Huntress: Just inert PFAS in field materials

Vail says install high school track and field, tear up later if need be.

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Oak Bluffs board of health member Dr. James Butterick at Tuesday's Zoom meeting.

The Oak Bluffs board of health tried to postpone discussion about artificial turf, per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and proposed regulations that would prohibit PFAS-containing artificial turf on Tuesday, but wound up exploring the topic with guests in its Zoom for roughly 50 minutes. The board of health first introduced draft regulations that would ban a synthetic field containing PFAS in December.

A field project that contains a synthetic turf field was approved by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, but is now before the planning board seeking a special permit.

Landscape architect Chris Huntress told the board he never presented specifications for the proposed Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School track and field project as PFAS-free. Huntress said the specifications he had put forward indicated there would be no PFAS per particular State of California and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criteria. 

“Mr. [James] Butterick had raised the question earlier about our specifications and whether or not we had said PFAS-free,” Huntress said. “Just to be clear — I just reread them, I’ve got them here in front of me — our specifications never said that the field was PFAS-free.”

Huntress said the specifications he provided indicate there isn’t any PFAS as contemplated under California’s Proposition 65 or the EPA’s 537 method. Huntress said test results reflect that position. 

Board of health member Tom Zinno asked if PFAS were used to assist the manufacturing process of artificial turf. 

“So, PFAS materials are used, and this is well-documented, in the lubrication of the extruding process,” Huntress said. However, he stressed, that PFAS was inert. Huntress said PVC pipe was an example of an inert material used in an outdoor environment. 

Concerning PFAS chemicals, “some of them are hazardous and dangerous, and some of them are inert,” Huntress said. “The one that’s used in the manufacturing process is inert.”

When asked by Zinno if it was water-soluble, Huntress initially declined to answer the question, but then offered a limited response. “I do not believe it is water-soluble, but I would have to refer to the testimony of Dr. Green and ask you to refer to Tetra Tech …”

In the past, toxicologist Laura Green shared scientific opinions with the board, but has yet to come back before them since coming under criticism for allegedly making claims that run counter to those of the EPA, an agency she has worked for in areas unrelated to PFAS. 

Tetra Tech is the environmental consultancy firm hired by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission to evaluate aspects of the track and field project. It also has consulted for Martha’s Vineyard Airport on PFAS issues. 

The board had hoped to bring Tetra Tech consultant Ron Myrick to the meeting, but instead health agent Meegan Lancaster and Butterick met with him prior to the meeting. “He was a very nice, very straightforward fellow,” Butterick said. However, Butterick said, Myrick had declined to attend any meeting, and referred the board to the report he generated for the MVC. 

Kristen Mello, a Westfield politician who investigates PFAS, said Tetra Tech analysis and testing revealed that “upon oxidation,” chemicals that come off field materials had Proposition 65–recognized PFAS. Mello said ultraviolet light triggers shedding of PFAS material, and then rain can take it into an aquifer. 

Huntress said the more harmful chemicals were only released when the materials were incinerated in the testing. 

Zinno asked Huntress if it was true that cloth filters designed to manage runoff at the proposed track and field don’t capture PFAS. 

“No, PFAS are measured in parts per trillion, so they’re very, very small, and even the best of industrial filter fabrics put in, I don’t think, would be able to catch that,” Huntress said. “Now you’d have to talk to a scientist, but that’s my understanding.”

Unlike a natural field grass which drains horizontally, drainage for an artificial turf field is “vertical,” Huntress said. “So when it drains vertically, it drains through two layers of a filter fabric which has a very, very small permeability rate, but it allows water to drain [to] about 20 inches per hour. So we’re going to catch any micro-plastics or other things through the field. And around the edge of the track on the inside lane, there’s a trench drain.”

Those drains have fabric filter sacks, he said. 

Zinno asked if there was any way to catch and treat PFAS in runoff before it goes into the ground.

