One worrisome aspect that seems not to have been considered in the discussions regarding the installation of artificial turf fields is the presence of PFAS (see below).
For those of you who may have missed the Boston Globe article by David Abel (October 10) entitled “Toxins are Found in Blades of Artificial Turf,” there is new information out about these “chemicals of emerging concern.” Combine this information in this article with two articles in the Friday Enterprise (October 11), “Ocean Microplastics” and “Recreation Committee seeks Site for Artificial Turf Field,” and you may begin to see a disconnect. What are we doing installing more plastics on town fields? The Globe article reveals the new finding that the “turf contained elevated levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals known as PFAS.” The study revealed that not only were these chemicals found in the “grass” blades of the turf but they have also been found in the groundwater where the turf has been installed (rain runoff), as well as where they have been disposed. And these fields need replacing every 10 years?! Did anyone in town make a disposal plan for our now-declared “toxic waste” artificial turf fields? Now, to the more pressing point of the cost to human health.
University of Washington soccer coach Amy Griffen was alarmed at the number of goal keepers who played on the artificial turf fields and had contracted cancer. She cited now 270 young athletes with cancer. PFAS have been linked to kidney cancer, breast cancer, low infant birth weights, thyroid disease, immunotoxicity in children, just to name a few. I turn your attention to the recent work of Silent Spring Institute, which has been studying the high incidence of breast cancer on Cape Cod. The title of their work, “Everyday exposures to PFAS chemicals-understanding how people are exposed to PFAS otherwise known as ‘forever chemicals,’ will help us develop strategies and inform policies to reduce people’s exposures and protect health.” This is an informative, if not sobering, work that I encourage all pubic decision makers to read. The source of PFAS in East Falmouth (recall the Otis plume) and Hyannis well water has been traced to flame retardants. Other sources of PFAS include water repellents (like your raincoat), non-stick pans (recall Teflon) and wax coating on pizza boxes, just to name a few. Now we have artificial turf as a source of PFAS in town from our already installed fields. I quote again from the Globe article: “PFAS in synthetic turf should sound alarm bells for all municipalities with these fields.”
Do you really want your children playing on these fields?
Susan M. Houghton, RN