No. 57 Boxford, Massachusetts – BOH issues “precautionary” recommendations for use of artificial turf fields. July 2016.
No. 56 Danger in topical treatments for artificial turf fields. November 2014.
No. 55 Fire-retardant turf products cause concern. May 2014.
No. 54 Shingle Springs, California: Ponderosa High’s turf field deemed dangerous. April 2014.
No. 53 Kinnelon, New Jersey: Worries over runoff from artificial turf filed containing carcinogenic pollutant. November 2013.
No. 52 Fire-retardants add new toxins to artificial turf. February 2013.
No. 51 Health hazard of crumb rubber and rubber mulch fires. November 2012
No. 50 Beware of trifluralin in herbicides, garden mulch, and perhaps artificial turf fields. April 2011
No. 49 Rye, New York: CountryDay School shuts down artificial turf field. November 2009
No. 48 Disinfecting the artificial turf fields: A new twist. September 2009
No. 47 Rutherford, NJ: Flammable crumb rubber and rubber mulch are cause for concern. June 2009
No. 46 Ridgefield, CT: Health Dept. posts signs at turf fields. June 2009.
No. 45 Chicago, Illinois: Lincoln Park “Turf War.” A video . May 2009 (Novemebr 2008).
No. 44 Turf fiber could cause gastrointestinal blockage. April 2009.
No. 43 Fort Lauderdale, Florida: University professor rips artificial turf. April 2009.
No. 42 Westport, CT: In combating health risks from turf, town unveils the a new weapon – warning signs! March 2009.
No. 41 Menlo Park, Calif: Environmental impact review says turf could have hazardous effects. March 2009.
No. 40 Needham, Mass.: Turf fields will be monitored for toxins. February 2009.
No. 39 Connecticut: Toxins-in-turf warning goes before the legislature. January 2009.
No. 38 Sacramento, Calif.: Maldonado says playing on turf is a like playing on “a giant used Band-Aid.” Jan. 2009.
No. 37 Seoul, South Korea: Carcinogens found in school turf field.December 2008.
No. 36 NYC: Parks & Rec closes turf field due to lead. December 2008.
No. 35 Tacoma, Washington: KOMO TV 4 News says, “Link between cancer, artificial turf questioned.” December 2008.
No. 34 Philip Landrigan, M.D., M.Sc: Artificial turf fields pose safety issues. December 2008.
No. 33 Northern Valley Board of Education, New Jersey, restricts use of turf fields by 7 and under. Nov. 2008.
No. 32 Chicago, Ill.: The Great Lakes Centers for Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health raises question about lead in artificial turf. November 2008.
No. 31 What’s with the phthalates in turf? October 2008.
No. 30 William Crain on Toxic Lead in Synthetic Turf.October 2008.
No. 29 Rochester, New York: “Artificial turf poses a health threat,” warns RAMP. September 2008
No. 28 Harm of plastics: From mice to men via monkeys: What more does one need to know about Bisphenol-A? September 2008
No. 27 How Harmful Are Bisphenol-A Plastics?August 2008.
No. 26 Bisphenol-A can harm adults, too! September 2008
No. 25 A fourth turf field on a U.S. military base in Germnay closes due to lead counts. August 2008.
No. 24 Turf fields at U.S. bases in Europe are being tested for lead; one is closed (August 2008).
No. 23 Among the fields closed in New Jersey, several are FieldTurf (July 2008).
No. 22 More New Jersey turf fields close due to lead (July 2008).
No. 21 Wayne (NJ) goes from yellow lines sto black on its turf soccer field due to lead (July 2008).
No. 20 WashingtonDC activists and officials worry about silica in turf fields (June 2008).
No. 19 U.S. military closes a turf field at base in South Korea (June 2008).
No. 18 Two more NJ turf fields are closed due to lead measurements (June 2008).
No. 17 Two more New Jersey turf fields (FieldTurf) close due to lead readings (June 2008).
No. 16 Stamford, Conn. High School turf field is closed due to lead (May 2008).
No. 15 Advice about protecting children from turf off-gassing and lead (May 2008).
No. 14 New York Department of Environmental Conservation will study artificial turf (April 2008).
No. 13 Mass. Dept. of Public Health will look closely into artificial turf (April 2008).
No. 12 NYC Council Health Committee discusses turf moratorium bill (April 2008).
No. 11 Another turf field closed for lead reading (April 2008).
No. 10 Warning signs at turf fields (April 2008).
No. 09 ABC News reports on turf field controversy (April 2008) - watch video.
No. 08 Concern over Bisphenol A from plastics in artifcial turf fields (April 2008).
No. 07 New Jersey finds lead in turf fields, closes a few fields, asks for Federal action (April 2008).
No. 06 Newark's Ironbound Field lead contamination-- update (March 2008).
No. 05 Lead contamination found on artificial turf field, facility closed (February 2008).
No. 04 "Hazardous chemicals in syntehtic turf: A research review," Crain & Zhnag (Decemebr 2007).
No. 03 "Artificial Turf: Exposure to ground Up Rubber Tires – Athletic Fields, Playgrounds, Garden Mulch," Environment & Human Health, Inc.’s Report (2007).
No. 02 Artificial turf causing skin disease (S. Korea, 2007).
No. 01 Synthetic turf fields will be cleaned up! (Italy, 2006).
[No. 57] Boxford, Massachusetts – BOH issues “precautionary” recommendations for use of artificial turf fields. According to a news report on WickedLocal (10 June 2016), on 25 may 2016, the Town of Boxford Board of Health issued the following recommendations:
1. Caution should be taken in playing on the artificial turf field at elevated temperatures due to the potential for heat stress, dehydration, and heat stroke; and the risk of exposure to volatilized PAH.
2. Coaches and managers should routinely encourage individuals who use the field to perform hand/body washing after playing on the field.
3. To avoid ingestion of crumb rubber particles, coaches and managers should strongly discourage eating and drinking out of open containers on the artificial turf field. Water and other liquids provided in containers with closable caps is encouraged to ensure good hydration, particularly in summer months when field temperatures may be high. If drinks are provided to players, they should be stored in a closed container at the edge of the artificial turf field.
4. Infants and toddlers should be discouraged from playing, crawling and rolling on the artificial turf field.
The recommendations come at the heel of “[a]n independent report [that] has shown that carcinogenic polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are present in the material chosen for the crumb rubber playing field for Boxford Common…. The Town of Boxford hired landscape architect Chris Huntress of Huntress Sports to oversee the Boxford Common project. Huntress provides all his clients with options for infill materials. Boxford was given eight choices including an extruded plastic pellet product called Thermoplastic elastomer; crumb rubber; coated sand; Nike grind, ground-up soles from athletic shoes; an organic combination of coconut husks and coconut peat; ground up bark from cork trees and rounded silica sand. The crumb rubber was the least expensive option at $50,000, followed by the rounded silica sand at $75,000 and then coated sand at $100,000. The coconut option was projected to cost $190,000.” Source: Linda Greenstein, “BOH suggests rules for use of crumb rubber field,” on Wicked Local,
[No. 56] Danger in topical treatments for artificial turf fields. In 2007, SynTurf.org ran a story about the turf industry’s response to the MRSA-related injuries suffered by athletes who played on artificial turf fields. While the field may or may not harbor the bacteria, nevertheless because players who play on artificial turf fields are more likely to get carpet burn (scrapes) and this makes them more prone to the bacteria that may pick up on the field or elsewhere. The industry’s response to this matter has been to apply antimicrobial substances to artificial turf fields. See http://www.synturf.org/industrynotes.html (No. 03) and also (No. 30, May 2010). In 2013, SynTurf.org also reported on the turf industry’s response to flammability of artificial turf’s plastic carpet and the crumb rubber infill—naturally, apply fire-retardant to the fields. Seehttp://www.synturf.org/warnings.html (Item No. 52) and also (Item No. 55, May 2014).
It is worth recalling that fire-retardants are toxic and antimicrobials are biocides—neither substance should be a part of products intimately in contact with children. According to a leading purveyor of artificial turf fields in the United States it has two fire-retardant—flame-guard infill pellets and fire-retardant fibers. The first product is installed as a very small top dressing layer to any field system in order to achieve a Class 1 rating for fire-retardant turf systems. The second product consists of flame-retardant artificial grass fibers. See http://www.fieldturf.com/en/artificial-turf/artificial-turf-news/fieldturf-launches-fire-retardant-infill-and-fiber-synthetic-turf-componentor click here. Fire retardants generally contain chemicals that are potentially dangerous to human health and for this the reason why their application to clothing ad furnishings like coaches and mattress is either banned or tightly regulated. To read more about hazards of fire- or flame-retardants, see The Collaborative on Health and the Environment http://www.healthandenvironment.org .
Antimicrobial and antibacterial products seems to be a necessity of modern life and medicine. Yet one ought to question the types of biocides that one applies to artificial turf fields that claim to kill more than bacteria and microbes. According to one manufacturer of antimicrobial systems, its product “microbial contamination can cause a variety of issues for synthetic turf systems including stains, odors, functionality and health concerns.” “This microscopic technology is effective against a wide array of bacteria, mold, fungi and algae.” “Unlike traditional disinfectants, [this product] will not wear or wash off due to exposure … [and] so there’s virtually no possibility of “super bugs” developing resistance.” Seehttp://www.astroturf.com/astroshield/ or click here. Should one expose children and perhaps adults too to such a potent biocide?
In 2011, SynTurf.org also ran a story about the possible presence of trifluralin in herbicides sued to slow down or eliminate the growth of weeds on artificial turf surfaces.The fact sheet on trifluralin per http://www.pan-uk.org/pestnews/Actives/Triflura.htm states that it is classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as Group C, possible human carcinogen. It is also an endocrine-disrupting chemical, according to both the UK Environment Agency and the World Wide Fund for Nature. See http://www.synturf.org/warnings.html (Item No. 50).
Lastly, the substances (chemicals of concern) that are present in tire crumb and its dust, and prone to volatilization and leaching, include no less than seven known carcinogens: (1) Styrene, a derivative of benzene, is a hazardous chemical and in its oxide form in the human body is considered toxic, mutagenic, and possibly carcinogenic. (2) Benzene is a well known cause of bone marrow failure and data also links it to aplastic anemia and acute leukemia, including lymphoblastic leukemia. (3) 1,3 Butadiene is listed as a known carcinogen by the Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry and the US EPA. (4) Butylated hydroxyanisole is suspected by the National Institutes of Health to be a human carcinogen based on evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals; it is associated papillomas and squamous cell carcinomas of the forestomach in rats and some hamsters—the State of California has listed it as a carcinogen. (5) Black carbon is a carcinogen and is associated with elevated mortality from lung cancer in the carbon black workers.(6) Ortho-toluidine (or o-toluidine) is a known human carcinogen. (7) Flouranthene (a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, PAH) is a carcinogen.
The question facing parents and players who wonder if playing on crumb rubber tire and plastic fields doused with topical biocides is not weather playing on artificial turf gives people cancer. The question, in the light of what we know players are exposed to when they play on artificial turf, is whether playing on artificial turf fields increases the risk of getting cancer or any other illness. The answer to that question is yes, even if for now there is no “causal link” established between playing on artificial turf fields and health (unassociated with biomechanics and dehydration). There is plenty of causal link between the substances that volatize, turn into dust, and leach from tire rubber and cancer and other illnesses.
The artificial turf industry is very fond of pointing to a number of “studies” and declare with confidence that the “The preponderance of evidence shows no negative health effects associated with crumb rubber in synthetic turf.” Most tests that have been done on synthetic turf fields (a) looked at single exposures; (b) none have reflected real life exposures to students and athletes or longitudinally; (c) most were not peer reviewed; (d) some where done or supported by the tire-and-rubber and artificial turf industries; (e) some were done by rubber/tire recycling organizations or agencies; (f) some looked to other studies and repeated their conclusions. Even a standard of proof as low as the preponderance of the evidence still requires that the evidence be admissible. When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof. The process of applying the precautionary principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action.
