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Toxins in FieldTurf

HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS IN SYNTHETIC TURF

By William Crain and Junfeng
Zhang**

City College of New York and Department of Environmental
and
Occupational Health, the School of
Public Health, the University of
Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
and Rutgers University.

A new
generation of synthetic turf is becoming popular in the U.S.
Brands such as
FieldTurf are springier than the old AstroTurf and feel
more like real grass.
They also promise low maintenance costs. New
York City is so attracted to the
new synthetic turf that it is
installing it in 79 parks, often substituting
it for natural soil and
grass.(1)

However, the new artificial grass
raises health concerns. In
particular, the base of FieldTurf and similar
brands includes recycled
rubber pellets that could contain harmful chemicals.
What’s more, we
have observed that on many New York City fields, the rubber
pellets
are also present on the surface. When one of us (William Crain)
was
picking up some pellets by hand, a boy told him that after playing
in
the park, he finds the pellets in his shoes at home at night.
Because
the rubber pellets are much more accessible to children and
athletes
than we had supposed, we decided to analyze a sample for two
possible
sets of toxicants — polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and
toxic
metals.

We collected our first sample from a new FieldTurf
surface in
Manhattan’s Riverside Park in May, 2006. To gain information on
the
reliability of our results, we gathered a second sample in June,
2006
from a different part of the park.

The PAHs were extracted in a
Soxhlet apparatus with organic solvents.
The metals were extracted by means
of nitric acid with the aid of a
high-efficiency microwave oven (Marsx
Microwave). Both methods were
used to estimate the maximum amounts of the
chemicals contained in the
bulk material (rubber pellets). The analyses were
conducted at the
Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute of
Rutgers
University.

The PAH results for our first sample are listed as
Sample 1 in Table
1, below. As the table shows, six PAHs were above the
concentration
levels that the New York State Department of
Environmental
Conservation (DEC) considers sufficiently hazardous to public
health
to require their removal from contaminated soil sites (2). It
is
highly likely that all six PAHs are carcinogenic to humans.

The PAH
results for Sample 2 are also listed in the table. Although
the concentration
levels in Samples 1 and 2 varied somewhat, the
results for Sample 2
replicated the finding that the concentration
levels of the six PAHs are
above the DEC’s tolerable levels for
soil.

===================================================

Table
1. Concentrations of PAHs (ppm*)

……………….. Sample 1
……… Sample 2 ……. DEC
……………….. FieldTurf ……..
FieldTurf …… Contaminated
……………….. Rubber Pellets….
Rubber Pellets . Soil Limits

Benzo(a)anthracene.… 1.23
………… 1.26 ……….. 1.0
Chrysene …………. 1.32
………… 7.55 ……….. 1.0
Benzo(b)fluoranthene.. 3.39
………… 2.19 ……….. 1.0
Benzo(a)pyrene ……. 8.58 …………
3.56 ……….. 1.0
Benzo(k)fluoranthene.. 7.29 ………… 1.78
……….. 0.8
Dibenzo(a,h)anthracene 3.52 ………… 1.55
……….. 0.33

* ppm = parts per
million

===================================================

The
analyses also revealed levels of zinc in both samples that exceed
the DEC’s
tolerable levels. Lead and arsenic also were present, and
many scientists
believe that these metals should not be introduced
into the environment at
all.

We want to emphasize that the findings are preliminary. PAHs in
rubber
might not act the same way as in soil, and we do not yet
have
information on the ease with which the PAHs in these rubber
particles
might be absorbed by children or adults — by ingestion,
inhalation,
or absorption through the skin. However, the findings are
worrisome.
Until more is known, it wouldn’t be prudent to install the
synthetic
turf in any more parks.

We have informed the New York City
Parks Department of our findings,
but as far as we know, the Parks Department
has not altered its plans
to continue the installation of FieldTurf in
numerous parks.

** William Crain, Ph.D., is professor of psychology at
The City
College of New York and president of Citizens for a Green
Riverside
Park. Junfeng (Jim) Zhang, Ph.D. is professor and acting
chair,
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, the School
of
Public Health, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New
Jersey
and Rutgers University.

References

(1) New Yorkers for
Parks. A New Turf War: Synthetic Turf in New York
City’s Parks — Special
Report, Spring 2006. www.NY4P.org

(2) 6 NYCRR Part 375, Environmental
Remediation Program, Draft
Revised June 14, 2006, Department of Environmental
Conservation,
Table 375-6.8 (a) and (b).

Return to Table of
Contents

Forgot to say – no ONE addresses the haazqrdous chemicals applied by the
lawn services on municpal parks and fields – I’d love to see a side-by-side
comparison on them vs this fake-turf.
 
 
In a message dated 3/22/2007 5:31:33 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
kbear@nih.gov writes:

The analyses also revealed levels of zinc in both samples
that exceed
the DEC’s tolerable levels. Lead and arsenic also were present,
and
many scientists believe that these metals should not be
introduced
into the environment at all.

 

__._,_.___

Posted by on March 30, 2007 at 5:18 am, in the category Uncategorized.
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