September 2008


UMDNJ Study – Shows Continuing Problems with Crumb Rubber Infill in Synthetic Turf Fields report released AUGUST 27 2008

New Crumb Rubber Study shows likelihood that a significant portion of the lead in the granules will be absorbed by bodies’ gastric fluids.

The press release (see below) on the study by the UMDNJ reveals yet another set of problems surrounding the use of crumb rubber as an infill for synthetic turf fields.

While the “Big Boys” in the turf industry have continued to tout their fields as having a clean bill of health the STC Press Release, Field Turf’s headline stating their fields have been given a clean bill of health and the CPSC ruling stating that there is no problem in the turf, issued this past June, are all beginning to show the particularly incompetent level of analysis being performed on the real problem – the turf infill. (See Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro’s scathing letter to the CPSC – posted below.)

Industry leaders continue to turn a blind eye to the problems

For years, as early studies have shown, there are potential problems with lead and other carcinogens in the crumb rubber infill but the industry leaders continue to turn a blind eye to the problems. Field Turf’s landing page (www.fieldturf.com) proudly announces their commitment to the environment and applauds the CPSC April ruling while the the following Sportexe link to the STC release http://sportexenews.com/blog/2008/04/21/media-announcement-from-synthetic-turf-council-stc/ shows that they too are marching to the same drum. Individuals who rely on the marketing and sales pitches of industry leaders and who have been trying to choose a safe, healthy and environmentally sound field for their students and athletes have unknowingly been lead astray to the absolute detriment of the kids and athletes who will be using them.

California Attorney General files major lawsuits

Major lawsuits have now been launched against many of these companies – stating they have knowingly and willfully ignored the problems and the state laws regarding the problems these infills pose to the general public. One company even claims that they can provide two (2) LEED points (in the search for environmentally “green” designs and installation) by using crumb rubber derived from cyrogenically ground ground tires – how can this be??

Although many tests have been run, pointing to potential problems with lead in the turf fibers as well as lead and other PAH’s in the crumb rubber and silica sand infills, it has difficult to pin down exactly how dangerous these emerging hazards are. The following study shows definitively that there are significant problems with the ingestion of crumb rubber from ground up tires.

But – there is a solution to this problem

In reviewing previous research performed on crumb rubber and silica sand – TargaPro realized some time ago that there is a problem with these infills and we thus moved to eliminating the use of crumb rubber as an infill and have moved to the use instead of an Anti-Microbial Infill (Organite) which contains no carcinogens and no PAH’s. We have also eliminated the use of Urethane in the backings and hence we provide an environmentally sound and 100% recyclable product.

Since there are alternatives to the use of the crumb rubber and silica sand as infill’s doesn’t it just make sense to use the environmentally sound, safer and healthier choice?

Press Release

Date: 09-16-08
Name: Jerry Carey
Phone: 973-972-5000
Email: careyge@umdnj.edu

UMDNJ Study Finds Lead in Synthetic Turf Can Be Absorbed into Gastric Fluids

PISCATAWAY – Adding to the growing concerns over the health risks posed by lead and other chemicals in synthetic turf materials, a new study by researchers at the UMDNJ-School of Public Health finds that when children or athletes ingest the tiny rubber granules in synthetic turf, it is likely that a significant portion of the lead in the granules will be absorbed by their bodies’ gastric fluids.

The investigation, led by Junfeng (Jim) Zhang, Ph.D., an associate dean and professor of environmental and occupational health at the UMDNJ-School of Public Health, examined lead levels in rubber granules from four parks in New York and simulated digestive tract absorption in two of the samples. Zhang is also a member of the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI), a joint institute of the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Rutgers University.

“Even though the samples had relatively low concentrations of lead in the rubber granules, we observed that substantial amounts of lead – 22.7 and 44.2 percent in the two samples tested – were absorbed into synthetic gastric juices,” Zhang said. “Because we know that even low levels of lead can cause neuro-cognitive problems – such as IQ loss – in children, these absorption fractions are meaningful.”

The findings will appear in the November/December issue of the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. The journal posted the report online on August 27, 2008. The United States currently has about 3,500 synthetic turf fields with new fields being added at the rate of about 1,000 per year.

Concern over synthetic turf intensified earlier this year when high levels of lead were reported in three aged AstroTurf fields in New Jersey, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory. In August, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission gave the plastic fibers in “new generation” turf a clean bill of health, but, in September, a California environmental group reported high levels of lead in the “new generation” synthetic turf, sparking lawsuits against three manufacturers.

The UMDNJ study included just one “new generation” artificial fiber. While the sample had a relatively low level of lead, the absorption fractions into synthetic gastric and intestinal fluids were still high (34.6 and 54.0 percent, respectively).

William Crain, a co-author on the study and a child psychologist at The City College of New York, said the findings are especially worrisome with respect to young children who might pick up granules and ingest them. The granules can also be transported to homes in the shoes of field users, making the granules accessible to young children. “Whenever young children are involved, we need to particularly careful, because they are most vulnerable to toxic chemicals,” Crain adds.

The study also included an analysis of the rubber granules in seven park samples for the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The researchers found that five of the seven samples contained at least two PAHs that exceeded New York State Department of Environmental Conservation safety limits for contaminated soil. The PAHs that were found are possible, probable, or known human carcinogens as defined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The investigators found that the PAHs seemed not be absorbed into the digestive tract, which should help direct researchers to other potential PAH exposure routes, such as inhalation or skin contact.

The investigators also noted high levels of zinc in rubber granules. High zinc levels present a special danger to non-human species in the environment.

