Edgartown board supports turf moratorium 

The Edgartown Board of Health voted to support the Oak Bluffs Board of Health's potential turf moratorium. —Eunki Seonwoo

The Edgartown board of health solidified its support for a potential three-year moratorium on turf athletic fields in Oak Bluffs.

During a meeting Monday, the board unanimously approved sending a letter of support to the Oak Bluffs board of health. 

The proposed moratorium stems from concerns over per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — a group of chemicals that can cause harm to human health and the environment — and litigation between the Oak Bluffs planning board and the Martha’s Vineyard Regional School District on the school’s proposed turf field. A Massachusetts Land Court judge recently ruled that the planning board did not have the authority to deny the district’s request because of a state law known as the Dover Amendment, which grants special protections to projects with an educational component.

Prior to the ruling, the Oak Bluffs health board had requested letters of support from other Vineyard health boards for a possible moratorium. The Tisbury board of health already gave its support; Edgartown was waiting to gather feedback from all of its board members. Board members Gretchen Regen and Christopher Edwards had expressed their support during a meeting earlier this month, when member Candace Nichols was absent.

During a meeting on Monday morning, Nichols said she was also in favor of supporting the moratorium. “I’ve thought about it, and that’s my position,” Nichols said. 

The Oak Bluffs health board is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, Nov. 28, to discuss the draft moratorium — “the installation of certain artificial sports playing surfaces” — with a possible vote. 

Oak Bluffs health agent Garrett Albiston has told The Times that the moratorium does not just halt the school’s turf field project, it also requires the town’s health board to have a study done on existing PFAS in the groundwater, and overall groundwater health — including whether a turf field would add further pollutants. 


  1. Comical at best. They do know a selectboard member in their town sells and installs this stuff?

    I suppose they are also on the fear bandwagon. Good thing they don’t need to rely on any science for their decisions as BOH members.

    Did any of them look at what parts per trillion means? A drop of water in an Olympic pool. 1 drop and you put a moratorium in place. Go look at real sources of PFAS.

    • So let’s say PFAS aren’t an issue. Why does the NFL players union insist on grass fields to prevent injuries? Are the pro plastic fans okay with kids getting injured?

      • John, are you really comparing NFL players size, speed, and strength to a high school aged player? The “science” related to injuries is, at best, equal when comparing turf to grass injuries. I’ve done the research on that. In addition, the NFL turf fields are not the same as the field being installed here. The NFL what faster games so their turf is harder. The turf here will have a layer of padding to decrease the injuries you refer to. You can’t compare all turf fields as being the same, because they aren’t. So ask yourself this question, why did the NFL go to turf? Why, because grass was expensive and almost impossible to maintain, even with their vastly greater budgets vs a high school. Lastly, are you ready to agree to a moratorium for no more housing projects on the island? That science is available, housing materials, and homes, all contribute PFAS to the environment and are likely the source of the PFAS that we currently have in our soils. This moratorium is, at best, being prejudice because there is absolutely no science that says this field will add PFAS to the environment. None, look it up, don’t take the word of others. I thought being prejudice was not something we supported.

        • No I would not agree to a moratorium on new housing because housing is a necessity. Fields for kids to play games on are not necessary whether they are grass or plastic.

        • Patrick. Wer have been here before.
          I posted a few studies that concluded
          injury rates were higher on turf fields.
          Some said I was cherry picking the studies.
          Here is an analyzation of 53 studies
          conducted by an impartial medical
          Please note the last line in the

  2. Good for the Edgartown BOH. I would hope that the West Tisbury BOH joins in. We all drink from the same pool. Incidentally if the EPA has decided that parts per trillion is too toxic that should be sufficient. Science always trumps “thoughts and prayers”. As a chemist, I prefer to drink and bathe in plastic free water.

  3. Sad I thought Edgartown was smarter than this and was hoping this new BOH would live in the real world. After the last BOH that lived in fantasy land it seems we are still there.

  4. Dear MV Community-
    Thankfully the laws are clear and empower the Boards of Health to take all precautions when it comes to drinking water and a protected water zone . Read for yourself.


    We have much work to do in future conservation, restoration and regulations to eliminate plastics and pollutants from leaching in and eroding our natural resources.
    Our schools ,community facilities and local zoning must be examples of best practices locally and globally. The future depends on our leaders standing by these tenets.

  5. Fear of water quality sounds valid.Do you know how many children your schools label
    Special needs? Requiring individual educational plans? 2200 students with over 950 teachers and aids? Water interests sound like a good idea.Or are they feeding the kids something? We know they feed children handfuls of sugary mints and lifesavers before these tests as your principals believe “a little sugar feeds the brain” yes comical the folks running your schools aren’t too worried about the water or children’s health.

    • Grass that will have 10-12 times more PFAS in it than the turf ever will. The board of health isn’t interested in lowering PFAS, this is politics, and prejudice but they don’t have what it takes to admit it.

