Doubt cast on Green’s EPA relationship

Green calls Greenwire article ‘a libelous piece of propaganda.'

The EPA has distanced itself from statements made by Laura Green, Ph.D., a consultant on the high school field project.

Updated Dec. 10 @ 1 pm

A toxicologist who downplayed the health effects of synthetic turf fields in testimony before the Martha’s Vineyard Commission is under renewed scrutiny about her credentials to make such claims, particularly when it comes to per- and poly-fluoralykyl substances, more commonly referred to as PFAS.

Laura Green, Ph.D., an environmental consultant and president of Green Toxicology LLC, has been disavowed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). On her résumé submitted to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) public records on the project, Green’s top professional experience states she is a “special government employee for the EPA.” Concerns raised by the EPA were first reported by Greenwire Environmental & Energy News.

Green called the questions about her EPA credentials a “nonstory.” She said in her comments before the MVC she was talking about a different type of PFAS, which has not been identified by the EPA as having adverse health effects.

When asked to verify EPA positions showcased in the Greenwire article, the EPA replied with a stock answer: “EPA considers harmful PFAS to be an urgent public health threat facing communities across the United States. Under Administrator Regan leadership, EPA has set forth a PFAS Strategic Roadmap that outlines a comprehensive approach to addressing PFAS, and sets timelines by which EPA plans to take specific actions and set bold policies to safeguard public health, protect the environment, and hold polluters accountable.”

When pressed for answers on Green, the EPA provided a follow-up statement: “The agency does not support or agree with any of the statements attributed to Ms. Green that you cited in your question. Dr. Green was not conducting work for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) Federal Advisory Committees (FACA) when the referenced statements on PFAS were made, has not conducted work for any of OCSPP’s FACA committees since 2020, and has not ever conducted work for OCSPP FACA committees that relates to PFAS.”

In a phone conversation with The Times, Green said she was a special government employee hired in 2016 to do peer review work. She said there was nothing misleading about stating that on her résumé, or putting it as the lead item. “It’s the most recent appointment; that’s the way résumés are done. It’s just in reverse chronological order. I was appointed in 2016, and that’s the most recent appointment,” she said. “It’s just a standard format, nothing more than that.”

Green called the story written by Greenwire Environmental & Energy News “a libelous piece of propaganda,” though she doesn’t intend to sue the publication. The story has renewed the raging debate on the Vineyard about whether Green was a hired gun for the synthetic turf industry or a knowledgeable scientist on the health risks associated with the popular playing fields, which narrowly won approval 10-6 before the MVC, and have been referred for a special permit from the Oak Bluffs planning board.

PFAS is a class of compounds that contains around 6,000 or more individual compounds. Currently, with existing laboratory methods, only around 40 of those PFAS can be identified. In Massachusetts, six PFAS compounds are listed as being the highest points of concern, according to state data.

Green, an environmental consultant and president of Green Toxicology LLC, dismissed the potential risks PFAS pose to human health repeatedly throughout the MVC public hearing and deliberation. She’s also been known to reach out to people who raise concerns at public meetings and dismiss the potential health effects of PFAS.

In an email to Emma Green-Beach, director of the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, for example, Green indicated it wasn’t PFAS that was responsible for tumorous dead cows in West Virginia, and instead blamed it on “molybdenum-based catalysts used in the manufacturing of Teflon products.”

Green-Beach, now an Oak Bluffs select board member, declined to comment on Green except to say the emails from her were “unsolicited.”

Green defended her work as a consultant on the MVRHS project: “The PFAS of interest, meaning the PFAS that’s used to extrude plastic grass blades — for that matter, plastics of all kind that you have in your house if you have a plastic toothbrush — the PFAS of interest is not PFOA, PFOS, any of the regulated PFAS … any of the volatile PFAS. It’s the same thing I tried to explain that’s implanted in people if they have surgical meshes, or that’s used to sew up wounds. This is a nonissue. There is no contradiction whatsoever.”

As the conversation continued, Green got more agitated, and complained that the reporter did not write her an email to request an appointment. “I have no interest whatsoever in talking to you or anyone else, about an article that was masquerading as journalism — that instead was an attempt to do a hatchet job. Put yourself in my shoes. Why would I want to talk about that? Put yourself in my shoes and imagine that I called you cold. I didn’t even have the decency to write and ask for an appointment.”

