In response to the city of Dover considering a synthetic turf field at Dover high school, our founder placed an information request to learn about a nearby field. Portsmouth has a synthetic turf football field at their high school. This seemed like a close enough comparison to get an idea of some of the maintenance and other details involved with a synthetic field.
Tom Daubney field at Portsmouth high school had synthetic turf with crumb rubber infill installed approximately 9-10 years ago. Documents received from the city of Portsmouth indicate that this was a Duraspine field by Field Turf. If this particular brand name sounds familiar, that’s because it is the same that is being litigated for fraud across the country.
Most alarming however, were the results of the last three years of hardness testing on the PHS field. A letter was sent to Portsmouth city officials on Monday, February 4th, 2019 regarding this serious situation that all parents, coaches and players need to pay close attention to.
Taken at face value, the documents received from the city of Portsmouth show that the synthetic turf field at PHS has failed hardness safety testing for the last three seasons.
Documents indicate that he school district contractor and subcontractor have been wrongly using one scale to measure field hardness, and another higher scale as a standard to assess safety once per year. What this means is that while the numbers make the field appear to be within the safe impact range, in reality the field would have been well in excess of the highest cut off point for Gmax for at least three years, probably more.
This would mean that anyone playing on this field has been put at risk of severe or even life-threatening head injury from impact with the field surface.
As soon as it was understood what was happening, and a request for more testing background info yielded no responsive documents so we had verified that all testing results available were accounted for, we alerted city officials. We now await their response to this serious situation.
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission a value greater than 200 risks life threatening head injuries. 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.
For full details read the letter sent to Portsmouth officials PHS Football Field Letter
View the hardness testing documents
Portsmouth High Clegg Test 2016
Portsmouth High Clegg Test 2017
Portsmouth High Clegg Test 2018
We were advised by email that the School Department followed up with the contractor responsible for field maintenance, who in turn followed up with its subcontractor responsible for the testing to investigate.
They state that “the testing results that were shared with School Department and later produced as public records inaccurately identified the measure, “Clegg” versus “F355″ format. … The School Department has arranged to have an independent third party test the field to be able to provide full assurances of field safety, but initial investigation suggests that this was a reporting error.”
A request has been made for the Clegg measurements taken, and the date of the independent testing, and who will be conducting it.
Without the original Clegg measurements, it is impossible to know whether the conversions were correct, and if the field is indeed in compliance with even the lenient hardness standards of 200/135. The lack of proper record keeping and oversight in this situation is astoundingly poor.
How are we to trust the shoddy record keeping from a subcontractor who has been fined in the past by the state of Maine for dishonest business practices?
“The state Board of Pesticides Control says Purely Organic Lawncare (now called Organic First) of York Harbor violated pesticides laws and regulations by applying chemical pesticides at Colby College in Waterville and the Wainwright Recreation Complex in South Portland.”
“Based on the above evidence,” the proposed agreement says, “it was determined that Purely Organic engaged in fraudulent business practices in the application of pesticides at the South Portland Wainwright Recreation Complex.”
In addition to this violation, the company was fined for a multitude of others, including a “Failure to maintain complete and up to date commercial pesticide application records/Submitting false and fraudulent Commercial Applicator Annual Summary Reports.”
View subcontractor letter here: Clegg Letter to Pioneer
We await the results of the independent testing to put this unnecessary issue to rest.