“Our study was on a small scale,” Zhang said. “But I hope it helps give a clearer picture of the health risks that synthetic turf poses. I urge public and private agencies to step up funding for research on this crucial public health issue.”

Media interested in interviewing Jim Zhang should contact Jerry Carey, UMDNJ News Service, at (973) 972-5000.

The UMDNJ-School of Public Health is the nation’s first collaborative school of public health and is sponsored by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in cooperation with Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and New Jersey Institute of Technology.

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is the nation’s largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state’s three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.

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A post inclusive of an article from the San Francisco Chronicle delineating issues surrounding recent lawsuits filed in California against Synthetic Turf companies over “lead in the turf” issues.
It seems as though there is a rising tide of concern over the long held suspicions that there are problems (with both the turf fibers and particularly with the infill) of the synthetic turf fields being installed almost everywhere today.  The question is … are these latest lawsuits filed by the State of California just scratching the surface?

Fiber manufacturers in the United States can (or should be able) to show the yarns (fibers) they are using are below the EPA standards for lead levels … but manufacturers outside the US are not bound by our US standards and the companies importing synthetic fibers from abroad must be held accountable for showing their products meet the EPA standards.
Surely then, it does behoove us to continue to test for lead levels in fields manufactured by companies who built systems with fibers imported from abroad …  and today those companies need to provide proof that the fibers they are currently using meet the EPA standards.  Note that most of the turf fibers being produced today in the US contain lead levels far below the EPA acceptable standards.
Since the newer turfs do not have this fiber problem it seems apparent to us that the real focus should be addressing the crumb rubber infill and urethane backed turf recycling problems. Will the real health problems — not just lead in the fibers of mostly older fields — eventually be unearthed?
Where is the testing for problems such as bio-related infections being hosted by the turf, off-gassing of PAHs and dust particulates from crumb rubber and silica sand infills?  And what about the environmental impacts from carcinogen laden rainwater runoff, disposal of all forms of crumb rubber infill’s and urethane backed turf products that must be treated as hazardous waste with the attendant costs associated with such disposals? When will someone get around to addressing these issues in the fields that are currently installed?
You do realize of course that there is a solution to the lead in the fibers problem.  TargaPro provides an Environmentally Safe Synthetic Turf Field product using turf from Challenger Industries (manufactured with Bonar Yarns) and infilled with an anti-microbial infill (Organite) that addresses all the issues currently under study.  No lead in the fibers — No more Crumb Rubber infill – No urethane backing – all resulting in an environmentally safe and 100% recyclable product.
For more information and details of the solution to these problems – visit our website today!!

Suits filed over lead in artificial turf
Jane Kay, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
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Six artificial-turf companies are breaking state law by not warning the public of exposure to dangerous amounts of lead from the fake green grass, according to two separate lawsuits filed Tuesday by the California attorney general and an environmental group.
The suits, designed to stop the sale of any new turf manufactured with lead, say the toxic metal gets on the hands and bodies of children and adults who play on synthetic grass found at athletic fields, public schools, parks, day care centers and residences.

Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, requires warning of exposure to an unsafe level of a chemical that can cause cancer or birth defects. Lead is a carcinogen and can cause neurological damage, says the lawsuit filed in Alameda Superior Court.  “The goal is to get the lead out of the California pipeline so it’s not being sold in the state,” said Dennis Ragen, the deputy attorney general handling the case for the state. The companies have already expressed a willingness to make turf without lead, Ragen said.
The state attorney general – joined by the city attorney of Los Angeles and the district attorney of Solano County – filed against Astro Turf, the first branded distributor of synthetic grass; Beaulieu Group, which sells to Home Depot, Ace Hardware and Lowe’s, and Field Turf USA, a leading manufacturer and installer of football fields.
The Center for Environmental Health, an Oakland nonprofit, sued Shaw Industries, one of the world’s biggest carpet companies, as well as Synthetic Turf International and Turf Headquarters, name-brand vendors.
In May, the center sued Beaulieu, and sent letters of intent to sue 15 other manufacturers, distributors and retailers. On Tuesday, the center also filed additional intent-to-sue letters. None of the company representatives could be reached for comment Tuesday.
According to Ragen, there have been very productive settlement negotiations with Astroturf and Beaulieu. He hasn’t yet been able to talk to Field Turf, he said.
Annie Costa, executive director of the Association of Synthetic Grass Installers, said the trade group is looking forward to receiving clear direction on how to handle existing inventories, including what kinds of warnings or health advisories would be appropriate. The industry is already beginning to reformulate the products because of California’s concerns, she said.
In 2007, 20 million square feet of artificial turf was installed in landscapes, lawns, putting greens, day care centers and kennels, among other locations in California; 35 million square feet were installed in sport fields, including football, lacrosse, soccer and field hockey.
San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department has issued a report that recommends putting in dozens of lead-free artificial turf grass and environmentally sound base materials.
In July, the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission looked at 14 samples from four companies and determined that synthetic turf wasn’t a danger because of lead. However, the agency recommended that companies voluntarily remove it. Some have already begun to phase it out.
The state of New Jersey found high lead levels at community athletic fields, generating an inquiry by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  But more comprehensive lead studies procured by the Center for Environmental Health found lead in artificial turf at worrisome levels, including artificial grass used by residential installers and do-it-yourselfers.
More than 150 samples from two dozen companies tested by an independent lab showed that 30 percent had high lead levels. Ten or more companies had high levels of lead in different varieties of artificial turf. One of the major companies had a sample showing lead at 150 times higher than federal standards that will come into play with new legislation banning lead in children products. The concerns are that children put their contaminated hands in their mouths or breathe in dust from degraded plastic.