[No. 55] Fire-retardant turf products cause concern. In February 2013 we reported an item entitled “Fire-retardants add new toxins to artificial turf.” See item No. 52 below. Now comes news that recently one of the country’s artificial turf field companies, FieldTurf, has launch two fire-retardant artificial turf products—flame-guard infill pellets and fire-retardant fibers. The first product is installed as a very small top dressing layer to any FieldTurf system in order to achieve a Class 1 rating for fire-retardant turf systems. The second product consists of flame-retardant artificial grass fibers. See http://www.fieldturf.com/en/artificial-turf/artificial-turf-news/fieldturf-launches-fire-retardant-infill-and-fiber-synthetic-turf-component . This is all well except that fire-retardants contain chemicals that are hazardous to health and the environment. What is the potential for fire-retardant toxins to be absorbed into bodies of players and children?
[No. 54] Shingle Springs, California: Ponderosa High’s turf field deemed dangerous. According to a news report on KCRA (Sacramento, California) (9 April 2014), a grand jury report has concluded that the artificial turf filed at Ponderosa High School (in the El Dorado Union High School District) is “potentially dangerous” and “nothing has been done to make it right.” The grand jury report is available here. According to Neil Cunningham, foreman of the grand jury, “With this particular field, at this point in time, taxpayers did not get what they paid for.” At issue is the presence of “two rows of depressions on the football field’s surface, running the length of the field, according to the report. One of those depressions, roughly a yard wide, is an inch deep. The report stated the depressions are a ‘significant safety and liability issue.’” “Furthermore, the grand jury report stated the depressions ‘are a constant reminder to the taxpayers that they are paying for a potentially dangerous football field, and nothing has been done to make it right.’ Christopher Hoffman, the district superintendent, said he did not agree with those findings. ‘We do not come to that conclusion,’ Hoffman said.” Source: Mike TeSelle, “El Dorado Co. grand jury: HS football field 'potentially dangerous,'” on KCRA-TV (Sacramento, California), 9 April 2014, at http://www.kcra.com/news/el-dorado-co-grand-jury-hs-football-field-potentially-dangerous/25404086 .
SynTurf.org’s Note: Somewhere the God of Ironies must be smiling! Are not the dips and valleys and divots on the natural grass playing fields often the reasons cited by the purveyors of synthetic fields, boosters and parents, and policymakers why the natural grass fields should be converted to artificial turf? Where is the outrage now?!
[No. 53] Kinnelon, New Jersey: Worries over runoff from artificial turf filed containing carcinogenic pollutant. According to a news report in NorthJersey.com (24 October 2013), the October 17th meeting of the Kinnelon Borough Council that is considering installing an artificial turf field meeting at Kinnelon High School, heard from a resident, Camille Gaines, who called attention to the “impact an artificial turf field might have on local water quality.” “Gaines said a 2012 municipal water quality report showed an elevated level of trihalomethanes (THMs), a known pollutant that can be carcinogenic. According to the Kinnelon Water Department Annual Water Quality Report for 2012, THMs are disinfectant byproducts.” “Gaines said she is concerned that disinfectant would be used on artificial turf fields, which could further elevate the local levels of THMs. Source: Deborah Walsh, “Kinnelon resident concerned about disinfectant runoff associated with artificial turf,” on NorthJersey.com, 24 October 2013, at http://www.northjersey.com/news/229045691_Kinnelon_resident_concerned_about_disinfectant_runoff_associated_with_artificial_turf.html
According toWikipedia, some fire retardants contain chemicals that are potentially dangerous to the environment, such as PBDEs. Fire retardants used in objects such as carpets accumulate in humans. PBDE stands for Polybrominated diphenyl ethers; PBDEs are organobromine compounds that are used as flame retardant. Like other brominated flame retardants, PBDEs have been used in a wide array of products, including plastics, polyurethane foams, and textiles. They are structurally akin to the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other polyhalogenated compounds. PBDEs are classified according to the average number of bromine atoms in the molecule. The health hazards of these chemicals have attracted increasing scrutiny, and they have been shown to reduce fertility in humans at levels found in households. Their chlorine analogs are polychlorinated diphenyl ethers (PCDEs). Because of their toxicity and persistence, the industrial production of some PBDEs is restricted under the Stockholm Convention, a treaty to control and phase out major persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
[No. 50] Beware of trifluralin in herbicides, garden mulch, and perhaps artificial turf fields. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. April 24, 2011. Herbecides are found in some garden mulches and it may well be an ingredient in an herbicide that is used on artificial turf fields in order to kill the weeds that might otherwise grow out of the turf. The fact sheet on trifluralin per http://www.pan-uk.org/pestnews/Actives/Triflura.htm :
It is classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as Group C, possible human carcinogen. In a two-year study of rats fed 325 mg/kg per day, malignant tumours developed in the kidneys, bladder and thyroid. Because there is a possible increase in the risk of cancer to humans, the EPA's Lifetime Health Advisory level for trifluralin in drinking water of 5 micrograms per litre includes an additional safety margin. A concern about the carcinogenicity risk of occupational exposure to trifluralin is also acknowledged by the US EPA, with the stipulation that workers, particularly mixers, loaders, and applicators, should use personal protective equipment including coveralls, chemical-resistant gloves, shoes and socks. Post-application, workers should observe a 12 hour Restricted Entry Interval, a condition which is unlikely to be communicated or observed in developing countries. It is also an endocrine-disrupting chemical, according to both the UK Environment Agency and the World Wide Fund for Nature. These chemicals have adverse, “gender-bender” effects by interfering with the body's hormones, or chemical messengers, and are active at even miniscule levels. Loss of appetite and weight loss followed by miscarriages were observed when pregnant rats were fed 224 or 500 mg/kg per day. The persistence of trifluralin in agricultural soils following incorporation is highly variable, depending on several factors including depth of incorporation, soil moisture and temperature. Its persistence is categorised as “moderate” to “persistent”. Several field dissipation studies in northern latitudes in Canada indicated half-lives ranging from 126 to 190 days.
[No. 49] Rye, New York: CountryDay School shuts down artificial turf field. On October 19, 2009, the administration at RyeCountryDay School sent a letter to the parents announcing the temporary closure of the LowerSchool’s synthetic turf play area.
In part, the letter stated: “Recently the health and safety of synthetic turf has become a subject of nationwide discussion both in the news and among parents of school-age children.A focus of this concern is the presence of lead in the crumb rubber infill and/or the pigment used in the manufacturing process to color the synthetic turf fibers….
We recently conducted sample tests of the crumb rubber and turf fibers of the LowerSchool play area, using a process designed to test for whole lead content. We chose to sample the LowerSchool play area both because of its age (7 years) and its use by young children. The results of the preliminary tests showed lead concentrations below the established guidance level in the crumb rubber and above the guidance level in the pigment of turf fibers…. Given the preliminary fiber test results, we have decided to immediately conduct further testing of the LowerSchool play area that will determine whether the lead found in the turf fibers is transferable to people or to the environment. The School has commissioned this testing by a leading, independent environmental engineering company using standards developed by the state of California…. In light of the good physical condition of the LowerSchool play area and information from the manufacturer (FieldTurf), as well as synthetic turf reports from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Centers for Disease Control, we do not expect to find an unsafe condition involving lead exposure. Nonetheless, as a precaution, we will not allow students to use the LowerSchool synthetic turf play area while we conduct these further tests and until we receive the results.” For the full text of the letter click here.
[No. 48] Disinfecting the artificial turf fields: A new twist. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. September 13, 2009. In November of 2007 SynTurf.org featured an article entitled “Disinfecting the fields” ( http://www.synturf.org/industrynotes.html Item No. 3), which explored the relationship between the MRSA scare and sudden “advancement” in plastic fields treated with antimicrobials either at the factory or on site by the maintenance crew.
The Massachusetts Pest Control Act (General Laws, Chapter 132B) defines “Anti-microbial pesticide” as “a pesticide that is used for the control of microbial pests, including, but not limited to, viruses, bacteria, algae and protozoa, and is intended to disinfect, sanitize, reduce or mitigate growth or development of microbiological organisms. Anti-microbial pesticide shall not include any fungicide or pesticide used on plants, turf or other vegetation or for ornamental uses.” This provision was added to MPCA in 2000 when the state legislature enacted An Act Protecting Children and Families from Harmful Pesticides (Chapter 85 of Acts of 2000). The use of antimicrobial pesticides (MPCA) is regulated by the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture and Conservation. See generally http://www.mass.gov/agr/pesticides/index.htm .
The treatment of artificial turf fields with antimicrobials would not be as consternating an issue if it were not for the application of pesticide to an area in which children play. Pesticides have been linked to learning disorders, asthma, neurological disorders, organophosphate poisoning, cancer, and hormone disruption and chemical sensitization. They are particularly dangerous to children. Because, children have a faster metabolic rate than adults, they incorporate toxic chemicals into their bodies at a quicker rate. Because children are smaller, therefore they are exposed to a higher level of toxic chemical per pound of body weight.
The 2000 amendments to Chapter 132B provide, among other things, “Whenever pesticides are to be sprayed, released, deposited or applied outdoors at a school, day care center or school age child care program, the school administration, day care center operator or school age child care program operator shall ensure that employees, pupils or supervised children and their parents or guardians receive standard written notification, as defined in section 2, at least two working days before pesticides are sprayed, released, deposited or applied, provided that such spraying, release, deposit or application of pesticides shall not commence prior to the approximate dates set forth on the standard written notification, and shall not conclude more than 72 hours after such approximate dates.”
The question is: What is being done by the authorities to provide notification to the protected persons under the pesticide control law when antimicrobials are being applied to artificial turf fields?
Lincoln School playground on fire - March 2009 - photo: Jaimie Winters
[No. 47] Rutherford, NJ: Flammable crumb rubber and rubber mulch are cause for concern. As reported here in April 2009 [ http://www.synturf.org/industrynotes.html (Item No. 21)], the recycling (or laundering) of used tires has been fueled also by the desire to minimize the potential for fires at tire dumps. However, changing a used tire into rubber mulch, rubberized playground surface, or crumb rubber for use in artificial turf fields does not necessarily alleviate the scourge of fires involving rubber. Rubber burns, period. It is flammable, period. It is also an accelerant when ignited, period. The cynical question for society then is whether it rather see rubber burn in playgrounds as an acceptable alternative to burning tires in a tired dump – or in incinerators, or co-generation plants – not that any of them should be done either.
The rubber mulch industry takes the position that it would take 500 degrees Fahrenheitfor rubber mulch to catch fire. That’s not that hard to achieve, as we know from Fahrenheit 451 that is the temperature at which paper burns, which can be achieved with a pocket magnifying glass. A discarded lit cigarette is 752 degrees F, a Bic lighter burns at 1977 F.
As the reports on vandalism attest, the vandalizing of turf fields by fire seem to be on the rise worldwide (see http://www.synturf.org/vandalism.html ). Just last April, 2009, we reported on an incident in South Carolina, where two juveniles applied a lighter to the rubber mulch under the playground equipment and set the place on fire, even though they tried initially to stomp out the origin [ http://www.synturf.org/vandalism.html (Item No. 15)].
According to a new report in the South Bergenite, in March, 2009, an 11-year old was charged for burning down the Lincoln School Playground in Rutherford, New Jersey. According to the police report, he placed a pile of leaves on the surface of the playground and deliberately lit it on fire with a lighter. The playground was installed in 2005 and was made of steel with a vulcanized rubber underlay. “Makers of the vulcanized rubber equipment contend it takes temperatures of 500 degrees to burn,” according to the report. Fire Chief Sean Walker said that “the extreme heat of the burning rubber was what caused the fire to cause so much damage so quickly.” Source: Jaimie Winters and Daniel O'Keefe, “11-year-old charged with arson,” in South Bergenite, March 24, 2009, available athttp://www.southbergenite.com/NC/0/2437.html . The video clip of the firefighters putting out the fire at Lincoln Scholl playground is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBdiHpKtP1I (You Tube) and also can be accessed from http://www.southbergenite.com/NC/0/2437.html .
The LincolnSchool inferno prompted the South Bergenite to test out the rubber inlay on the school district’s other rubber-based playground at WashingtonSchool. “Within seconds, a handful of the material that the fire was started with just a lighter turned to a small pile of burnt goo and ash.” The playground at WashingtonSchool remains open and so does one in Lyndhurst where officials there, immediately following the LincolnSchool fire, raised skepticism over its safety. The local officials however are not sold on the urgency of the matter as rubber mulch or inlay continues to cover the playgrounds. According to the report, some parents take comfort that their presence at the playgrounds and proximity of the fire station will ensure that children are not harmed if fiure broke out! Source: Michael Lamendola, “Lincoln School Playground Fire: EPA to investigate playground mulch,” in South Bergetine, on June 17, 2009, available athttp://webmail.aol.com/43524/aol/en-us/Suite.aspx.
