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PFAS - Synthetic turf fields

Dear Chemists,

I am writing in regards to an issue confronting not only our school district but many throughout the United States.  It focuses on the use of synthetic turf for our athletic fields.  We are currently working on converting one of our natural turf fields to a synthetic turf, but a faction in our community is highly concerned over the chemical / toxic runoff -- PFAS (and resulting groundwater / well contamination) from the synthetic turf "carpet" which is typically made from either polypropylene or polyethylene.  There is much out there on this -- both pro and con -- but I just came across a statement from someone who stated:

"More generally, though, the idea that synthetic turf contains unknown forms of PFAS is incorrect. Since the 1960's, all extruded polyethylene plastics (whether synthetic grass blades or countless other plastic consumer products) have been made using about 200 parts per million of a fluoropolymer, PVDF-HFP, in order to minimize defects in the finished product. This is well known to everyone in the industry; and this is why there is "organic fluorine" in all such plastic products. This fluoropolymer does not and cannot dissolve in water; does not and cannot volatilize into ambient air; and does not and cannot be absorbed across anyone's skin. Since the 1960's, literally tens of thousands of synthetic turf fields have been deployed throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, etc. ... and, to my knowledge, none has ever been found to contaminate surface water, ground water, or ambient air with any form of PFAS. On the other hand, fire fighting foams can and do contaminate groundwater, and have done so on Nantucket. And the aqueous contents of all domestic septic systems contain some 10 to 100 parts per trillion of water soluble PFAS, including many of the six PFAS regulated by the Massachusetts DEP. The idea that the proposed synthetic turf field could or will cause pollution on Nantucket is entirely baseless. The main problem with such fields, relative to grass fields, is that they can get rather hot when it's very sunny and hot outside, but so too can tennis courts, basketball courts, beaches, etc. Ask your coaches and athletes, and virtually all of them will tell you that field hockey and soccer, at least, are different, and often better, games on synthetic turf than on all but the very best maintained grass fields. Both synthetic fields and natural grass fields have a place in high school athletics, and in college-level athletics as well. Finally, I note that Professor Graham Peaslee, from Notre Dame, spoke eloquently against the proposed synthetic field for Nantucket; while his own university's "Fighting Irish" play their football games on a newly installed synthetic field ..."

Can you provide any insight or validity into this statement, as it would put a lot of concerns to rest.  I appreciate any input you can provide.

Thank you.

Harvey Sotland


Harvey Sotland

Assistant Superintendent for Business

Cornwall Central School District

24 Idlewild Avenue

Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY 12520

845-534-8009 x 7104

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