Planned MAUHS Turf Field Prompts PFAS Concerns
By Jim Therrien | Bennington Banner | September 29, 2021
Read the full article by Jim Therrien (Bennington Banner)
“Responding to concerns about the possibility of cancer-causing materials in turf fields, planners of a synthetic playing surface for Spinelli Field say they’ve been assured the field will not be a source of them.
Sen. Brian Campion, D-Bennington, said last week that he’d heard from several residents concerned about reports elsewhere of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl) contaminants in turf materials, and they sought information about the surface planned at Mount Anthony Union High School.
The MAU District Board has scheduled a bond vote for Nov. 2, seeking $3.5 million to convert the playing surface to synthetic turf, resurface the running track and fix drainage problems. Also included are a multipurpose ticket and storage building with heating and bathrooms, and a crow’s nest for the filming and broadcasting of games.
Campion said he contacted MAU officials about the concerns, which prompted a reply from the board and the project designers, along with written assurances obtained from the vendors of the turf field and track materials, and back-up testing data.
‘I think it’s important that we have our ducks in order,’ and these questions answered before the project goes before the voters, Campion said.
Among those expressing concerns about contamination in turf field materials were Judith Enck, a former federal Environmental Protection Agency regional director and a visiting professor at the Center for Advancement of Public Action at Bennington College, and associate CAPA director and faculty member David Bond.
‘We are gathering information that will answer concerns some folks may have,’ MAU Board Chairman Timothy Holbrook said Tuesday in an email.
Later, in response to questions from the project engineering and design firms, the turf field and track vendors told project planners that testing has shown PFAS chemicals are not present in the artificial surfaces — for either the planned athletic field or the running track.
A memo prepared for school officials by project designers MSK Engineers and Goldstone Architecture, and obtained Wednesday by the Banner concludes that, ‘Based on the information contained in the attached documents from track and turf suppliers, the products listed in the report are free of PFCs [perfluorinated chemicals, which include PFAS]. Additionally, to assure that the final materials selected are free of these substances, we will specify that whatever manufacturer and product is selected for the turf and track installation provides adequate documentation that the system is free of PFCs.’
The memo states that MSK and Goldstone have ‘received several independent testing reports and testimonials regarding PFCs in both synthetic turf and athletic track surfacing systems. The synthetic turf reports show that they are not produced with any PFAS chemicals indicated on either the U.S. EPA’s [testing] Method 537 or on California’s [regulations]. The athletic track surfacing system testimonials indicate the components that comprise the systems are free of PFCs.’
In an email seeking confirmation about PFAS from the vendor companies, Timothy Severance, of Goldstone Architecture, noted, ‘This is extremely important as Bennington (and surrounding areas) have been plagued with PFOA contamination for some time now and it is a sensitive subject. Please send us whatever information you have indicating that your systems are free of these or similar compounds; let us know as soon as possible.’
LONG PFAS HISTORY
Bond and Enck were in the forefront of the area’s response to discovery of widespread contamination of well-water supplies in Bennington in 2016, largely from the PFAS chemical PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid).
State environmental officials identified the principal sources as two former ChemFab Corp. factories, the last of which operated until 2002, which had deposited airborne PFOA contamination over a wide area — largely emanating from the factory exhaust stacks.”…
This content provided by the PFAS Project.