No. 37 Is this the future of durable grassy playing fields? December 2017.
No. 36 Carmichael, California Features of the AstroTurf installation at Jesuit High School Stadium. August 2015.
No. 35 Polypropylene panels as shock absorbers is not without concern. August 2015.
No. 34 Joe DiGeronimo on tire crumb and other infills—in his own words. January 2015.
No. 33 Montreal, Canada: Turf-workers wearing gas masks during installation of artificial turf field. October 2013.
No. 32 Fake Grass, Fake Environmentalism: Nothing to be proud of - thousands of acres of playgrounds and playing fields awash in crumb rubber. December 2010.
No. 31 Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa: Synthetically reinforced natural grass is all the rave! June 2010.
No. 30 Industry response to defend against threat of MRSA and potential for other infections in connection with artificial turf systems. May 2010.
No. 29 A-Turf warranty terms. November 2009.
No. 28 CPRS Artificial Turf Survey. November 2009.
No. 27 Bowen Island, Vancouver, BC: Canada’s first non-rubber (coconut & cork) infill artificial turf installation. October 2009
No. 26 Waltham, Mass.: Managing the heat effect of artificial turf fields? August 2009.
No. 25 Bowen Island, British Columbia: Alternative infill making in-road. August 2009.
No. 24 Turf hand-me-downs: Where do old fields go? July 2009.
No. 23 NYC and LA: Alternative to rubber infill taking hold. June 2009.
No. 22 Katy, Texas: What in the world is “fertigation?” May 2009.
No. 21 The big bucks in laundering used tires. April 2009.
No. 20 Warranty Talk. October 2008.
No. 19 Redding, Conn.: Drainage woes at grass field will be corrected with new technology. October 2008.
No. 18 Comparing Infills (September 2008).
No. 17 Portland, Oregon: Crumb rubber infill in natural grass backfires (July 2008 item – posted here in
No. 16 Cambridge, Mass.: A private school opts for coconut shell and cork infill (September 2008).
No. 15 Wayland, Mass.: The Super Enviro-grass! (September 2008).
No. 14 Want to ensure prompt installation of turf? Penalize the contractor $1,500 per day of delay (August 2008).
No. 13 Stow, Ohio: Product defect delays turf installation (July 2008).
No. 12 What is a synthetically-enhanced natural grass playing field? (May 2008).
No. 11 Turf manufacturer hires lobbyist to bury NYC turf bill (April 2008).
No. 10 Turf installations increase 20% annually (April 2008).
No. 09 Qwest Field replaces turf field after just six years (February 2008).
No. 01 The Royal Run-around: Who will fix the fields? What the industry does not want you to know.
No. 02 Dangers of silica (Warning Label).
No. 03 Disinfecting the fields, November 13, 2007 (Updated Jan. 11, 2008).
No. 04 What does a turf patent application contain?
No. 05 A manufacturer’s letter.
No. 06 Warranty talk.
No. 07 "Aliapur Study" Disrobed!
No. 08 Methane: Dealing with effusions of an old landfill.
[No. 09] Carmichael, California Features of the AstroTurf installation at Jesuit High School Stadium. According to a media release by AstroTurf, dated 26 June 2015, the Artificial turf field planned for Jesuit High School Stadium consists of “an extremely dense turf system [that] boasts twice as much fiber as older fields, giving Jesuit a plush turf system with maximum durability and longevity.” “The Golden Series products use a specialized RootZone® fiber system that is bulkier than typical RootZones. This second layer of crimped nylon fibers …. serves to lift the taller fibers and provide additional resiliency. The Golden Series includes a unique tire-free infill material called ZeoFill. ZeoFill has a consistency similar to sand, but is actually a mineral sold in health food stores that holds (but does not require) water, thereby creating an evaporative cooling effect. The infill provides …. ballast and speed to the turf system.” “…impact attenuation suitable for the rigorous needs of the outstanding football program is achieved by use of a shockpad under the field made by Brock International. The pad-turf combination also yields … grass-like energy restitution.” Source: “Innovative AstroTurf Field Revitalizes Jesuit High School Stadium,” at http://www.astroturf.com/innovative-astroturf-field-revitalizes-jesuit-high-school-stadium/
[No. 37] Is this the future of durable grassy playing fields? The product featured at http://soilretention.com/drivable-grass/professional/product-info/ (or click here) is a permeable, flexible and plantable concrete pavement system. This product is made of wet cast, low moisture absorption concrete, with holes to allow for infiltration and root penetration. The manufacturer lists its benefits to include: Gain More Usable Land; More Permeable Than Native Soil; Eliminate Storm Water Runoff; Reduce Heat Island Effect; Lower Run-Off Coefficient; Biofiltration; Water Storage; Ground Water Re-Charge; and Eliminate Detention Basins. The product information lists its competitive advantages to include: Strength and Durability; Flexibility Without Memory; Performs in Extreme Climates; Superior Plantability; Large Voids – No Clogging; No Sharp Edges; Easy Installation.
SynTurf.org believes ant technological innovation that can crossover from one application to making grass fields more durable is a welcome development, hoping that one day artificial turf fields will be a thing of the past.
[No. 34] Joe DiGeronimo on tire crumb and other infills—in his own words. Joe DiGer0nimo is the principal at DMA Sports Design Group, in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. He has played an important role in the evolution of the sports field industry, having held the position of Chairman on the U.S. Tennis Court and Track Builders Association. He currently is a member of the Synthetic Turf Council and Association of Synthetic Grass Installers (ASGI). He has consulted on sports projects at Camp David, the White House, the 1996 Summer Games (Olympics) in Atlanta, Georgia, on projects for Los Angeles Parks and Recreation, and for the City of San Diego. As the result of a series of e-mails exchanged with SynTurf.org between December 6 and 15, DiGeronimo graciously has agreed to be on the record in the following Q&A. The Answers are his; the bracketed edits are SynTurf.org's for clairy's sake.
Q. What will be the effect of Jerry Hill’s [California bill that calls for testing of tire crumb rubber infill and also a moratorium on new installations with crumb rubber] on the artificial turf industry?
A. If the bill goes through it will [a]ffect the entire country. Rubber [crumb] seems to be out.
Q. How do you see the future of synthetic turf fields in general, with or without crumb rubber?
A. I think turf is still needed for active sports programs; it certainly safer, maybe not healthier. [I prefer] to use the term all-weather turf and prefer having no crumb rubber.
Q. Any truth to rumors that Los Angeles Parks & Recreation is going forward with rubberless synthetic turf systems?
A. [It is my understanding that] the LA Parks spec is final and change orders [have been] issued. They are now a rubberless system. [The] LAUSD [Los Angeles Unified School District] is also going in that direction. Maybe San Diego Unified School Distrcit would do the same. The best note—the newer designs do not cost any more money.
Q. What do you think of silica/sand as infill or mixed with other material?
A. I was on a mission to extract the silica sand since it is clearly listed on Prop 65. There are over 2000 fields in CA without proper signage. [Note: Proposition 65 requires the State of California to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. This list, which must be updated at least once a year, has grown to include approximately 800 chemicals since it was first published in 1987. Proposition 65 requires businesses to notify Californians about significant amounts of chemicals in the products they purchase, in their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment. By providing this information, Proposition 65 enables Californians to make informed decisions about protecting themselves from exposure to these chemicals. Proposition 65 also prohibits California businesses from knowingly discharging significant amounts of listed chemicals into sources of drinking water. Go to http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/background/p65plain.html ].
Q. How have the changes in the synthetic field technologies and the public’s awareness about potential health hazard of crumb rubber affect your practice?
A. To start, I first removed silica sand from [my product] specifications because of Prop 65. That was about nine months ago. I then started to research the need to reduce the heat index on fields. While I [was] initially [weary] of the organic [infills], it became apparent to me that they work, but that the cost to replace [/replenish] it was a concern since they only last six to eight years. My normal turf specification allows the fields to last over ten. So, organics were not the answer. I looked into Vermiculite than Pearlite and other minerals. I didn’t like them. I finally settled on Zeolite, which absorbs 55% of it[s] dry weight of water. This allowed the infill to maintain a moisture level, unlike silica sand and rubber (or any type). The process I was looking for is Evaportransporation, similar to what natural grass goes through. Once I got started on that, I raised the face weight against all other opinions to over 60 oz. per sy [square yard].
The question of SBR [styrene-butadiene rubber] has been haunting. While I believe SBR is a great material, I also know that it was designed for tires and not infill. I am still asking for a true definition of a “tire dump.” Since an average [artificial turf] field [contains] actually 30,000 car tires—not reconfigured or recycled but just repurposed—so, every field [with crumb rubber infill] is a tire dump.
As a consultant and designer of sports facilities, I was prone to the politics and marketing. Over the years, many years, I have seen different chemicals and elements outlawed. Technically, they were great performers. Abestos in tennis court coating, Lead in fibers, Chromium in fiber, track surfaces and tennis coating, mercury in track surfaces and gym floors, and so on. Well, tires have some of the same chemicals and elements in them and any compound is prone to break down over time. Hydrogen is safe and oxygen is safe, but combined you certainly don’t want to breathe them.
I don’t need to fear the pressure of a market or contempt of associations. So, I am now able to promote my opinion of safer surfaces without giving up performance. Natural grass just can’t handle sports programs any more. We need all-weather turf, not synthetic turf or artificial turf—all-weather turf.
