Tag Archives: Artificial turf

Feds Finally Take Action on Crumb Rubber Turf

CGbMcuqW0AAWKspOn February 25, 2015, March 11, 2015 and many other dates, Reform Sasscer Movement opposed synthetic turf from being installed in Prince George’s County Public Schools due to safety of the Children and special interests. After back and forth, the Maryland legislature overwhelmingly passed the bill providing funds for the installation of the turf fields despite the dangers involved.  Now, three federal agencies are teaming up to investigate the safety of crumb rubber artificial turf used in playing fields and playground all across the country — the subject of a series of NBC News reports.

The Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced an “action plan” on Friday  (2/12/2016) to answer questions raised about synthetic turf made from recycled tires and possible risks for young athletes.

“Some of the government’s best and brightest scientists are working to identify what is in recycled tire crumb, identify ways in which people may be exposed to it, and determine if it is harmful,” CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye said.

The agencies’ announcement said that while “limited studies” to date have not shown a danger, that research does not “comprehensively evaluate the concerns about health risks from exposure to tire crumb.”

Related: Watch the Original NBC News Report

The announcement came three weeks after Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., asked President Barack Obama to spearhead a comprehensive study of the playing surface.

“Parents and athletes of all ages want and deserve conclusive answers on whether exposure to crumb rubber turf can make one sick,” Nelson said. “Combining the resources and expertise of three federal agencies to help find those answers is the right thing to do.”

While critics and supporters of crumb rubber turf don’t agree on whether the surface poses a health risk — the industry says studies have shown no link with illness, while some parents and activists demand more testing — all sides want federal regulators to take a clear public position.

The announcement was welcome news to Jon and Laura Damm, environmental lawyers and parents who live in Fairfax County, Virginia, and have been pushing for local authorities to stop using crumb rubber in athletic fields.

“I think it’s fantastic…This really provides us with a lot of hope,” said Jon Damm, who also plays and coaches lacrosse.

He said that cities across the country should take note of the feds’ assessment that existing studies are not comprehensive enough.

“Hopefully they’ll take a pause and use one of the alternatives and see how this plays out,” he said.

The Synthetic Turf Council, an industry group, also said it supports the federal effort.

“We have consistently said that we support all additional research,” the council said in a statement. “At the same time, we strongly reaffirm that the existing studies clearly show that artificial turf fields and playgrounds with crumb rubber infill are safe and have no link to any health issues.

“We hope the federal government’s involvement, which we have been encouraging for years, will settle this matter once and for all, put parents’ minds at ease, and validate past and recent due diligence by public officials,” it added.

Image: Crumb Rubber/Nike Grind
Crumb rubber pellets recovered from an artificial turf field, left, and Nike Grind rubber bits, nestled among fake blades of grass, at right. Hannah Rappleye (L) / NBC News

The multiagency action plan calls for scientists to test different types of crumb rubber to determine what chemical compounds they contain and whether they are released when a person comes into contact with them.

“Once we better understand what chemicals are in tire crumb, we will also be able to search existing databases of information to understand the potential health effects of those chemicals,” the agencies said.

The feds plan to reach out to athletes, parents and industry representatives and draft a report by the end of the year.

In 2008, the CPSC declared that crumb rubber artificial turf was safe to play on, after the agency performed limited tests for lead on artificial turf’s nylon ‘grass’ blades.

That declaration, Chairman Kaye told NBC News in a recent interview prior to Friday’s announcement, was “overstated.”

“When it came up to the political level there was an effort to say something that, in my mind, overstated the results,” Chairman Kaye said. “It provided a level of assurance that I don’t think the study warranted.”

“As a parent, you’re looking for that,” Chairman Kaye added. “You just want to know it’s OK…I don’t really care about limited studies, or qualifications. Just tell me: is it safe, or not?”

“There’s no clear cut line like, if you do this you will get cancer, and if you don’t do this you won’t get cancer,” Chairman Kaye said. “The best that I think the science can do is try to focus on creating some parameters that are defensible, and coming up with risk scenarios.”

“All that is gobbledygook when it comes to parents who just want you to tell them what the answer is,” he added. “I think the responsibility that somebody in my position faces on the front end, is to try to make sure the process has as much as integrity as possible, and the scientists are getting as much as they need.”

by , and NBC


Investigator | New study shows kids exposed to toxic chemicals on artificial turf

635713028964036615-063015-ArtificialTurf-WKYCPellets made of ground tires can be found on synthetic fields.(Photo: WKYC-TV)

A new study shows that ground rubber found in sports fields and playgrounds often contains cancer-causing chemicals.

