Read the full article by E.A Cruden and Ariel Wittenberg (E&E News/Greenwire)
“An EPA-linked toxicologist who has pushed New England towns to install artificial turf fields is no longer working for one municipal client following uproar over comments she made about so-called forever chemicals.
Nantucket Public Schools have ceased work with Laura Green, an industry consultant, according to Superintendent Elizabeth Hallett, who declined to comment further on the issue.
The termination comes slightly more than a week after E&E News first reported on Green’s claims regarding PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which have been tied to health problems and some cancers. The chemicals are a top priority for EPA, but Green has downplayed their health implications, including claiming that they pose no risks to humans, while emphasizing her own work as a special government employee with the agency (Greenwire, Dec. 8).
The end of Green’s work with Nantucket Public Schools comes after a rapid sequence of events last week. Green initially resigned from her position with EPA, but later walked it back, saying she had changed her mind after agency officials appealed to her to reconsider (E&E News PM, Dec. 10). EPA still has not clarified the status of Green’s role with the agency or why officials sought to keep her on even temporarily. The agency also did not respond to requests for further comment today.
An email from Hallett sent Sunday to the school committee and reviewed by E&E News previewed the Campus-Wide Master Plan Committee’s decision to terminate Green’s contract due to ‘the buzz around Dr. Laura Green.’
But Green’s termination in no way signals that the committee is backing away from its support for turf fields on the island.
‘While Laura remains one of the top experts in the country, we feel that the highly charged emotional atmosphere surrounding her connection to [Nantucket Public Schools] is not what is best for the district,’ read the email, signed by Hallett.
The same day that the committee terminated Green’s contract, it also wrote a letter to the editor to the Nantucket Current reiterating the need for synthetic turf fields and responding to concerns about PFAS potentially leaching from the fields into groundwater and drinking water.
‘Although we understand some of their concerns, the materials we are proposing to use have been laboratory tested and proved to show no significant risks from PFAS,’ the letter says. ‘Please know that we would NEVER create a situation where the health and safety of our student athletes, coaching staff, and general community could be compromised.’
Tim Lepore, chairman of the Nantucket School Committee, was not involved in the decision to terminate Green’s contract, but said he was supportive.
‘I think to try and get people to understand some of the chemistry behind this stuff, you really have to not treat your audience as morons,’ he said. ‘She turned a lot of people off.’
Lepore, who is undecided on whether turf fields would be a good idea, is a surgeon at the Nantucket Cottage Hospital. He said Green’s claims that the PFAS used in plastic grass blades were the same as those used in surgical sutures, and thus perfectly safe, were suspicious to him.
‘It was an odd comparison,’ he said, noting that surgical sutures are not subject to the same conditions inside the body as an outdoor playing field. ‘Hopefully my sutures aren’t in the sun or rain unless someone is being disemboweled.'”…