While I have been working on this for over five years and you have been dealing with this for over ... along comes [the] NBC [reports]. The stage is now set for change; it is time to launch a[n infill] product that is safer and better and longer lasting.
|[No. 33] Montreal, Canada: Turf-workers wearing gas masks during installation of artificial turf field. The Montreat Impact soccer club inaugurated its new synthetic training field next to Stade Saputo on Tuesday, 1 October 2013. The Press release on the team’s website has an imbedded video presentation of the filed coming together. At various stages of the installation workers are shown wearing gas masks. See “Impact inaugurates new synthetic training field next to Stade Saputo,” on Montreal Impact website at http://www.impactmontreal.com/en/news/2013/10/impact-inaugurates-new-synthetic-training-field-next-stade-saputo . SynTurf Note: Should athletes using artificial turf fields be also protected by gas masks? Would not what these workers set down – such as silica or highly toxic adhesives – dust up and be inhaled by the athletes.
[No. 32] Fake Grass, Fake Environmentalism: Nothing to be proud of - thousands of acres of playgrounds and playing fields awash in crumb rubber. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. December 2, 2010. Every now and then the purveyors of artificial turf field and their industry associates put out information by way of seemingly innocent announcements and public relations pieces. What the purveyors so proudly declare in these propaganda pieces is designed to promote a positive image of the seller and the product. So it is not a surprise that the statements made in the likes of such literature be often wrapped in some sanctimonious, public-pleasing, feel-good cover. The environment is the big sexy cover these days and so every vice under the sun that can hitch itself to a “green” aspect of the new awareness is only good for business. The casualty of this style of marketing is the full disclosure of all the relevant facts regarding the impact of a product on the environment.
According to a public relations statement by Liberty Tire Recycling (Dec. 1, 2010), sourced from KFMB-TV (CBS San Diego, California) at http://www.cbs8.com/Global/story.asp?S=13596365 , “A single athletic field requires approximately 125 tons of crumb rubber, which saves about 20,000 tires from becoming part of landfills or stockpiles. According to the Synthetic Turf Council, artificial turf has been installed in approximately 4,500 fields, tracks and playgrounds in the United States.”
For a naïve environmentalist, this may be good news because emptying the landfills from used tires is a good thing and re-purposing the rubber in the used tires is also a good thing. Yet, missing, from this sentiment is the question as to the destination of the repurposed rubber and to what use is it being put. The dumping of plastics and crumb rubber onto playgrounds and playing fields is not the answer to recycling used tires. To recycle used tires would mean to literally making use of the used tire as tires again. To diminish the number of used tires in landfills would be better achieved by manufacturers making better and longer lasting tires.
The press release also carried the statement that “Not only is the field providing an outlet for recycled rubber, but replacing a grass field with a synthetic material can save as much as 50,000 gallons of water each week during the peak growing season and eliminate the need for toxic pesticides and fertilizers.” On this site we have repeatedly posted items that have challenged this self-serving view by providing news and story items that show the extent to which the maintenance and playability of artificial turf fields require watering and treatment of the turf with a variety of –icidal protocols and products. See, http://www.synturf.org/maintenancereplacement.html , http://www.synturf.org/industrynotes.html , http://www.synturf.org/wrapuparticles.html , and http://www.synturf.org/miscellanea.html .
The industry’s notion that natural grass requires “toxic pesticides and fertilizers” is a red herring, for two reasons: First it diverts attention from the fact that crumb rubber itself has toxins that leach and offgas; second, there are green pesticides and fertilizers available now. The genetics of natural grass also has been made to adapt to draught conditions, require less water, and not require mowing as often. Just as the purveyors of fake grass keep telling the public that this new product is “Not Your Father’s Astroturf,” grass technology too has advanced over the years. There simply is no comparison about the carbon foot print of natural grass and fake grass fields, heat island effect and carbon sequestration properties of the two surfaces: Natural grass wins hands down. See http://www.synturf.org/carbonfootprint.html , http://www.synturf.org/heateffect.html and http://www.synturf.org/wrapuparticles.html .
Finally, the press release also stated that “The rubberization of athletic surfaces offers many benefits to help prevent injuries and reduce stress on leg muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints. The specially designed infill with dust free rubber granules prevent ‘flyout,’ ‘splashing,’ and migration of the base so that traction, drainage and shock absorption are maximized.” This site, for one, cannot square the industry’s claim of providing a surface that prevents injuries with the conclusions from a number of recent studies that have looked at the biomechanics of playing on artificial turf fields and the incidence of higher and serious injuries. See http://www.synturf.org/health.html and http://www.synturf.org/playersview.html and http://www.synturf.org/justwords.html .
|In this photo taken Sunday May, 16, 2010, workers mow the pitch at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, South Africa. Artificial grass is teaming up with the natural stuff and taking root at the World Cup, blade by blade. A generation after fully artificial surfaces outraged football fans and players around the world, this year's World Cup in South Africa will debut a surface with 20 million threads of synthetic grass fibers woven in between and beneath the natural grass. The Associated Press
[No. 31] Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa: Synthetically reinforced natural grass is all the rave! On the eve of World Cup Soccer in South Africa, the National Public Radio aired a package on June 10, 2010 (around 3:45 PM EST) that featured the miracle of a couple of synthetically-reinforced natural grass fields installed in South Africa for the World Cup tournament. While the audio track of the program is not available on NPR’s website (NPR.org), an earlier reporting (June 4, 2010) on the subject by The Associated Press, “Artificial Grass Woven Into Real Turf At World Cup,” is available at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127493385 . The following is the text of the story as reported on NPR’s website:
DENDERMONDE, Belgium June 5, 2010, 05:09 am
ET Artificial grass is teaming up with the natural stuff and taking root at the World Cup, blade by blade.
A generation after fully artificial surfaces outraged football fans and players around the world, this year's World Cup in South Africa will debut a surface with millions of synthetic grass fibers woven in between and beneath the natural grass.
The first World Cup test of the surface, which is already being used at some major stadiums in Europe, will be on June 13 in Polokwane when Algeria plays Slovenia. The stadium in Nelspruit will also use the same type of turf.
"It will be a World Cup premiere," said Marc Vercammen, general manager of Desso Sports Systems, which produces the surface.
Natural grass still predominates. The artificial threads are driven 8 inches into the surface and intertwine with the roots of the real grass to give the surface a smooth robustness that is hard for tackles — or even concerts — to undo.
Desso, a company headquartered about 22 miles outside Brussels, has already done the fields of Arsenal and Liverpool and the training grounds of Real Madrid, among others. Its GrassMaster system is also used by the Denver Broncos and the Philadelphia Eagles.
No competition, however, compares to the World Cup.
"Our image will go into territory where we haven't gone before," Vercammen said.
As with any fundamental development, the early days of artifical surfaces were often ugly.
Queens Park Rangers in England set the tone in 1981 with a fully artificial surface, and soon a few others followed. Fans and players didn't.
The surface was still so elementary then that balls skidded and bounced all over the place, players were unable to keep their footing, causing injury, and a long tackle left burn marks on defenders. The experiments were soon shelved, awaiting better technology.
But realizing the need to play in all climates and conditions across the globe, FIFA came on board. Artificial turf was tested at the 2003 Under-17 World Cup in Finland, and with each success came more acceptance.
At the top level, though, the system of the Desso GrassMaster seems to be emerging as the preferred way.
The Champions League quarterfinal match between Arsenal and Barcelona at the Emirates Stadium with its GrassMaster field on March 31 produced some beautiful soccer.
"A pure beautiful pitch always puts a skillful player at an advantage," Vercammen said. "But if you want to play kick and rush, nothing stops you."
When field hockey changed to artificial grass, it fundamentally changed the game, pushing it to a fast, physical game where delicate skills were smothered by stamina and power.
It is something that needs to be avoided in soccer, where the touch and feel of natural grass remain essential.
So at the World Cup, Vercammen does not want Desso to be an issue. But a breakthrough at the World Cup is always something special, even though one quirky injury could change everything.
"There can always be an incident and then they quickly point to a novelty," Vercammen said. "Everything will be fine if the whole process appears invisible."
SynTurf.org Note: Before the adoption of this technology one should ensure that the injection of the plastic fibers into the ground does not eventually decompose to the detriment of the environment. On the upside, there is no plastic, plastic-coated, rubber, or crumb rubber in the GrassMaster installation – definitely a lesser evil than the crumb rubber and sand infill, and plastic eco-desert carpets of plastic.
[No. 30] Industry response to defend against threat of MRSA and potential for other infections in connection with artificial turf systems. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. May 30, 2010. This item is an update to the item that ran here in November 2007 and updated in January 2009 (See below, No. 03 Disinfecting the fields). Recently we came across an industry site at http://www.fieldprotect.com/ which promotes a product called “TurfAid” that was the subject of our earlier article. Backed by reference to studies and media reports about the threat of MRSA and other infection in connection with artificial turf fields, the site alerts the readers to the various reasons why the public ought to disinfect the artificial turf fields. One sample of the industry literature in this regard is entitled The Truth About the Existence of Microbes in Synthetic Turf System (undated) and can be accessed here.
[No. 29] A-Turf warranty terms. Recently we obtained a copy of the 8-year warranty that A-Turf, a New York outfit, gives to its clients. For the text, click here. It is SynTurf.org’s understanding that much more in the way “exclusions” and practices that invalidating the warranty is buried in the fine print of the maintenance and standards manuals that usually accompany the artificial turf field.
[No. 28] CPRS Artificial Turf Survey. The California Park & Recreation Society (CPRS) http://www.cprs.org/ provides career development, networking, resources and is the public advocate for California park and recreation professionals. Founded in 1946, CPRS is a nonprofit, professional and public interest organization with more than 4,000 members. In the period of October 19-30, 2009, the Development and Operations Section of CPRS conducted an online survey of CPRS membership’s opinion about synthetic turf. The results of the survey – Synthetic Turf Fields: What is your opinion? - is available here.