The so-called “crumb-rubber” — recycled tires that are crushed to bits — is used as padding in synthetic turf fields and in some playgrounds all over Northeast Ohio.

The study was commissioned by Nancy Alderman’s organization called Environment and Human Health. When asked if she would allow her children to play on the synthetic turf, Alderman said “never, absolutely never.”

Dr. Gaboury Benoit, a Yale University professor of environmental chemistry and engineering, was the study’s lead investigator.

“There’s 100 compounds. Only 50 of which have been evaluated in terms of their toxicity. Of those, most of them are carcinogens or irritants. As a parent, I just don’t want to expose my kids to carcinogens and irritants any more than I have to,” he said.

The study found 96 chemicals in 14 samples. Of the 96 chemicals detected, 47 chemicals (49 percent) had no toxicity assessments done on them for their health effects. Of the 96 chemicals detected, 49 chemicals (51 percent) have had some toxicity testing done, but even many of those had incomplete toxicity testing and therefore all health effects are not fully known. Of the 49 chemicals tested, 10 or 20 percent are probable carcinogens.

Researchers also found 40 percent of the chemicals are known irritants, including 12 or 24 percent which are respiratory irritants. Some can cause asthma.

“It’s an irresponsible experiment in whole generations of children,” said Alderman.

“The shredded tires contain a veritable witches’ brew of toxic substances,” Dr. Benoit told the Investigator Tom Meyer.

Alderman says she now knows of 124 soccer players with cancer. She said the majority (85 players) are goalies, who do more diving on the ground than other players. All 124 played on synthetic turf fields. She said the troubling data has been collected by Amy Griffin, the associate head soccer coach at the University of Washington.

Manufacturers have long argued the fake grass fields with ground rubber are safe. They point to more than a dozen studies backing up their claim. School districts like the fact that the artificial turf fields can withstand heavy use and they’re less expensive to maintain than grass. Dr. Benoit disagrees with the cost-savings argument, and argues that safety should always come first.

“Tires are a hazardous waste, and I find it surprising that if we have them converted into a consumer product, they’re no longer considered a hazardous waste,” said Dr. Benoit.

Solon recently replaced its artificial turf at a cost of about $400,000. The district’s superintendent, Joseph Regano, believes he’s not putting his student-athletes at risk by having them play on the synthetic turf.

He says there are studies on each side and they’re all over the map. But he is urging the government or some health authority like the Cleveland Clinic to conduct a study that would lead his district and others in the right direction.

“If there was something definitive that this is going to hurt people, no matter what investment we have n the field, the field would go. You can’t put anyone in that kind of jeopardy,” Regano said.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission and the federal EPA both conducted studies of artificial turf about five years ago and essentially gave kids the green light to play on them. But both agencies now say their studies were limited and in need of further research.

Neither agency is planning to conduct any additional testing.



US Women’s soccer objections forces end to FIFA use of artificial turf

imageRachel Maddow reports on the damage artificial turf does to soccer players’ skin when they slide, and the objections by the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team to being forced to play World Cup matches on artificial turf, leading FIFA to end the practice. See the video ~>>Duration: 4:01

This is the same artificial turf politicians in Prince Georgés county led by Mr.Rushern Baker III are about to force most high schools in the county to use.




Md. General Assembly with respect to PGCPS athletic facilities.

The following is the language based upon the budget actions taken by the General Assembly with respect to athletic facilities in the county for the Fiscal Year 2016 budget bill:
$2,800,000 as a grant to the Prince George’s County Office of the County Executive for the planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, reconstruction, site work, and capital equipping of athletic facilities at the following public high schools:
Northwestern High School;
Suitland High School;
High Point High School; and
Bowie High School.
There is no mention of artificial turf, though, of course that is what the county intends it for. >>>Read our previous coverage. 
Given the debate over property tax rate increases for schools in Prince George’s, it is probably worth emailing the Governor, the County Exec and the Council that these monies should be used for renovation of grass fields and not for artificial turf.  if this is about finding funds to repair school fields then we have those for Prince George’s County Public Schools.
state-house (1)***

Prince George’s County Board of Education – Public High Schools – Outdoor Synthetic Turf Fields.


Reform Sasscer Movement has received reports that, SB 867 – the Prince George’s artificial turf bill has passed the Senate 44-2 and is now in the House Appropriations committee.  There was one amendment – limiting POS funds to 50% of PG allotment.  The House version of the bill has not passed the full delegation.

