidence of PFAS in synthetic fields in two southeastern Massachusetts communities.

Jeff Gearhart, Research Director at the Ecology Center, spoke to Non Toxic Portsmouth about the PFAS discovery in Portsmouth: “This is the second time in recent months that PFAS chemistry used in plastic production has been found in finished consumer products. This new finding in Portsmouth is maybe the tip of the iceberg on finding PFAS in synthetic fields throughout the country. We are calling for manufacturers to fully disclose all PFAS production chemistry and quickly move to safer alternatives”

Portsmouth is already in the midst of a pediatric cancer cluster. With the discovery of PFAS in the drinking water at Pease, Seacoast residents have become increasingly aware of the dangers of these forever chemicals.

The Portsmouth City Council is poised to give final approval to new synthetic turf fields. Portsmouth city staff and their paid consultants have already said these will be “PFAS free,” as recently required by the City Council.

However, the manufacturer’s own laboratory testing of the synthetic turf field – called Sprinturf – that the Portsmouth city staff and its consultants recommended, shows that it contains PFAS. It is not “PFAS free.”

In light of these findings, we call on the City Council to make sure the city protects its multi-million dollar investment in new PFAS free playing fields by hiring an independent third party to test any recommended synthetic turf before construction starts. We urge the City Council to choose one of the independent labs the Ecology Center recommends to test the proposed turf.

According to Diana Carpinone of Non Toxic Dover, “These new concerns continue to show that natural grass fields are the safest and most economical choice.”

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Testing Reveals PFAS in PHS Tom Daubney Field

In a letter submitted to the City of Portsmouth’s Director of Finance and Administration dated June 1, 2020, by the Research Director of the Ecology Center, a nonprofit organization located in Michigan, it was revealed that samples collected by Non Toxic Portsmouth from the synthetic turf football field at Portsmouth High School were found to have a total fluorine content of 79 ppm in an independent lab test.

“One sample of turf fiber we tested was from the Tom Daubney Field in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which had 79 parts per million (ppm) fluorine (Sample ID 120355, page two on attached lab report). This sample was tested by Oxygen Flask Combustion with Ion-Selective Electrode. The level of fluorine detected indicates PFAS were present in or on the turf fibers.”

Read the full letter here June1_PortsmouthPFAS

View the test results here at the bottom of page 2 TotalFLabReport120355

PHS Field Drainage

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Public Records Request Confirms PFAS in Synthetic Turf

A public records request by Non Toxic Dover and Non Toxic Portsmouth for documentation of the claims made by Portsmouth’s consultants Weston & Sampson in a Feb. 18th work session of the City Council was received last Friday.

One of the slides presented to the Council at the work session stated that “Two vendors indicated they do not use PFAS in manufacturing and provided documentation to back up those claims.”

Screen Shot 2020-03-02 at 8.40.32 AM

However, in reality, this documentation refutes what both consultants and staff have been saying regarding being able to source PFAS free fields, and even what the vendors themselves claim.

PFAS Free Tests

In a memo sent to the City Council yesterday, we informed them that the only “proof” provided by the first vendor, MET, is a sheet of paper containing only a statement asserting that they don’t use PFAS. Weston & Sampson and the city staff and former staff apparently take this on faith and expect us to as well. The second vendor, Sprinturf, supplied reports they commissioned from an independent laboratory, RTI. Their lab results indicate that both the synthetic backing and fibers contain fluorine, proving that PFAS are present, particularly in the fibers. Notably RTI does not discuss this in its test report. These test results confirm the testing reported on in the Boston Globe and the Intercept last October.

Environmental scientist Mindy Messmer, a former Democratic State Representative for New Castle and Rye, made the following comment when we shared with her the test results: “Clearly there are other non-target PFAS in these samples. Just because they are not on the list of analytes doesn’t mean they don’t use a regrettable substitution.”