“Not that I’m aware of,” Huntress said. “Again, I’m a landscape architect, not a scientist, so I’m not sure if there are PFAS removal processes that could be introduced into a subsurface system. I’ve heard that there can be some through septic systems and others. I don’t know if they can be modified to potentially go under the turf field.”

Finance committee member Maura McGroarty told the board she thought the investigation into the potential problems with the track and field project was politically driven “without the science behind it.”

She added, “Everybody’s probably right that there is an issue there, but it is not primarily driven by installation of this type of project.”

As toxicologist Green previously told the board, McGroarty said the primary culprit was septic systems. 

Health board chair William White said politics wasn’t a factor as far as he was concerned. “Science is always evolving, obviously,” White said. “Science isn’t always correct, and I admit that. But as far as I’m concerned, I want to do due diligence. I don’t really care about the politics of the whole thing.”

White went on to say he’d rather be “safe than sorry” on the issue. “I don’t want to go five years down the road and tell you, ‘Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve.’ I’m not going to operate that way.”

Finance committee member Walter Vail, a former select board member, suggested the board provide commentary to the planning board’s special permit evaluation for the track and field project, commentary that supports the project with contingencies. 

“Say to them that you’ve got a broader issue than just the artificial turf, and that may take quite a while,” Vail said. “Meanwhile, the high school would like to get on with installing artificial turf.”

Vail suggested the board recommend the planning board “go forward with the special permit and allow the installation of the field, with the idea that if something comes up — and the high school has already said that they will test right along, and if it does not meet your restrictions — they will pull it back up again. I don’t think that’ll be the case, but I think that would be a way to move forward and not stall this forever and ever. “

Vail added, “They have the money, or would have the money, in their hands to do that.” 

When asked Wednesday where he thought the funds would come from for a track and field demolition, Vail said “private donors” would “hopefully construct it,” and would “also tear it down if needed.” 

When asked who those donors were, Vail said, “I have no names. It’s not of any great importance as to who’s going to do this … It’s not going to be a taxpayer issue.”

In an email Wednesday, the pro-grass group Field Fund criticized Vail’s meeting remarks.

“It was shocking to hear a member of the Oak Bluffs finance committee advocate for the installation of a known, 2.5-acre PFAS point source, letting it contaminate the sole source aquifer with ‘forever chemicals,’ then to try to remediate that foreseeable contamination, remove and dispose of the plastic field, and grow a grass field in its place,” the group wrote. “Is this the school’s plan? If so, it seems financially, environmentally, and legally reckless.”

The board took no action on the regulations or any input with the planning board’s special permit process, but it reiterated its desire to consult with other Vineyard boards of health on PFAS threats. 

In other business, the board voted unanimously to send a legal letter in response to an open meeting law complaint made by Tisbury resident John Zarba. The letter denies the law was broken.

36 COMMENTS

  1. I am very surprised to read the Pro Grass Group would write a letter and try to pretend they were shocked by anything in this fight. I would suggest the real shock will come when this waste of time and resources by taxpayers is over.

    • I believe the shock expressed is that a finance committee member would recommend a costly installation, supposedly privately funded, quite possibly followed by a costly removal of said field. Testimony before the MVC already laid out that removal and recycling of these fields is significantly expensive.

      It’s hard to imagine that private donors would fund a project that they could well have to fork over more money to destroy. It’s counterintuitive.

      • It’s ridiculous that after all this time we still don’t know who these “donors” are, and meanwhile tax payers are being shaken down repeatedly at town meetings for the design studies etc. Anyone who thinks we won’t all bear the cost of this folly over time is delusional.

  2. If pro grass group had issue with what was said in a meeting (Walter Vail’s remarks) – a meeting which they attended – why would they not speak up – in the meeting?!
    Why is the primary opposition to moving this project forward hiding and lurking in the shadows of anonymous quotes, or online posts – are they hiding behind their organization’s name? Or perhaps knowing who the comments came from would indicate a gross conflict of interest?

