Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Artificial Turf warrants further study, according to the EPA

From the Seattle Times, Friday December 11, 2009, page 2

"The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Thursday there was no cause for immediate concern from lead and other toxins in artificial-turf fields and playground surfaces made from recycled tires. The EPA cautioned, however, that the 123-page study was too small to rule out potential health threats."

From the EPA's website:

Particulate matter, metals and volatile organic compound concentrations were measured in the air samples and compared with areas away from the turf fields (background levels). The levels found in air samples from the artificial turf were similar to background levels.

No tire-related fibers were observed in the air samples.
All air concentrations of particulate matter and lead were well below levels of concern.

More than 90 percent of the lead in the tire crumb material was tightly bound and unavailable for absorption by users of the turf fields

(I have to mention here that there is no known safe level for lead)

Zinc, which is a known additive in tires, was found in tire crumb samples. However, air and surface wipe monitoring levels of zinc were found to be below levels of concern.

EPA is aware that studies by other agencies were undertaken or completed while this survey was under way. EPA is planning a 2010 meeting with federal and state agencies to review all new study data and determine next steps.

Meanwhile, construction work continues on the artificial turf installation over at Wilburton. Lots of earth movers, and a surprising amount of preparation below the surface, presumably concerned with drainage. I had to include the kiosk, which I would quite like to see in Newport Hills. There is a rather disconcerting sign attached to the post pictured above which cautions that the field is for scheduled use only--does this mean our park will have to be scheduled beforehand if we want to play on it?

Which brings up the question posed at last night's community meeting: will the annual 4th of July picnic be allowed at the park next year? The head of the project, Scott Van der Hyden, maintains the baseball outfield will be available, but probably not the soccer field. Wait a minute--the kids can play on the heavy equipment, and ride their dirt bikes on tracks of their own making! Haha! Of course, the reality is that if construction is under way by next summer, as predicted by the City, the whole park will be fenced off to keep any of this sort of mischief to a minimum.


David Neault said...

Here is some love for you...there are 60 known carcinogens found in the crumb rubber infill. My kids...unfortunately, grew up ingesting and inhaling this material. Stand on the AT and just smell it...I don't need research to tell me that it is bad for our health and the environment. I wrote on my blog about AT There is so much wrong with this product...and I can't for the life of me figure out why the EPA hasn't banned it.

RobinB said...

Welcome, David! I was amazed by the article you referenced and would like to quote from it in a future blog entry. I encourage everybody to check out David's site.

Our City mandated AT in a Parks Plan written 7 years ago, under a public process which involved over 70 sports groups and no direct involvement with our neighborhood. So much has been written about AT in the meantime that I can't imagine why the City still wants to go through with it. The EPA hasn't banned it because "it's such a great way to get rid of tire waste."

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