      • Why don’t the other boards take action in their towns and not just send a moral support letter. Come on Chilmark. This will fix your pickle ball problem!. Ban all playing surfaces that contain PFAS! If it really is about PFAS and the aquifer all towns should follow suit and ban all playing surfaces that contain this stuff. OB are being leaders here. Get with the program island wide. Or is this really not about public safety and drinking water island wide? Make it universal and clear. How about the MVC making this moratorium island wide? What are you waiting for? If you don’t do this island wide then let’s call it for what it is. Last ditch effort to kill the project. It will be successful but let’s not kid ourselves what is really happening here. Do it quickly so the island can move on.

        • Agree 100% – but let start with a ban on plastic grass. You can’t fix a plastic pollution problem by add more plastic. Plastic grass is an unnecessary and entitled choice that is unsustainable and needs to be banned on Island. We are at a tipping point and will see many federal bans on harmful household and everyday items in the near future. Indeed an inconvenient truth. Until their are federal bans on everyday toxic products, the petroleum and plastic industrys will peddle their wares to consumers big and small. It will be a challenge to plant and maintain an all grass fields, but we can do those hard things. This is a chance to set a home rule precedent for our children and future leaders to make balanced and hard choices for our natural resources while supporting our school ,leisure spaces and especially those funded by taxpayers

          • Beka, the next logical conclusion is for the school committee to protect our children from contact with these surfaces. We should protect our children from pfas exposure as suggested by the BOH. Demand the school committee be leaders and exclude our children from playing on these toxic surfaces off island. It is the only right thing to do. We need PFAS free helmets and pads and shin guards and mouth guards and uniforms. Please push the school committee to do this.

      • Patrick– could you cite where you got that
        10 to 12 times statistic from ?
        Do the people who sell grass seed spray
        the seed with it for some reason ?
        Does organic fertilizer have PFAS
        in it? I would be all for not allowing the
        use of any product with high levels
        of PFAS. Including a turf field.
        I would think there would be alternatives.


        • Don, it was stated during the BOH meeting and they agreed that if you have PFAS in your soils the vegetation, ie grass, would take up the PFAS. So, seeing there it has already been determined that there is PFAS in the soils at the high school, it is likely the grass will too. Therefore, remove the contaminated soils and grass, and replace with a synthetic surface where it has been not only deemed that PFAS is deminimus, but has also been noted that it will not release PFAS into the ground under natural conditions. So, if PFAS really is your concern, putting down a synthetic surface will actually decrease the potential for PFAS contamination in the ground water below the field. Facts are fact, people just don’t want to listen to them, therefore, it has to be political.

          • Patrick– So it was stated at the BOH
            meeting. By whom ? Where did they get
            those facts? Did anyone question that ?
            I can go to the next BOH meeting in my
            town and say there are millions of rabid rats
            running loose on Main st biting people.
            Does that make it true ?
            But let’s look at the larger problem.
            Your idea to deal with the existing PFAS
            is to dig them up and cover it all with plastic.
            Should we do that with all the fields at all the
            schools ? There is an awful lot of grass on
            the parks and private land on this island.
            Should we require it all to be removed ?
            Are you for banning the sale of all grass seed
            and associated products, or is the situation
            at the High school unique to that one field ?
            Secondly, do you wonder how the PFAS got there ?
            They are after all, sapiens’ made in some lab
            I think it would be easier to take the political
            solution and elect officials who
            are concerned about the environment and
            lobby them to ban the manufacture of PFAS
            entirely rather than cover the entire island with

          • Don, Mr. Huntress mentioned the grass taking up PFAS from the soil, that is 10-12% higher that what is in the turf after Garret, from the BOH, made a statement that he couldn’t prove that grass doesn’t have PFAS. Mr. Huntress asked for his study to prove it, and he couldn’t back up his statement. Funny enough though, one of the Field Fund gang who was used in testimony actually confirmed it as well. In addition, don’t be ridiculous, I am not suggesting turfing the entire island, I thought you were better than that. I am merely pointing out that if PFAS were actually the argument being used to deny the project, then installing this turf field in this location would actually be doing just that, lowering the risk of PFAS entering the aquifer, not increasing it. This is has been a witch hunt since its inception, nothing more. It is clear that the BOH isn’t following the science and they were asked several times to review the testimony provided at the MVC hearing. The science has proven that the field will not affect the aquifer but the current soils will.

          • Thank you Patrick for the clarifications.
            Yeah, my comment about tearing up
            everything and replacing it with plastic
            was a bit condescending. I apologize.
            But the reality is that if that 1 1/3
            acre plot is that contaminated, everything
            around it is also. Covering it with plastic,
            PFAS or not, does nothing for the problem.
            One could argue in fact, that if the grass
            is taking up the PFAS, then mowing it
            and “disposing” of the contaminated grass
            would be removing those PFAS and solving
            the problem.
            I would recommend planting as much grass
            as possible as soon as possible to remove
            the PFAS from the soil.
            Covering that contaminated soil with plastic
            just kicks the problem down the road.
            I think future generations will have enough
            issues to clean up from
            “the most irresponsible generation”
            yup– I just made that up.
            perhaps I’ll copyright it.


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