[No. 46] Ridgefield, CT: Health Dept. posts signs at turf fields. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. June 7, 2009. Ridgefield has two artificial turf fields – one at the high school and the other at a middle school. Were it not for the work of a group of citizens, the town would have added three more turf fields to the landscape; the referendum on the project failed to carry in February 2008. http://www.synturf.org/sayno.html (Item No. 11). The group, Ridgefielders for Grass Fields still felt it was necessary to continue building public awareness on the potential risks of the existing fields. So, several members of the group have been working diligently with the First Selectmen, Selectwoman Masters and the Health Department to post warning signs at the existing fields. The signs were posted this week:
Town of Ridgefield Dept. of Health
The Town of Ridgefield encourages all those using artificial turf fields to observe the following recommendations:
Wash hands and exposed body parts aggressively after playing on fields
Turn clothes inside out as soon as possible to avoid tracking dust to other locations.
Keep beverages closed and in bags/coolers when not drinking to minimize contamination from filed dust and fibers.
Be aware of signs of heat-related illness and dehydration. Fields can get excessively hot on warm, sunny days. Take all necessary precautions.
For more information, visit: www.ridgefieldct.org/turf
Unlike other signs seen before, the Ridgefield signs also refer the residents to an address on the town’s website (www.ridgefieldct.org) where more information be can be obtained about turf. “We are pleased to see that our efforts paid off and the signs were installed this week,” wrote Elizabeth Butler in an e-mail to SynTurf.org. The link ridgefieldct.org/turf will be operational soon.
[No. 44] Turf fiber could cause gastrointestinal blockage. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. April 12, 2009. A number of news items this season contained ideas about using artificial turf fibers to do up that Easter basket or Easter egg hunt in the back yard. One idea suggested that one line the inside of the basket with turf fiber, as a decorative item. We would have not made much of this until we read a news item in the North Shore News (Canada). According to The Humane Society of Canada, “Other things to keep in mind around Easter are the treats and decorations that could cause problems for pets. Chocolate, found in abundance in many homes at Easter, can be deadly for pets.
[No. 43] Fort Lauderdale, Florida: University professor rips artificial turf.SynTurf.org, Newton, MA. April 5, 2009. In last week’s SynTurf.org we reported on the municipality ofDeerfield Beach City, Florida, where a City Commission banned the use of artificial turf in landscaping.http://www.synturf.org/sayno.html (Item No. 46 - March 29, 2009). Perhaps gone un-noticed by the readers is the testimony of Philip Busey, associate professor of environmental horticulture at the University of Florida, Fort Lauderdale Research and EducationCenter. What he told the Commission is worth its own attention: As reported by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “According to his research, real grass filters water as it seeps into the aquifer, provides wildlife habitat and shade, sequestration of carbon dioxide and generation of oxygen. Busey stated green carpeting, by whatever definition, provides none of those. Artificial turf breeds infectious organisms, heats up to temperatures that are 87 degrees warmer than asphalt and 86 degrees warmer than natural turf, according to Busey. Considering artificial turf as an alternative to a grassed landscape is similar to considering a green cardboard cutout of a tree as an alternative to a tree, Busey pointed out in his document.” Source: Elizabeth Roberts, “City pulls rug from artificial turf owners,” in South Florida Sun-Sentinel (March 26, 2009), available at http://www.sun-sentinel.com/community/news/deerfield_beach/sfl-fldffturf0326dffmar26,0,7264397.story .
[No. 42] Westport, CT: In combating health risks from turf, town unveils the a new weapon – warning signs!March 15, 2009. According to a news story in the Westport News (March 11, 2009), the Westport Soccer Association hosted its 29th annual invitational soccer tournament this weekend. The venue: The artificial turf field at BedfordMiddle School. On display was also signs encouraging the players to take certain precautions during and after their games. Here is a sampling: After playing on the field, individuals are encouraged to perform aggressive hand and body washing for at least 20 seconds using soap and warm water. Clothes worn on the field should be taken off and turned inside out as soon as possible to avoid tracking contaminated dust to other places. Eating while on the field is discouraged. Avoid contaminating drinking containers with dust and fibers from the field. When not drinking, close them and keep them in a bag, cooler or other covered container on the side of the field. Source: Frank Luongo, “Turf precautions in place for youth soccer tournament,” in Westport News, March 11, 2009, available at http://www.westport-news.com/ci_11886529 . For one of the signs posted at a Westport school turf facility, seehttp://www.synturf.org/forbiddenfields.html (March 2009).
SunTurf.org Note:In the Westport News story on this item reference is made to one Parks and Recreation Director, Stuart McCarthy, who “such signage has been posted on the four synthetic turf fields in Westport for many months,” but could not recall the exact date of the installations of the signs, but thought it was probably last spring! This fellow has been ingesting way too many of the crumb rubber cocktails that dull the senses – Mr. McCarthy, the CDC advisory that prompted Westport and other communities to start posting warning signs at turf fields was issued in June 2008. I do not recall, any official in Connecticut jumping the gun on this one.
[No. 41] Menlo Park, Calif: Environmental impact review says turf could have hazardous effects. The HillviewMiddle School in Menlo Park is undergoing renovations. One “amenity” to be added to the site consists of an artificial turf field. According to a news report in the Palo Alto Daily News (February 21, 2009), the environmental review of the whole project “indicates there could be hazardous effects from the turf and recommends that the school ‘air out’ the field prior to installation and post signs around it encouraging players to wash their hands after using it.” Source: By Mike Rosenberg, “Major traffic problems to stem from Menlo Park school's renovation,” in Palo Alto Daily news, February 21, 2009, available at http://www.mercurynews.com/peninsula/ci_11759762
SynTurf.org Note: As reported in the news story referenced above, in making the announcement on Tuesday night (February 10, 2009), the chairman of Needham Board of Selectmen,James Healy, said “the polyethylene and rubber fields pose no hazard to humans, unlike fields made out of nylon, which have been found to contain lead.” Some body should have reminded Healy of the recent testing in polyethylene fields in Concord (Mass.), a location in New Jersey and another in New York City that tested positive for lead – none of them were “nylon.”
The dumbing down of information – misinformation or outright lies -- about turf fields is commonplace by officials. Here is another example of misinformation by Healy: According to him fake grass requires less maintenance, and the implication is that the municipality saves money on maintenance. In the face of a realistic life-cycle cost accounting method, natural grass actually comes out cheaper. Here is another misinformed gem – by the director of parks and recreation, patty Carey: “Athletes do need to take precaution not to become overheated on the fields in the summer months, Carey said. Artificial fields are known to be absorb sunlight and become few degrees warmer at foot level than natural fields.” A few degrees warmer? A few degrees! Five degrees is a few degrees. Ten degrees, twenty, thirty up to sixty degrees difference in temperature is not a few degrees. SynTurf.org visited the turf field at Memorial Park in Needham and was overtaken by the stench of heated crumb rubber that permeated the air. While players can stay off the heated stinky surface, the abutters are condemned to bear the heat island and its smell.
[No. 39] Connecticut: Toxins-in-turf warning goes before the legislature.According to a news report in the Westport News (January 23, 2009), State Rep. Kim Fawcett and five co-signers have a bill in the current session of the General Assembly that would require existing turf fields to “post a notice warning of toxins contained in the rubber and advising athletes to wash their hands after playing on such fields.” Source: Frank Luongo, “Health Department commits to peer review of turf risk assessment - Toxin-warning measure reaches legislature in turf moratorium bill,” in Westport News, January 23, 2009, available at http://www.westport-news.com/ci_11536734 .
[No. 38] Sacramento, Calif.: Maldonado says playing on turf is a like playing on “a giant used Band-Aid.” According to a news item in San Jose Mercury Post (January 12, 2009), State Senator Abel Maldonado, “who has three young sons, is alarmed about germs and bacteria. Once turf is installed, there’s no regulations about how to clean or disinfect it. Kids bleed, sweat and spit on turf fields during sports; dogs poop on them at night.” Maldonado said, “Blood, sweat, skin cells and other materials can remain on the turf because the fields are not washed or cleaned. It’s like playing on a giant used Band-Aid. I’m not against turf, but I want to make sure that it’s totally safe for kids. The parents at Trace have a right to raise concerns.” Maldonado introduced legislation last year, wanting the “state agencies must conduct a study about the health and environmental impacts of synthetic turf fields,” according to the Post. For more on this story, see Dana Hull, “Sen. Abel Maldonado says state must study health impacts of increasingly-popular turf fields, saying they are like playing on ‘a giant used Band-Aid’,” in San Jose Mercury News, January 12, 2009, available at http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/breaking_news/story/585213.html . For background information about Maldonado and his efforts, seehttp://www.synturf.org/moratoriums.html (Item No. 7) and http://www.synturf.org/wrapuparticles.html (item No. 6)
[No. 37] Seoul, South Korea: Carcinogens found in school turf field.The Korea Times reported on December 22, 2008, “Substances that can cause cancer have been found in artificial turf at schools. According to an environmental group in Gyeonggi Province, Monday, a large amount of poisonous metals and other harmful materials were found in man-made lawns in the playgrounds of three schools inspected at the beginning of this month.” One school tested for 290 mg of lead, three times the allowed 90mg, and the other two measured 46.7mg and 810mg of polyaromatic hydrocarbon, which included Beazopyrene, respectively. “Heavy metals such as lead can cause health problems when swallowed or inhaled. At very high levels they can cause seizures, comas and even death. Beazopyrene – more than 10mg of which is dangerous – is a product of incomplete combustion that can cause skin cancer,” The Times reported. Source: Kank Shin-who, “Cancer-Causing Materials Found in School Turf ,” in The Korea Times, December 22, 2008, available at http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2008/12/117_36542.html (for PDF click here).
[No. 36] NYC: Park & Rec closes turf field due to lead.On December 22, 2008, The New York City’s Parks & Recreation Department took the extraordinary step of getting ahead of the news-cycle by issuing a press release (No. 140) at 5 PM stating that it was closing the artificial turf field at Thomas Jefferson Park in East Harlem. http://www.nyc.gov/parks. The statement from Commissioner Adrian Benepe said, “The Parks Department has temporarily closed a synthetic turf field at Thomas Jefferson Park in East Harlem after testing detected elevated lead levels.The source of the lead contamination is not known.The Parks Department is removing and replacing the turf at the field.The field will reopen when the replacement is complete.” As background, the statement disclosed that “The average level of lead detected at Thomas Jefferson was approximately 500 parts per million (ppm). The EPA standard for bare soil in children's play areas- 400 ppm - is intended to protect children under six who may ingest lead in soil during play.There is no applicable standard for lead in turf, so the Parks Department is acting on the EPA's bare soil in children's play areas guideline. The EPA standard for bare soil in non-play areas is 1,200 ppm.” For a copy of the statement click here. In July 2008 NYC’s Parks & Rec Department had announced that it render the turf fields in the city free of crumb rubber-- seehttp://www.synturf.org/crumbrubber.html (Item No. 26).
On the basis of the information contained in A New Turf War: Synthetic Turf in New York City Parks, a park policy paper by New Yorkers for Parks (Spring 2006 Special Report), at page 10, the artificial turf field at ThomasJeffersonPark, a FieldTurf product, was installed in 2003. For the report click here. The installation cost $1 million and now it must be replaced. It is not bad enough that our urban youth have little to consider in the way of natural grass environments. Now they are condemned to play in this mire of crumb rubber and plastic fields as if they are being done a favor!
[No. 35] Tacoma, Washington: KOMO TV 4 News says, “Link between cancer, artificial turf questioned.” On December 16, 2008, Keith Eldridge of KOMO (SeattleWashington) reported on a cluster of soccer players at TacomaHigh School who have been diagnosed with cancer. There have been tests that have shown the presence of carcinogens in artificial turf fields. However, because this is the first time that SynTurf.org has come across a story that raises a suspicion of an epidemiological connection between artificial turf and actual cancer, it is best if the article is reproduced in its entirety:
TACOMA, Wash. -- A high school soccer star's dream of playing college soccer has been blocked by cancer, and his situation has rekindled the debate over whether artificial turf is somehow responsible.