We suggest you call your delegates along with writing emails and ask them to vote “NO’ because of the healthy issues associated with synthetic Turf.  Here is a link to all Prince George’s County house delegation.



BREAKING NEWS: USA TODAY – Syn Turf Contains Lead And Substances Linked To Types of Cancer.

As we have protested repeatedly here, there are more alarming quotes in the USA Today article than we have seen in one place in many years working on these issues.  Lots of groups are exposed and municipalities that have refused to have fields tested look irresponsible and immature.  Communities which embrace these products without thinking through must go back to the drawing board for the good of the community especially in Prince George’s County.
Addressing these disparities requires making healthier choices easier in people’s daily lives by removing obstacles that make healthy and affordable food less accessible. We must ensure communities have more safe and accessible places for people to be physically active without compromising their well being and other values.

According to documented analysis as shown in the USA Today article and elsewhere, Synthetic turf contains mercury, lead, benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, heavy metals, arsenic and other carcinogens. These substances have been linked to several types of cancer, including leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Who’s At Risk? It is believed that children who play sports, such as soccer, football on artificial turf fields may be at the greatest risk for developing cancer.

What is ‘Crumb rubber’? It is used in artificial turf fields to fill the space between the grass blades. It is a form of recycled rubber made from automobile and truck tires. The EPA states that a number of materials, including lead and benzene, may be found in tires. Therefore, some believe that these same substances may also be present in artificial turf fields across the country.

Have Lawsuits Been Filed? Yes – and three of the country’s biggest manufacturers of artificial turf, Field Turf, AstroTurf LLC and Beaulieu Group, have already agreed to reduce the amount of lead in their products. This came after the California Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit alleging that the companies failed to warn the public about harmful substances in their artificial turf products. These lawsuits did not provide compensation to those injured as a result of exposure to synthetic turf.

Who’s At Risk?  Any child or adult who has spent an extended amount of time on artificial playing fields may have been exposed to lead and other carcinogens. Child athletes, especially high school soccer goalies, are thought to be particularly at risk for health problems related to artificial turf, as they are routinely in contact with the ground.

Study Find Dangerous Amounts of Lead in Artificial Turf

The main reason artificial turf is particularly dangerous is because it contains “crumb rubber,” which is made of ground-up rubber tires and is used to fill space between the turf’s grass blades. According to the EPA, tires contain lead and a number of other potentially hazardous substances, leading many to believe that artificial turf products may also contain the same dangerous compounds and materials found in automobile and truck tires.

In 2010, as part of a state investigation, artificial turf at The Mission Recreation Center in San Francisco was tested for lead levels. At the time, the California state standard for lead in children’s products (turf is classified as a children’s product since children frequently play on it) was 300 parts per million (ppm). The Mission Recreation Center’s field was found to contain 17,000 ppm, which meant that the turf contained a dangerously high level of lead. The California standard for lead ppm has since been lowered to only 60 ppm, making the recreation center’s turf more than 250 times the level now thought to be safe. Unfortunately, it is believed that such high levels of lead in sports fields across the country are not uncommon.

Companies Reduce Lead Use in Turf, But Thousands Still At Risk

In 2009 and 2010, Field Turf, AstroTurf LLC and Beaulieu Group faced legal action from the California Attorney General’s Office over allegations that they failed to warn the public about the lead in their products. As a result of a settlement, the turf manufacturers agreed to drastically reduce the use of lead in their products and to replace turf in fields considered to be unsafe; however, because this settlement only required the companies to replace unsafe turf in California, thousands of playgrounds, parks and sports fields across the country may still contain hazardous levels of lead.

SynTurf.org Note: The purveyors of artificial turf fields are rather fond of saying that ‘[d]uring the past two decades, there have been more than 60 technical studies and reports that review the health effects of crumb rubber. The preponderance of evidence show no negative health effects associated with crumb rubber in synthetic turf.” The preponderance of evidence is civil measure of responsibility and its usually satisfied with a showing of 50+1 percent certainty. That leaves 49% of uncertainty. If among 100 players, 51 did not get cancer but 49 did would one excuse the deaths of 49 players to such a standard. In this country—at least one would hope—that in matters of public health and certainly life-and death that one would espouse a higher standard—even more so than the familiar “beyond the reasonable doubt” but decide matter son the basis of “beyond a shadow of a doubt.