In response to the question “What have been the negative experiences with the fields?,”
68.4% of the respondents said heat from the field, 32.6% said infill material in shoes/clothes, 13.7% said infill material tracked into other areas of park, 29.5% said turf burn, 32% said maintenance issues, and 25.3% listed other problems.
It is the “other” category that reveals the “gosh darn it!” “who would have thunk it” issues experienced by the respondent professionals. Here is sampling:
Trash/seeds left behind by users can be difficult to remove.
We have had a problem with one of the vendors, the second vendor was much better.We
haven't had them in place for very long but so far they seem to be holding up pretty well and maintenance is much easier. Staff and the public seem prefer them rather than real turf.
Having to restrict pets, food and material that may compromise the field surface.
Working through extensive environmental concerns with the public.
Food issues - monitoring NO gum, NO sunflower seeds, etc.
Don't know yet but understand the heat is an issue in the summer months - would be interested in finding out what agencies have turf and if they have any restrictions in place for cancelling use due to heat.
Lack of care has significantly ruined the turf.
It appears that the turf has worn out in the higher traffic areas - middle of the field. This may hasten the replacement timeline.
Stain from the grass in clothes and the "stems" are coming up into shoes/socks if we don't keep a lot of fill on it
Public health concerns over the lead content in paint and ingestion of rubberized pellets
Repairs to damaged turf areas.
Some installation/contract problems.
Additional staffing required to keep items off field (gum, driving takes, etc . )
Some public concern over hazards of infill material
Cleaning up spilled drinks snuck into the facility.
Issues related to potential lead in product.
Field does not drain as well as we thought
Not having a specialist on staff that can make repairs to torn parts of the field.
Limit use for special events.
Loose seams, need to replace infill material, need to maintain more often than originally planned
Cost to re-stripe, clean, and sanitize. Fields get used a lot; groups fighting for time.
Have used them in primarily in dog parks. We have concerns regarding how they are attached at the edges.
A contractor operates it for us and we have had some issues with his operation.
Ours has not lasted as long as we have hoped.
We liked them, it's just after so many years they will wear out, you can only patch them so much.
1. Graffiti on turf. 2. Weeds growing in turf.
Keeping food and non-water beverage off the field by field users is a challenge.
Expensive when repairs are required
[No. 27] Bowen Island, Vancouver, BC: Canada’s first non-rubber (coconut & cork) infill artificial turf installation. According to a news report in the Bowen Island Times Editions (October 2, 2009), Bowen Island has installed Canada’s very first artificial turf field with eco-friendly infill that is a combination of fiber from the outside of the coconut and recycled cork material (left over after punching out wine bottle corks). According to the piece, the field runs 60 degrees cooler than the crumb rubber infill, there are 17,000 installations of the sort around the world, and is FIFA-certified. For more, please go to Tim Rhodes, “Faction Friction,” in Bowen Island Times Editions, Vol. I, Issue20 (October 2, 2009), p. 3, available at http://www.bowenislandtimes.com/Downloads/091002-BITE-web.pdf or click here
|[No. 26] Waltham, Mass.: Managing the heat effect of artificial turf fields? On August 11, 2009, Mobile Sports Inc. of Waltham, Mass. announced a product to keep athletes hydrated and avoid heat-related illness. Called iHydrate, it boasts “an innovative iPhone application giving athletes, parents of athletes, and coaches the tools and information they need to avoid dehydration and other, more serious heat-related illnesses,” according to the press release. The gizmo provides, among other things, the heat index—the apparent temperature on the basis of the current temperature and relative humidity at the user’s current location.” There is no function apparently for factoring in the temperature on the artificial turf field. That is a major drawback and SynTurf.org does not recommend reliance on the product for artificial turf venues or as a substitute for common sense anywhere.
[No. 25] Bowen Island, British Columbia: Alternative infill making in-road. According to a news report in the Bowen island Undercurrent (July 31, 2009), on Monday, July 27, 2009, the city council meeting was informed that “the infill material to be used in the artificial turf at BICS will be made of an organic, recyclable material, not the crumb rubber and silica sand many Islanders have opposed.” “Some of the opposition to the new turf field on Bowen revolved around the use of the crumb rubber and silica sand infill.” “Community services manager Christine Walker says they worked to find a safe material for the field and this material can be used for kids to play on beyond soccer.” “That’s part of the reason why we chose it; it’s not just safe for soccer but can be used by the entire community as a playground,” Walker said. The council was told that “Geo Turf was lead-free, fully recyclable and contains coconut fibre and cork;” “the substance is highly permeable and has close to perfect drainage.” “Council was told the Geo Turf fits within the budget of the artificial turf field. Walker said the infill was created by a company called Geo Safe Play and began in Italy …. FIFA, the international body governing soccer, uses Geo Turf and it is given extremely positive reviews in FIFA material.
To date it has had few installations in North America, the last one at a school in Boston as an artificial turf field in 2008. Walker has been in touch with the environmental committee of the school and reports they are happy with their field. It has also been installed in New York City as a playground.” “’It will actually be the first installation of this organic material in Canada,’ Walker said, noting that when the life of the field is done, the infill can be used for other purposes such as mulch.” Source: Marcus Hondro, Innovative infill to be used for new turf field, in Bowen Island Undercurrent, July 31, 2009, available at http://www.bclocalnews.com/greater_vancouver/bowenislandundercurrent/news/52200017.html
[No. 24] Turf hand-me-downs: Where do old fields go? Something as expensive as artificial turf is expected to have a cat’s lives. The older fields are sold or donated like used clothing to the next user who cannot afford a brand new one. Remnants can be cut up and used for other applications as plastic lawns or sent to an incinerator or maybe even end up in power generation plant. According to a news story on JSonline.com (July 25, 2009), the Green Bay Packers will begin their training camp on July 30, 2009 through August 21. “In good weather, the Packers will practice on new Ray Nitschke Field, which will be dedicated this week.” “A mini-stadium with a brick facade, Nitschke Field contains two north-south fields: One is a regulation 100 yards and the other, which measures 70 yards, has an underground heating system identical to Lambeau Field. For the first time, the Packers will be able to practice late in the season on a non-frozen field.” “The surface is DD GrassMaster, the same grass-and-synthetic field that was installed on Clark Hinkle Field in 2005 and on Lambeau Field in 2007.” [And here is what caught our attention]: “The FieldTurf surface, which had been used at old Nitschke Field since 2004, was donated to nearby Ashwaubenon High School.” Source: “Guide to Packers training camp,” on JSonline.com, July 25, 2009, available at http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/51602162.html .
[No. 23] NYC and LA: Alternative to rubber infill taking hold. According to a report in The Queens Courier (June 24, 2009), “The newly-embraced artificial turf material, which relies on sand instead of crumb rubber to pad the synthetic grass so common in the city’s sports fields, is making its New York debut. Weeks after The Queens Courier reported on increased local opposition to the old crumb rubber infill that typically composes artificial sports surfaces, the city parks department has installed the new surface at two locations: Manhattan’s Thomas Jefferson Park in Harlem, and Queens’ Highland Park off Jamaica Avenue.” “The FlexSand, according to a statement by its producer, ‘combines the shock absorption of traditional infill and the ballast of raw sand, while minimizing health and environmental concerns.’ The material combines two engineered elastic polymers with high-purity quartz sand. It is produced by a subsidiary of Ohio-based Fairmount Minerals.” “In recent weeks, the City of Los Angeles, too, has shifted its focus from FieldTurf to FlexSand. Having issued a similar quarantine, it just completed FlexSand installations at two of its parks. Justified or not, a synthetic switch appears to be taking form.” “Earlier this month, an outdated but newly-revealed internal memorandum from the federal Environmental Protection Agency stated that “there are valid reasons to take a broader perspective of all potential risks associated with crumb rubber.” Source: Alex Fumeli, “Toxic or not, turf surface losing ground in NYC,” in The Queens Courier, June 24, 2009, available at http://www.queenscourier.com/articles/2009/06/24/sports/top_stories/doc4a426c406b1ec279273793.txt .
[No. 22] Katy, Texas: What in the world is “fertigation?” Fertigation is a combined irrigation and fertilizing process that can use organic, non-chemical fertilizer on natural turf and has been in use on golf courses, parks and sports fields. We came across a description of this “technology” in a story about how, in one expert’s opinion, the Katy Independent School District ignored this much less expensive option when deciding to spend $5 million for artificial turf on football fields at the district’s six high schools. The expert is Katy resident Michael Chaplinsky of Turf Feeding Systems; he conducted a pilot program two years ago at Cinco Ranch High School using his company’s “fertigation” system. “Our fertigation system is proven technology; it’s used on top-rated golf courses and (athletic) fields throughout the area.” Chaplinsky said the system measures out an appropriate amount of irrigation water mixed with organic fertilizer. The system is ideal for overused, heat-stressed turf like Cinco Ranch’s football fields, he explained. “We can grow grass faster than any other way in the world, and we proved it at Cinco Ranch (High School),” Chaplinsky said. “After a couple of months of the pilot program, the school had the best fields ever.” “Everybody wants something new and expensive and these bubba coaches have no fiduciary responsibility; they have no concern with saving dollars for taxpayers,” he said. Chaplinsky said the cost of a fertigation system would run about $4,000 per field, with fertilization costs of about $100 per acre per month. He estimated the total annual cost to the district at about $24,000 per year. “That’s a fraction compared to the $5 million the district is about to spend on artificial turf. Katy ISD could easily have the best fields in the world, comparable to what the pros play on,” Chaplinsky said. “The decision to go with artificial turf makes no sense.” Source: “Expert Says Katy ISD Ignored Cheaper Alternative To Artificial Turf,” on InstantnewsKaty.com, May 5, 2009, available at http://instantnewskaty.com/2009/05/05/4736 .
