October 2008


NYC crumb rubber fact sheet ignores warnings.

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issues fact sheet acknowledging the presence of PAHs, VOCs, MRSA, and Heavy Metals in Crumb Rubber, but ignores warnings from scientific studies.

Despite the study from the UMDNJ (University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – School of Public Health) that issued scientific findings clearly showing the ingestion of lead from crumb rubber – it appears that NYC Health Dept. officials are willing to gamble with the health effects of proven dangerous crumb rubber infill’s.

In an excerpt from the recently released study questioning the health hazards of synthetic turf fields that utilize crumb rubber for infill, the city health department has somehow justified the continued use of these materials while clearly stating that some problems exist and admittedly placing the population in danger of effects from these carcinogenic field components.

Study and Fact Sheet Says Dangers – OK

Contradicting the recent study released from the UMDNJ, the NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene has released a fact sheet that details the use of synthetic turf as a viable surface medium. As a result of the study, undertaken to answer questions surrounding the problems of the City’s often overused sports and activity venues, the fact sheet shows that the City’s health Department officials are apparently willing to accept levels of the most dangerous carcinogens present in traditional synthetic and artificial turf fields, while ignoring the availability of alternative infill systems.

MRSA is NO Issue in New York?

One of the most incessant infectious diseases that anyone can contract from a synthetic turf field is MRSA. However, In responding to a question about MRSA staph infections, the NYC answer was: Bacterial infections, such as methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), have not been shown to be caused by synthetic turf fields. This conclusion from NYC Health Department release are in direct conflict with many studies and specifically, with the following experiences of one Marci Calantonio (the mother of a boy who contacted MRSA from a crumb rubber infilled synthetic turf field (reference http://www.gazette.net/stories/102407/montnew62421_32372.shtml )) and the results at Morgan State Football Program, Baltimore Md (where the football coach was finally able to pinpoint exactly where the MRSA came from (reference http://wjz.com/sports/staph.mrsa.infection.2.797936.html)).

Alternate Safe Solutions Ignored

As an alternative to all forms of crumb rubber and the multiple health effects that can come from crumb rubber infills, TargaPro offers an anti-microbial infill that contains no rubber (hence no heavy metals such as lead or zinc and no PAHs or VOCs) and eliminates the possibility that a synthetic turf field could harbor infectious disease such as MRSA and other Staph bacteria. It is beyond comprehension that a competitively priced alternative such as Organite™ is on the market and that NYC Health Officials would not even acknowledge its presence after being made aware of the availability, property, effects, and testing results of such a safe alternative solution.

Excerpt Justifies Use With Effects on “Few”

The excerpt below shows some of the Q&A style parts of the fact sheet issued as an encapsulation of the issues that the study addressed. While seemingly informative, the results show an attempt by the NYC Health Department officials to make sure there is no problem by saying so, not by proving so, and without so much as a single acknowledgment of either their own or other municipalities’ well publicized health problems with synthetic turf infills.

If you contrast the selected Q&A fact sheet segments listed below with the statements in our previous blog posts from Congresswoman Rosa Delauro and The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey it will become fairly obvious that NYC is trying valiantly to justify the continued use of this dangerous infill material.

Who Benefits?

And, in light of this attempt at justification we have to ask, especially in the light of Organite™ as a viable alternative that protects the health and welfare of kids and athletes alike, who is responsible for this blatant oversight and who profits (and who suffers) from this misguided choice?

An Excerpt from the NYC Dept. of Health Fact Sheet

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene



Environ. & Occup. Disease Epi.

Fact Sheet on Crumb Rubber Used in Synthetic Turf

Synthetic turf fields using crumb rubber have been installed in many athletic and playing fields throughout New York City, the United States and the world. This fact sheet provides information on questions often asked about the rubber used in the synthetic turf fields.

Q: What are synthetic turf fields made of?
A: A: The NYC Parks Department uses different kinds of synthetic turf depending on how and where it will be used. Most of the synthetic turf fields contain crumb rubber infill along with padding and drainage systems. Other synthetic fields are made of carpet-style materials and do not use crumb rubber. The carpet-style fields are used primarily in the conversion of asphalt fields to synthetic fields.

Crumb rubber fields are made of the following materials:

  • A bottom layer composed of plastic sheeting.
  • Middle layers composed of crushed stones with plastic tubing for drainage and rubber padding for shock absorbance
  • A top layer composed of plastic mesh with soft, plastic strands that resemble blades of grass
  • Crumb rubber infill, made from recycled tires, is added to the top layer to provide extra padding and keep the grass upright. Sand is sometimes mixed with the crumb rubber.