They are roughly 5,000 different types of PFAS. Testing for total fluorine content is the most reliable way to detect the presence of PFAS. The non-detectable results for the 30 PFAS compounds that were tested for is not proof of being PFAS free. The total fluorine content means that one or more of the other thousands of PFAS chemicals are present in the turf fiber and backing. These test results are the exact opposite of what Weston & Sampson claims.

For more info see the fact sheet by TURI at UMass Lowell on PFAS in artificial turf carpet.

Read the documents:


3/3/20 New testing documents obtained at 3/2/20 City Council Meeting

FieldTurf PFAS DTC

These test results are for 30 analytes (PFAS compounds) – there are roughly 5,000 different PFAS. Testing for only 30 is not proof of absence of PFAS in the samples. In the TURI fact sheet linked above it states, “…lack of detection of one or more specific PFAS does not mean that a material is free of PFAS.” Once again, the synthetic turf industry and consultants fail to prove their assertions that their products are truly PFAS free or that Portsmouth can go to bid for PFAS free turf.

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Clean Up Your Fields, Dover School District!

Over the years the Dover school district subcontractor’s athletic field program has improved. However there are still several ways for the program to make substantial improvement consistent with Dover’s commitment to organic land management resolution.

❌ Stop blanket insecticide treatments

Currently, a product called Acelepryn (chlorantraniliprole) has been applied every spring since 2014. (Prior to that other toxic insecticides like Dylox and Merit were used each year.)

Not only does this unnecessarily expose child athletes to a product with questionable safety, but this is not best practice for managing grubs.

By choosing to use IPM best practice of monitoring and spot treatment with a least toxic product if indicated, instead of blanket applications of insecticides, we stand to save a substantial amount of money according to the grub monitoring estimate we received from a professional organic lawn care company. Especially when compared to the invoice totals from last season.



❌ Stop toxic herbicide use

Toxic herbicides like Lesco 3 Way (2,4-D, MCPP, dicamba) used this past season are not needed and expose students to harmful chemicals. Unlike herbicides, healthy soil and good cultural practices solve weed problems in the long term, saving product and labor costs while protecting students.

❌ Stop using polluting phosphorous

The fertilizer being used in the program is organic, which is good. But the phosphorous it contains is not needed to grow grass, and only serves to pollute our watershed! By switching to another organic fertilizer with zero P in the N-P-K we can reduce the amount of nutrients flowing into the Great Bay Estuary. In addition, we could save quite a bit of money, even thousands of dollars, by switching to a more affordable product.

Lucky for us, the school district has the opportunity to work for FREE with one of the top turf grass experts in the country to put together a real organic program that will protect the kids and save us money. They just have to say the word.

Do you want the school district to accept the free help and stop wasting thousands of tax dollars on an expensive pretend organic program?

Contact the Dover School board and tell them to clean up the fields!

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FREE BROCHURE: Organic Lawn Care Tips

Screen Shot 2019-07-24 at 9.58.58 AM

Download our free brochure to learn about organic lawn care, organic pest control, and how to find a service provider who is trained in a soil based organic approach.

OrganicLawnCareTips_NTD PressQuality2

Thanks to Allison Davis Creative for donating the design, and PJC Organic and Complete Land Organics for their expert help with content. We are grateful to them for making this resource available.

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TAKE ACTION: Make Dover Green Again!

In 2018 the city council voted unanimously for a Commitment to Organic Land Management Practices resolution. Currently we have only ONE organic turf site. Let’s make sure all 23 acres are in accord with our Commitment to Organic Land Management resolution next season! Find more details here.



Here is a sample email that you can send easily using the form below. Just copy and paste the text into the comment box. Please feel free to personalize, and let the council know why this is important to you.

Dear City Council,

I am a Dover resident and the health of our soil, water and future generations are important to me. I believe that this is a worthy investment and would like to ask you to please allocate funds to cover the cost of implementing an organic turf program on all city property next spring.