Luke Beardemphl was a 4-year letterman on the varsity soccer team at Tacoma's StadiumHigh School sought after by the likes of OregonState and the AirForceAcademy before settling on the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
"I mean, I thought it would be an awesome place to go to school and to play soccer," he said.
But instead of the islands, Beardemphl is heading to the FredHutchinsonCancerResearchCenter for treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was diagnosed last summer.
"I didn't know what to think at the time. I'd never been diagnosed with cancer before," he said.
But Beardemphl's parents soon found out that other soccer players had been diagnosed.
"His keeper coach knows eight," said his mother, Stephanie Beardemphl, "eight players that he has personally worked with who now have cancer."
They now wonder if it could have something to do with the artificial turf they play on.
The Federal Centers for Disease Control has recommended that some artificial turf athletic fields be tested for lead.
And there's concern about the little granules of ground up tires that contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that could be getting into the players' systems.
Beardemphl says the granules stick to the ball.
"I'll catch it. It'll stop the ball but not the pellets. They'll go into my face, go into my eyes, my mouth," said Luke.
But just this last summer the Consumer Product Safety Commission took a hard look at artificial turf and determined that it was safe.
The makers of FieldTurf say the digestive system is not powerful enough to extract the chemical components from the rubber.
That's little consolation for a young soccer star who'll celebrate Christmas early because he goes in for four months of treatment two days before the holiday, wondering if the sport he loves so much is doing him harm.
A recent effort to ban the artificial turf at BainbridgeHigh School failed, and efforts in several other states to ban the turf have also failed.
[No. 34] Philip Landrigan, M.D., M.Sc: Artificial turf fields pose safety issues. Philip J. Landrigan is professor of pediatrics and director of the Children's Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. On December 11, 2008, he penned the following regarding the perils of artificial turf in connection with a project in his neck of the woods (Mamaroneck, New Jersey):
"I urge the Irvington school district not to adopt the use of artificial turf until further examination.
There are several hundred artificial turf fields on the East Coast. Towns and school districts installed them to improve the quality of playing fields and accommodate sports programs. However, they were pursued without analysis of potential negative consequences. A number of these very expensive fields have been installed and we are suddenly, and belatedly, beginning to realize they may lead to health problems, such as:
1. Extreme heat. On hot summer days, temperatures of over 130 degrees Fahrenheit have been recorded a few feet above the surface of synthetic turf fields - the altitude where children play. Vigorous play in these conditions conveys a very real risk of heat stress or heat stroke.
2. MRSA skin infections. Outbreaks of skin infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus have been documented in children who play on synthetic turf fields (New England Journal of Medicine, February 2005).
3. Chemical hazards to human health and the environment. Crumb rubber, a major component of current generation synthetic turf fields, is typically made from ground-up recycled tires containing styrene and 1, 3-butadiene, the major constituents of synthetic rubber. Styrene is toxic to the nervous system, and butadiene is a proven human carcinogen.
Lead was recently found in synthetic turf fields in New Jersey at levels so high that several fields were closed by the state Health Department. Citizens and school boards should question the wisdom of installing synthetic turf until a credible independent study has been conducted and published."
[No. 33] Northern Valley Board of Education, New Jersey, restricts use of turf fields by 7 and under. On August 19, 2008, the Northern Valley Board of Education (Old Tappan and Demarest, New Jersey) resolved the following relative to Northern Valley Regional High School synthetic turf athletic fields:
Be it resolved that the Board of Education approves the use of the synthetic turf athletic fields beginning August 20, 2008 based on the US Consumer Products Safety Commission guidelines which suggest washing hands after using the fields.
The Board continues to restrict the use of the fields to any children under the age of 7 years old. The synthetic fields are open for high school programs only at this time and use by other groups will be discussed at a future meeting.
[No. 32]Chicago, Ill.: The Great Lakes Centers for Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health raises question about lead in artificial turf. The Great Lakes Centers for Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health (http://www.uic.edu/sph/glakes/) is the local affiliate of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NBC TV 5 (Chicago, Illinois) reported on November 3, 2008, The Great Lakes Centers for Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health has issued the following statement: “We advise that the City of Chicago should conduct an assessment of the environmental health risks of the artificial turf field in Lincoln Park before continuing with its installation. We believe that the data collected by multiple researchers and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demonstrate the need to conduct such a risk assessment. Until a risk assessment is conducted we strongly urge park planners to stick with regular grass fields instead of installing a product that may harbor bacteria, function as a heat sink, and may contain chemicals which are hazardous to children.” Source: Matt Bartosik, “‘Leaded’ Questions about Lincoln Park Soccer Field,” in NBC TV 5, November 3, 2008, available at
[No. 31] What’s with the phthalates in turf? Phthalates are chemical additives that render hard plastics flexible. Previously, SynTurf.org reported on phthalates coming up in tests of crumb rubber infill that is used on artificial turf fields. Seehttp://www.synturf.org/crumbrubber.html (Nos. 5 and 6) andhttp://www.synturf.org/warnings.html (No. 12). According to an item in the Wall Street Journal (October 23, 2008), “Once omnipresent in plastic toys, phthalates have been used in everything from action figures to vinyl inner tubes. But the industrial chemicals began to fall out of favor after a number of studies linked them to genital development problems in rodents, a finding eventually correlated to human infants.” Beginning in February 2009 three types of phthalates “will be banned from children's toys and child-care products” and “three other types of phthalates will be temporarily prohibited from child-care products and toys that can be placed in a child's mouth.” For more of the WSJ story go to Nicholas Casey and Melanie Trotman, “Toys Containing Banned Plastics Still on Market: Restrictions on Phthalates Don't Take Effect Until '09; Fears of Reproductive Defects,” in Wall Street Journal, October 23, 2008, available at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122472242723860917.html.
SynTurf.org Note: Is there any legal excuse for artificial turf fields? While crumb rubber is shown to contain phthalates, the turf industry ought to show that turf fibers do not contain phthalates.
[No. 30] Toxic Lead in Synthetic Turf.William Crain is a professor of psychology at the City College of New York. Through earlier articles in Rachel’s Democracy & Health News (#873 and #902), Dr. Crain was among the first to alert the U.S. public to possible toxicants in synthetic turf. Dr Carin’s work have recievd considerable attention in the pages of SynTurf.org. See, for example, http://www.synturf.org/lead.html (Item No. 12 - September 4, 2008). The following is the summary of his latest piece entitled “Toxic Lead in Synthetic turf,” published in Rachel’s Democracy & Health News #979, October 2, 2008, available at http://www.precaution.org/lib/08/ht081002.htm :
"After high levels of lead were detected in an old synthetic turf field in Newark, New Jersey, further research suggested that high levels of lead were present in other old style artificial turf fields. Researchers have sometimes found lead in new generation turf fibers as well. These concentrations have been extremely high in yellow fibers that mark field boundaries, but lead has sometimes showed up in the more common green fibers, too. In addition, low-to-moderate levels of lead have consistently been detected in the new generation turf's rubber granules."
"Because even low levels of lead can harm children's neurocognitive development, it's important to know the lead's bioaccessibility -- the fractions of lead in turf materials that can be dissolved in digestive fluids. Initial studies suggest that the lead in the old style turf fibers, as well as the lead in the new generation turf fibers and rubber granules, does dissolve in synthetic digestive fluids. The results suggest that researchers take a closer look at the possibility that children and athletes might ingest synthetic turf materials and that the lead in the materials is absorbed in the digestive tract and enters the blood."
Dr. Crain’s article discusses artificial grass fibers in old and new generation turf, bioaccessibility of lead from the new generation turf’s rubber granules and its effect on human health, and institutional responses to the emerging research about the possible harm from artificial turf fields. For the full text of the article, go to http://www.precaution.org/lib/08/ht081002.htmorclick here.
[No. 29] Rochester, New York: “Artificial turf poses a health threat,” warns RAMP. According to a report (September 25, 2008) by Rochester’s Public Broadcasting System (WXXI), the Rochestarians Against the Misuse of Pesticides (RAMP) “is calling on schools to “go green” when it comes to pest control. “They are also renewing their call that synthetic turf poses a health threat,” reports WXXI. According to the report, Judy Braiman, who founded RAMP, is of the opinion that “there’s no such thing as ‘safe’ artificial turf.” RAMP “tested synthetic turf and found hazardous waste amounts that exceed the limitation set by state for Brownfiedls,” according to Braiman. “She says children are playing on hazardous waste sites,” WXXI reported. Braiman and members of RAMP are challenging schools with the new synthetic turf to test their fields for a wide range of chemicals,” according to WXXI. RAMP says schools should use natural turf, without pesticides. Source: Alex Crichton, “Group calls on schools to go pesticide-free,” on WXXI (PBS station inRochester, New York), September 25, 2008, available at http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wxxi/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=1374505§ionID=1 .
[No. 28] Harm of plastics: From mice to men via monkeys: What more does one need to know about Bisphenol-A? September 7, 2008. For background see items Nos. 8, and 26-27 on this page (below). Nobody knows, as yet, how much bisphenol-A or other harmful plasticizer is there in artificial turf fields. In case there is – according to an article in The Washington Post (September 4, 2008), “Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine have linked a chemical found in everyday plastics to problems with brain function and mood disorders in monkeys -- the first time the chemical has been connected to health problems in primates. The study is the latest in an accumulation of research that has raises concerns about bisphenol A, or BPA, a compound that gives a shatterproof quality to polycarbonate plastic and has been found to leach from plastic into food and water.” “In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Yale team exposed monkeys to levels of bisphenol A deemed safe for humans by the Environmental Protection Agency and found that the chemical interfered with brain cell connections vital to memory, learning and mood.” “Our findings suggest that exposure to low-dose BPA may have widespread effects on brain structure and function," the authors wrote. In contrast to earlier research on rodents, the Yale researchers studied monkeys to better approximate the way BPA might affect humans.” “Our goal was to more closely mimic the slow and continuous conditions under which humans would normally be exposed to BPA," said study author Csaba Leranth, a Yale professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences and of neurobiology.” “For more on this story, please go to Lyndsey Playton, “Chemical in plastic is connected to health problems in monkeys,” in Washington Post, September 4, 2008, Page A2, available at
[No. 27] How Harmful Are Bisphenol-A Plastics?In an article in August 2008 edition of Scientific American, the author Adam Hinterthuer reports on the accidental discovery made by a geneticist-turned-toxicologist named Patricia Hunt at Case Western Reserve University. She discovered that Bisphenol-A (BPA), an estrogen mimic, was leaching from polycarbonate plastics, which harmed her lab mice. To read more on this, go to Adam Hinterthuer, “Just How Harmful Are Bisphenol-A Plastics,” in Scientific American, August 2008, available athttp://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=just-how-harmful-are-bisphenol-a-plastics.
[No. 25]Illesheim, Germany:A fourth turf field on a U.S. military base closes due to elevated lead counts. On August 14, 2008, a lead test was conducted on the artificial turf field at the U.S. Army Garrison, Ansbach’s Storck Barracks in Illesheim, Bavaria, Germany. It showed lead levels above the recommended level for lead, according to the garrison’s public affairs office. According to a news story in Stars and Stripes, this is the fourth playground at a U.S. base in Germany to test above recommended levels for lead, after playgrounds in Grafenwöhr, Baumholder and Kaiserslautern’s Kleber Kaserne. The Illeheim facility is now closed until the playground is replaced. Source: “High lead levels detected in turf on playground at Storck Barracks,” in Stars and Stripes, September 2, 2008, available at http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=57139 .
[No. 24] Baumholder, Germany: Turf fields at U.S. bases in Europe are being tested for lead; one is closed. According to a news story in The Stars and Stripes, the Installation Management Command-Europe said on Friday, August 1, 2008, the Smith barracks ChildDevelopmentCenter playground “has been declared off limits after artificial turf at the site tested above the recommended permissible level for lead.” The recommended level of lead is47 microgram per square-foot. The playground came in at 56 and 148 micrograms per square-foot. According to IMCOM, the surface was immediately ripped up. Based on a CDC advisory, recently IMCOM-Europe order the testing of artificial turf fields at the U.S. military installations across Europe. The U.S. Army Center for health Promotion and Preventive Medicine-Europe is looking into samples from six other U.S. instllations – Bamberg, Schinnen, Kaiserslautern and Grafenwöhr in Germany, and Vicenza andLivorno in Italy. Source: John Vandiver, “Baumholder playground shuttered over lead concerns,” in Stars and Stripes, August 2, 2008, available at http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=56526 .
