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

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.

This is our view of the  “lead in synthetic turf” controversy currently raging in the industry and what portions of it are correct and what portions of it are not being properly addressed. You may have a different view and we would be very interested in hearing them.

Recently, we have been asked to produce a quick reference guide about the health issues related to synthetic turf for our company, TargaPro; by a number of our existing clients that are fielding questions from concerned parties. As we are bidding and currently working a number of sites where artificial turf has become a major issue, the copmpany has prepared a statement that obviates those concerns. Supporting documents for the statements below are available upon request.

Following the CPSC ruling that “there is no problem with the turf”, we see a constant stream of misinformation pertaining to the issue of lead in synthetic turf and the resulting health issues. The CPSC was correct – about only one issue, that being, there is no real problem with the “turf” (testing being limited to the manufactured “carpet”); however, only the turf fibers were tested, no other components were considered and that is where the potential problems truly do exist. A broader picture of this real problem is encapsulated below.

The issue is not lead in the new fields, only a few older fields had/have lead in the fibers.

  • -The lead content issue is a result of fields that were installed many years ago, made with nylon yarns.
  • -Currently, most all fields are produced with fibers that have low lead content levels and are of no concern.
  • -We use tested polyethylene fibers and yarns for our turf. The test results for lead on TargaPro’s EcoGreen66 Synthetic Turf are – 6 MG/KG as opposed to the standard of 85 MG/KG.

There are, in fact, three real issues:

1) Carcinogen runoff from the infill.

  • -Outdoor fields begin to gas off carcinogens at 120 degrees; indoor fields have no heat-driven issues.
  • -Cryogenic and ambient ground rubber, and silica sand, used for infill material may result in carcinogen runoff, gas off of harmful chemicals, and the heat island affect, when used on outdoor fields.
  • -TargaPro utilizes an Anti-Microbial Infill (AMI) called Organite™ as a non-carcinogenic, environmentally clean alternative exceeding all HIC values, G-Max and P-Max requirements, and contains no rubber.

2) Bacteria-harboring infill and bio-health related issues.

  • -Crumb rubber and sand mixed infills can harbor harmful bacteria that leave athletes subject to infection.
  • -TargaPro uses the Anti-Microbial Infill as a health agent also, killing bacteria on the molecular level addressing bio-health related issues.

3) Disposal of spent fields

  • The backings used for synthetic turf construction will become an issue related to landfill disposal of the fields following the typical 8 year guarantee. Urethane backings are not considered recyclable.
  • TargaPro’s EcoGreen66 Synthetic Turf uses a polyolefin, three layer-woven backing that attributes the entire system as 100% recyclable.