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Anti-turf advocates highlight dangers of PFAS after Martha's Vineyard court decision

A turf field
Courtesy Pexels
A turf field

Anti-turf advocates are highlighting the dangers of PFAS after a recent court decision about installing an artificial turf field on Martha’s Vineyard.

A land court ruled that the Oak Bluffs planning board didn’t have the authority to stop the school district’s plan to put in a turf field at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School.

Artificial turf contain PFAS – a harmful class of chemicals.

Kyla Bennett is Chief Scientist with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. (PEER)

Bennett said the group is concerned PFAS from a field will leech into the groundwater and contaminate the Island’s water supply.

Bennett says a costly treatment plan would then be required.

“So we’re talking about millions and millions of dollars, that the towns are going to have to spend when it can be prevented. They can prevent it by just using natural grass.”

Bennett is concerned other schools could now cite the zoning law referenced in the case, known as the Dover Amendment, to put in turf fields.

“Any school committee in Massachusetts can invoke the Dover Amendment and say, ‘We don’t care you want to protect your water supply, we get to put this in because of the Dover Amendment.’”

Bennett said while the law protects schools from local zoning, the judge noted PFAS are a concern for the island’s water supply.

“The judge even said, 'My hands are tied, I can’t do anything and this is something you need to worry about. You need to care about your water supply, but I can do nothing to help you.'”

Bennett says the Martha’s Vineyard Commission okayed the project before they knew there was PFAS in the turf. But their approval has since expired.

Increased exposure to PFAS has been linked to health problems, including cancer.

Brian Engles is an author, a Cape Cod local, and a producer for Morning Edition.