After calling the piece libelous, she reiterated she would not sue. “Look, I’m a 67-year-old grandmother. If you don’t think I haven’t heard every piece of crap that any child or grandchild can throw at me, then you haven’t been around the block. At 67 years old, I have been consulting since the 1970s on controversial projects that span the continent of the United States. If you think I’ve ever sued anyone about anything, then you don’t know me.”

She then abruptly ended the interview, suggesting that The Times request an appointment in writing.

In light of the Greenwire revelations, The Times asked MVC Chair Joan Malkin what the mechanisms were for potentially reconsidering a past vote. Malkin said she believed the mechanisms in place for reconsideration were narrow, and not intended to cover decisions made months ago. Malkin said by mandate and jurisdiction, the Oak Bluffs board of health and planning board might be better equipped to explore new information. 

MVC executive director Adam Turner declined comment, and Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools Superintendent Matt D’Andrea could not be reached for comment.

When asked about the school’s involvement with Green, school committee chair and liaison for the project Amy Houghton said MVRHS didn’t find Green initially, didn’t contract with her, and never paid her for any services.

“There has never been a school committee meeting that has discussed Laura Green. I saw her on a Zoom — that’s my involvement with Laura Green,” Houghton said.

When asked if the school regretted having Green as part of the process, Houghton said she doesn’t know enough about her to comment, “but the school committee followed the direction of the commission in approving taxpayer funds to contract with Tetra Tech and Horsley Witten.”

She said the focus on PFAS in synthetic turf is misdirected, when there are other known problems with heavy metals in surface soil, and PFAS is ubiquitous on the Island.

“I think we have a lot of conjecture, and ‘this might happen and this could happen,’ but we all know about the levels of lead around the Vineyard, and the known impact of lead on the developing brain,” Houghton said.

When pressed on whether she thought Green had a significant impact on the result of the MVC deliberation and swayed public opinion on the synthetic turf field, Houghton said there were many who took up airtime during the public hearing process, “many of whom, if we scrutinized, we would find something that doesn’t stack up — people commenting on fields that have no background in fields.”

“The landscape is changing because of people’s personal agendas. If the process is followed the right way, then the third-party investigators are going to determine what to do. Changing the rules because you didn’t get your way seems a little questionable in my mind,” she said.

But Terry Donahue of MV@Play, the organization originally responsible for bringing Green into the project, defended Green’s hiring and called it just another attack on Green. “Why are you so interested in who hired her?” Donahue asked The Times, calling unsolicited after the interview ended with Green. “It’s nobody’s f______ business.”

Donahue went on to blame the Field Fund, a nonprofit that has advocated for grass playing fields, for the Greenwire story and the ongoing attacks against Green’s credibility. “To slander Dr. Green is beyond offensive,” he said.

Donahue said Green used science, while the opponents used scare tactics in an attempt to sway the MVC. “She’s wiping the floor with them. She uses facts, and they don’t have any,” he said. “It’s like Donald Trump, if you rant about lies long enough, people believe them.”

Emily Bramhall, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation, said the foundation acted as a fiscal sponsor for Vineyard Athletics. In one instance, $10,738 was paid to Green Toxicology LLC on Feb. 10, 2021. It’s unclear how much additional money was paid to Green.

Donahue confirmed the arrangement. He said the community foundation paid Green, and he, along with other supporters of the project he would not name, paid the money back.

Bramhall wrote in an email that no foundation money was ever given to Green. 

In a conversation with The Times, Bramhall explained that the foundation has taken no position on the field project. “The community fund feeling about the fields is that we want student athletes to have playing fields where they won’t break their ankles or get injured,” she said. “Our position is we want fields that are up to standards.”

Whether those are grass fields or synthetic turf is up to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and the Oak Bluffs planning board, she said. “We don’t have a position,” Bramhall said. “We’re agnostic. We want the kids to have good playing fields.”

With Green’s credentials being called into question, Bramhall said she didn’t know enough about it to take a position on whether to regret acting as a fiscal sponsor. “We are not taking a position on the experts that either of the two organizations chose. We’re a step away from it,” she said. “I’m in no shape and have no expertise at all — we’re relying on those who do have the expertise. We were a fiscal sponsor. We provided the same service to both of these groups.”

In a follow-up email, Bramhall pointed out that the fiscal sponsorship relationships with both the Field Fund and Vineyard Community Sports Complex were temporary and have ended. “We no longer have anything to do with either organization,” she wrote.