    • With some of the tactics used by the pro turf crowd online I can’t blame anyone for not wanting their name to get out there. Seen some really nasty stuff written about people who just have a different point of view

    • Hi John – The ” pro grass group ” is not 3 people. Many people and organizations have written letters stating thier oppositon to a plastic turf being installed over our Island’s single aquafer. They include The MV Shelfish Group, West Tisbury Conservation Commitee,MV Enviromental Educators Alliance, Island Grown Initiative,The Farm Institute, Sheriffs Meadow, Felix Neck, Polly Hill Arboretum, MV Conservation Society and Mass Audubon, among others including doctors and scientists. You can find these documents here.
      :https://www.fieldfundinc.org/letters-links
      Our kids need and deserve a playing field solution ASAP. I suggest a trained community mediator as an alternative to the ongoing divisiveness and paranoia.

      • And the manipulation continues. Why suggest a mediator. Let the process play out without interference in this manner. If it fails the permitting process without the back door dealings, then it will go back to MVC for another hearing with a total of 3 fields. Or has nobody been paying attention? Yes, clearing wooded land for an additional 2 fields. Another 2 nitrogen starved fields to try and rest the others. More irrigation, more fertilizer! And you keep ignoring the rubber track surface. You have stated your opposition. Now let it play out without scheming. That is what the applicant it trying to do!

        • Scheming ? Not at all. I have no say in the matter actually. I am a taxpayer and a community member.
          I believe in science and stand with the people who go to work everyday to protect the environment because it’s their actual job . I also understand the desires of the MVRHS to have an awesome football field . I think the track could be a negotiable plastic product .
          I will continue to state my opinion as often as I can because I’m standing up for the environment , we humans have spent the last 100 years ruining it . I suggest mediation because I have friends on both sides of this issue and I know that they are suffering in doing what they feel it the right thing. Every action has a reaction.

          • Please suggest the parties that should enter mediation. Hasn’t the application been made? Isn’t it in front of various boards who need to evaluate the application? Shouldn’t those boards use the testing results available to them in making their determination? It really should be that simple. Someone will be happy, someone will not. But interference in the process really isn’t necessary. Testing has been done on the materials both here and the proposed Nantucket field. Please look at the results, two different companies, same results. This project has conditions for protections. All people want is to let it play out fairly.

  3. John, Actually it is a tried and true method of manipulation. There is a whole psychology behind it. Anything said in public is open to scrutiny and rebuttal. But if you operate behind the scenes there is no balance or better yet and chance of rebuttal. MVTimes falls victim to this methodology employed by FF. Poor Ms Lancaster. Same story. Doesn’t even understand the manipulation hitting her. I will say in my perception, the MVC was less victimized by this behavior. Overwhelmed by it but less swayed. The planning board. No comment. Say it in public, defend your data and stop the manipulation of info.

  4. Susan
    If the Field Fund had kept the promise Molly Doyle made five years ago at a meeting in the superintendents office to build the a new track & field the students would have had a new facility four years ago. Your group would have put in a “GRASS FIELD” and we all could have quit this process.

  5. The Field Fund alleges that the proposed synthetic field is “a known, 2.5-acre PFAS point source, [that would] contaminate the sole source aquifer with ‘forever chemicals. …’” This allegation is false. Read the Alpha Analytical Laboratory testing-report. The MVC did, and that’s why they approved the project. The Field Fund apparently does not understand the SPLP test results. They would benefit from consulting with a chemistry teacher at MVRHS.

  6. PVDF-HFP is indeed inert, and is indeed insoluble in water.
    It is a solid plastic.
    2 plus 2 does equal 4. It does not and cannot equal 5.

  7. Gail & Steve
    I have been involved in trying to get a new track @ field for the students for eight years.
    In that time the Field Fund has never produced one FACT to support their allegations that the turf is dangerous to play on or pollutes. They just spread fear. They don’t care about the students just getting their way. If they cared about the kids they would have built the project five years ago with a grass field like they PROMISED at the meeting at the superintendents office

    • The Field Fund was ready willing and able to do this work four years ago. All they asked was that if they made the investment of equipment and labor into rejuvenating and maintaining these fields they would be able to do it for ten years. The school district would not agree to that and re-
      engaged with plastic.