[No. 23] Among the fields closed in New Jersey, several are FieldTurf. According to a news story in USA Today, the fields closed Demarest and Old Tappan “were FieldTurf synthetic fields.” Also “the HasbrouckHeightsSchool District closed one FieldTurf athletic field but decided to keep another open after it received a clean bill of health.” The
Superintendent of HasbrouckHeightsSchool District, Joseph Luongo, said he is waiting for the results of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's ongoing evaluation of lead in artificial turf, before deciding to reopen the closed field. “I decided to close the field until I get something concrete from someone in authority. I first went to the New Jersey Department of Health. They referred me to the federal government.”
[No. 22] More turf fields close in New Jersey. On Thursday, July 3, 2008, the authorities in Ridgefield, New Jersey, closed indefinitely the turf field at Willis Park when it was learned that the field contained 30 times more lead than the state standard for the substance in soil. For details go to Merry Firschein, “Lead forces Ridgefield to close park,” in The Record (Northern New Jersey), July 3, 2008, available at http://www.northjersey.com/health/Lead_forces_Ridgefield_to_close_field.html .
With the closings at Hasbrouk Heights and Ridgefield, so far nine turf fields have been closed in New Jersey due to concern over lead. The others include Ramapo and Indian Hills, Dermaset and Old Tappan, The College of New Jersey, Frank Sinatra Park, and Ironbound Field. http://www.synturf.org/warnings.html (Item Nos. 5, 6, 7, 17 and 18).
[No. 21] New Jersey turf field changes soccer stripes to reduce lead. The Board of Education in Wayne, New Jersey, has decided to change the color of the stripes (lines) on its soccer field from yellow to black, over concerns about he yellow stripes containing high levels of lead. For more on this story, go to Andrea Alexander, “Wayne changes its soccer stripes for reduced lead,” in The Record, July 8, 2008, available at http://www.northjersey.com/health/Wayne_changes_its_soccer_stripes_for_reduced_lead.html .
[No. 20] WashingtonDC: Community activists and officials are alarmed over turf’s silica content. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. June 26, 2008. According to WUSA9, a group of concerned parents, coaches and community leaders are calling on the District to put a stop to the $54 million renovation of nearly a dozen high school fields with artificial turf. The activists are concerned about a material in the artificial turf used to refurbish fields at six high schools. "We would like to get the Department of the Environment and the EPA to investigate the situation," said Councilmember Marion Barry. Marvin Tucker, Assistant Football Coach at AnacostiaHigh School, said "We have sent a letter to Mayor Fenty and to Chancellor Michelle Rhee to cease and desist any further construction with this particular field." What concerns the activists and officials is that the mix that acts like a cushioning agent and ballast for artificial turf consists of crumb rubber and silica sand. According to WUSA9, “Dangerous levels of silica depend on the size of the sand particles, according to Dr. David Goldsmith at GeorgeWashingtonUniversity's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health. He is one of the nation's leading experts on the link between silica exposure and cancer.”
Barry and Tucker “point to other studies as cause for alarm such as sandblasting. There have been a number of lawsuits in recent years where workers have developed silicosis, a lung disease caused by inhalation of fine silica particles over long periods of time. They are asking the government to put a halt to using Field Turf until they receive test results proving children are not being exposed.” To read more of this story, go to
[No. 19] South Korea: U.S. military closes one turf field after it tests positive for elevated lead level. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. June 22, 2008. According to a report in the Stars and Stripes, the recent investigation oflead in artificial turf fields at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has prompted the testing of turf fields at the various U.S. camps and bases in South Korea. The U.S. military’s independent news source, reports that elevated lead levels were found in three synthetic turf fields -- one each at Camp Henry (Taegu), Camp Casey (Tongduchon) and Yongsan Garrison (Seoul). These field serve the servicemen as well as and their families who are stationed in the various camps and bases.
The lead level at CampHenry measured a count of 771 milligrams per kilogram, while the levels at Yongsan field measured 153 mg and 68 mg at field at CampCasey. Accordingly, the field at CampHenry is now closed. “Anything above 400 milligrams per kilogram is considered significant,” according to Dr. (Maj.) Remington Nevin, of the18th Medical Command’s preventive medicine section. “The primary risk is to younger children prone to hand-to-mouth activities,” he told the Stars and Stripe.
According to the manufacturer’s technical data, the fields were to be free of heavy metals when installed. But according to Installation Management Command spokesman Ed Johnson, “lead chromate is an ingredient in some pigments used to make synthetic turf. When exposed to the elements, the lead may separate and bond with dust. Lead may also come from the rubber cushioning the grass underneath.”
“Lead should be avoided by adults but is more likely to cause health problems if ingested by children 6 years old or younger,” Nevin told the Star and Stripes, “Parents can minimize lead exposure to children by keeping shoes off while in the home, vacuuming with a HEPA filter, cleaning off dust, washing hands and encouraging proper hygiene.”
According to Star and Stripes, the CampHenry field was finished in 2007. The CampCasey field was built in 2006, and the Yongsan field was finished in 2001. Larry Pazyra, 18th Medical Command industrial hygiene supervisor, took 175 total samples from the 12 fields at U.S. camps during initial testing. The samples were sent to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, which contracted the testing to Microbac Laboratories in Baltimore.
Source: Erik Slavin (co-contributors Allison Batdorff and Travis J. Tritten), “Lead found at South Korea sports fields; CampHenry facility is closed,” in Stars & Stripes, June 22, 2008, available at http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=55691(co-contributors to the article Allison Batdorff and Travis J. Tritten).
[No. 18] Northern New Jersey: Turf at Ramapo and Indian Hills high schools test positive for lead; closed to summer sports. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. June 22, 2008. The Record reports the artificial turf field at RamapoHigh School has measured up to six times the state standard of 400 milligrams of lead per kilogram for residential soil. The content at IndianHillsHigh School’s field was up to seven times the state standard. The fields at Ramapo, which is in FranklinLakes, and Indian Hills, in Oakland, will be closed to summer sports camps, district Superintendent Paul Saxton said. “We’re not going to be using either of our fields until we complete further testing,” Saxton said. The results will not be available for several days. Source: John A. Gavin, Karen Sudol and Mathew van Dusen, “Tests find lead on more ballfields,” in The record, June 17, 2008, available at http://www.northjersey.com/environment/environmentnews/ALERT_Tests_find_lead_on_more_ballfields.html?c=y&page=1 .
[No. 17]Demarset and Old Tappan (Bergen County), New Jersey: Elevated levels of lead found on FieldTurffields. SynTurf.org. Newton, Mass. June 11, 2008. Following the recent spat of turf field closings in New Jersey, the officials of the Northern ValleyRegional School District decided to take a look at their fields. According to a news story in The Record (Northern New Jersey publication) “Concentrations of lead in fibers from the green-colored synthetic turf at the Demarest school’s field were about 15 times the state standard for residential soil — 6,300 milligrams of lead per kilogram of fiber over the state standard for soil of 400 milligrams of lead. A sample taken of the green turf fibers of Old Tappan’s field was 10 times the state standard.” Demarset and Ol Tappan are two boroughs in Bergen County.
According to the Record, “The state recommends restricting the use of fields for children under the age of 7. If the fields are used, they should be watered down to suppress dust and hand, body and clothes should be washed thoroughly. The most conservative recommendation is to close the field.” “We want to take every precaution to find out exactly what we have… before we let anybody go back on the fields,” said Ray Jacobus, the assistant superintendent for business.
The fields in question are FieldTurf brand, not the old AstroTurf that was cited earlier by the state for elevated levels of lead in its nylon fiber dust. According to the Record, in a statement FieldTurf Tarkett of Montreal, Canada, which installed both Northern Valley fields six years ago, said the company was “astonished’’ by the findings.
The tests of two samples from each of the two Northern Valley fields were conducted on May 21, 2008 by Environmental Remediation & Management, Inc. of Trenton. Each field had one sample with elevated lead levels. On June 6, 2008, Superintendent Jan Furman closed the fields. According to the Record, “ER&M is performing more tests at the two fields: of the sand underneath the fields to determine if lead has leached beneath the turf and on dust from the field, which is collected from shoes. Results should be available by the end of the week.”
[No. 16] Stamford, Conn.: Boyle Stadium turf field at Stamford High School is closed due to lead. According to the Stamford Advocate, on Friday, May 9, 2008, the artificial turf at Stamford High School's Boyle Stadium was closed “indefinitely … after tests revealed lead in its nylon fibers at levels about eight times those deemed safe.” “Two labs, Brooks Environmental Consulting LLC of Norwalk and Schneider Laboratories of Richmond, Va., found lead at nearly 4,000 parts per million in samples of the field's turf. About 500 parts per million is the maximum for a safe level of exposure, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The pad beneath the turf was tested, but the lead levels were only about 120 parts per million.” The field is 11 years old and “nearly at the end of its life,” according to Dr. Johnnie Lee, the city's director of health. “Lee said some communities opt to keep such fields open and use methods to control dust and encourage players to wash carefully after playing. He said the health effects of exposure to lead on fields like this are not really known. "We don't know," he said. "And because we don't know, we are erring on the side of being caution.” Monica Potts, “High lead levels close Boyle field," in The Stamford Advocate, May 10, 2008, available at http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/localnews/ci_9215435.
[No. 15] Protecting the child from turf dust and off-gassing risks.SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. May 4, 2008.
The New Jersey Health Department is studying whether lead from nylon artificial turf fibres can enter the body as easily as does lead in lead-based paint or contaminated soil. In the meantime, the department is recommending as a precaution that artificial turf be watered before and after use to suppress dust, that individuals "perform aggressive hand/body washing after use of these fields" and wash clothing used on the fields separately from other laundry. Michelle Lalonde, “Tale of the turf: Are our kids safe?,” in The Gazette (Montreal), May 4, 2008, available at http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=29268afe-33db-4367-b480-6477498524af&k=95862.
According to Nick Losito, Vancouver Coastal Health's regional director of health protection, if an athlete is predisposed to asthma or exercise-induced asthma, they should also keep an eye on their health. "Some of what might be off-gassed from the pellets and the material that's brushed into the turf, that might be something of a concern," he said. "If a parent sees the child has some kind of reaction after playing on turf, they should get that child to a doctor and also let us know what they've experienced." Naoibh O’Connor, “Synthetic turf fields under health risk scrutiny,” Vancouver Courier, April 30, 2008, available at http://www.canada.com/vancouvercourier/news/archives/search_results.html?searchtype=0&searchfor=Synthetic.
[No. 14]New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation is looking at turf fields. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. May 1, 2008. According to News Day, on April 30, 2008, the New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation announced that the state agency “took up the issue after state lawmakers raised concerns about potentially toxic and carcinogenic components -- such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and zinc -- in the rubber crumbs that cushion the fields.”
The DEC study was approved in November and “will use laboratory and field tests to assess whether the crumbs leach toxics into groundwater or release volatile chemicals into the air. Work should be completed by the end of the year,” according to the news story. At the same time, state health researchers are conducting a review of existing literature on crumb rubber fields. Dr. Philip Landrigan, chairman of the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan, said "We know the chemicals are there …. Where the debate really settles is whether they're getting from the fields into the kids, and whether they pose an actual hazard," according to News Day.
[No. 13] Massachusetts Department of Public Health is looking at artificial turf fields. The following video clip (Christina Hager “Artificial Turf May Pose Health Threat” April 29, 2008, WBZ-CBS TV 4 Boston - http://email@example.com - contains an interview withSuzanne K. Condon, the Associate Commissioner at the Mass. Dept. of Public Health’sCenter for Environmental Health. In response to reports of lead having been found in some artificial turf fields, Condon stated, “We will look closely at this … particularly [in relation to] young children.” The reporter Christina Hager, however, cites public officials as saying that lead is found only in the old-school type of turf made of nylon. Hager’s reporting is incomplete in that crumb rubber used in new generation of turf fields, including carpets made of poly material, also contains lead, in addition to high levels of phthalates and zinc.
Dr. David Carpenter
[No.12]Health Committee of the New York City Council meets about turf. SynTurf. org, Newton, Mass. April 29, 2008. Today, the health Committee of the New York City Council meet to discuss the artificial turf bill that is currently pending before the council. See here for background, http://synturf.org/moratoriums.html (Item No. 10).