Donahue confirmed that he ended the arrangement three weeks ago because of attacks on Bramhall and members of the board. “The reason I closed that account was the amount of hate that group was getting because of this crazy war that’s been going on,” Donahue said.

The Vineyard nonprofit Field Fund, a sharp critic of the artificial field project, issued a statement about Green and the published report: “This reporting confirms the concerns that the Field Fund had about Dr. Green’s scientific integrity that prompted us to write a letter to the editor this past January. It is particularly troubling that the superintendent, assistant superintendent, and Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School leadership chose to work closely with Dr. Green as she downplayed the risks of PFAS and plastic pollution associated with their proposed plastic field to our Island community and permitting boards. All with their students watching. And that they still refuse to say who is funding her.”

The Field Fund, which is led by up-Island residents Mollie Doyle, Dardanella Slavin, and Rebekah Thomson, has advocated for a grass field. 

Chirs Huntress, the designer of the high school’s track and field project, had no comment on the Greenwire article. Huntress told The Times he hasn’t read it. 

Commissioner Ben Robinson was one of the voices during the MVC public hearing process to bring up concerns that Green has provided misleading and contradictory testimony in other circumstances.

During an April 2 public hearing of the MVC, Robinson identified a report relating to crumb rubber used for a synthetic turf field in the town of Hamden, Conn. Green acted as a consultant for the report, and concluded that “the evidence on crumb rubber and rubber mulch does not suggest, let alone demonstrate, that rubber mulch poses significant risk to the health of children or others.”

Green uses the same language to minimize the risk of rubber mulch in a Consumer Product Safety Commission report comment she made in 2015, which was referenced by other school districts in their planning processes. Green states in the report that she was asked by Rubberecycle, a leading rubber mulch manufacturer, to provide comment. The memorandum can be found on the Synthetic Turf Council Website. 

At the MVC hearing, Green said, “We understand that using recycled car and truck tires isn’t a good idea. Those are what turn into microplastic and things like that. That is not an issue with this field,” Green said.

Robinson told The Times he believes approving the use of synthetic turf for the athletic complex project has set the Island back in terms of thinking deeply and seriously about environmental dangers. “I think this is one of the worst decisions the MVC ever made,” Robinson said.

Although some elements of Green’s testimony were accurate, he said, such as the fact that PFAS are present in many everyday items like cooking utensils, makeup, and clothing, and are also commonly found in surface soil samples, these general statements potentially obfuscated the deleterious effects of the chemicals for commissioners, the Island public, and other communities that are looking at these issues. “This is why she has a sort of sheen of credibility when she talks about lead being worse than PFAS and other things. She paints this picture of it not being a really big deal, but what she missed in that story is that it’s all really bad,” Robinson said, “and when you have the option of plastic turf over real grass, you can choose the option that doesn’t do those things.”

For things like food packaging and clothing, coming in contact with PFAS may be inevitable, Robinson said, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be avoided when possible.

“That’s why the decision was so troubling to me — we had the opportunity to do the right thing,” he said. “We sort of revived [Green’s] career as being a shill for this synthetic turf industry.”

With this new information on Green, Robinson said, he wonders why she was involved with the school, who initially contacted her and decided to retain her, and who is paying her. “We still really don’t know any of this. Why would our school system be using that type of person to further their aims?” he asked.

School officials at the time said that Green’s consulting work was paid for by a community funder, and she was retained by Vineyard Community Sports Complex Inc., not the school district.

But Robinson said he still has questions about how the money was acquired and spent, and about the Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation acting as a fiscal sponsor for Vineyard Athletics. 

“I think the school really needs to be challenged on their decisionmaking,” Robinson said. Speaking to a comment by Assistant Superintendent Richie Smith at a Feb. 20 MVC hearing stating that the school, at that time, had no donors to back the installation of the field, Robinson added, “If the school didn’t have any donors, where did they get the money to pay for Dr. Green?” 

Robinson stressed that Huntress, president of Huntress Associates Inc. (the designer chosen by the high school for the field project), is at the leading end of the synthetic turf industry, and is a member of the Synthetic Turf Council. “At their year-end prospectus, that group goes through how much they need to increase their industry and how many fields they are going to try and produce each year. He is not just an independent landscape architect — he is a member of this council, he is pushing this product, just as Dr. Green is pushing these products,” Robinson said.