[No. 21] The big bucks in laundering used tires. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. April 26, 2009. This article is based entirely on Cody Love, “State, county officials order cleanup of tire piles,” on Roanoke.com, April 19, 2009, available at http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/201638 and Matt Chittum, “2 million scrap tires erased from Roanoke region,” on Roanoke.com, April 19, 2009, available at http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/201630 . The portions in quotations mark are direct quotes from the source.
Under the Virginia Waste Tire Program some 1,200 piles of scrap tires are slated to be erased from the landscape. That constitutes “25 million tires that can breed mosquitoes, catch fire and boil into gallons of hazardous waste,” According to Roanoke.com (Chittum). There are three years left in the program. The Virginia Waste Tire Program applies to tire piles that date to before 1993, when the state’s recycling program began. New tire piles are illegal. Any failure to comply with removing the pile could result in felony charges, a fine of $100,000 and civil penalties as high as $32,500 a day. But, usually, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality negotiates a consent order with operators/owners of illegal tire piles, with the view of getting the tires removed.
Meet Brian Perkins, he has an illegal tire pile, consisting of some 5,000 tires. The DEQ wants him to close shop and get rid of the pile. Perkins has been meaning to “to shred the thousands of tires and sell them for recycling,” according to a news story in Roanoke.com (Cody). He has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars into setting up his tire recycling business. The property in question is limited for use for “truck repair and storage” Perkins argued that the tires were like parts of truck and therefore could be stored on the site, as long as the piles are under certain quantity and at a specific distance to a fire hydrant. “[The Roanoke] County officials disagreed, noting that their zoning ordinance, as well as state law, treats tires in a special category with separate, more stringent regulation than other auto or truck parts.” Perkins blames the County for not “let[ing] me shred tires and turn them into a product I can sell,” do venture into a “green business” about “re-using a product that is notoriously difficult to recycle,” according to Roanoke.com (Cody).
The DEQ is working to get Perkins in compliance, and to “to figure out how best to get [the tire pile] it removed and processed,” according to Roanoke.com (Cody).
Recently, Virginia Waste Tire Program hit a milestone in Roanoke County, with 2 million tires have been erased from the County’s tire piles. “All 185 known piles containing a total of 2 million tires in the Roanoke region have been cleaned up, either by the state or landowners,” reported Roanoke.com (Chittum).
The genesis of Virginia Waste Tire Program goes back to a series of fires. In 1983 a pile of 9 million tires in Winchester caught fire; firefighters poured millions of gallons of water on it, which produced millions of gallons of hazardous waste runoff and created an environmental hazard that took 17 years to clean up, according to Roanoke.com (Chittum). That fire was “the catalyst of tire recycling in America.” Virginia's program got started in 1993 after identifying some 750 tire piles in the state. But it was not until 2002, when a teenager set month-long fire to a pile of 3 million tires, that the program in Roanoke County got with the program.
One way in which the growth of tire piles is kept in check, nationwide, is at the point of sale of new tires: when you buy a new tire, your old tire is supposed to be destined for the recycling plant – and you the consumer pay a recycling fee as part of the transaction.
What becomes of used tires. Most are “recycled” as fuel to be burned with coal in cogeneration plants. It is the cheapest form of “recycling.” The tires are cheaper than coal, and have a higher BTU rating. Some landfills use scrap tire for a drainage layer below the trash, and mix it with soil and fly ash to use as cover. Tires also wind up as mulch or rubber mats on playgrounds, and as those black rubber crumbs in artificial turf athletic fields. And a few states recycle scrap tires into asphalt -- Florida, Texas and Arizona.
SynTurf.org Note: If the public pays for the recycling of used tires at the point of purchase of new ones, then why is the public paying again for the crumb rubber that comes with artificial turf fields, synthetic playing area and rubber mulch? Because the tire recyclers bear the overhead cost processing of the used tires into crumb rubber, mulch and other items? It is not unheard of to invest $ millions to establish such “recycling” or “reprocessing” facilities. Therefore, the manufacturers and dealers of crumb rubber are entitled to recoup their cost and make a profit.
But, here is the rub: if used tires in the previous life were so reviled that governments have been pushing them out of their hazardous or special waste landfills and collection centers, then by what logic are the same items rendered safe and laundered into our playgrounds and playing fields as crumb rubber and rubber mulch? The contradiction offered by this inquiry alone prompted the Swedish Government to recommend that crumb rubber not be used in artificial turf installations. See www.SynTurf.org/wrapuparticles (Item No. 6). To cap it – when little Jane comes home with a footwear-full of crumb rubber and throws the rubber pellets in the trash can, she becomes unknowingly a participant in polluting the environment as the rubber now is removed at curbside and destined for the landfills, while in their wholesome shape they would have been handled as special or hazardous waste material.
[No. 20] Warranty Talk. The following are excerpts from an 8-year warranty provided by A-Turf, a New York provide of artificial turf fields. The full text of the warranty document is available at http://www.aturf.com/index.php/warranty/8_year_warranty or click here.
The section entitled “limitations and exclusions” states, “This Warranty does not apply to any defect, failure, damage, or excessive wear caused by: (a) abuse or deliberate acts of vandalism; (b) accidents or acts of God; (c) static or dynamic loads exceeding A-Turf, Inc.’s recommendations; (d) use of improper cleaning or maintenance methods; (e) footwear having metal cleats, spikes, or similar projections other than conventional football, soccer or baseball shoes having cleats of not more than ½” in length, and other conventional running track shoes having spikes of not more than ¼”in length, or (e) owner negligence in failing to maintain the Surface in accordance with all appropriate documentation. Further, this Warranty is void and of no effect if the Owner has repaired or altered the surface without A-Turf, Inc.’s prior written consent. In no event will A-Turf, Inc. be liable to the Owner for any alleged repair or alteration to the Surface made by the Owner.”
Under the heading “maintenance instructions,” the warranty states, “Owner acknowledges receipt of the Owner’s Manual and agrees to comply with and carry out the instructions contained in the Owner’s Manual as a condition of the Warranty, which terms and conditions are incorporated by reference here. To the extent the Owner fails to comply with and carry out said instructions, A-Turf, Inc. may declare the Warranty to be void.”
The company boasts having the most comprehensive insurance coverage for the warranty on the fields that it installs. Can you spell derivatives! The terms of the 3rd party insured warranty is available at http://www.aturf.com/index.php/general_info/warranty or click here.
[No. 19] Redding, Conn.: Drainage woes at grass field will be corrected with new technology. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. October 1, 2008. According to a news report in The Redding Pilot (Redding, Connecticut), “Amidst a waiting game on the state’s ruling over the safety of certain artificial turf surfaces, the town has decided to move forward with a method that will immediately improve a field at the community center.” Called “Field 2” on its list of field needing improvement, the town’s Athletic Fields Committee is looking to improve the drainage at Field 2 with a technology called “sand trenching” at the cost of approximately $60,000 for a whole field, as compared to an infill artificial turf installation of costing the town $850,000. “Sand trenching” enhances field drainage by “a series of long, narrow trenches filled with sand, allowing storm water to siphon away through the trenches to an existing storm drain. These trenches are seamless, and covered by grass.” “It’s a fascinating system and has worked well in other towns,” Selectman Don Takacs told the Board of Selectmen at its meeting on September 15. Source: Rachel Kirkpatrick, “Town athletic field to undergo immediate drainage fix,” in The Redding Pilot, September 28, 2008, available at town athletic field to undergo immediate drainage fix http://www.acorn-online.com/joomla15/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9740:town-athletic-field-to-undergo-immediate-drainage-fix&catid=37:redding-local&Itemid=101 .
[No. 18] Comparing Infills. SynTurf.org, Newton, Massachusetts. September 28, 2008. Infill travels in a variety of ways – by attaching to humankind, clothing and footwear; by force of play, and by the elements, particularly water (irrigation or precipitation). Currently, there are three types of infill used in the Boston-area artificial turf fields. The most popular is crumb rubber made of used tires (cheapest). A few places are using a product that advertises itself as rubber but not from used tires. The most exotic one so far is an Italian product that claims to be a combination of coconut shell and cork. Recently, SynTurf.org collected samples of each in the Boston area. The pictorial below compares the infills’ look and buoyancy in household tap water. The generic samples of crumb rubber from Waltham’s Memorial Park (whole) and Arlington high School (burnt). The non-used tire rubber infill is from Sprague Elementary School turf fields in Wellesley. The cork-coconut infill is from the International School of Boston, in Cambridge, whose turf field is really a circular playground that is 10 yards in radius. All rubber infills sink. The cork-coconut infill floats, which means that in terms of maintenance, one should expect more of the stuff to move of the playground with rains. On the positive side, one would suspect that the cork-coconut infill would not heat up as much as the crumb rubber infills do in hot summer months. Because cork-coconut infill is soft and pulverized into minute bits, it may well compact and clog the drainage system by compromising the permeability of the underlying mesh or the geotextile, but because it floats one would suspect that a rigorous hydration of the field would alleviate some of the compaction.
[No. 17] Portland, Oregon: Crumb rubber infill in natural grass backfires. In July 2008, the Portland Bureau of Purchases put out a document called “Green Purchases Case Studies: Old Tires Find New Life in Sports Fields.” The document could not say enough about the benefits of dumping more than 100 tons of crumb rubber from old tires on sports fields, ridding the overburdened landfills by as much as 20,000 to 40,000 used tires for every infilled turf field.
