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Protect Sherborn’s groundwater from toxic chemicals

On Saturday May 15, Sherborn residents will vote on whether to install artificial turf at Laurel Fields, Question 9. This proposal is not just about competitive play. The risks of adding 100 tons of synthetic material to this site are too much for our town.

Every resident in the town of Sherborn is dependent on well water that is fed by groundwater and aquifers.  Water is necessary for everyday living... for life itself. The purity of our groundwater keeps our families healthy and protects our property values. 

Most of the concerns about artificial turf focus on risks to players who may inhale or ingest chemical compounds from artificial turf. But there’s another significant risk to a town like Sherborn. Toxic chemicals in the field can wash into the underlying groundwater and nearby wetlands. 

Artificial turf is made up of plastic “grass” blades, synthetic backing and infill, a synthetic soil-like material. The infill is typically “crumb rubber” from tires that contains multiple hazardous materials and must be replenished every few years because it enters the environment through wind, water and players’ shoes.  

The manufacture of plastic blades uses PFAS as a lubricant. PFAS and related chemicals are called “forever” chemicals because they bioaccumulate and persist in the environment, posing human health risks even at very low levels.  

Scientists say that the solubility, mobility, and persistence of PFAS in the ground can yield contaminated footprints and plume volumes that dwarf those caused by more common contaminants. Research shows negative impacts on amphibians, toads and frogs.

Since learning about the warrant article, Conservation Commission, Board of Health and Open Space Committee have all made statements about the risks of chemicals leaching out of the artificial turf and into groundwater.

Laurel Farms sits on a groundwater aquifer for the Rockwood Street neighborhood's drinking water. The wetlands and a stream on Laurel Fields connect with Indian Brook which flows into the large wetland bordering Everett Street, Broadmoor, and Little Farm Pond. There are potential impacts to groundwater and wells throughout the abutting neighborhoods.

Is it prudent to bring in material that may leach PFAS chemicals into our groundwater?  Into our bodies?  Into the bodies of our children?  These “forever” chemicals never break down and cannot be recalled once they enter the ground. 

We encourage our kids to recycle, avoid plastic straws, participate in Earth Day events, and pick up litter around town. Now we’re telling them that putting over 100 tons (over 200,000 pounds) of plastic and ground-up crumb rubber into the ground is acceptable.

Let’s give our children the right message: we care about the environment and our neighbors. We’ll protect their future on this planet. 

Come to Town Meeting on May 15 at 10 am at the DPW Garage at 7 Butler Street and vote NO on Article 9. Your vote matters.


Carol McGarry, Tom Trainor, Seth Molloy and Cindy Ostrowski

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