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Posts Tagged ‘artificial turf’

Green Forum on Synthetic Turf – Thur Sept 24th 7:00pm, PMS Mutlipurpose Room

Posted by movenden on September 22, 2009


As many of you know, the School Board is reconsidering what the surface for the playfield at the new Havens School should be.  The plan had been (and currently still is) for a synthetic turf field, but, in light of concerns about the health and environmental safety of the crumb rubber infill in most synthetic turf, as well as neighbors’ concerns about use issues, the School Board is considering the possibility of changing the surface to something else (grass or an infill alternative).

We know this is an issue many of you care about and want to learn more about. This Thursday, Sept  24, 7:00-8:30 p.m., the “Green Forum on Synthetic Turf,” sponsored by the PUSD Green Committee, at the Piedmont Middle School Multipurpose Room (740 Magnolia Ave) provides the opportunity to do so.  The district is hiring a facilitator for this, and there will be breakout groups so we’ll all have the opportunity to engage in discussion and learn more about this very important issue.

At a later date this fall, the School Board will hold a full hearing on the field surface issues for the Havens Playfield and the decision will be made by December when the “change order’ would have to get in to Webcor (the builder).  Now is the time to understand the issue.  Please come to the meeting so you can learn as well as voice your opinion.

The Havens and Beach Green Committees believe this is an important issue from an environmental perspective, involving big questions about whether or not the precautionary principle should apply.  Other school districts and cities across the country are debating these same issues, and some – most prominently, New York City and the Los Angeles Unified School District – have decided to stop installing more fields with crumb rubber infill.

Independent scientists are urging thorough evaluations before more synthetic fields with recycled tire crumb are installed.  For example, the editors of The Journal of Exposure Science and Epidemiology (from the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School ) argue that:

At the present time, we believe that the million dollar + expense to produce and install a synthetic field by communities and athletic facilities demands a much more thorough understanding of the environmental impacts, human exposure and health risk implications associated with all synthetic turf products available on the market.  This calls for a comprehensive evaluation of artificial turf by exposure scientists, and others in environmental science and environmental health sciences.

For your edification, below are a few of the health and environmental issues associated with rubber infill playing fields. We’re also attaching a letter Margaret sent to the School Board earlier this year.  It describes the issues and contains many links to independent studies.  If you only have time to read something shorter, there are links to some informational flyers on the issue at the very end of this message.


Jill Lindenbaum
Heather Clapp
Havens Green Committee

Margaret Ovenden
Beach Green Committee


What are the health and environmental issues?

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.

INFECTION: Abrasion injuries (“rug burn”) that occur on synthetic turf create “pathways” for bacterial infections, including MRSA.  Properly maintained synthetic fields require regular disinfection.

INJURIES: Synthetic turf may cause more sports injuries (e.g. “turf toe”) than grass.  The jury is out on this.  Professional sports players prefer grass.

DISPOSAL: Synthetic fields wear out and must be replaced every 8-15 years.  How to dispose of the crumb rubber is especially a problem, because it contains toxins and carcinogens.

Better alternatives:


–          PUSD successfully maintains Witter Baseball and Softball fields as natural grass fields with very little pesticide and herbicide use (and plans to use even less of these in the future).

–          Grass helps decrease CO2, provides a habitat for many living organisms, and cools the surrounding area.

–          Newer varieties of grass exist which require less water and mowing.

–          Soils in grass fields contain bacteria which decompose body fluids, algae and animal and bird droppings.


–          Organic infill made from crushed cork and coconut husks does not have the issues with chemicals that crumb rubber infill has.

–          Does not retain heat the way crumb rubber does; may have a cooling effect.

–          At the end of the lifecycle, the organic infill can be recycled.

What you can do:

ATTEND the September 24 “Green Forum on Synthetic Turf” sponsored by the PUSD Green Initiative (7:00-8:30 p.m., Piedmont Middle School Multipurpose Room, 740 Magnolia Ave) to gain a better understanding of what are the health and environmental issues that need to be considered in making a choice between synthetic turf and grass.