Your Name





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New PHS Synthetic Field Test Results Don’t Prove Reassuring

Back in February, a letter was sent to Portsmouth officials to inform them of a serious discrepancy in the reporting of hardness safety testing results for Tom Daubney Field at Portsmouth High School.

As a result, a re-test was done on March 14th. This testing was commissioned by the manufacturer, FieldTurf. PHS Gmax Re-Test 2019-03-14

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An upper limit of 200 (F355 scale) is being used as the cutoff, but as addressed before, the Synthetic Turf Council recommends a more protective limit of below 165 Gmax using the F355 scale. The NFL uses a different testing tool (Clegg) with a lower scale and sets their limit at about 100 Gmax and test prior to each game. 135 Clegg = 200 F355.

Natural grass fields typically measure 42 Clegg or 85 F355 units.

Portsmouth School District is taking risks with the safety of the players using the synthetic turf field when they use the 200 upper limit set by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission. “The 200 G-MAX level set by the CPSC is intended only to protect field owners from civil liability should horrible injury occur,” according to the STMA.

There is very good reason to question the validity of the upper Gmax limit of 200 in light of advances in research on injury prevention.

The report also averages the numbers. All points on the field must be below the limit, not an average. Children do not fall and hit their heads on averages.

The hardest point measured on the field is the more commonly used, and more protective upper limit of 165. Had this field been installed at the University of New Hampshire it would have been removed and replaced years ago, the same if it were an NFL field. They both keep field hardness below 165.

Listen to the testimony of Dr. Greg Guyton, orthopedic surgeon to NFL Ravens, regarding safety and playing on post-warranty fields like the one at PHS.  Begin at 1 hour 6 minutes of the video for his 2 minute testimony.

This video on Gmax testing also explains why the 200 cutoff is not adequate, and a result of 165 still needs to be remediated.

Are the brains and bodies of Portsmouth High School athletes deserving of lesser protections than college students and professional athletes?


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2019 Turf Applications – Good News and Bad News

First the good news:

This year we have one true organic site at Woodman Park School ball field.

The rest of the turf sites are still being managed conventionally, but lucky for us the program outlined in the bid proposal has changed from what was used last year. Presumably because of public pressure, the vendor has switched to different products this year.

Sewage sludge (biosolids) are not being used, and the pre-emergent and three way herbicides from last year are also being replaced. The grub control (Acelepryn) will remain the same.


June 2018 2,4-D, dicamba, dithiopyr, MCPA, chlorantraniliprole, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizer etc. at city hall.


2019 application of Acelepryn, active ingredient chlorantraniliprole, synthetic urea fertilizer and natural based fertilizer and amendments, TCS GrowStar 46-0-0, Turf Fuel Xchange, Sustane Bolster.

Facilities and grounds informed us that the weed control product used will be mesotrione, brand name Tenacity.

Now for the bad news: While this is all an improvement over last year’s applications, it’s not even close to the organic program at Woodman Park which used for their first application all organic fertilizers and amendments on May 16th. PJC ProHealthy Turf 6-0-6 fertilizer (soybean meal based), PJC ProHealthy Turf Charge-S3 soil amendment (bio char, blood meal, molasses, kelp, alfalfa and soybean meal) and overseeding.

There’s more bad news.

This is a product swap program, it is still a conventional program and will ultimately prove largely ineffective at improving soil quality, and solving weed and grub problems for good if it is allowed to continue.

None of the products are OMRI listed or 25 b exempt minimum risk as specified in the city resolution, and there is still synthetic fertilizer being used.

More good news: We can do better! 

Ask the city council to delegate the proper funds for a fully organic program on all city property.

Here is a sample email that you can send:

Subject: Please Fund Our Organic Turf Program

Dear City Council,

I am a Dover resident and the health of our soil, water and future generations are important to me. I believe that this is a worthy investment and would like to ask you to please allocate funds to cover the cost of implementing an organic turf program on all city property next spring.


Your Name

TAKE ACTION: email the City Council today!

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