In 2000, some genius in the Portland Parks and Recreation Department got the idea to use crumb rubber as an infill for natural grass fields as well! However, that idea did not turn out to be such a good one. According to the document,
Although successfully used in artificial turf at Strasser and Mary Rieke fields, crumb rubber did not prove as viable when used in a natural turf field at Lents Park in 2000. Unlike the artificial field installations, crumb rubber was tilled into the soil in addition to being used as a top dressing. This required Park Services to keep people off the field for four months to allow new grass to grow, which was difficult to enforce at the popular Lents Park. The crumb rubber itself further impeded grass growth, and Park Services had to use more water, fertilizer, and pest management than usual to protect the little grass that was able to grow. Other natural fields across the country have effectively used crumb rubber solely as a top dressing for natural turf – without tilling it into the soil. Park Services may consider this option for natural fields in the future.
O, Joy! The proliferation of artificial turf fields with the noxious crumb rubber was not enough, now we must brace for landfills emptying their hazardous waste in ever greater quantities onto natural grass playing fields.
Source: City of Portland (Bureau of Purchases), Green Purchases Case Studies: Old Tires Find New Life in Sports Fields, July 2008, available at http://www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=157989 or click here.
[No. 16] Cambridge, Mass.: A private school opts for coconut shell and cork infill. According to a news report in Wicked Local – Cambridge (September 19, 2008), the infill of the artificial turf field at the Boston International School, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is derived from coconut shell and cork. According to the school, “The parents, board, and administration, through its Green Committee, pushed to find a natural infill material that would provide improved safety, including reduced incidence of burns, heat exhaustion, and injuries, and would comply with an environmental resolution passed by the school’s board. We quickly concluded there was nothing currently being used in the U.S. that would meet that mandate.” So, the school turned to a product in use for some time in Italy. The coconut-and-cork infill is an improvement over the crumb rubber infill, which “is increasingly seen as a health hazard because of the high temperatures that it generates and the potentially hazardous materials it contains, including lead and other carcinogens,” according to The Wicked Local. Source: “A green idea: International School of Boston deploys ‘all-natural’ synthetic turf,” in Wicked Local Cambridge, September 19, 2008, available at
[No. 15] Wayland, Mass.: The Super Enviro-grass! For the longest time, the artificial turf industry has been promoting itself by claiming, among other things, that natural grass is un-environmental because it requires water to water it and requires fertilizers to grow it. Now comes a product that should make the point that if you look hard enough you can find eco-friendly grass that thrives with less water and need next to no fertilizers (organic or not) and requires less mowing. According to news story on WCVB-TV 5 (Boston, Mass), if you are in the market for such a god-sent you need not look farther than Wayland, Mass., home of one Jackson Madnick, the developer of the Pearl Premium grass seed. His handiwork covers the front of the First Parish Church. “It's drought tolerant, requires very little water, it's slow-growing and requires very little upkeep.,” according to WCVB. “It's important to have an ecological lawn. To lessen your health risks, to lessen the runoff of chemical fertilizers to the environment and to save time, money and water,” says Madnick. “We were very excited to hear about this grass that didn't require fertilizers and didn't even require a lot of care, mowing or other types of care. So we decided we wanted to try it,” said a home owner. Source: David Brown, “New Grass Seed Environmentally Friendly: Lawns require little water, upkeep,” on WCVB – The Boston ABC-affiliated TV Channel 5, News Center, September 1, 2008, text available at http://www.thebostonchannel.com/news/17360770/detail.html , video at
[No. 14 ] Want to ensure prompt installation of turf? Penalize the contractor $1,500 per day of delay. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. August 11, 2008. The word “tip” is said to be an abbreviation for “to insure promptitude.” Whether it is given upfront as an incentive or afterward as a reward, the act of tipping tends to personalize a transaction for services, which itself is supposed to be value based on an agreed upon price. So, assume for a moment, the contractor that is hired at a handsome price to install a turf field lags behind in its delivery date. What is a municipality to do? According to a news story in The Jamestown Sun, the installation of the turf field at Jamestown High School (North Dakota) had to be suspended due to sub-par work of the contractor that was handling the sub-base work. According to the Superintendent Bob Toso “the two companies have about 10 days of work left, so if they can’t come to an agreement and miss the Aug. 15 deadline, one will be responsible for the $1,500 per day penalty to the district for being late.” Source: Katie Ryan, “Green space could miss its deadline,” in The Jamestown Sun, August 5, 2008, available at http://www.jamestownsun.com/articles/index.cfm?id=70276§ion=news&freebie_check&CFID=65178352&CFTOKEN=21303444&jsessionid=88306da08faa45555368 .
SynTurf.org Note: If a contractor finished ahead of time, would it receive a bonus for every day short of the delivery day?
[No. 13] Stow, Ohio: Product defect delays turf installation. According to a news story in The Aurora Advocate (Stow, Ohio), when they unrolled the turf at Aurora High School’s Veteran Stadium, the installers noticed that “the grass hairs were 2 inches higher on 20 percent of the roll, and some of them were looped and attached back to the base." Source: Brent Hovey, “Turf flaws delay work at stadium; Won’t affect grid game, cost,” in The Aurora Advocate, July 30, 2008, available at http://www.auroraadvocate.com/news/article/4154131 .
[No. 12] What is a synthetically-enhanced natural grass playing field? SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. May 9, 2008. The Broncos play their home games on synthetically-enhanced natural grass, as do the Steelers, Eagles and Packers. What is exactly synthetically enhanced natural grass (SENG)? A SENG field employs tens of millions of artificial grass fibers that are injected about 8 inches deep into the soil; the job is controlled by a computer that helps to space the fibers. The roots of the natural grass wrap around the synthetic grass fibers and anchor the natural grass into the ground. This technique ensures a playable field surface in environments that experience short growing seasons, rainy climates or high incidence of wear and tear due to activities other than sports.
While it has not taken root in the U.S., in Europe synthetically-enhanced grass fields are not uncommon. According to a recent industry note about Desso GrassMaster (http://www.dessosports.com, http://www.desso.com), 13 out of the 20 English Premier League clubs play or train on this kind of field, as do 7 clubs from the Dutch Eredivisie (Premier League). The upcoming May 14th UEFA Cup Final between FC Zenit (St. Petersburg, Russia) and Rangers FC (Glasgow, Scotland) will be played at the City of Manchester Stadium, which has been renovated with a synthetically-enhanced natural grass field.
Source: PRNewswire, “UEFA Cup Final on Special Pitch,” May 8, 2008, available at http://www.prnewswire.co.uk/cgi/news/release?id=226750.
Note: UEFA stands for Union of European Football [Soccer] Associations. It represents Europe’s national soccer associations and runs Europe’s national and club competitions.
[No. 11] Turf manufacturer hires lobbyist to bury NYC turf bill. SynTurf.org, Newton Mass. April 16, 2008. There is a rumour going around that the April 15, 2008, edition of Crain's Insider (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=insider) reported that FieldTurf, which has sold New York City many artificial turf fields, has hired lobbyist Claudia Wagner and public relations firm Widmeyer Communications to help bury a turf bill presently before the City Council. Council members Eric Gioia, D-Queens, and Tish James, D-Brooklyn, say fields made with crumb rubber should be replaced because the product contains harmful substances. For background on the bill that is pending before the New York City Council, see http://www.synturf.org/moratoriums.html (Item Nos. 10 and 11).
This item was revised and updated on April 16, 2008 (PM) due to information in the earlier posting that SynTurf.org could not independently verify.
[No. 09] Qwest Field’s turf to be replaced after just 6 years. The February 14, 2008, edition of Athletic Turf News reported that Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, will replace its 6-year old new generation infilled artificial turf field with a new one due in part to safety and aesthetics. According to the story, based on a report by the Puget Sound Business Journal, the replacement field is by the same name brand that is currently in place. Source: http://www.athleticturf.net/athleticturf/Athletic+Turf+News/Qwest-field-to-replace-FieldTurf-with-FieldTurf/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/491809.
It is understandable, in advance of Seattle getting and Major League Soccer team in the 2009 season, the stadium would want try to replace the carpet, which hosts also other events. The larger questions, for SynTurf.org, has to do with the (a) reasons underlying the shortened life-cycle of the original installation, (b) if the replacement is covered by warranty, and (c) what arrangement will be made for the disposal of the old carpet and at what cost?
|No. 01] The Royal Run-around -- Who will fix the fields?
Special Report: What the Synthetic Turf Industry Doesn't Want You to Know, by Jeffrey L. Bruce (Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company, LLC, 1907 Swift Street, Suite 204, North Kansas City, Missouri 64116, Tel: 816/842-8999 - Fax: 816/842-8885 - www.jlbruce.com (2007).
This article will take an insider's look behind the artificial turf market in the United States and what the manufacturers don't want the public to know. The industry is just beginning to understand how these new emerging synthetic turf technologies perform and wear over time, but this information is seldom available to the public for fear it might influence purchasing decisions.
Synthetic turf has once again gained popularity as a premier athletic surface as new technologies mimic the performance of natural grass surfaces. Driven by massive marketing campaigns, the synthetic turf manufacturers promote these new technologies as superior to natural grass in terms of maintenance, surface performance, installation, quality and longevity. While these technologies are promising, there are limitations and liabilities to their use.
The increase in public demand has also created delivery problems along the entire synthetic turf distribution system from shortages of materials, manufacturing defects, unqualified installers, lack of quality assurance and performance problems. Let's look at how artificial turf is manufactured and installed. This will reveal the source of some of the problems seen in the synthetic turf industry.
Synthetic Turf Manufacturing
The most surprising and revealing aspect of the synthetic turf manufacturing process is that most companies selling synthetic turf don't manufacture anything but marketing brochures. We have begun calling synthetic turf manufacturers "turf brokers," since it better reflects the structure of the business model that dominates the industry.