WRITE the Board of Education expressing your opinion.  Attend any Board meetings on the issue.  (Sometime before December, the Board will make a decision.) School Board e-mails: rgadbois@piedmont.k12.ca.us, rtolles@piedmont.k12.ca.us, jmonach@piedmont.k12.ca.us, mjones@piedmont.k12.ca.us, rraushenbush@piedmont.k12.ca.us

DISCUSS this issue with your friends, teammates, others you think would be concerned.

READ UP ON THE ISSUE: Some places to start:

SHORT FLYER: What to Know About Turf Fields? From Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center .


SHORT FLYER: Common Exposures: Synthetic Turf.  From Grassroots Environmental Education.  http://www.grassrootsinfo.org/syntheticturf.html

SHORT FLYER: “Grass playing fields vs. synthetic turf: How will your district decide?” New Jersey Education Association http://www.njea.org/pdfs/HS_GrassTurf_May08.pdf

Synthetic Turf: Health Debate Takes Root,” March 2008 Environmental Health Perspectives, published by the National Institute of Environmental Health  Sciences http://www.ehponline.org/members/2008/116-3/EHP116pa116PDF.PDF

“Artificial Turf: Exposures to Ground-Up Rubber Tires,” 2007 Environment and Human Health, Inc., www.ehhi.org/reports/turf/

Posted in City News, Recreation, School, Youth Sports | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Artificial Turf Buried at Havens?

Posted by Len Gilbert on February 9, 2009

If you look at the packet of materials for the school board meeting on February 11th, you’ll see on page 31 a “Use Agreement for Havens School Playfield”.  Buried in there (Witnesseth, item #2, “Specifications”) that it appears that artificial turf is a done deal and that no natural option is being considered.

Given the amount of concern the community has expressed over plastic grass at Coaches Field or Hampton Field, it seems that a little more information should be presented regarding the synthetic turf option up-front. At a minimum, this should be a separate agenda item with discussion. I think that a better idea is to remove #2 for more consideration of all field surface options at a later date.

Overall, the field and the rest of the use restrictions seem reasonable, but I believe the discussion of the surface should be more “above ground” with a natural option considered.


Posted in Recreation, School, Youth Sports | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Coaches Field to Become Tropicana Field West?

Posted by Len Gilbert on October 20, 2008

Tonight is the first hearing on Coaches Field, where the Recreation Dept is proposing changing the baseball field into an artificial turf surface. Plastic “grass” is something I endorse only in extreme cases where a playfield is required and a natural surface is not feasable because of terrain or high-usage. Beach is a perfect example. Coaches is not a good example.

The field at Coaches is great as one of the few natural playfields in Piedmont and admirably serves its primary purpose as a baseball and softball diamond. It also functions quite well in its secondary role as a field for soccer games and practices. Compare Coaches to Witter baseball, which is also primarily a baseball field, but also gets used for soccer practices and games. The difference? Maintenance and watering are better managed by PUSD on Witter.

I believe the pending addition of two artificial surfaces at Blair Park and one at Havens gives Piedmont enough artificial fields for soccer usage. I also believe that a rain-out every now and then isn’t going to ruin any kids life. I coach baseball, softball, and soccer teams and in the last two years, there have been no rainouts in Piedmont that I know about. It seems a shame to lay down plastic over a perfectly serviceable grass field just to get in a couple more games or practices every few years.

On the ecological impact of artificial vs natural, there is much pro and con for both sides. Overall, I believe that a natural field provides more benefits at a lower environmental cost than a field made of recycled tires crumb rubber and plastic. I understand that there are environmental costs for grass, such as water, fertilizer, etc, but with correct grass type selection and a switch to more efficient watering systems, we can reduce that impact. And the positive aspects of a breathable, natural surface go beyond “playabilty”.

Because of the financial, environmental, and aesthetic issues with the project, I oppose the artificial turf proposal.

I believe that lights will help the soccer program immensely, allowing teams to use the field for practices where currently they cannot because of fall darkness. I fully support the lighting project at Coaches.

Learn more on the Piedmont city website. Attend the meeting if possible. If not, send an email to Ann Swift at aswift@ci.piedmont.ca.us.

Posted in Parks, Recreation, Youth Sports | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »