No to PFAS - forever chemicals
PFAS are present in every plastic grass filament in synthetic turf, in the backing of the turf and in the shock pad underlayment.
PFAS is an abbreviation for Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS are called “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down and remain an environmental and human health threat indefinitely. They are highly water soluble; they also travel in air and are inhaled; they bio-accumulate and move thru food chains. Human exposure to PFAS is associated with multiple negative health effects.
The City Council should seek input on PFAS in any synthetic turf product it considers. And it should get its own independent testing done rather than trust the product supplier. All of this being said, there is still no consensus on a "safe" level of PFAS in synthetic turf.
After being assured by FieldTurf that it’s product is PFAS free and contains no fluorine, Portsmouth NH later learned that independent testing showed 61 ppm in the shock pad, and 83 ppm and 119 ppm, respectively, in two samples of turf. Concerned Portsmouth residents consulted one of the world’s top experts on PFAS testing, Dr. Peaslee (University of Notre Dame). He concluded, “These total fluorine measurements are typical for plastics that have been manufactured with PFAS-based polymer processing aids – which will leave residues of these PFAS at the part-per-million level on the artificial grass. 3M sells these PFAS-based products and their sales brochure lists artificial grass as one of their applications, so they are definitely used within the artificial turf industry.” A PFAS-free synthetic turf should produce testing results showing less than 1 part per million of total organic fluorine or total fluorine.
PFAS are so extremely toxic that they are measured in parts per trillion in drinking water. What is considered a "safe" level in drinking water keeps dropping, with some states setting a limit of 20ppt and there are calls for 7ppt. In Illinois, regular monitoring for PFAS is started once levels over 2ppt are detected in water samples. Gulledge, the water plant chief in Lake Forest, is worried about the costs of removing PFAS, even low levels like the trace amounts found in his city’s water supply.
Landfills are a major contributor of PFAS contamination in groundwater. The acres of synthetic turf and shock pad proposed for Deerpath Community Park would likely end up going to a landfill. We also must consider the pounds of plastic fibers (with PFAS) that would be shed by all those synthetic turf fields in Deerpath Community Park. Those plastic fibers will end up in the E Skokie River and in the soil on site. (depending on the type of turf product and field use over the years, anywhere from 500 to 3,200 lbs of disintegrating fibers leave just one field per year).