Most people have never heard of per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, otherwise known as PFAS. These chemical compounds are found in a variety of common products, including non-stick coatings, waterproof fabric, firefighting foam, floor and car waxes and, as recently discovered and publicized, in synthetic turf. PFAS have earned the nickname of “forever compounds” as they are not easily broken down by the human body, or in the environment. PFAS have also attracted recent media attention given the proliferation of litigation surrounding these compounds in light of a wide range of potential health effects.
Schools or any other organizations that have (or are considering installing) athletic/recreation fields with artificial turf should be proactively evaluating PFAS developments and managing the potential environmental, health and safety risks linked to PFAS. The PFAS issues are evolving rapidly and are filled with uncertainty, as federal and state regulations are still murky at best.