Consultant who downplayed PFAS risks pivots on EPA resignation

By E.A. Crunden, Ariel Wittenberg | 12/10/2021 04:20 PM EST

PFAS in artificial turf illustration.

Toxicologist Laura C. Green, an EPA special government employee, downplayed the health risks of PFAS, often contradicting the agency's findings. Claudine Hellmuth/E&E News (illustration); Researchgate (chemical compound); Clean and Healthy New York and Environmental Working Group (text); Satakorn/istock (turf photo); Cambridge Environmental Inc. (Laura Green); SnazzyMaps (map)

A toxicologist who has worked with EPA and questioned science around "forever chemicals" has reportedly retracted her initial resignation from a part-time position with the agency, as her status remains in flux.

Laura C. Green, an industry toxicologist advocating for artificial turf fields in New England towns, initially told a Nantucket reporter that she was leaving her role as an EPA special government employee yesterday (Greenwire, Dec. 10).

The toxicologist made that declaration following reporting by E&E News that called into question a number of her comments about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, many of which flew in the face of EPA’s own findings (Greenwire, Dec. 8). PFAS are used in manufacturing artificial turf.

But Green abruptly pivoted this afternoon, telling The Martha’s Vineyard Times that she’d had a change of heart. She said EPA had asked if she would like to withdraw her resignation until they had discussed the situation with her.

EPA did not respond to a request for clarification from E&E News, and Green did not return a phone call and voicemail. Green told the Times that her 5-year-old grandson had referred to E&E News reporters as "poo-poo heads" and prompted her shift in thinking.

“Why would I let two poo-poo heads make me leave an agency that I love working for?” Green said.

As E&E News reported earlier this week, Green has devoted significant time to advocating for artificial turf fields across New England, including on the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. In doing so, she has repeatedly downplayed health concerns stemming from PFAS, including the chemical PFOA. EPA has singled that compound out as a "likely carcinogen" and disavowed Green’s statements in an initial response to E&E News regarding the situation.

Special government employees offer a temporary service and serve as consultants or on advisory committees. They cannot serve more than 130 days per year for the government and are typically only involved in specific issues relating to their expertise. EPA told E&E News that Green "has not ever" consulted on PFAS issues for the agency.