David O. Carpenter is with the Environmental Health and Toxicology Division of School of Public Health at the University of Albany in New York. The result of his research on crumb rubber issues can be accessed viahttp://albany.edu/ihe/SyntheticTurfChemicalsdar.htm. In a telephone interview, today, Dr. Carpenter told SynTurf.org that in most of the samples that his team tested showed high levels of arsenic, phthalates, chrysene and other PAHs, zinc and cadmium. Arsenic was elevated and phthalates were very high. “But, not two samples turned up the same from sample to sample," he said. He confirmed that more studies are needed in order to get an exact picture of what is in the turf fields and how much of it at what levels of exposure could be harmful. Appearing before the Health Committee of the New York City Council today, Dr. Carpenter stressed the need for a moratorium so that studies can be conducted on turf field compounds.
What is chrysene? It is one of the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). According to Wikipedia, PAHs occur in oil, coal, and tar deposits, and are produced as byproducts of fuel burning, whether fossil fuel or biomass. As a pollutant, they are of concern because some compounds have been identified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic. Chrysene is suspected to be a human carcinogen. It is known to cause cancer in laboratory animals.
Phthalates are used as “plasticizer” which turns polyvinyl chloride from hard plastic to soft flexible plastic. On October 14, 2007, the governor of California signed into law a measure that banned phthalates in children’s products. See Reuters report on the subject at http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSN1443724320071015.
[No. 11]North Syracuse turf field bites the dust. On April 21, 2008, the Superintendent of North Central Syracuse School District closed the artificial turf field at the Cicero-NorthSyracuseHigh School due to high levels of lead in the artificial turf fibers. The test result showed lead levels similar to the fields that have been closed in New Jersey. For details see, Sapna Kollali, “High lead levels in turf close C-NS field,” April 23, 2008, available at http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf?/base/news-14/120894131115030.xml&coll=1.
The field in North Syracuse as well as the three that have been closed in New Jersey are said to be made with nylon fibers marketed under the name AstroTurf. There is speculation thus far that the lead reading from the fiver dust were due to the lead chromate that may have been used to give the carpet fiber its color. There may other factors that account for lead readings in artificial turf fields, which include lead resident in crumb rubber used as ballast and cushioning material, rubber mat substrate, or perhaps in the nylon or polyethylene material. One cannot claim, as some do in the interest of commerce, that a product does not contain lead or, for that matter, excessive amounts of zinc or other harmful materials without an independent and peer-reviewed laboratory testing of the carpet and its components under live conditions.
[No. 10] The Sign of Things to Come:Warning Labels at Turf Fields. By Guive Mirfendereski, SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. April 25, 2008. Outdoors advertising and signage in general are as much a part of the American landscape as are warning labels of all manner on consumer products, materials, medicines and foodstuffs and alike. Then why should artificial turf fields be any different. The turf field at the YMCA, on Church Street, in Newton, Mass., is crowned with an electronic billboard showing the name of the footwear manufacturing company that contributed to the installation of this eco-desert. Naming rights have become a major part of financing the proliferation of artificial turf fields, just as they still help pay for some natural grass playing fields.
The facility at YMCA also has signs posted at the gate advising/commanding the patrons to refrain from certain practices and consumables that may prove hazardous to the turf carpet itself. Good Lord! If you want a peek at the sign and sample a few more go to http://www.synturf.org/forbiddenfields.html.
To protection the turf carpet means to forbid certain uses and restrict public access even where the artificial turf field is a public or municipal facility. While the “man” is busy putting up signs designed to protect the million-dollar investment, none dared to suggest that there should be signs placed at turf fields to warn the public about turf’s potential risk to health and the environment. That is about to change.
Late in March, 2008, the Weston (Mass.) Public Health Director announced that she is working on a policy to monitor and inform the public of the high temperatures at the town’s turf field. The Board of Health is expected to vote on whether they will request that coaches to monitor temperatures at certain intervals or that the town post warning signs of high temperatures on the field. http://www.synturf.org/heateffect.html (Item No. 14)
In the same week, Wayland (Mass) Board of Health suggested to the town that singage be posted to warn the public of the high temperature of artificial turf field. The wording for the warning stated: “On hot, sunny days, artificial turf can reach turf ground temperatures up to 20 degrees hotter than black asphalt surfaces and/or up to 50 degrees hotter than natural turf. Please be aware that direct contact with these surfaces by you, your children or pets when the temperature is elevated may lead to contact skin burns and/or heat prostration. In addition due to the increased temperature in the over all field environment during these periods, coaches, players and participants are advised to keep fluids readily available and pay close attention to staying hydrated to avoid metabolic heat stress.” . http://www.synturf.org/heateffect.html (Item No. 15).
After the public health officials in New Jersey discovered very elevated amounts of lead in the dust collected from a few turf field carpets, up went a the sign “Field Closed.” Associated Press, “Lead Found in artificial turf in N.J., in The Boston Globe, April 19, 2008, Business section, pages C1 (picture of sign) - C2 (story). The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is now investigating the lead found in the fiber of the fields. http://www.synturf.org/cpsc.html. Perhaps the agency would expand its review to other materials and substances used in turf fields, such as crumb rubber, PAHs, plastics, adhesives, zinc, endocrine disruptors, and alike.
By April 21, 2008, the issue of posting warning signs at turf fields entered a new phase – warning labels for the product itself. The California state Senator Abel Maldonado, who has sponsored a turf moratorium bill (http://www.synturf.org/moratoriums.html - Item No. 7) asked the state Attorney general, Jerry brown, if artificial turf fields should have lead warning signs to comply with a state law. The law in question is Proposition 65, the 1986 voter-approved state law that requires public notice of the presence of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects. Chris Rizo, “brown asked for opinion on synthetic turf warnings,” in Legal News, April 21, 2008, available at http://www.legalnewsline.com/news/211204-brown-asked-for-opinion-on-synthetic-turf-warnings.
There will come day – not soon enough in SynTurf.org’s opinion – when posted warnings and labels should prompt a parent to ask “Why would I want my kid to play on this stuff?”
[No. 09] ABC News reports on turf field controversy. The ABC's World New Tonight had a segment on the artificial turf controversy, focusing on the closure of a few fields in New Jersey, which were found to be contaminated with high levels of lead. Featured in the segment is Patricia Taylor whose grassroots efforts in Connecticut was the subject of an essay on SynTurf.org last September (The Westport Brief, http://www.synturf.org/thewestportbrief.html , Item No. 1). Taylor and her colleagues were instrumental in bringing about the study of crumb rubber toxicity by the Environment and Human Health, Inc. (www.ehhi.org) last August. The ABC news report can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8h0189MLBQ.
[No. 08] The plastic chemicals in turf fields pose risk to children. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. April 16, 2008.The turf’s crumb rubber and elements like lead and zinc are not the only source of concern about potential harm to health and the environment. The so-called “safe” in-fill alternative to crumb rubber – thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) is yet to be tested for its health and environmental impact. As reported previously, (http://www.synturf.org/wellesleybrief.html (Item No. 1), elastomeric granules is rubber (tire or otherwise) that is coated with PUR or is pigmented (EPDM). There is also TPE, which is short for “thermoplastic elastomer.” The TPE-V variety of this product is a blend of EPDM and a thermoplastic polyolefin that are partially cross-linked. The TPE-S variety is made of a blend of a styrene copolymer and a thermoplastic polyolefin, which are physically cross-linked
The plastics contained in the alternative in-fill and the plastics that are part of the simulated blades of grass may pose health and environmental as well. This conclusion obtains from the logical extension of the results of study by the National Toxicology Program of the National Institutes of Health that has tied the presence of Bisphenol A from such items like plastic bottles to hormone disruptions. Bisphenol A (BPA) is an intermediate used in manufacture of epoxy, polycarbonate, and polyester-styrene resins. As an ingredient of polycarbonate plastic, BPA is one of the most widely used synthetic chemicals in industry today.
The National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, concluded that there is "some concern" that babies, fetuses, and children are in danger because bisphenol A, or BPA, harms animals at low levels found in nearly all human bodies.
It can seep from plastic beverage containers such as baby bottles, as well as liners in cans containing food and infant formula.
Some scientists suspect that exposure early in life disrupts hormones and alters genes, programming a fetus or child for breast or prostate cancer, premature female puberty, attention deficit disorders, and other reproductive or neurological disorders.
When animal fetuses or newborns are exposed, BPA "can cause changes in behavior and the brain, prostate gland, mammary gland, and the age at which females attain puberty," the agency's draft report says.
[No. 07] New Jersey officials warn against lead in artificial turf; several fields are closed; federal action is urged. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. April 15, 2008.
There are no national guidelines for lead in artificial turf. However, the acceptable level of lead in soil is 400 milligrams per kilogram.
On Monday April 14, 2008, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) announced the results of its examination of 12 artificial turf fields, which had led to the discovery that the turf fibers at two fields contained lead levels 10 times as much as the acceptable level for soil. One is the football field at The College of New Jersey’s Lions’ Stadium; the other is Hoboken's Frank Sinatra Park. Earlier, last fall, Newark’s ironbound field was shut down after elevated lead levels were found there. The TCNJ field will remain closed through May pending a bioavailability testing to determine if lead contained in the field's fibers is absorbed or rejected by the human body. The soccer fields at TCNJ and Mercer County Community College (West Windsor) also tested positive for lead, although not at high levels.
The DHSS also tested samples of turf marketed for residential use that it bought over the internet. Two of those samples had similarly high lead levels. The field in Hoboken is also closed for now. The tested turf was composed of either nylon, polyethylene, or a mixture of the two.High lead levels were seen only in artificial turf containing
nylon fibers. It is not clear if the elevated levels of lead in artificial grass is limited to a single manufacturer.
"This is a potential consumer safety issue with national implications, since these turf products are widely distributed," DHSS Commissioner Heather Howard said in a statement. Her deputy commissioner, Eddy A. Bresnitz, stated, “owners or managers of artificial turf fields should check with their fields' manufacturer or distributor to find out if the fibers or their coloration contain lead.”
Bresnitz, an epidemiologist, has asked the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission to investigate lead in artificial turf fields. Meanwhile, the executive director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, Jeff Tittel, believes the constituent chemicals in turf fields is of concern, "If cows can't eat it, children shouldn't be allowed to play on it," he told The Associated Press.
Last December DHSS contacted the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to give it lead testing results and express concern that the findings could have nationwide impact. At the time CSPC said it did not have sufficient information to take any action, prompting DHSS to do further sampling. As a result, the DHSS decided to test additional turf sites and other consumer turf products. In its April 14th press release, the DHSS disclosed that on April 11, 2008, Bresnitz wrote a letter to CSPC executive director, Patricia Semple, requesting action on the turf issue.
The ten fields that did not show high lead levels are Van Fleet Park, Fort Lee, Bergen County; Memorial Park and Kennedy Park, Borough of Lodi, Bergen County; Memorial Park, Park Ridge, Bergen County; Church Square Park and Steven’s Park, Hoboken, Hudson County; Mercer County College Soccer Field, West Windsor, Mercer County; The College of New Jersey Soccer Field, Ewing Township, Mercer County; Smithfield Park and Veteran’s Park, Parsippany, Morris County.
The fact sheet, entitled “New Jersey Investigation of Artificial Turf and Human Health Concerns” is issued by Consumer and Environmental Health Services Epidemiology, Environmental and Occupational Health. It is available atto www.nj.gov/health/artificialturfor click here. It discusses a number of issues. One is “Why is the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services studying artificial turf fields?” The answer is: “The NJDHSS recognizes the growing public concerns about the safety of artificial turf fields, as well as the need for communities to provide for athletic and other recreational fields. Artificial turf fields are being installed in growing numbers around the country and in New Jersey. Health and safety concerns are being raised about these fields. These concerns are related to physical properties of the fields and potential chemical exposures from in-fill materials (especially crumb rubber from recycled tires) and the turf fibers.” It also states, “There is a need for a comprehensive and coordinated approach to evaluating the public health risks and benefits of artificial turf fields.”