  8. It seems this conversation has gotten hung up on the issue of PFAS.
    Regardless of the toxicity of this it is a giant piece of plastic that will have to be replaced periodically . The odds of it getting “recycled” to any meaningful extent are next to none. It will completely kill the insects and microbes that are essential to healthy soil. It will be very expensive to bring this back to a healthy grass field once we realize this is a mistake, or we will be committed to replacing it forever. Regardless of the obvious toxicity issues, It’s just on its face a dumb idea.
    But, such is the power of snake oil salespersons.

    • Don
      There currently is a recycling plans in operation in the Netherlands, the MVC conditioned we secure a bond to paying for the shipping costs. If you read the MVC conditions you would have know this.
      You are certinally allowed you opinion but not yout own facts

        • Beka– Ha- We both put up the same link.
          Hopefully that will encourage more people to actually watch it. — Or post it for that matter–
          I will now proceed to massacree the lyrics of Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s restaurant” ;

          You know, if One person, just one person does it they may think he’s really sick and they won’t believe him.
          And if two people, two people do it, they may think they’re both faggots and they won’t take either of them seriously
          And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people logging on and posting it. They may think it’s an Organization.
          And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, posting it , they may thinks it’s a movement.,,,

          I’m just having too much fun this morning posting “quotes” from 60’s musicians…
          I gotta get out more… 🙂

          • Link from 2017. Already old and the world moved forwards.

            Misleading at the least. Not saying the documentary was false, but you are using old data to scare people.

          • David–show me some documentation that the world has moved on.
            Are those ” mountains” gone ?
            Are there any licensed , operational facilities in the United States ? Terry referenced a plant in the Netherlands. I think shipping 225 tons of crap 3,500 miles in the hope that it might be “recycled” does not make my “green sense” tingle. Someone else claims there will be a functional recycling plant in Pennsylvania at some point in the future, but they provided no details, no links, and no information about the status of permitting or local opposition.
            It might happen, it might not.
            Cape wind might have happened also..
            Andy assures us that Vineyard One will not happen because of financial issues..
            I’m not counting on some hypothetical plant years down the road to recycle our toxic waste.

            But using the “dog whistle” about scaring people and accusing me of trying to scare people is not only ridiculous but personally offensive. I am pointing out factual information, — even if you think it’s outdated– I am backing it up with real facts, and arguing for caution.
            When large corporations started manufacturing asbestos, they touted the benefits and ignored the dangers. Years later, when the danger became obvious, they lied , distorted facts, and mounted a major legal opposition to assume any liabilities. Even now, we are dealing with the reckless decisions of our forefathers. Have we learned nothing ?
            I am not arguing that these chemicals will kill anyone tomorrow, but we just don’t know about the effects 100 years form now , do we, David ?
            I can tell you that if a hundred years from now, some teenager eats a little organic dirt, it will not kill them.
            This discussion should not be about what happens next year. It should be about the impacts that our responsible or irresponsible choices of today will have on future generations.

      • Terry– I am aware that there is a recycling plant in the Netherlands.
        First, it is my understanding that an average field weighs just under a half million pounds . Correct me if I am wrong about that, but that is what I have read. I look forward to your information about the actual weight of this particular field.
        How environmentally friendly is it to roll up and ship 1/2 million pounds of sand , plastic and rubber to the Netherlands? — And don’t forget that in my comment above, it would seem VERY expensive to ever bring this field back to a healthy eco system that could actually grow grass, so we are basically commiting to do this every 10 years.
        There is not even one of these so called recycling plants in the United States. Nor is it likely that U.S environmental rules and nimby opposition would ever allow for one to be built.
        Most of this stuff is just left as yet another problem for our descendants to deal with.
        https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/12/artificial-turf-fields-are-piling-no-recycling-fix/603874/