Huntress said his company has membership to some organizations in order to procure continuing education credits, but he denied he is a member of any sort of pro-artificial-turf organization, and said he was disappointed Robinson didn’t reach out to him before making assertions about his credentials. “It’s disappointing that he would make statements like that without actually doing his homework,” Huntress said. 

Updated to correct the name of the organization that paid for Green’s services – Ed.


  1. The doubts, half truths and dodging of information has been going on since the inception of this project by MV@Play has continued for years, some of it with implicit agreement from the MV Public Schools administrators office.

    It’s egregious. People wake up. This project is not good for the athletes, our kids, our families, our island. Demand a safe renovation of athletic facilities. Our kids deserve what’s going to be good for them now and in the future.

  2. Further indication, as if any were needed, that to those accustomed to privilege, democracy (10 votes to 6 votes) feels like oppression.

  3. “You’re terrible, George.”
    Haha! Great work, Mr.Brennan.
    ….and the NEPA Award for causing the most agitation in an interviewee goes to…

  4. This is much deeper and darker than one could have ever imagined. They are using our own taxpayer money to poison us and our kids slowly. “Dr.” Green at 67 years of age will probably be long gone before we see the consequences of her lies and deception.
    I am truly scared who is hiding behind this and how they have (unbeknownst to them) infiltrated our school and local leadership.

  5. Looks like the current kindergarteners will be the first high schoolers, if this is fast tracked, to get to use the new field. Whatever it’s made of.

  6. I read the Huntress report submitted to the Commission—paid for, I believe, by taxpayers, an outlay that I personally did not support or vote for—and it was obviously a biased snow job by a synthetic turf advocate.

    Now no one can remember just how Laura Green even entered the picture!

    The Field Fund was right.

    If you want to know what they think of PFAS on Cape Cod, just do a search for “Cape Cod Times PFAS.”

    It is unacceptable to make a conscious choice that potentially puts any PFAS anywhere near the Island’s aquifer and, eventually, ponds.

    The MVC and the MV Regional High School both get black marks on their report cards for willfully making the wrong choice after ignoring the massive evidence compiled by the Field Fund and others in support of a viable, cheaper, environment- and athlete-friendly plan.

    Maybe this whole project should go back to the Commission for a second look.

  7. Facts do matter.

    The Times now knows that Dr Green has an established relationship with the EPA.

    The Times now should understand how a Curriculum Vitae works when listing an appointment.

    Would the Times like to correct its reporting on this matter?

    Did the Times check Mr. Robinson’s statements or as usual is he the all knowing source of who paid who. If you follow the field fund you will know they made a request of the school system. Their question was answered and they don’t like the answer so there must be something nefarious. Mr. Robinson and the Times both know the outcome of that FOI request as it has been commented on repeatedly in publicly available sources.

    Shame on Mr. Robinson, the Field Fund and the Times for fanning this flame.

    Why is it that every time someone does not like the answer, they get to spout garbage with impunity. The question was asked and answered with legal counsel review. It was right there on the Field Fund web page.

  8. It surprises and saddens me that Mr. Robinson, who seems like an intelligent fellow, refuses to acknowledge that very extensive (and expensive!) chemical testing, by Alpha Analytical Laboratories, has demonstrated, beyond a doubt, that the proposed turf materials are, literally, cleaner than dirt. The proposed materials (turf, pine wood infill, and shock attenuation pad) contain no detectable concentrations of lead, no detectable arsenic, and PFAS concentrations that ranged from none (for all six of the Massachusetts DEP-regulated PFAS) to far far less than are present in ordinary top soils, not to mention in rain, in snow, in ocean water, and, of course, in the thousands of septic systems on the Vineyard, all of which are directly discharging to the ground. I’m surprised too that with regard to other projects, such as the construction of a sizable marine terminal, Mr. Robinson, and all other MV commissioners, readily voted in favor of it, despite its obvious environmental impacts, since there’s also a greater good (offshore wind-power). Shouldn’t all of us at least try to base our decisions on evidence, data, and scientific and clinical judgment … rather than on unfounded accusations?

    • The people who don’t want the proposed turf field understand the science full well. They just don’t want a plastic field for their island. The high school athletes and coaches and others do want it — for many reasons, most of which appear to be reasonable and valid. Regardless, stop expecting that people base their opinions on scientific evidence. Some do; many don’t; and it seems to me to be all about politics and privilege when it comes to Oak Bluffs’ decision-making processes. And, as has been said more than once, “It’s all about the Benjamins” …

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