Every synthetic turf installation begins with a call to the local salesperson. The potential project is aggressively tracked by the synthetic turf brokers until a sale is closed. Upon executing a contract for installation of a synthetic turf surface, the turf broker's main office is notified and the manufacturing process begins. The main office prepares a field layout plan indicating the markings, lines, colors and product type which is then sent to one of only a handful of tufting plants in the United States, the majority of which reside in Dalton, GA. Over 90 percent of the synthetic turf for the North American market is tufted by four or five companies in Dalton. Tufting is the process of stitching yarn into the primary backing. Tufting has replaced knitting as the most common method of synthetic turf manufacturing because of the economy and cost of production. However, tufting is less durable than knitting.
When the tufting plants receive an order, they obtain the synthetic turf fiber and primary backing from the independent factories which produce these items as finished products for a variety of open uses. The largest of the turf brokers will negotiate annual volume purchasing agreements or allocations from the fiber and backing manufacturers to ensure seasonal supply and competitive pricing. To convince the public that the brokers actually manufacture a product, some companies will lease or purchase tufting machines which reside in the large carpet factories next to the competitor's machines. These tufting machines are primarily maintained and operated by the carpet factories, not by the turf broker. It is not uncommon to see a synthetic field being manufactured next to a Berber carpet for your living room. It is also not uncommon to see two or three synthetic turf brand names being tufted next to each other or even on the same machine.
Once primary tufting factories receive the fiber and primary backing, the carpet is tufted according to the turf broker's specification. Each field is custom manufactured according to the specific requirements of the owner, depending on what sports are to be played on the surface. The yard lines and goal lines will be tufted directly into the carpet using a different color fiber. The tufting process will take about three days for an average field and is completely on demand. The industry has been so plagued by company foreclosures that many turf brokers are on a cash-only basis with the material suppliers.
After the fibers have been inserted, the tufted carpet is then sent to the secondary coating facility which applies a polyurethane or acrylic coating to the back of the primary backing to secure the fiber. Depending on the requirements of the turf broker, perforations are burned or punched into the carpet backing to permit drainage. Over 85 percent of the secondary coating for synthetic turf in the North American market is performed by one independent company. No matter what name brand you buy, it probably traveled through this plant for the secondary coating process. After the secondary coating cures, the carpet panels are packaged and shipped directly to the construction site. Seldom does the turf broker have a representative inspect or review the carpet before it is shipped.
The next step in the process is to secure sand and rubber in-fill products. The turf broker orders sufficient graded sand and SBR rubber from independent quarries and tire recyclers. The in-fill materials are purchased in bulk and direct shipped to the construction site. Every aspect of the synthetic turf process is typically out-sourced. Even the logos in the center of the fields are manufactured by an independent company which ships the finished logo sight unseen by the turf broker directly to the site.
Synthetic Turf Installation
The basic materials for a synthetic turf surface are now on site ready for installation. The biggest misconception that is perpetuated in the industry is that the individuals who install the synthetic turf are employees of the turf brokers, sometimes called "in-house crews." We believe that in-house crews of the turf brokers are responsible for less than eight percent of the total synthetic carpet installed on an annual basis. The vast majority of synthetic turf installers are small companies or contract labor, who may or may not have been certified or trained by the turf broker. Demand for installers is so high because of the volume of fields being installed that a turf broker will use almost any installation crew that is available and has equipment. During the peak installation season between May and September, competition for trained crews is fierce and at times ruthless. In some instances, it appears that installation volume is a more important criterion in selecting installers than quality.
Installation crews are bounced from job to job by the turf broker and may not even now where they are working the following week. The carpet installers receive a work order which includes the seaming and layout plan, along with the estimated quantities of in-fill needed to complete the work. Many times these companies will never receive any of the construction documents or correspondence prepared by the owner, leaving them totally ignorant of the project requirements.
The materials are typically on site when the installation crews arrive. Their primary responsibility and focus is to install the synthetic turf and move on to the next project. Anything that would slow this process down is problematic, such as inspecting the materials that have been delivered to the site or correcting sub-base problems. Quality assurance or coordination between sub-contractors is sporadic at best. Remember that it is in the best interest of the turf broker to provide the least amount of documentation possible, which limits contractual responsibilities to the owner. If a grading plan is not provided, the owner cannot verify whether the grading has been performed correctly.
We have yet to see a systematic approach by the turf broker to test or inspect materials delivered to the site to ensure they comply with the expected requirements. Since the carpet panels really can only be inspected at the manufacturing plants or when the carpet is rolled out on site, it is virtually impossible for the installation crew to have a defected carpet panel returned to the tufting plant. This would delay the project for weeks, so regardless of the quality of finished product that arrives on site, it is typically installed without question.
Most owners only purchase one or two fields in a decade, and are helplessly uninformed about the process; whereas the turf brokers may install a couple hundred fields a year, so any concerns about quality are quickly dismissed with, "This is the way we have done it in the past, and we are the experts." This almost total reliance on the turf broker as the judge of quality leaves most owners in an extremely vulnerable position. In fact, most sales staff will discourage the owner from seeking professional guidance when designing a synthetic turf field. The common response is, "You don't need to waste your money on consultants, we can do it all for you." It must be understood that the best interests of the turf broker may not be the best interests of the owner. The objectives are clearly different.
The dramatic increase in the demand for synthetic turf in the past couple of years has challenged the industry's ability to keep pace. We have recently seen severe shortages of fiber, silica sand and SBR rubber. The limited pool of quality installation crews has plagued every turf broker resulting in significant schedule delays and construction defects. Even the tufting plants and secondary coating process have experienced manufacturing problems as new companies rush new products out to market in order to capture the public's growing demand in the new gold rush. When materials become scarce, poor choices are made in substitution, resulting in an increase of installation failures. Most of these choices are typically made out of expediency, since there are more fields to be installed than can be done each year.
Understanding the synthetic turf manufacturing process sheds a light on the origin of problems in the turf delivery process. The complete fragmentation of manufacturing process and lack of quality assurance creates an environment where responsibility is difficult to assign. When a product fails, is it the fiber, primary backing, secondary coating, in-fill materials or installation quality? Remember that each of these items is more than likely out-sourced to different companies. The turf brokers actually rely on the out-sourced company warrantee to remedy defects. Most synthetic turf warrantee claims take years to resolve as the cause of the defect is determined, and many owners end up just giving up pursuing remedy of defects through the turf broker's general warrantee. ...End __/
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No. 2] Dangers of Silica. Editor’s Headnote: Field Report, August 26, 2007 -- The picture on the left represents the warning panel on a bag of silica sand that was used in connection with poly-grass fibers and a highly flammable adhesive to repair the damages to a synthetic turf field on the campus of Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. This and other silica products are used extensively in artificial turf installation and repair. While the “hazards” part of the warning is alarming, please note, as for the “precautions” part of the warning -- our youth who play on artificial turf fields do not wear the same protective gear as the folks who apply the product to the fields. If we are guarding the health of our youth from things like second-hand smoke and fertilizers and pesticides associated with the maintenance of natural grass fields, what possible reason can we have to expose them to the risks posed by silica sand? Here is the contents of the warning panel:
Sands of Time
50 Lbs. Net Wt. (22.68 KG)
Contains silica dust. Can cause Silicosis and Cancer. Avoid Breathing Dust.
Silica dust can cause severe and permanent lung damage and other diseases.
Avoid breathing dust. Use with adequate and properly maintained dust collection systems to keep silica dust below permissible limits.
- Breathing silica dust can cause silicosis, along disease that can lead to serious breathing difficulties and death. Silicosis also increases the risk of tuberculosis.
- Breathing silica dust can cause cancer.
- Breathing silica dust may cause scleroderma, a scarring of the skin and internal organs.
Breathing silica dust may not cause noticeable injury or illness, even though permanent lung damage may be occurring.
Avoid creating dust when using, handling, storing, or disposing of this product or bag.
- Do not dry sweep project. Wet product with water or use a dustless method (vacuum) to clean spills.
- Do not allow dust to collect on floors, sills, ledges, machinery, or equipment.
Do not rely on your sight to determine if dust is in the air. Silica maybe in the air without a visible dust cloud. If dust cannot be kept below permissible limits, wear a respirator approved for silica dust when using, handling, storing or disposing of this product or bag.
Do not Use For Sandblasting!
See U.S. Silica Company Material Safety data Sheet in Your Employer’s Possession for More Information on
Hazards and Precautions.
Editor’s Endnote: The use of this product in sandblasting would simply render the product airborne, which should be avoided. That is also the reason for the recommendation to wet down the product in order to minimize or avoid getting it into one’s lungs. By what logic then should one have our youth wallow and play in this cocktail of used-tire rubber crumb, sand and silica dust? Regular watering of the artificial turf field is therefore necessary in order to keep the temperature son the field low and silica sand from dusting up into players’ lungs, eyes and skin. And we thought the best feature of artificial turf was that it needs less watering than natural grass fields!
No. 03] Disinfecting the Fields, by Guive Mirfendereski, SynTurf.org, Newton, Novemebr 13, 2007. Updated: Jan 11, 2008.
If here is a need, there will a new product or a new application of an old one. Either way there is money to be made and nothing sells better than fear or genuine concern for health and safety in the face of actual, potential or perceived threat. This note reviews a few antimicrobial and antibacterial product literature with regard to disinfecting turf fields.
The suppliers of antibacterial and antimicrobial products and sanitization systems look at an artificial turf field and see a cesspool of germs. This leads to an interesting body of literature that capitalizes on private pains and public consternation about Staph and other infections. The following are two examples of such marketing literature, one from TurfAide and the other from AstroShield.