Please call or email your opposition to your elected officials now. Tell them to back down on MD House Bill 597 and stay transparent. See our previous coverage here >>> Say “NO” to – HOUSE BILL 597 – Outdoor Synthetic Turf Fields.




Say “NO” to – HOUSE BILL 597 – Outdoor Synthetic Turf Fields.


Prince George’s County leaders needs to be responsive to people’s needs and aspirations and it is unfair for main players within the county not to be flexible.

One thing we won’t support is where people take their frustrations of losing in the last elections or in the Board of Education election or other polls into the activities of the Education community to siphon off cash from our education system for personal gain. You can’t mix political frustrations with other matters dear to the people.

We request leaders in the county to remain sensitive to the residents’ concerns as highlighted in our blogs and we persuade those involved in questionable activity to re-look at the areas in the Education Act which are hostile to the county especially the turf bill and others with a hidden agenda.

A lawn can be a lovely thing, pleasing to the eye and a place to chill out and unwind and even to play football as advanced by the turf bill here in Prince George’s County recently. But as with all things, the beauty and pleasure comes at a cost. The cost is one of time and effort as well as money and health risks. The alternative to natural grass is the synthetic option as advanced by the Prince George’s County politicians within the county schools. (Read more here).  First created in the 1960s, synthetic grass was initially intended for use in sporting arenas like football stadiums where the maintenance of natural grass was costly and required investment in manpower and special equipment.

Artificial turf, usually constructed of polyethylene plastic grass and an in-fill base of “crumb rubber” from ground-up recycled tires (as many as 10,000 in a single field) have become increasingly popular in some communities without much thought to the process.

As more grass fields are converted to synthetic turf within the county (according to a spokesperson for the Synthetic Turf Council in Atlanta about 900 new synthetic turf fields were installed at schools nationwide in 2008), however, a debate has been heating up about possible health risks and the advantages and disadvantages of artificial turf fields as shown below. Since reform Sasscer movement is against the turf bill being advanced by some of the Prince George’s County politicians including County Executive Baker, let us start by examining the disadvantages of synthetic grass and then demand action.

Disadvantage of Synthetic Grass

 The following list of disadvantages will help you balance the picture. After all, nothing is really perfect and keep them in mind as you call your elected officials including Governor Larry Hogan to say “No” to the turf bill for Prince George’s County.