        As far as I can tell, the one recycling plant you (perhaps) refer to is the only one in Europe that does a proper job– or perhaps we being duped.
        Here is a documentary about the state of recycling artificial turf in Europe
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5o3J7uy4Tk
        Since you bring this plant up, and hold it up as the “solution” , I suggest that you watch it. I suggest everyone watch it.
        But for those who don’t want to take the 36 minutes to watch this difficult to watch expos’e, I will give you the spoiler alert;
        The whole industry is a sham– at minute 6:20 they state that there is no use for whatever it is that they are supposed to be recycling it into.
        Yes, there is one — count ’em– one company in the world that seems to be doing this properly.
        I stand by my statement– the odds that this particular field , and every field that we have to “recycle” every 10 years will actually get recycled are next to nothing. That’s a fact. That’s not an opinion…..
        But of course, we are affluent Americans– and we really don’t give one small rodents behind about what really happens to our waste. Our entitled children are entitled to have the very best after all — To paraphrase Joni Mitchel — ” a Vineyarder must have everything”

        But we all feel good because tourist can’t get a plastic straw, or a single use plastic bottle of water. Our town officials even ride around in “green” EV’s….
        And our new sidewalk in V.H has little stones in it.

        • Keller suggesting insects might be killed 100 years from now due to PFAS reminds me of the person who told me that Foreign Service employees ”prevent wars”. I retorted ”Oh the war between Bolivia and Afghanistan that didnt happen? He is a master in postulating things that people aren’t yet acclimated to and tells them. He anticipates and finds potential problematic issues that could result from a product in the future. These speculative concerns could take place 10 or 50 or even a 100 years from now. Conceptualize today and determine a future from scattered options. Wonderful.

    • 1. Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, will be the new home of an artificial turf recycling facility here in the U.S. That’s where the field would likely go after 12 or so years of use.
      2. Yes, insects don’t inhabit plastic grass fields, but geese don’t tend to defecate on them either. How much “insect life” is there on the current natural field at MVRHS?
      3. The proposed MVRHS project includes five grass fields and one plastic field.
      4. The athletes, coaches, and MVRHS administrators all believe that this project will improve high school players’ safety and physical health. And, the MVC concluded, after reviewing thousands of pages of evidence, that the project won’t contaminate the aquifer.

    • Terry– thank you for linking to that report.
      it is informative and likely accurate.
      I appreciate an informed debate.
      But I did notice that the authors of this report used quotation marks around the word “background”. So , it is my opinion that as PfAS become more ubiquitous in the things we use, the “background” levels will continually go up. From my point of view, that is leaving a potential hazard to the next generations. It is impossible to get them out of the environment with current or foreseeable technologies. While I will agree that the current level of risk to humans from PFAS is low, we do not know what effects these molecules have on other creatures.
      The study you cite clearly states that our ability to adequately understand the full consequences of these compounds is disturbing.
      I don’t think the argument that they are already in many common products is reason to continue putting them in more.
      Since I seem to be quoting 60’s musicians here, let me quote Buffalo Springfield — “nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong” .

  9. I’m surprised that this topic is still being discussed! Here are some relevant facts — all of which were presented to the MVC and at other meetings … months ago …
    1. The most important source of PFAS-contamination to groundwater in the U.S., by far, is the use of PFAS-based fire fighting foams — in training exercises, more than in actual fires. These foams are/were made from concentrates that contain PFOS, PFHxS, and other regulated PFAS — and direct precursors thereto — at levels of 3% to 6%. In parts per trillion, 3% to 6% equals 30,000,000,000 to 60,000,000,000 ppt! That’s why there are traces of PFAS6 in aquifers … and in rainwater, seawater, surface waters, soil, etc. etc. etc.
    2. Septic systems contain about 10 – 100 ppt of PFAS6 (due to effluents from washing machines, and to our own urine and feces). Much less than in fire fighting foams … but there are some 15,000 such septic systems on the Vineyard. On Cape Cod, at least, septic systems have indeed contaminated people’s drinking water with PFAS6 … I don’t think that that’s happened on the Vineyard … at least not yet.
    3. So, if the Vineyard wants to “do something” about PFAS, it might want to do two simple things. First, check with your town’s Fire Departments, and see if they have minimized/eliminated uses of PFAS6-containing foams. Second, at some point, perhaps sooner rather than later, sewer your island.
    Best of luck to you!