TurfAide’s ‘seven nasty truths’ product literature posits seven problems about the existence of microbes in the synthetic turf system and offers a solution for each:
Truth #1: Microorganisms can be transferred to a synthetic turf field through a variety of sources. On an average football weekend there are 75,580 people and 2 animals, which works out to an average of 70 thousand people who come into direct or indirect contact with a synthetic turf field every weekend. Each person tracks in particles on their shoes, sheds skin cells and shares airborne pathogens with their surroundings. From the minute the field is installed, a synthetic turf field becomes a dynamic environment hosting microorganisms from a legion of sources introduced to it every day.
Truth #2: Indoor and outdoor synthetic turf systems can sustain microbial life. In order for microbes to exist they need light (sunlight or indoor lighting), moisture (sweat, rain, humidity), nutrients (organic matter including dead skin cells: the average human sheds 1 million skin cells a day), and a receptive surface. “Synthetic turf systems – like locker rooms and wrestling mats - act as the receptive surface for microbes. Beneficial and harmful microorganisms can live in synthetic turf systems; introduced from other environments via the people who use the field, animals or simple airborne transmission.”
Truth #3: Weather won’t eliminate microorganisms from surfaces. Microorganisms can survive and reproduce in extreme weather conditions including near boiling water and extreme cold. Rain does not sanitize a surface.
Truth #4: The MRSA bacteria can survive days, even weeks on a surface.
Truth # 5: Extreme temperatures are not an effective disinfecting strategy. There are many commonly held myths that staph can be killed by normal hot or cold temperatures. However, research demonstrates the abilities for this hardy bug to endure through both extreme heat and cold.
Truth #6: High contact sports increase chances for skin abrasions and tissue damage – entry points for MRSA and other harmful bacteria.
Truth #7: Microorganisms can affect the functionality of a synthetic turf system. Synthetic turf systems can be negatively affected by a variety of bacteria, fungi and molds. In extreme cases, these microorganisms can form bio-films in the infill. These bio-films settle in the infill and inhibiting drainage from the field. This becomes a vicious cycle since the increased moisture in the infill leads to even better breading conditions for more microorganisms. There are also cosmetic problems caused by various molds and bacteria like odors and stains. Odor causing bacteria can also cause fields to have a pungent smell which is unpleasant for the athletes, coaches and fans. Over time, some microorganisms can also cause staining and discoloration of the turf.
The AstroShiled literature posits an 8-Question FAQ device for getting its message across. First, it asks if damaging microbes grow in synthetic turf? Of course, both good and bad microbes reproduce everywhere, on synthetic turf as well as in natural grass fields. Second: Does one really need antimicrobial treatment for one’s field? Naturally, one should provide peace-of-mind from the threat microbial of contamination by proper cleaning of the field and treating the artificial turf system with AstroShield. Third: Is AstroShield registered with the EPA? Yes, as a low Category III toxicity level (EPA Reg. No. 75100-1). Fourth: How easy is it to apply? Unlike most professional grade antimicrobial products, it is safe enough to be applied by anyone. It comes in concentrated form and can be easily mixed with water and sprayed on the synthetic turf surface. Fifth: Is it environment-friendly? It is a “natural” antimicrobial recycled from crab shells that are a byproduct of the crabbing industry; it is made from one of the world's most abundant natural replenished resource; it is biodegradable. Sixth: What about shellfish allergies? The allergens from shellfish are proteins; the proteins are denatured and removed from the crab shells before processing into the product, thus making it hypoallergenic. “It will not trigger shellfish allergies,” the manufacturer claims. Seventh: What makes it tick? The active antimicrobial is called Chitosan, which has been in commercial use for over 50 years in the food, cosmetics, agricultural, biotechnology, medical and wastewater treatment industries. And eighth: Does the product only protect the synthetic turf? “Not only does the antimicrobial treatment protect the turf system and infill against damaging microbes,” AstroShield “can be used on laundry, equipment, lockers, mats, carpet and other surfaces within your sports facility.”
Naturally, none of the foregoing would have an audience in the turf sector if there was no actual or perception of risk of microbial or bacterial contamimnation of artifcial turf surfaces. According to the statement of the “problem” by AstroShield: “Athletic facilities and synthetic turf playing surfaces can be ‘host environments’ for microbes…They grow in synthetic turf no differently than they grow on natural surfaces like grass, sand and dirt. Growth of microbes on materials such as synthetic turf can lead to foul odors, discoloration by the formation of masses of mildew and even decay of the material. Protection against all microbes begins with proper hygiene and cleanliness. Cleaning and washing the synthetic turf with water and approved detergents after each use is one of the best ways to remove and kill attached or embedded microbes. However, cleaning procedures for synthetic turf systems can be costly and time consuming. Also, surfaces that are disinfected using one of many commercially available products are easily contaminated or recontaminated within minutes of being disinfected. It doesn't matter how safe your synthetic turf system may be if it is plagued with bad microbes. It's simply not safe enough to protect your athletes and players. Just because you can't see the problem doesn't mean the problem doesn't exist.”
Update: “Synthetic turf breeds MRSA Staph: 10 million square feet of turf set to be treated in 2008 in response to MRSA outbreaks,” in PRNewswire, Rochester Hills, Mich., January 8, 2008, at http://blackhole.xerces.com/showthread.php?t=10136.
 Ibid. Solution: With TurfAide protecting your field, microbes are destroyed on contact and cannot survive on the field.
 Ibid. “Experiments have demonstrated that MRSA can persist for long periods of time on surfaces, furnishings and sterile foods packaging, paper and foil in health-care settings, therefore measures that reduce its survival time on surfaces are worthy of consideration in the development of risk control strategies.” The Effect of Humidity on the Survival of MRSA on Hard Surfaces, Indoor and Built Environment, November 25, 2005. Ibid. Solution: While you can’t eliminate light, moisture or nutrients from the environment, treating your field with TurfAide creates a non- receptive surface so that microbial life cannot be sustained.
 Ibid. “According to Clare Edelmayer, the infection control coordinator at Doylestown Hospital, rain wouldn't be enough to get rid of the bacteria either, only if, Edelmayer said, ‘it rained with disinfectant.’” In fact, despite the hot sun, desert sands are great hosts for microbial life, according to a Duke University study published January 9, 2006. “The arid desert is a teeming microbial Amazon. Their first ever continental-scale genetic survey of soil bacteria revealed that the primary factor that seems to govern the diversity of soil bacteria is soil pH. Thus acidic coils of the tropical forests harbor fewer bacterial species than the neutral soils of deserts.” Ibid. Solution: Solution: Weather cannot eliminate them, but the advanced antimicrobial in TurfAide can!
 Ibid. “Bacteria can remain in a synthetic surface for as long as three hours — about the average length of a football game — according to Clare Edelmayer, the infection control coordinator at Doylestown Hospital.” Ibid. “All staphylococci tested survived for at least 1 day on all fabrics and plastics. Staphylococcal viability was longest on polyester (1 to 56 days) and on polyethylene plastic (22 to >90 days).” Ibid. Solution: The antimicrobial in TurfAide has been proven effective against the MRSA bacteria destroying the bacteria upon contact.
 Ibid. Solution: TurfAide eliminates the turf as a point of transmission.
 Ibid. Solution: The antimicrobial in TurfAide has been proven effective against a very broad spectrum of bacteria, mold, mildew, fungi and algae.
No. 04] What does a turf patent application contain? [Editor's Note: The beauty of the American patent system is that the inventor gets to reveal its most intimate details and in return the government protects the inventor’s exploitation of his/her invention for a specific period of time. There is much that the general public can learn about artificial turf from studying turf patent documents. Here is an example of a recent patent for U.S. Greentech, Inc.’s artificial turf system (No. 10811737 filed on March 29, 2004, and granted on December 5, 2007] –
Excerpt: “Silicone dioxide beads 46 are slightly porous and in certain instances it is desirable to coat the outer surfaces thereof with an acrylic sealer 48 as shown in FIG. 12. Other sealers may be used if desired. The coated silicone dioxide particles or beads are also referred to as STF. It may also be desirable to color the silicone beads to enhance the appearance of the artificial turf. Desirable colorants are iron oxide (Fe Oz) for black and chrome (iii) oxide (Crz O3) for green. Other natural colorants are available for other colors or shades. Generally three pounds of colorant are mixed with one gallon of acrylic sealer to form the coating although this ratio is changed to alter the depth of the color as desired. It is noted that satisfactory results have been achieved when using mixtures of silicone dioxide beads mixed with ground rubber or with sand.” To read more of this, go to http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/7144609-description.html. Generally, go to the U.S. Patent Office website at www.uspto.gov.
No. 05] A manufacturer’s letter. [Editors' Note: Here is a letter from Rob Farley (Jupiter, Florida) of Synthetic Turf International, a turf manufacturer, to a publication called Silver Spring Scene. The letter was posted on the publication on Monday, May 14, 2007 under the heading “Clarity on the Turf,” along with the note to readers that “This should clear things up about what you read and heard previously.” (source: http://silverspringscene.com/blog/2007/05/14/clarity-on-the-turf/)] --
Farley: “…I actually sold the county the current turf out of our office here in South Florida. Our company then sent a crew up to Silver Spring to perform the installation.
Just a point of clarification, I never said that the county chose the “cheapest stuff on earth.” It is actually a very high quality surface, but it isn’t meant to withstand the traffic it has had. The current turf is actually a putting green surface, not filled all the way with sand. If we had kept filling it, Silver Spring would have the world’s largest putting green. They had a budget and that particular variety of turf was what made sense for all concerned. I never imagined it would still be here 21 months later. That wasn’t the plan.
“The “black pellets” you refer to in the sample is actually granulated rubber (ground up car tires). Rubber granules are used to darken up the turf and to provide cushion. The NFL (or any football or soccer organization) prefers ALL rubber and NO sand because it provides even MORE cushion, making it a safer playing field. Rubber granules were left out intentionally (by us) in the installation of the current turf because of cigarette concerns. While a cigarette won’t start a fire on a field even filled with rubber, the rubber will slightly melt until the cigarette burns itself out. We felt a sand only installation made more sense at the time.
