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.”