The organizer of Non Toxic Portsmouth NH claims there are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in the turf, shock pad and backing of the new synthetic field by the Community Campus in Portsmouth, but the city's deputy attorney says they did their due diligence and officials selected a certified PFAS-free artificial turf for the project.

On Thursday morning, Ted Jankowski emailed out a press release saying that independent testing of virgin samples of the field's components indicates the presence of PFAS.

 

In an interview, Jankowski explained that he was at the field on Mother's Day and since nobody was there, he removed raw samples of the turf from the dumpster. These materials were sent for testing under the guidance of the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The results showed fluorine, which Jankowski said is an indicator of PFAS.

Jankowski asked city councilors to reconsider using synthetic fields last year during a city council meeting in June, but the contract for the project had already been signed by City Manager Karen Conard.

Conard said at the time that there was a specification for testing by a third party as part of the contract that was signed.

Jankowski said city leaders and taxpayers should demand accountability for what has happened.

"They spent $1.6 million on a field that is not PFAS free. We could have built four state-of-the-art natural turf fields," Jankowski said. 

On Thursday afternoon, Acting Deputy City Manager and Deputy City Attorney Suzanne Woodland said Jankowski did not coordinate his testing with officials at city hall but she will reach out to him.

"Mr. Jankowski will be invited to share the details of his testing with city staff.  The city contracted for a PFAS-free turf field and if upon review of any information supplied the city staff believes there are further steps to be taken, the city council will be updated," Woodland wrote in a statement.

Woodland said they have every reason to believe the field is safe and PFAS free at this point.

"The city’s consulting engineers conducted toxicology tests on the components of the field that were actually installed which verified that the products were free of PFAS chemicals.  All the testing results are posted on the city’s website under the project page," Woodland wrote. "To reiterate, at this point the city has no evidence that the fields are not as expected, namely PFAS-free and an important recreational resource for our community."

According to the city's website, the infill for the turf is supposed to be a natural product made with crushed walnut shells, which is considered an environmentally sound alternative to rubber or plastic infills.

The field opened on June 9.

Contact Managing News Editor Kimberley Haas at Kimberley.Haas@townsquaremedia.com. 

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