“As to cleaning, the turf needs to be brushed – regularly. The county has a proposal on their table for us to come brush it and repair any damaged seams, but I am starting to get the feeling that they don’t want it to look good – for obvious reasons. I realize this turf will be gone in September, but I’d like it to be cleaned up for the summer months.
“As I told Evan, the county office has been very good to us (actually the engineers, namely Don Scheureman). I’m sorry I had to “step on their toes” by even sending that sample, but increasingly I’ve seen our products and our business misrepresented by people that don’t do their research or don’t understand what we do. Is the turf dirty? Yes. It needs to be cleaned regularly and brushed. But it isn’t “cheap.” If it was cheap, it never would have survived all it has survived. It was simply an inexpensive, TEMPORARY solution.”
No. 06] Warranty Talk. [Editor's Note: A warranty is a contractual and/or staturoy assurance that a certain product is made of certain quality and will perform to a certain specification or intended use for a designated period of time. There is no standard product life span for artificial turf. Most sources tend to report that the standard industry warranty on artificial turf field is 8 years. All this means is that on the first day of the 9th year the a manufacturer or installer is no longer responsible for any warrantied repair or replacement parts of labor on the field. The length of the warranty is not necessarily coincidental wit the life-span of the product. This is no different than the situation of an automobile owner whose warranty has expired but the vehicle is still running. The passage of time and use, however, tend to diminish the pile of the polygrass blades, often causing them to break away from the carpet. The compaction of the subsurface rubber matting, the rubber and sand mix, tends to make the turf a much harder ground than in its earlier years. The disappearance of the polygrass blades also results in a greater migration of the crumb rubber granules off the field. The excerpt below is from an article on “Artificial Turf” in Warranty Week (February 10, 2004), available at http://www.warrantyweek.com/archive/ww20040210.html] --
Turf Warranties: In some of North America's largest sports stadiums, the grass is always greener, thanks to AstroTurf and its successors. Unlike the sods it replaces, an artificial sports surface comes with an eight-year warranty. But if you're planning to make a claim, bring your lawyer… Artificial Turf Warranties …[According to Darren Gill, marketing manager for FieldTurf…] all FieldTurf installations come with eight-year warranties, which is more or less the industry standard. "But our warranties," he said, "are the only ones backed by a third party insurer [Virginia Surety Company Inc., part of Aon Corp.]." Gill said that means whether FieldTurf thrives or disappears in the future, an insurance company will always be around to honor its warranty claims. In contrast, warranties issued by a small self-insured company would become worthless upon the demise of the manufacturer. So far, all that's come back are minor repair jobs, Gill said. FieldTurf has yet to forward a warranty claim to its insurance carrier, he noted.
|This image is from ALIAPUR's masthead. Deceptive or ignorant message?
[No. 07] The Aliapur [French] Study Disrobed! Newton: SynTurf.org, December 10, 2007. In August 2007 Environment & Human Health, Inc., a Connecticut nonprofit, called attention to the actual and potential risks associated with use of rubber crumb in artificial turf fields. The toxicological findings of by EHHI-funded study were compelling enough to prompt the Attorney General of Connecticut to call for futher studying of risks associated with artificial turf fields (www.ehhi.org). In New York, the legislators introduced a bill seeking a moratorium on the installation of artificial turf fields until further studies on the environmental and health risks posed by synthetic turf fields (see this site at Moratoriums).
Sure enough, the purveyors of artificial turf fields wasted no time to counter the EHHI findings with the results of a “study” that it claimed “debunked” any talk about the harmful effects of the granulates of recycled used tires that cover the artificial turf fields. An arguably self-proclaimed industry leader, FieldTurf, a Canadian company, was quick to tout the “Aliapur Study.” “The results of a long-term study confirms that the rubber granules used in the construction of artificial turf fields pose absolutely no threat to the environment,” stated a press release on behalf of FieldTurf. ”Study Proves Rubber Granules in Artificial Turf Safe for the Environment,” in Prime Newswire, Montreal, August 30, 2007, at http://www.primenewswire.com/newsroom/news.html?d=125895.
Who is Aliapur? The answer may well cast grave doubt on FieldTurf’s claim about crumb rubber posing no threat to the environment and human health. According to Aliapur’s own website: “Aliapur, acteur de référence dans la valorisation des pneus usagés, est une société anonyme dont les membres fondateurs sont Bridgestone, Continental, Dunlop Goodyear, Kléber, Michelin et Pirelli, qui se répartissent à parts égales les 262.500 euros du capital. Ce sont également les premiers clients d’Aliapur.” http://www.aliapur.fr/modules/movie/scenes/home/index.php?fuseAction=page&rubric=societe&article=societeSituation.
Translation (by Catherine, a Francophone contributor to SynTurf.org): “Aliapur adds value to used tires. The founding members of Aliapur are Bridgestone, Continental, Dunlop Goodyear, Kléber, Michelin and Pirelli, who own in equal shares Aliapur’s capitalization (262,500 Euros). Each of them is equally Aliapur’s main client.”
Editor’s Note: All the companies mentioned in the forgoing are tire companies! The artificial turf industry has had a habit of invoking studies like Aliapur’s. Many of them are funded by or “indirectly” benefit economically the tire companies, used tire recyclers and processors, and buyers of reprocessed tire products used in paving/construction of roads, playground covers and artificial turf fields. Query: Should not the tire companies be made to take back the used and discarded tires?]
[No. 08] Methane: Facing the effusions of an old landfill. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. December 22, 2007. Updated December 28, 2007. Many of the playing fields around the country are built on top of old capped landfills. It makes good sense. There are two issues that concern the designers and engineers who install such playing fields – differential settling and emanation of harmful substances from under the ground. Differential settling almost always is caused by decomposition of the refuse below. The effusion of substances occurs when the cap is compromised, in which case leachates can ooze out of the dump, solids can rise to the surface and gases can escape from breach in the cap.
A recent article by Carol Carder, “From landfill to athletic fields,” in Rocky Mountain Construction, August 13, 2007, Features, page 12, provides an instructive glimpse into the nuts and bolts of building an artificial turf (“waterless”) field atop a landfill. The venue is the old Rooney Landfill in Jefferson County on the western edge of Denver, Colorado. It is an 80-acre site, which is planned to house five full-sized soccer fields, access roads, parking, restrooms, and two smaller athletic fields.
The dump itself was shut down and capped some 25 years earlier. To install artificial turf fields on the site, the construction company forwent excavating, digging and cutting the ground for fear of breaching the cap. It set out to do “everything above existing ground level and not cut into the clay cap."
The study that preceded the project had sought answers to "How deep is the refuse?" and "What are the moisture conditions?" and "What is the methane gas production?" In 2004 a gas control system was installed at the site, with 25 methane extraction wells reaching into the bottom some 80 feet deep. The methane travels up the pipes and burns off as a flare. There is talk about operating a generator with the methane or selling it. “In [a] dry climate, a landfill will release lower concentrations of methane for decades, while in a wetter climate the methane release is faster and more concentrated," according to one engineer.
Before the fields could go on, it was necessary to enhance the cap. A fill of recycled tire shreds in 2-inch to 4-inch chunks was compacted with low permeability clay, and covered by a geosynthetic clay liner (GCL), a manufactured fabric containing bentonite. To that was added a layer of soil and it was graded so rainfall would run off.
To construct the fields, the contractors “knocked down vegetation and the native grass, and brought in 50,000 cubic yards of fill to further level out the field areas. [The contractor] spread the fill anywhere from 0 to 3 feet deep to make the fields flat with a slight 1-percent slope for drainage. The field base above the fill consists of aggregate. Academy Sports Turf of Denver rolled out the artificial turf much like carpet and anchored it to the concrete perimeter curbing for each field. Then laborers in-filled the turf with recycled rubber tire chips or crumbs for softness, much different than earlier abrasive synthetic turfs.”
“Since all landfills settle as refuge decomposes, [one] expect[s] to repair the fields when dips appear…it's a simple matter of cutting back the turf, filling the depression and gluing the turf back in place. Compared to the maintenance costs of watering, fertilizing and mowing natural fields, these periodic repairs should be a small expense item.”
“The methane being emitted by the landfill necessitated numerous restrictions on both the construction and the finished site. ‘No Smoking’ signs will be prominent. [The contractor] monitored methane emissions during construction to safeguard the workers. Even when [one contractor] was only digging as deep as the fill it brought in, the county required methane monitoring in the event methane was leaking from the cap and infiltrating the new piles of fill.”
“Just one spark can set off a fire if methane is present. The safety plan required the construction crews to cut all rebar for the curbing and restroom slabs and metal such as drainage piping off-site. When one of the drainage pipes needed to be trimmed back, the crew had to dig up the 20-foot-long section, take it off-site and cut off 2 feet, then bring it back and reinstall it.”
“Because moisture can increase methane emissions, the field drainage system is designed to carry water away from the landfill cap. According to Smith, the first quarter-inch of rainfall will fill gaps in the turf's rubber infill. The next quarter-inch of rainfall will penetrate through the backing of the turf. There it will fill voids in a 6-inch cross section of aggregate. The next half-inch will flow through the rock to the field edge where it enters a perforated pipe 12 inches to 18 inches below grade and flows north to a detention pond.”
Update: Decemebr 28, 2007. For an interesting focus piece on the tapping of lanfills for methane, see Robert Gavin, "Tapping into trash to find a new energy source," in The Boston Globe, December 28, 2007, Business section, page E1. Also available on the net (without the pictures?) at http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2007/12/28/tapping_into_trash_to_find_a_new_energy_source/.