    • Laura– with all due respect, the way to deal with an environmentally sensitive issue is not to say that since we have polluted our environment this much, we should just continue to pollute it more. Whataboutism is a weak argument.
      Thousands of schools across the country have asbestos in them. The solution to that is not to add more asbestos to new schools, and truthfully claim that no one under the age of 16 has died from mesothelioma.
      It’s about the future, Laura.

  10. Dr. Green’s “relevant facts” are somewhat misleading. 1. The most important source of PFAS contamination is from AFFF in certain areas, such as near airports and DoD installations. However, scientists are finding large quantities of PFAS that are not from AFFF – for example, on Cape Cod, PFAS from firefighting foams could not explain up to 77% of the organofluorine that was measured. Indeed, many fires in municipalities are not fought with AFFF, but with water. Finally, since MV airport has entered into litigation against PFAS manufacturers to recoup financial losses, it is clear they are not only aware of the problems with AFFF, but are actively trying to avoid using the PFAS-containing foam when they can. 2. Septic systems leach PFAS because of the products we use that contain PFAS. Makeup, dental floss, carpets, furniture, some clothing, etc. all contain PFAS. If you put traces of those same products into a sewer (and a WWTP), you will STILL have the PFAS. In fact, you will likely have MORE PFAS, because researchers are finding that there is less PFAS in the influent of WWTPs than in the effluent. In other words, the “treatment” actually creates more PFAS. So switching from septic systems to sewers and WWTPs will not reduce the PFAS load on the island – rather, it may increase it. The only way to remove PFAS from septics or sewers is to ban products containing PFAS. 3. So, if MV wants to do something about PFAS, then they should support the ban of products containing PFAS, and avoid putting more PFAS into/on top of their sole source aquifer. Several towns in Massachusetts, such as Sharon, Concord, Wayland, and others, have put moratoriums on installation of artificial turf, which is a wise move. Finally, it is important to note that even though Massachusetts currently only regulates six PFAS, there are many more that are of concern. When human health is at issue, it is best to err on the side of caution.

    • Surely you know about the PFAS problems plaguing Cape Cod — Barnstable in particular.
      There are two reasons that PFAS is such a huge problem on the Cape with regard to drinking water that derives from their sole source aquifer.
      Fire fighting foams and septic systems.
      Not plastic grass, which, as you know, contains part per million concentrations of PVDF-HFP, an entirely insoluble fluoropolymer. PVDF-HFP has been used, in ppm levels, to manufacture synthetic turf fields since their inception, in the mid-1960’s. (See the patent from the early 1960’s by Dupont Canada). PVDF-HFP in plastic grass cannot contaminate, and has not contaminated, surface water or groundwater. AFFF and septic systems, on the other hand, can and have.

  11. Please read the relevant Alpha Analytical report!
    The report shows this:
    Synthetic precipitation leaching procedure (SPLP) testing of the proposed plastic grass field revealed less than 1 ppt of PFAS!
    (And that test was done, as you know, using an acidic test-solution, for the SPLP, at pH 4.2 — whereas rainwater is much less acidic, at pH 5.5 here in Massachusetts … so, the test was quite aggressive, as it should be …)
    And, as you know, there’s already 2.5 ppt of PFAS6 in Oak Bluffs drinking water.
    Why?
    Fire fighting foam!
    Would plastic grass contaminate the aquifer?
    No. It’s a non-issue.
    Again, please read the report, and please rely on the data.

  12. Mr. Huntress was correct: PVDF-HFP is not soluble in water, and cannot contaminate groundwater or surface water.

    PVDF-HFP is simply an inert polymer, like PVC or any other similar plastic

    The PFAS that we environmental engineers worry about are nothing like PVDF-HFP. They are instead small, water soluble, PFAS, such as PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, and several others. None of them are polymers.