[No. 06] Newark’s Ironbound Field Closure – An Update. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. March 4, 2008. There seems to be more to the story of the closure of Ironbound Field in Newark due to lead contamination. The story was first noticed in a news article in The New York Times on February 29, 2008. SynTurf.org later reported on some of the details for the closure. On the basis of inquiries made at the city’s Recreation Services and Architect, SynTurf.org still could not say if the elevated lead readings at the field was a carryover effect or discharges from the nearby Tidewater manufacturing activities or was the contamination due to the materials used in the turf. For background, see http://www.synturf.org/warnings.html (Item No. 05).
There is a new twist to this story and it comes to SynTurf.org courtesy of www.maplewoodvotes.org. In an-e-mail to MaplewoodVotes.org, an official in New Jersey state government has written:
The Newark recreational field is the one we have been involved with and is what started our investigation of lead in synthetic turf. The Newark field is an older turf product called Astroturf XL that is no longer in production. We found lead was present at high concentrations in the turf material. While the adjacent EPA site is contaminated with lead in soil, the results of the recreational field investigation indicated that the source of lead contamination on the field originated from the turf itself and not the adjacent EPA site. The field was closed in October 2007 at our recommendation. It is slated for replacement this month.
MaplewwodVotes.org is trying to ascertain from its sources if the lead contamination came from the material used in the turf. If so, then the next question is whether there is lead in the materials used in the new generation of artificial turf and, if so, how much and to whose environmental and health detriment?
[No. 05]Newark, New Jersey: Turf field closed as a public health hazard. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. February 29, 2008. Timothy Williams reported in today’s The New York Times that several weeks ago “Newark city government declared one of its synthetic turf fields to be a ‘public health hazard’ after researchers found that dust there had levels of lead more than triple the federal standard for indoor spaces.” “Groups Urge a Moratorium on City Use of Artificial Turf,” February 29, 2008, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/29/nyregion/29turf.html?_r=1&oref=slogin. This item was tucked in an article about activists seeking to suspend the installation of artificial turf fields until the health risk of crumb rubber is studied. The information left the impression that turf fields are laden with lead. The reporting of the closure of the Newark ballfield was inaccurate and misleading. Here is the skinny on the closure of that facility. Beginning in April 1992 the New Jersey Environmental Protection Agency had categorized the premises of one Tidewater Baling Corporation at 26 Saint Charles Street, Newark, as a know Category A contaminated site (http://www.nj.gov/dep/srp/kcs-nj/alpha/t.htm;http://www.nj.gov/dep/srp/kcs-nj/essex/kcs0714d.htm#002303). Further up the street, at 46 Saint Charles Street is the entrance of a recreational land area known as the Ironbound Stadium, which is also one of the venues for Ironbound Soccer Club (http://www.ironboundsoccer.com/directions/Ironbound.htm). The playing surface at the Ironbound Stadium is outdoors and is of the Astroturf variety which, according to the city’s architect office, was put down some 6 to 7 years ago. The Google Map of the site is available at http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=46+St+Charles+St,+Newark,+Essex,+New+Jersey+07105,+United+States&sll=40.730202,-74.146385&sspn=0.007301,0.014291&ie=UTF8&ll=40.727694,-74.144127&spn=0.001825,0.003573&t=h&z=18&layer=c&cbll=40.728885,-74.145184. According to the city’s Neighborhood & Recreational Services, in July and August 2007 the NJ EPA began testing the air and then the soil around the Ironbound Stadium as an extension of its annual work on Tidewater. This extended to testing of the turf carpet and as it turned out the readings from the carpet dust had levels that EPA deemed “potentially a public health hazard.” After the EPA informed the city’s engineering department of the risk, in November 2007 the city’s recreation department closed the fields until it can be remediated. The remediation program is in the hands of the city architect, Robert Dooley, who is about to request an emergency appropriation for the remediation, which will involve the complete replacement of the surface with a new generation of turf. Bids have gone out and the project will begin in the next month or so. In the course of its investigation, SynTurf.org learned that the city has no plans as yet as to how to dispose of the old carpet, if at all. There is a possibility that the old surface maybe capped and a new surface installed on top of it, which probably will help accommodate the engineering requirements for the new systems elaborate drainage system. There is no indication ifcity planners will be looking into thermoplastic alternatives to crumb rubber that is used in the new generation surfaces. The officials who spoke with SynTurf.org could not tell if the elevated lead readings at the field was a carryover effect or discharges from the Tidewater manufacturing activities or was the contamination resident in the materials used at the field.
This remediation will simply substitute one evil for another. Perhaps the levels of lead would not be as high in the new turf, but there still will be zinc and other potentially health-threatening substances leaching, gassing and dusting from the crumb rubber infill and other materials used in the manufacturing, installation and maintenance of the synthetic fields.
[No. 04] Hazardous Chemicals in Synthetic Turf: A Research Review, by William Crain and Junfeng Zhang, in Rachel’s Democracy & Health News #937 (December 13, 2007).
HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS IN SYNTHETIC TURF: A RESEARCH REVIEW
By William Crain and Junfeng (Jim) Zhang
Across the country, schools, parks, and private sports organizations are installing the "new generation" synthetic turf. It is springier than the old AstroTurf and feels more like natural grass. However, the new turf is being installed before there has been thorough research on its potential health risks. Fortunately, increasing numbers of research agencies are conducting studies. But as we shall see, the studies are often limited and reach premature conclusions about the turf's safety.
Presence of Hazardous Chemicals
Of special concern are the small rubber granules that rest between the turf's plastic blades of grass. These granules, which are the size of grains of rice or smaller (0.5 to 3 mm), contribute to the turf's resiliency. The granules are typically made from large quantities of recycled rubber tires; between 25,000 and 40,000 scrap tires are used to produce the granules for a standard soccer field.
Although the tiny granules (sometimes called the "infill") lie between the plastic blades of grass, they also are common on the surface, so children and athletes come into frequent contact with them. In fact, many players have told us that the granules get into their shoes and wind up in their homes. When we learned that the granules are so accessible to park users, we decided to test samples of the granules to see if contained toxic chemicals found in scrap tires. Specifically, we wondered if they contained any of 15 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency priority pollutant list or heavy metals that also can have toxic effects.
Our first preliminary study analyzed two samples of granules from a New York City Park. The analyses revealed six PAHs at concentrations sufficiently high that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) would have required their removal if the PAHs had been in contaminated soil sites. The six PAHs were: benzo(a)anthracene, chrysene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benzo(a)pyrene, benzo(k) fluoranthene, and dibenzo(a,h)anthracene. All six are likely to be carcinogenic to humans.
We also conducted follow-up analyses of granules from two other New York City Parks, gathering two samples from one park and one sample from the other park. We detected three of the same PAHs at elevated levels in at least one of the samples. A particularly hazardous PAH -- dibenzo(a,h)anthracene -- exceeded the DEC soil standard in all three samples. The results of our studies generally conform to those of the Norwegian Building Research Institute.
We also found that the granules contained worrisome levels of zinc and lead. These metals also been detected in research by others, including the Norwegian Building Research Institute and the Rochesterians Against the Misuse of Pesticides (RAMP). Zinc isn't necessarily harmful. In fact, we need some zinc, and it is included in multivitamin pills. But excessive zinc produces problems such as stomach cramps and anemia in humans.
Although the detected levels of lead have generally been below contaminated site soil standards set by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), many health scientists warn against adding any lead at all to the environment, for even small amounts can contribute to neurocognitive problems in children.
These preliminary studies only indicated that toxicants are present in the rubber granules. The more critical question concerns the bioavailability of the toxicants: Can they leach into the surrounding environment and harm human and non-human organisms? Can they be absorbed into the bodies of children and athletes who use the turf fields?
Leaching into Water and Soil
Numerous studies have demonstrated that chemicals in whole tires, tire shreds, and recycled tire crumbs can leach into water and soil.[9-12] In addition, many of these studies have demonstrated that the chemicals harm or kill aquatic life, including algae, minnows, trout, and frogs. The chemicals also can stunt the growth of land plants. Researchers have been slower to identify precisely which chemicals in the rubber produce the toxic effects, but researchers generally believe that the culprits include metals such as zinc.[9, 13] One investigation implicated PAHs in the death of trout where rubber tires had been placed in water.
Two studies specifically asked what happens when synthetic turf granules are placed in water, and both studies found that considerable zinc was released.[10,11] In a widely cited report funded by a Candadian [sic] tire recycling agency, Birkholz and his colleagues discovered that ground-up rubber from a flat playground surface killed aquatic life. Birkholz emphasized that that rubber material was less toxic if it had been on the playground for more than three months, but the effects of ageing merit further study; zinc might actually be released in greater quantities after a few years, as the rubber degrades.
Noting that most of the research on damage to non-human organisms has been conducted in the laboratory, a report by California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) concludes that there is little risk in real-life, outdoor conditions. Specifically, the OEHHA concludes that "during rain events" the recycled tire material in play areas is unlikely to leach toxic chemicals in high enough concentrations to harm aquatic life. But the OEHHA's conclusion is speculative; it only cites one study that supports its view. What's more, the study it cites only examined how water quality was affected by a tire trench -- not the tiny rubber particles in synthetic turf that move about and can potentially flow into streams and bodies of water. A study by FieldTurf Tarkett (Nanterre, France) and French research agencies also questions the potential harm of leaching, but FieldTurf Tarkett is the world's largest manufacturer of synthetic turf, so it's difficult to assess its findings. A recent Dutch investigation reaches the more sober conclusion that "the leaching of zinc is a major concern."
Toxic chemicals in rubber material might also leach into human drinking water. So far, the research on this possibility is sparse. The OEHHA report observes evidence of increased quantities of toxic chemicals in groundwater, but the report emphasizes that the contaminants hadn't spread more than a few meters from the rubber sites.
We will now turn to the possibility that the toxicants in recycled rubber can be absorbed by children and athletes from play on synthetic turf surfaces.
In their widely cited report, Birkholz et al. maintained that inhalation in not "a plausible route of exposure because no volatile compounds would be expected to remain in the shredded, solid material." But as Brown observes, this speculation has turned out to be incorrect. The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station recently found that at 60 deg. C (140 deg. F) -- a temperature that synthetic turf reaches in the summer -- the rubber granules off-gassed several hazardous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air.
Three chemicals -- benzothiazole, n-hexadecane, and 4-(t-octyl) phenol -- are irritants to humans; a fourth chemical, butylated hydroxyanisole, has many toxic effects and may be carcinogenic to humans. In addition, in 2006 the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and Radium Hospital observed that several VOCs were released from rubber granules in an indoor facility. Others, including RAMP, also have detected VOCS.[5,6] Although the Norwegian Institute -- as well as the FieldTurf/French agencies -- play down the possibility that the chemicals would remain in the air sufficiently long to cause harm, more research on this question is needed. Research also is needed on the extent to which rubber granules produce particulate matter that aggravates asthma.
Because children's bodies are still developing, they are especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of toxic exposures. Infants and toddlers are also uniquely susceptible to exposure through ingestion because they like to put objects into their mouths. When parents watch games from the sidelines, they frequently let their young children crawl about on the turf nearby, and the children might pick up and swallow the rubber granules. Infants and toddlers also might ingest the granules that wind up in their homes after the games.
Birkholz et al. evaluated the possibility that the ingested crumb material from flat rubber playground surfaces produces cancer. Based on the results of in vitro genotoxicity assays, Birkholz et al. concluded that the risk is negligible; substances extracted from shredded rubber did not damage DNA or chromosomes. However, the investigators did not specify the potentially harmful chemicals they tested. In addition, the fact that the research was funded by the tire recycling industry raises questions in the minds of many.
OEHHA, whose research was commissioned by the State of California, examined the extent to which metals, PAHs, and VOCs might be absorbed through the digestive system. Simulating the environment of the human stomach, the researchers concluded that risks to human health are de minimis. But as Brown notes, the researchers explored only the acute effect of a single ingestion. The researchers acknowledged that
if a child ingested some chemicals repeatedly, the results might be different. Their data suggest that the ingestion of several metals, including lead, is of particular concern.
Moreover, the OEHHA investigators only simulated the stomach environment. There is a need to simulate the digestive process more completely -- to include the enzymatic actions of saliva and intestinal fluid as well.
The results from studies of skin contact are ambiguous. In their main study of dermal exposure, the OEHHA researchers found that one PAH, chrysene, can be absorbed from a playground rubber surface onto a polyester wipe. The authors then estimated that if children engaged in considerable hand contact with the rubber over several years -- and
sometimes put their hands in their mouths -- the children would experience an increased cancer risk. This conclusion is based on a fair amount of speculation, but it alerts us to a danger.