Currently, about 13% of the Parks Department’s 952 playing fields are synthetic turf (with 70% grass and 17% asphalt).

Q: What chemicals can be found in the synthetic turf crumb rubber?
A: The crumb rubber used in synthetic turf is mainly composed of recycled tires, which contain man-made and natural rubber. Very small amounts of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have been found in the crumb rubber. Crumb rubber can also contain small amounts of heavy metals such as zinc and iron.

Q: Can people be exposed to the chemicals found in crumb rubber?
A: Although the potential for significant exposure to the chemicals in crumb rubber is very low, there are three possible ways for people to have contact with these chemicals on artificial turf fields:

  • Accidentally ingesting small amounts of crumb rubber by putting fingers in the mouth or not washing hands before eating after playing on the fields
  • Breathing in dust and vapors while playing on the fields. Crumb rubber may become dust as it wears and the rubber may give off some vapors.
  • Direct skin contact with the crumb rubber.

Q: Are any health effects associated with these chemicals?
A: Several scientific research studies carried out in the United States and Europe have assessed potential exposures and health risks for people using turf fields containing crumb rubber. According to the Health Department’s review of these research findings, health effects are unlikely from exposure to the levels of chemicals found in synthetic turf. At much higher levels, these chemicals can cause serious health effects. In laboratory studies, PAHs have caused organ damage and cancer in animals. Some PAHs may also pose a cancer risk for people exposed to high levels for long periods. VOCs are a mixture of chemicals that can cause eye, nose, throat and skin irritation. At high levels, some VOCs can also cause organ damage.

Q: Are people who play on synthetic turf fields at risk of bacterial infections?
A: Bacterial infections, such as methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), have not been shown to be caused by synthetic turf fields. Bacterial infections among athletes are due mainly to physical contact and sharing contaminated towels or sports equipment. Coaches and players should be aware of the potential for MRSA transmission and infection among athletes. All skin cuts or abrasions should be washed with soap and water and covered immediately. School athletic departments and sports leagues, should use good hygienic practices and prohibit the sharing of towels and equipment that rubs against bare skin.

Q: Should people continue to use synthetic turf fields with crumb rubber?
A:
Yes. Regular physical activity is one of the most important parts of a healthy lifestyle. Synthetic turf fields allow access to open spaces for sports and physical activities. After any outdoor activity, people should wash their hands before eating or drinking. On very hot days, users should limit activities, take rest breaks and drink water.

The Q&A sheet is available at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/eode/eode-turf.shtml

The full document is available at: http://www.health.state.ny.us/environmental/outdoors/synthetic_turf/crumb-rubber_infilled/fact_sheet.htm

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Posted by syntheticturfmd under Press Releases, Synthetic Turf Issues

California Senator Abel Maldonado authors Senate bill (SB1277) that originally called for preparation and posting of a study investigating the tremendous liability, and health issues lying in wait, in the crumb rubber used as infill in synthetic turf fields.  The impact on both the environment and the public were to be investigated but the bill out of the senate completely neuters the intent of the original bill.

Do the taxpayers need to spend $200,000 on another wasted Study –

The original legislation submitted by Senator Maldonado shows his depth of understanding of this subject (read the original bill below with red lines). However, the bill voted out of the senate as SB1277 has been completely neutered and winds up being little more than another excuse to spend $200,000 of the taxpayers money for an almost worthless study – The original bill to study the crumb rubber infill problems has been watered down to a study on how to clean and maintain synthetic turf . No effort is being made in the revised bill to address the real problem issues.

The original bill put forth by Senator Maldonado would been worth every penny of the allocated funds and would have revealed many studies showing that crumb rubber infill used in synthetic turf fields is in fact, not only harmful to anyone using the field by harboring infectious disease such as MRSA, but also is detrimental to the environment in the leaching of carcinogens through run off of heavy metals with storm water and through airborne off-gassing when the field temperatures exceed 120 degrees. The $200,000 allocated to fund the study ironically is generated from fees paid for the disposal of tires. Although this bill has been signed into law, this forward thinking (original) legislation was stripped of its usefulness and the study now moves forward with a due date of Sept. 1, 2010.

Better Late Than Never???

As the momentum of the bio-related health issues that affect players and the ecological impact that affects the environment builds, so do the number of these carcinogen producing and infectious disease harboring fields. While it is a positive effect to have this study “in the works”, it is also disconcerting that the results are not due until 2010.