  13. I trust the 5 billion dollars turf industry and their hired scientists as much as I trust big tobacco and the Sackler family. They have unapologetically installed over 12,000 fields across the US , most of them are at the end of their lifespan and made from the really nasty stuff, which at one point Dr.Green said was totally harmless, well it’s not . And now they’ve come up with an “ organic solution” ? No mention of past mistakes or clean up of the tons of trashed turf that sits in landfill and illegal dumps, leaching tire crumb rubber syrup to our nations water supply. Why would we even consider rewarding this industry with millions of dollars . Where does the entitlement begin and end of what we NEED ? If you don’t see the urgency of standing up for the environment, then your really not paying attention. We need another option .

  14. Standing up for the environment means relying on environmental evidence.
    Groundwater contamination is a real problem, but it has nothing to do with whether or not athletic fields are natural or synthetic or both. On the other hand, fertilizers, pesticides, and other lawn products can and do contaminate groundwater, and surface water.

  15. I graduated from MVRHS in 1990. I am a year round resident and my two boys, 7 and 13, who were born here on the island. The fields were in really poor shape 30 years ago, as they are now. I have been in the health field for 25 years. My most recent area of study has been through the Institute for Functional Medicine. In completing that 3 year program with IFM I learned through medical evidence the incredible harm environmental toxins have on public health.

    I am advocating that we fix the fields soon and in a way that is environmentally and financially responsible and matches the rest of the Islands aesthetic and appreciation for the natural world.

    A Turf field might look prettier and shinier for those who that is a priority and that sums up the benefits. There is no genuine argument for a plastic field. The idea of usage has been rebuffed. The idea that less injuries on plastic has been proven false. And the thought that others have it so we should too is scary. Whereas having a field that sequesters carbon, is easier on bodies (especially developing bodies), and supports the environment seems like a no brainer.

    A Turf Field make no financial sense. The current fields are in bad shape due to lack of funding so, where is the money for Turf installation and replacement coming from? Tase payers. There are no Turf donors.

    Turf will be wildly expensive to install, more expensive than one might imagine to maintain and another fortune to replace every 8-10 years. Turf fields have zero correlation to athletic success, scholarships and most importantly health. This has been made apparent by the higher than average athletic scholarships earned by our athletes throughout MVRHS history.

    PFAS are of concern but by no means the only concern. There are nearly 25,000 different chemicals in plastic including the most hazardous chemical families – including heavy metals, flame retardants, phthalates (also known as obesogens), bisphenols, and fluorinated compounds – are directly associated with plastics.

    Every fish in the ocean has plastic in its flesh. Every single one, no matter where on earth you go…especially the deepest reaches of the ocean. These are hormone and physiology disrupting chemicals associated with obesity, early onset diabetes, Autism, ADHD and other mood disorders, cancer, heart disease, insulin resistance (which 1 in 3 of our children already have) and many more.

    Every single ounce of this field is going to sit in the ground somewhere and degrade until it leaches fully into the ground in exchange for some imaginary elevation in athletic performance in a group of kids that already receive significantly higher than average athletic scholarships.

    The problems of the children that have needs will not be solved with a turf field.

    The environmental impact does not justify any possible advantage that might be gleaned by turf. If we think it does then I propose that we make a promise to keep all the material from the field replacement here on the island, in plain sight, so we can all actually live with our choice, as a memorial to what is lost.

    It is clear that if this island and our greater environment is going to support its growing demands that there will be times in which we need to do with a little less and sometimes a lot less. This is not a sacrifice but, an opportunity to make a powerful choice that shows our kids that we and they are not entitled to do the things we want on earth because we can or that everyone else is doing it but, that we are willing lessen our enormous footprint and learn to walk with more care. What an immense sense of Vineyard Pride our kids and our community could share knowing we are willing to make this powerful choice together.

    Very Best of Health, Stefan Knight

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