In a 2005 study in Denmark, Nilsson et al. placed synthetic perspiration on a tractor tire for one hour but failed to find that any PAHs gravitated to the liquid. However, this study, like the OEHHA research on dermal exposure, examined relatively large rubber surfaces (a playground surface and a tire). The results derived from this approach can be misleading when the actual dermal contact occurs with the tiny rubber granules in synthetic turf. Tiny particles have proportionately larger surface areas. Consequently, toxic chemicals contained in the small granules may be more readily absorbed through ingestion or skin contact.
A recent Netherlands study examined the urine of football players after they had "intensive skin contact with rubber crumb on an artificial field pitch." The urine tests did not "unambiguously" indicate that PAHs had entered the athletes' bodies. Although this is important information, similar research needs to be repeated under a variety of playing conditions and include children.
In Korea, teachers have noticed nose and eye irritation among school children playing on artificial turf surfaces. Others have called for research how dermal contact with rubber infill might cause allergic reactions.
Hazardous chemicals are clearly present in synthetic turf rubber granules that are made from recycled tires. Some metals in the granules, including zinc, leach into water and, if they behave like the metals in other rubber tire material, they can kill aquatic life. However, it is not yet clear whether this leaching presents a health risk to humans and other species in ordinary life conditions. It also is unclear whether the various toxic chemicals in the rubber granules can be absorbed into the bodies of children and athletes through inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact. Much more research is needed. Although some reports have concluded that the risks are minimal, such conclusions are premature.
 Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), Evaluation of health effects of recycled waste tires in playground and track products. Contractor's report to the Integrated Waste Management Board, State of California (Publication #622-06-013), January, 2007, pp. 2, 91, 97.
 Nilsson, N. H., A. Fielberg, and K. Pommer. Emission and evaluation of health effects of PAHs and aromatic amines. Survey of Chemical Substances in Consumer Products, no.54. [8 Mbyte PDF] Danish Ministry of the Environment, 2005.
 Brown (see reference 21), p. 20.
William Crain, Ph.D., is professor of psychology at The City College
of New York and president of Citizens for a Green Riverside Park.
No. 03] Artificial Turf: Exposure to ground Up Rubber Tires – Athletic Fields, Playgrounds, Garden Mulch, Environment & Human Health, Inc.’s Report (2007), available at http://www.ehhi.org/turf/
Excerpt: Research finds that the new synthetic fields are surfaced with a product called “in-fill” that is made from recycled tires. This material is referred to as “tire crumbs” and constitutes the primary playing surface. We estimate these crumbs to be as much as 90% by weight of the fields. The tire crumbs are roughly the size of grains of course sand. They are made by shredding and grinding used tires. Tire crumb materials are spread two to three inches thick over the field surface and packed between ribbons of green plastic used to simulate green grass.
No. 02] Artificial turf causing skin disease at nation's schools: Education ministry opens investigation into the safety of poisonous materials," inhttp://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_national/219645.html. Seoul, South Korea: Students and teachers in schools with grounds covered by artificial turf are suffering from headaches and skin disease in a growing number of cases.
Choi Yeong-gil, a teacher at a Seoul elementary school, said on July 1, "Since the school laid synthetic turf on the ground in May, I have taught the students with the doors of the classrooms closed even in the summer, due to the offensive smell. The school infirmary is filled with students complaining about skin disorders and headaches." Park Yeong-gil, a physical education teacher at another elementary school, mentioned, "After teaching classes on the turf for four hours a day, I feel pain in my nose and eyes and have also contracted atopic dermatitis." Today, the Ministry of Education & Human Resources Development launches an investigation into the artificial turf which began to be installed at many of the nation's schools in 2000. The ministry wants to know more about the relationship between artificial turf and the diseases suffered by teachers and students. The ministry recently sent official documents to 170 schools with synthetic turf on their grounds and requested that the Korea Testing & Research Institute and the Korea Environment & Merchandise Testing Institute investigate the realities of the situation. Jeong Sang-ik, a ministry official, said, "The investigations are aimed at grasping the safety of the poisonous materials such as lead, cadmium and mercury contained in the artificial turf. We also want to confirm just how harmful these materials, which have sparked controversy in our schools, are." The investigations will be conducted according to standards set up last year by the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards, which operates under the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. Korea Testing & Research Institute and the Korea Environment & Merchandise Testing Institute will extract about 100 grams of rubber power from each school's artificial turf for the investigation. The legal limits for harmful materials contained in rubber powder are 90 milligrams of lead, 5 milligrams of cadmium and 25 milligrams of mercury and chrome per one kilogram of powder. Benzene is classified as "harmful" if it exceeds 1 milligram. As of now, 605 elementary, middle and high schools across the nation have artificial turf on their grounds and the Ministry of Education, in cooperation with the Seoul Olympic Sports Promotion Foundation, currently has plans to install artificial turf at 443 more schools until 2010.
No. 01] Synthetic turf fields will be cleaned up!, by Corrado Zunino [Erba sintetica, allarme confermato “Quei campi vanno bonificati] in La Repubblica, May 3, 2006 – reproduced in its entirety below and also available at http://www.repubblica.it/2006/04/sezioni/cronaca/campi-sintetitici-cancerogeni/conferma-rischi-cancro/conferma-rischi-cancro.html. [Translated for synturf.org in part by Elio Branca]. The former Italian minister of Health, Francesco Storace’s last act in office was to make public on May 2, 2006, the study of a commission that he had set up in order to examine the potential risks associated with use of rubber in artificial turf fields. According to the study, the synthetic turf fields in Italy are potentially cancer-causing. The study found levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), toluene (volatile toxic compound), and heavy metals to be higher than the legal limits. The PAHs pose risks to kidneys, liver, and lungs. According to the investigators at the High Institute of Health (Instituto superiore di Sanita), the inhalation of the dust from these substances pose a risk to soccer players. The commission, which also included physicians and lawyers from the ministry of the Environment, urged the adoption of a law to clean up the dangerous fields.According to Professor Roberto Verna, the president of the commission, “It is clear that PAHs and toluene are a danger to health.” “We do not want to spread fear, but it is necessary to find a way to clean up the playing fields,” he said. “Let us say, all of the fields in Italy need to be examined, the 350 official ones and the dozens that have been installed without governmental approval,” he said. Accroding to Verna, the inspiration for defining the danger of artificial turf fields comes from the law about greens paces and parklands. The study document will be sent to FIFA, the world governing body for soccer, and to the European Union: the European Union already has prohibited the production of rubber with PAHs after 2007. “This study is the first such work in Europe that has been undertaken by an independent commission,” said Varna. "The rubber in the fields,” he said, “must be treated like diary products: we must know about the origin of the rubber, the process and how its is made into its final form – to get a seal of approval/label of quality.”According to Carlo Tavecchio, president of national league of amateurs (Lega nazionale dilettanti), “we have to open up 200 fields and take out/vacuum the noxious substances. The cost will be divided among the Federal soccer organization, the producers of the turf and management of the clubs.” This will be a titanic undertaking. Each full-size soccer field (11 v. 11) contains 130 tons of infill and costs between 300,000 to 650,000 Euros. On the heel of the discovery of toxicity of the artificial turf fields, a pitched industrial battle is brewing between the producers of virgin rubber and recycled rubber, the big versus small. There is Olimpico that makes a product that is a mix of artificial grass and natural grass and does not need rubber. Then there are firms that manufacture foundations/underlay for artificial turf fields out of cork. The commission noticed a great number of children’s playgrounds are on rubber surfaces that are produced by the sane firms that manufacture the rubber for artificial turf fields. The SBR rubber is considered risky. According to Giovanni Lolli, undersecretary of Sports, “This is a serious problem. The commission has done diligent work: the next administration should reconvene the commission.”
Resi noti i risultati della commissione creata dall'ex ministro Storace. I tecnici del ministero della Salute rilanciano il rischio cancro. Erba sintetica, allarme confermato "Quei campi vanno bonificati," di CORRADO ZUNINO ROMA - L'ultimo atto del ministero della Salute uscente certifica l'allarme: i campi in erba sintetica costruiti in Italia sono potenzialmente cancerogeni. La commissione istituita da Francesco Storace, poi costretto a lasciare la guida del ministero, ieri mattina ha discusso in maniera accesa un paio d'ore e poi ha deciso - all'unanimità - di lasciare un documento-avvertimento al prossimo ministro della Sanità. In quel ponderoso lascito si dicono quattro cose decisamente serie. Nell'intaso di gomma che sostiene il manto d'erba artificiale, primo, ci sono quantità pericolose, in alcuni casi picchi elevati e comunque sempre oltre la soglia stabilita per legge, di Ipa (idrocarburi policiclici aromatici dannosi per reni, fegato e polmoni), toluene (composto volatile altamente tossico) e metalli pesanti. Quindi, seconda informazione, si stanno chiudendo gli studi su come questi elementi possano essere inalati dai calciatori in attività sui campi e le prime indicazioni dei ricercatori dell'Istituto superiore di Sanità preoccupano: le polveri che si sollevano giocando a pallone sono rischiose.
Terzo, sulle basi di queste scoperte scientifiche si deve realizzare una legge sui campi in erba artificiale, oggi inesistente. Infine, medici, avvocati del ministero dell'Ambiente e colonnelli dei Nas - tutti componenti della commissione - consigliano al prossimo ministro di emettere un'ordinanza per la bonifica dei campi pericolosi.Il professor Roberto Verna, ordinario di Patologia clinica della Sapienza di Roma, presidente della commissione, dice: "Ipa e toluene sono pericolose per la salute, questo è acclarato. I Nas hanno prelevato campioni di gomma in tredici campi: tutte le aziende e tutti i tipi di intasi hanno mostrato problemi. Non vogliamo seminare paure, ma è necessario trovare un modo per bonificare i terreni di gioco. Diciamo che tutti i campi italiani devono essere controllati, i 350 ufficiali e le decine di abusivi. Il metodo di controllo dovrà essere unico". Per definire i campi pericolosi il gruppo di lavoro si è ispirato alla normativa sul verde pubblico e alle tabelle dei parchi. Questo documento sarà inviato alla Fifa, l'organizzazione mondiale del calcio, e all'Unione europea, che già ha vietato la produzione di gomme con idrocarburi aromatici a partire dal 2007. "È il primo lavoro realizzato in Europa da una commissione indipendente. Le gomme, oggi, devono essere trattate come si fa con le mucche: dobbiamo sapere dove si raccoglie la materia prima, come si lavora, come arriva il prodotto finito. Ci vuole un'etichetta del prodotto". Il presidente della Lega nazionale dilettanti, Carlo Tavecchio, gestore discusso del grande affare campi artificiali, ha già parlato di rottamazione. "Dovremo aprire almeno duecento terreni e aspirare le sostanze nocive. Ripartiremo i costi tra Federcalcio, produttori dei campi e gestori". L'impresa è titanica: ogni campo a undici ha 130 tonnellate di intaso e costa tra i 300 e i 650 mila euro. Le aziende medio-piccole sono in grave difficoltà: "Abbiamo fatto forti investimenti quando i regolamenti erano provvisori e oggi i comuni interrompono i pagamenti e le banche ci chiedono di restituire i prestiti concessi". Intorno alla scoperta della tossicità dei campi è in corso, infatti, una dura battaglia industriale: produttori di gomma vergine contro riciclatori, grandi contro piccoli. In queste ore si sono fatti avanti, per esempio, i gestori del prato dell'Olimpico "realizzato con un prodotto misto di erbe naturali e artificiali che non ha bisogno di sottofondo" e alcune aziende che hanno messo a brevetto campi con fondi in sughero. La commissione del ministero della Salute ha scoperto, ancora, che una buon parte dei "parchi gioco" del territorio - le aree con scivoli e giostre presenti nelle piazze italiane - poggia su tappetini in gomma prodotti dalle stesse aziende che forniscono i campi in erba artificiale e realizzati con le stesse gomme riciclate: l'Sbr considerato a rischio. Giovanni Lolli, candidato sottosegretario allo Sport, dice: "Il problema è serio, questa commissione ha lavorato con serietà, il prossimo governo dovrà reinsediarla". (3 maggio 2006)