The recent study by the UMDNJ (see our post – below – on this study) shows definitively that ingestion of crumb rubber particles is extremely dangerous. This study found that the lead contained in crumb rubber particles are released by the stomach’s gastric juices and are absorbed by the body. The study showed – “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 question at hand is

Will the Maldonado study come soon enough or be far reaching enough to recognize the alternative to unhealthy artificial turf for use in high use arenas? This study would not even be necessary if the CPSC had not failed (through a narrowly focused lens) to let the presence of some heavy metals in the turf fibers of some very old artificial turf fields distract them from investigating the real problem – the crumb rubber infill.

Those individuals in a position to decide on the turf field solutions to place their (and our) kids on, must now decide which of the available systems to use — unhealthy crumb rubber in all its forms and blends — or the Organite Anti-Microbial Infill – as the only safe, healthy, and environmentally sound choice.

Three Blind Mice … Influential turf installation companies

Previous posts on this site show that there exists a plethora of research and studies that reveal infectious diseases such as MRSA and staph are harbored in the crumb rubber (and crumb rubber and sand mix) infill used to hold up the turf fibers of the biggest synthetic turf companies that exist today. Note that despite what some would claim, ground crumb rubber is just that ground crumb rubber – whether it be ambient ground or cryogenically ground makes absolutely no difference to the content of the lead (or other heavy metals) contained in the rubber. Well financed and influential turf companies continue to push artificial turf infill solutions that, today, are known problem systems, and these companies continue to deny any problems exist in order to maintain their stranglehold on the industry.

Surfacing almost daily, there continues to be more evidence that substantiates the harboring of infectious disease in the fields constructed using crumb rubber infill or any version of it. The latest occurrence was at Morgan State University where the field, through a process of eliminating all other sources, was correctly blamed as the point of infection despite denials by the three blind mice. (Reported by Alex Demetrick – WJZ-TV) http://wjz.com/sports/staph.mrsa.infection.2.797936.html

Not Too Good to Be True … a necessity or a panacea?

Solutions to both environmental and health (as well as safety) concerns remains largely unrecognized. What is needed is a solution to the crumb rubber problem that:

· will be heavy metals free,

· is totally carcinogen free,

· emits no PAHs,

· does not off-gas harmful particles that can be inhaled,

· is free of gastro intestinal absorption,

· does not leach harmful run off,

· lowers surface temperatures,

· has no need for anti-microbial recoating,

· maintains an Ultimate Gmax rating under 150 for the life of the product

We, at TargaPro, have been utilizing such a substance and touting its benefits, almost as a lone voice on the subject, for the past year. Previous blog posts on this site have highlighted reports of those who have an awareness of the issues which have an impact on people and the environment. Along with these individuals, TargaPro, is working diligently to make these venues safe, healthy, and environmentally sound due to the ongoing demand for high use synthetic turf fields.

In addition to lead free fibers and no urethane backings, the solution is Organite™, an Anti-Microbial infill, http://www.targapro.com/products/sports/Tech-prod-Specs/tech-specs/organite.html as one of the system components that provides an integrated solution to – high traffic use, storm water management, safety and health issues as well as ecological soundness http://www.targapro.com/products/sports/environmental-issues/H-and-E.html .

Following is the marked-up original California Senate Bill 1277 submitted by Senator Maldonado. Note how the redlining of this bill completely changes the intent of the bill from a health study on the use of crumb rubber within synthetic turf” to an almost useless study on best practices for cleaning and maintaining synthetic turf”.

AMENDED IN SENATE MARCH 24, 2008

SENATE BILL No. 1277

Introduced by Senator Maldonado

February 19, 2008

An act to add Article 3 (commencing with Section 115810) to Chapter

4 of Part 10 of Division 104 of the Health and Safety Code, relating

to An act relating to synthetic turf.

legislative counsel’s digest

SB 1277, as amended, Maldonado. Synthetic turf.

Existing law requires all new playgrounds open to the public built by

a public agency or any other entity to conform to the playground-related

standards set forth by the American Society for Testing and Materials

and the playground-related guidelines set forth by the United States

Consumer Product Safety Commission.

This bill would prohibit a person from installing synthetic turf, as

defined, on an athletic playing field within the boundaries of a public

or private school or public recreational park unless and until the Office

of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has prepared a site specific

environmental impact report on this installation. The bill would also

require, on or before June 30, 2009, require, on or before September

1, 2010, the State Department of Public Health to prepare and make

available to the public a health study on the use of crumb rubber within

best practices for cleaning and maintaining synthetic turf.

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes.

State-mandated local program: no.

This bill is also available on line (with revisions) at http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/07-08/bill/sen/sb_1251-1300/sb_1277_bill_20080324_amended_sen_v98.pdf