Creating confusion and leveraging fear in parents’ minds for their children and heartland’s well-being, an impassioned environmental group surfaced this summer with a mission. Their efforts have cost local communities thousands of dollars in funding and consulting fees, delays in the construction of new sport fields, raw nerves and strained relations. The net result of this group’s efforts, so far, are inconclusive test results and an independent, somewhat self-serving report that provided no new information or answers other than “more study is needed” about the issues they themselves had raised.
Crumb Rubber Infill is the new smoking gun some want to put a safety lock on and throw in the closet. The consensus of industry professionals and east coast locals appears to lean towards defining a small group of citizens’ grass-roots efforts as a mere “smoke screen”, clouding the real issue of how public demands for sports field play areas in schools and parks are out-stripping resources available and to spite the obvious need of the community and interests of everyone to look at alternatives to natural grass play fields, this group wants to filibuster the decision to make the needed investment by building a case against it; in effect adding additional hidden costs to the process; taxing public and private funds.
Every published safety report; and there are hundreds that have been done over the years; has clearly stated that no over-whelming evidence exists that would imply our health or environment is at risk using artificial grass and crumb rubber infill as surface materials for play fields, lawns and leisure sports venues.
For every article written about the “hazards” of the crumb rubber infill that top-dresses artificial turf surfaces, providing resiliency and UV protection for the blades, there are 20 more stories proudly describing years of faithful service, lowered maintenance costs & water usage, of water districts approving endorsements for the use of artificial turf in the form of rebates and of the announcements of the funding of new artificial turf fields for public use, for hundreds of thousands of people, all over the world. See Current Artificial Turf Rebates Index and Industry News and Events at ASGi.
Public Agendas – Private Funding
Without publicly disclosing plans for her “toxic-free” maintenance regime for natural field solutions her group promotes while continuing to pursue securing additional funding for further studies of the “possible hazards” of crumb rubber infill in artificial turf fields her group wants to stop from being built seems duplicitous of Nancy Alderman, spokesperson and president of EHHI, Environment & Human Health, Inc.; the recipient, so far, of $2000 in grant monies for “studying” the possible environmental and human health issues of the use of recycled crumb rubber infill.
The initial grant was invested in a 30 day study conducted by EHHI. Their report yielded no new evidence and merely stated the obvious, that there were no “smoking guns” found; with the added caveat that something could have been missed in their analysis and the matter would require more time and further funding for continued study.
Existing Published Studies from Reputable, Recognized Sources
The wealth of existing studies published by globally known, reputable scientific and collegiate sources seems to elude EHHI researchers. A current list of published scientific, independent studies is located, online at ASGi Environmental Impact Studies Index Pages . Artificial turf has been used extensively in sports venues for over 40 years; crumbed rubber infill was added to the system in late 1980s; this is not new science or engineering; it’s a healthy, stabile, growing market with sustainable products. Crumbed rubber is also extensively used in the surfacing of natural grass fields, to help extend their life and increase their durability and resiliency.
EHHI – Okay to Use Known (but Regulated) Hazardous Fertilizers, Pesticides and Other Chemicals on Proposed Natural Turf Field
The director of toxicology for EHHI, David R. Brown, readily admits, in a recent article from TireReview.com, that fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals are going to be used on their proposed natural turf field for Fairfield Country Day School located within short distance of an environmentally sensitive river & estuary, However, says Brown; “agricultural chemicals are tested, licensed and regulated. Grass turf has no surprises, whereas crumb rubber might.”
Brown side-steps any mention of the dangers to children and local watershed to exposure to the very toxins EHHI was chartered to remove from local schools years ago! At time of publishing, EHHI has not yet publicly published any data comparing the environmental and cost impact of their natural turf solution to that of artificial turf. One would wonder if it might not show that for every “possible” toxin related to crumb rubber there isn’t one, equally as difficult to approve, using “regulated and approved” lawn care solutions.
“Regulated” Lawn Care Pesticides
Found in 93% of Pre-Schoolers Tested In Washington State
These known hazardous materials, regulated or not, are documented to cause humans many health challenges. Recent studies done on pre-schoolers in Seattle, Washington has documented results that 93% of them showed positive results for pesticides (know neurotoxins) in their urine samples. For further information see Pesticide Education Center Site. 
Neurotoxins are now recognized as a leading contributor to the challenges of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Autism, ADD and ADHD. These health afflictions are prevalent and difficult to manage neurological distresses that more than 30% of American school-age children are under chronic treatment for, today.
Natural Turf Advocates Yet To Disclose
Environmental and Cost Impact of Proposed Natural Turf Field
Advocates of “natural turf fields” have upset one school’s plans, forcing them to re-engineer their field design for natural grass. Alderman has not yet included reported projections of what long-term costs or environmental impact is associated with their proposed natural turf solution in comparison to their concerns about crumb rubber infilled artificial turf.
Custom grown and blended natural turf and the appropriate site preparation and maintenance that would be required to insure the field can handle the wear and tear it will be exposed to might cost a pretty penny. Added expense of delays, re-engineering and rising costs of fuel, labor and job materials will also have to be considered.
Reducing Volatile Fumes From
Transportation & Maintenance Vehicles
As the amount of volatile fumes emitted from an artificial turf field are one of EHHI’s main points of concern (referred to as “out-gassing”), one would hope that Alderman’s group also insists upon using “hybrid or natural gas” vehicles to deliver the natural turf materials from the farm to the field site and maintain it for the long-term, to insure that the vehicles and maintenance equipment will emit the least amount of air pollutants, possible. Emissions from gas powered, 2 cycle engines, used for most lawn care maintenance, are major contributors to green house gasses; representing 8% of the air pollutants that effect global warming.
Blumenthal Supports Alleviating the Apprehension of Parents
Connecticut Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, who has committed $200,000 of funding to appease public requests for state support for continued studies into the “questions of crumb rubber safety” raised by EHHI back in August 2007, has yet to locate public or private financial backing to support the “cause”.
On one hand Blumenthal supports the need to alleviate the apprehension of parents with further studies. On the other hand, a parent himself, Blumenthal may have the right answer at hand, settling the issue and saving the citizens of Connecticut $200,000, a lot of delays, added expense and tons of missed games and fun by simply following his no-nonsense advice.
“My four children play on synthetic turf. I’m not panicking,” says Blumenthal. “Simple measures such as washing after playing on artificial turf and avoiding artificial turf when temperatures are high could minimize whatever risk the rubber poses.”
Problem Solved. Now Lets Play Ball!
Source by Annie Belanger Costa
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