Tuesday, August 2, 2011

5 may get you 10

 nothing reminds one of impending autumn like the smell of freshly mown green paint  and crumb rubber.

i do not wish to imply that  new athletic turf is necessarily a bad thing, but  the impact of concussion and brain injuries  on these surfaces is not to be underestimated.
with the installation comes a new series of issues and considerations of which  young athletes and their guardians must be made aware, positive and negative.


  • Looks and feels like natural grass - all year round, no matter the weather
  • Unmatched durability and drainage - better than natural grass
  • No need for pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, and fungicides
  • No watering - protect our precious natural resources
  • Low maintenance and upkeep
  • Reduce carbon emissions from mowing, weed-eating, and edging


  • Maximizes playing time
  • Increases revenue generation potential
  • Offers the most proven, durable and safest product in the industry
  • Provides a consistent artificial turf surface for superior all-around performance
  • Minimizes abrasions, neural and joint injuries
  • Contributes to less time lost to injury - compared to natural grass



"why do we let our children play on and in and touch material that can not be legally placed in a landfill?"
 New Jersey Work Environment Council (WEC) Fact Sheet

Be Aware of Artificial Turf Hazards

A small but growing number of school districts, municipalities, and
universities in New Jersey are switching from traditional grass athletic
fields to artificial turf. Changed considerably since 1960s AstroTurf, newer
synthetic grass is touted for advantages like shock-absorption and durability
in varied weather conditions. There is no need for mowing, watering,
pesticides, or fertilizer and therefore the turf is advertised as
environmentally friendly. While these advantages have powerful
appeal, synthetic turf comes with an unfortunate host of
established and potential health and environmental risks.
A modern artificial field surface has three layers – drainage, shock absorbing, and
surface. The surface has polyethylene plastic blades that simulate grass and a several
inch layer of “infill” that keeps the blades upright. The infill varies by manufacturer and
may include ground-up recycled tires, ground-up soles of athletic shoes, silica sand,
and/or new thermoplastic or rubber material. This “crumb rubber” has been found to
contain toxic materials such as:
• Toxic metals including zinc, lead, arsenic, cadmium, and chromium which have
many harmful effects on humans and the environment.
• Carcinogens including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
• Latex and other rubbers which can cause allergic reactions.
• Phthalates which have adverse effects on the reproductive organs, lungs,
kidneys and liver.
Crumb rubber can degrade from weather and microbes, producing new chemicals.
Toxic components can be breathed in, accidentally ingested, contact the skin, and leach
into surface water and groundwater. Besides toxicity, other problems with artificial turf
• Crumb rubber doesn’t stay in place. It can move around on the field and sticks
to the skin, shoes, and clothing of staff and students who use the fields. It can
end up inside schools, vehicles, and homes.
• Excessive heat. Artificial surfaces are dramatically hotter than natural grass
fields, reaching temperatures up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit and possibly
contributing to burns, dehydration, and heat exhaustion. They may be too hot to
play on at times. Watering cools them down but they heat back up quickly.

• High cost. Artificial fields cost in the
range of one-half to two million dollars.
• Friction. Some types of artificial turf can
cause skin abrasion to a greater extent
than natural grass.
• Sanitation. Dog, goose, and other
droppings do not decompose on artificial turf.
• Maintenance. The crumb rubber may need to be raked to maintain a uniform
depth. Solvents and adhesives may be needed to repair seams. Leaves, gum,
and other debris need to be regularly removed or they may clog the drainage
• Short Life. Artificial turf has a life expectancy, with proper maintenance, of five to
ten years compared to at least 15 years for grass fields.
• Disposal. One football field contains approximately 120 tons of crumb rubber or
26,000 recycled tires. Crumb rubber takes more than 25 years to break down
• Unpleasant odor. The odor is especially a problem in indoor installations.
• Loss of habitat. Artificial turf does not support birds, animals, or insects.
• Combustibility. While shredded tires will burn at a much lower rate than chunk
tires, crumb rubber can certainly be made to burn by arson, producing smoke
and toxic air, soil, and water pollutants.
Caution Advised
Although the desire to improve access to sports fields is clearly well-intentioned, the
risks that accompany synthetic turf need to be carefully considered. Issues of toxicity,
movement, heat, cost, friction, sanitation, lifespan, maintenance, warranty, disposal
costs, odor, loss of habitat, combustibility, should be thoroughly addressed before any
decision to purchase is made. The community should carefully consider all the options
including natural grass.
There are many manufacturers of artificial turf with different products and advertising
claims. It is reasonable to expect vendors to identify the chemical ingredients of all turf
components and provide a Material Safety Data Sheet on each component, especially
the crumb rubber. If the crumb rubber is of unknown composition, that should raise a
serious warning.

Tires are known to contain over 60 different substances. Typically, forty-five percent is
vulcanized or cross-linked polymer, forty-five percent is carbon black, and the rest is
dispersing oil, sulfur, synthetic fibers, pigments, processing chemicals and steel or
fiberglass. Tire manufacturers use a variety of formulation recipes and Ingredients are
often kept secret. Therefore the company that produces the crumb rubber will most
likely have to analyze its composition on a regular basis to provide accurate information
on ingredients, since different batches can be expected to vary in content.
When it comes to synthetic turf, the most sensible approach may be to follow the
precautionary principle of assuming something involving chemicals is hazardous until
scientific evidence proves that it is not. Some public health professionals are calling for
a moratorium on installing any new fields that use ground-up rubber tires until the
hazards are better understood. Some are also recommending that exposures to already
installed fields that contain rubber-tires should be limited.
For More Information
Synthetic Turf: Health Debate Takes Root, 2008
Environmental Health Perspectives, published by the National Institute of Environmental
Health Sciences.


Artificial Turf: Exposures to Ground-Up Rubber Tires, 2007
Environment and Human Health, Inc.,


Toxicants in Artificial Turf, 2007
Rachel's Democracy & Health News #937
Environmental Research Foundation


This fact sheet was prepared by the New Jersey Work Environment Council (WEC). WEC is an alliance of
labor, community, and environmental organizations working together for safe, secure jobs, and a healthy,
sustainable environment. WEC links workers, communities, and environmentalists through training,
technical assistance, grassroots organizing, and public policy campaigns to promote dialogue,
collaboration, and joint action.
Contact WEC to request a speaker for a meeting or information about membership affiliation.
NJ Work Environment Council, 142 West State Street, Third Floor, Trenton, NJ 08608.
Telephone (609) 695-7100; Fax (609) 695-7100. E-mail info@njwec.org; on the web at www.njwec.org
 god bless the grass
the late malvina reynolds

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