  1.  The upfront cost of installing synthetic grass can be very high, making it financially impractical.
  2. There is normally a rubber cushion below the surface to provide softness and bounce. This may require occasional re-filling. Politicians in Prince George’s county have not explained who will be in charge of occasional re-filling and maintenance fees.
  3. Synthetic grass can become unpleasantly hot in summer creating Heat hazard. The heat-absorbing properties of an artificial field make it too hot to play on in extremely warm weather. On a 98-degree day, the temperature on the turf could rise to more than 120 degrees. A Brigham Young University study found that the surface temperature of synthetic turf at its football practice field was 37 degrees higher than the air temperature. Proponents point out that use of the fields can be managed to ensure that athletes aren’t playing at the hottest times of the day and are adequately hydrated; as a result, they argue, the higher temperature is more of a comfort issue than safety issue.
  4. There are fears that the chemicals used in the manufacture of synthetic grass can be harmful to the health. Although manufacturers say that they meet health and safety standards, the debate remains inconclusive. For Example
  • Excessive exposure to lead has been linked to severe mental retardation, stunted growth and death. As Don Mays, senior director of product safety at the Consumer’s Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, says, “There is no safe level of lead; let’s be clear on that.” The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, saying that there is no safe level of lead exposure and suggesting that levels in soil be no higher than trace amounts (40 parts per million).
  • Older turf fields made from nylon or nylon/polyethylene blend fibers may contain levels of lead that pose a potential public health concern. Tests of artificial turf fields made with only polyethylene fibers showed that these fields contained very low levels of lead.
  • Field Turf, the largest artificial turf manufacturer in North America, sells a lead-free artificial turf, but only if the community asksfor the custom-made field. The fields that most communities purchase use lead to brighten the field’s colors and for a sport team logo.
  • Says Jackie Lombardo, a member of the Sierra Club National Toxics Committee, “We know older turf products contain toxic chemicals associated with asthma, learning disabilities, and cancer. Saying they are safe because they don’t contain lead is like saying cigarettes are safe because they don’t contain lead. There are so many chemicals in this synthetic grass and we don’t know what the effects are going to be not only on children’s health, but also what the effects are on the ground water as well.”
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has consistently recommended “the elimination of all non-essential uses of lead” because of the potential health hazards they pose and has long considered lead dust one of the biggest known health hazards to children; it notes that the combination of age, weathering, exposure to sunlight and wear and tear can cause dust containing lead to be released from older or well-used fields.
  • Zinc hazard:A Connecticut-based environmental advocacy group, Environment and Human Health Inc. (EHHI), has been sounding warnings about artificial turf fields for a number of years and found support for its contentions in a preliminary study in 2007 by researchers at the Connecticut agricultural experiment station which examined the contents of “crumb rubber” and concluded that several potentially dangerous chemical compounds could escape into the air or leach into water under certain conditions. Levels of zinc found leaching into water were inordinately high. A study by University of North Carolina found a possible link between continued exposure to zinc and cardiovascular damage.
  • Other harmful chemicals: according to EHHI, shredded rubber could contain other toxic metals like arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and selenium.
  • Toxic run-off.When an artificial field drains after a heavy rain, the run-off (which may contain lead and infill material) could leach into and contaminate a community’s ground and drinking water.
  • Increased MRSA risk.Open skin lesions (so-called “turf burns”) put athletes at increased risk of MRSA. Studies have shown that athletes who use synthetic turf are seven times more likely to receive turf burns than those who play on natural grass. These open lesions are often the source of contracting and vehicle for spreading dangerous infections. In fact, a 2003 study of MRSA infections among St. Louis Rams football players found that all eight MRSA infections began at turf burn sites.
  • Bacterial breeding ground. Medical experts have found that staphylococci and other bacteria can survive on polyethylene plastic, the compound used to make synthetic turf blades, for more than 90 days. Blood, sweat, skin cells and other materials can remain on the synthetic turf because the fields are not washed or cleaned.
  • Adverse effect on asthmatics. Breathing in dust of ground-up tires could exacerbate breathing problems for asthmatics.
  1. Synthetic grass is not natural grass – it cannot offer the special scent of wet earth and grass or the sweet smell of freshly cut grass.
  2. Once artificial, always artificial.Once a community goes with artificial turf, it has no choice but to install another artificial turf field when the first one needs to be replaced because once plastic replaces natural grass, it kills any living organism in the subsoil making it impossible without years of soil remediation to grow anything on that surface.

The Advantages of Synthetic Grass

  1.  Synthetic grass, once installed requires little in the way of maintenance – no watering or mowing is required.
  2. You save on the cost of water and buying and operating a lawn mower.
  3. No expensive fertilizers and weed killers need be bought.
  4. Because you do not need to use chemicals to grow or protect the grass, you are not adding to pollution levels and affecting the environment on an ongoing basis.
  5. You will not have to spend time pulling out weeds.
  6. Synthetic grass is long lasting and you will not have to incur the expense or hassles of period replanting that natural grass will require.
  7. Synthetic grass offers excellent drainage so after rain or the use of water to wash it, the grass it will dry quickly.
  8. The good drainage also means that you don’t have to worry about puddles of water collecting and lasting for days and then leaving patches of mud for the unwary to step in.
  9. Play sports on the lawn will not damage the grass.
  10. Synthetic grass always looks perfectly manicured so you will never be embarrassed by an unkempt lawn.

The Choice is yours

These are arguments for and against synthetic grass in the county schools and elsewhere. We also understand that there are fields that are tough to use due to drainage; we get that.  But, again, let the school system decide how and when to deal with that on a case by case basis and with consideration of their overall list of priorities after a discussion or debate involving the community.  Mandating a wholesale change to a specific turf product is not the answer within the county schools. The state legislature has FAR more important things to worry about – they need to get off this meddling kick of the county schools without any discussion of the concerned parties.

If all the above solid reasons sound like they make an airtight case for the use of synthetic grass, you should weigh the pros and cons identified carefully, with your objectives and needs in mind before making a final decision. We encourage the concerned parties to raise their voice and object further meddling.

Otherwise, call your elected officials now (Senate delegation here, house delegation here) and the media. Let us say “NO” to Synthetic grass in Prince George’s County Public Schools. It’s not too late to stop what appears to be a white elephant in the making.  The money fueling this activity is tainted and made with profit racketeering in mind involving some of the key players in this saga. On this note, let us also demand transparency with Casino money which was promised to the schools.   It’s about time to take back our communities and conserve the environment for the future generations!

>>> Read more about the bill here and oppose it ~>Turf Bill -hb0597F