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Archive for November, 2009

Havens Playfield – Toxic Tires or Crushed Cork and Coconut?

Posted by movenden on November 16, 2009

Dear Friends,

I, and many others in our community, are very concerned that the infill of the new Havens Playfield not be made of crumb rubber from ground-up waste tires.  Please take a moment to complete this very brief (4-question) survey about the new Havens Playfield surface, which includes the opportunity to sign an on-line petition against crumb rubber infill.  To access the survey/petition, just click on this link:


The School Board is holding a Special Meeting next Tuesday (Nov 17 from 4-6 p.m. at City Council chambers) to make a decision on this issue.  We encourage as many people as possible to attend this meeting, but, recognizing that not everyone will be available, we ask you to please either write the Board and/or complete this survey/petition.  Please do this a.s.a.p., as there isn’t much time!  And please forward this on to friends and acquaintances.

The Board Packet for this meeting is now available on the PUSD website.(http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/board-of-education/meeting-materials ).   In these materials, you will note that the estimated cost for a grass field at this site is very high due to the need to install a new water meter and for soil removal.  For that reason, many of us who had previously supported a grass field are now in favor of the organic (cork/coconut husk) infill.  Because this infill contains no toxic chemicals, we feel that this is the safest, most environmentally- friendly alternative.  And since very little is known about environmental/ health issues associated with the other two infill alternatives (TPE and Flexsand), we are not favoring these.  For more information about the health and environmental concerns that have been raised about crumb rubber, a Resource List is attached.

Problems with crumb rubber:

In a nutshell: The health and environmental effects of long-term, repeated exposure to crumb rubber are unknown.  Until more studies are completed, we should take a precautionary approach and use a safer infill.

  • TOXICITY: Crumb rubber from waste tires contains toxic chemicals and heavy metals with documented links to harmful health effects.  These include toluene (developmental toxicant), benzene (carcinogen, developmental and reproductive toxicant), styrene (neurotoxic) , butadiene (carcinogen) , butylated hydroxyanisole (carcinogen) .  Tire rubber contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), phthalates, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), as well as zinc, lead, cadmium and other metals.
  • INHALATION, INGESTION: There is potential for all of these toxins to be inhaled, absorbed through the skin, and even swallowed by children who play on these fields.
  • MIGRATION: Rubber pellets can be tracked into the classroom, car and home, where exposure continues.
  • RUN-OFF: A number of the chemicals in crumb rubber are soluble in water and might leach from the fields to contaminate ground water and soil.
  • HEAT: These fields can get very hot when temperatures are high, posing a risk of heat stress or heat stroke.  Manufacturers readily admit that a synthetic field can run 10-30 degrees F hotter than a grass field.  Synthetic fields contribute to the “urban heat island”effect.
  • DISPOSAL: Synthetic fields wear out and must be replaced every 8-10 years.  How to dispose of the crumb rubber is especially a problem, because it contains toxins and carcinogens.

Positives about the cork and coconut husk infill:

  • Organic infill made from crushed cork and coconut husks has NO toxic chemicals in it (all organic materials)
  • It does not retain heat the way crumb rubber does.
  • At the end of the lifecycle, the organic infill can be recycled (as mulch and other uses).
  • Geoturf (its manufacturer) is the only manufacturer endorsed by the National Green Energy Council
  • Recommended by FIFA (European soccer federation)

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