Help with action in MD NOW:
You may want to use or share the Sierra Club action alert at Protect Kids and the Environment.
If your organization wants to join with SHPFC and the Sierra Club MD in a letter to leaders, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the end of 2018 at least 100 million pounds of plastic and tire waste will have entered air water and landfills from disposal of synthetic turf fields. An equivalent amount of petroleum-based plastic will be used to create new fields. Children face unique risks from toxins, heat, hardness and abrasions playing on plastic fields (with any kind of infill) or playgrounds made from tires. Injury is one major risk - read United States women's soccer team Sydney Leroux account Why Turf is Terrible for Soccer Players.
State Initiative - Building Consensus
Some states are asking for warning signs, others restricting grants, like Program Open Space, funding for non-natural, synthetic turf surfaces and others are seeking moratoriums until the science is conducted - research the EPA itself says is needed but leaves to local and state entities to conduct.
- Know the position of the EPA who admits more study is needed, leaves that study to local and state entities, admits the extremely limited scope of their own 2009 study and has retracted involvement with industry in the Scrap Tire Workgroup. And of the CPSC, who can't figure out that artificial turf is a children's product that needs to be regulated - even with the mounting evidence.
- Read about localities saying 'NO' to toxic turf and 'YES' to natural grass solutions.
- In addition to legislation and calls for action listed below, you can see a list of legal actions filed regarding the risks of artificial turf.
206: Tire infill grant program suspended and cabinet encouraged to continue to study the health effects of recycled tires.
The Kentucky House of Representatives, led by Rep. K. Flood, passed a resolution (4 Mar 2015) to suspend the Kentucky tire infill grants program -- "a program that potentially places the health and safety of the public at risk of disease and disability." Many states, including Kentucky, were giving ground-up tire grants to schools, towns, and anyone else whose grant is accepted by their state. The state of Kentucky is now stopping these grants because of health concerns including:
The Energy and Environment Cabinet suspended awarding grants from the program due to health and safety concerns with using waste tire infill after environmental groups, hospitals, doctors, universities, and the United States Environmental protection Agency expressed new concerns about the chemicals found in tire shreds;
Mount Sinai Children's Environmental Health Center stated there is a potential air and water contamination from tire shreds and that exposure by children and the unborn can cause birth defects, neurologic and developmental deficits, and even cancer;
chemicals causing the most concern include carbon black, arsenic, cadmium, and benzene;
tire shreds also contain phthalates, which are known hormonal disruptors; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which cause cancer and increase the chance of birth defects; and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause asthma, eye and throat irritation, various types of cancer;
Read the entire resolution here.
NOTE: See Maryland section for movement in the right direction that has not quite hit the intended result. Or has it...
New Jersey Representative Calls for ATSDR Study
Oct 2014: NBC Nightly News (follow up report) Congressman Cites NBC Report in Calling for Study of Synthetic Turf: "A New Jersey congressman has cited NBC News reporting in calling for a further study of any health risks associated with a form of synthetic turf found on thousands of playing fields across the country. On 9 Oct, Rep. Frank Pallone (D.-N.J.) sent a letter to the acting director of the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry asking for an official study on what effects exposure to the chemicals in crumb rubber turf fields might have on athletes. The ATSDR is part of the Department of Health and Human Services..." Read the entire story here.
Safe Healthy Playing Fields Coalition supports California bill SB-47 sponsored by Senator Jerry Hill in the 2015 legislative cycle. The Bill will prohibit the installation of new turf fields & playground surfaces containing waste tires for two years (Jan 1, 2016 - Jan 1, 2018) while the state conducts a comprehensive study on potential health impacts for frequent users of these play surfaces. Turf fields and playground surfaces made from alternative materials not containing waste tires are not subject to the moratorium. Turf fields and playground surfaces made from waste tires that are already under construction, or where a contract has been signed for installation prior to Jan 1, 2016 are not subject to the moratorium.
The CA Sierra Club has joined a lawsuit against the Beach Chalet soccer field installation of synthetic turf. The suit claims that the city has violated the California Environmental Quality Act.
Notice: Coal Tar Pavement Sealants are Now Prohibited in Montgomery County. (4 Apr 2013) Coal tar, a byproduct of coal processing, contains high levels of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Thing is, synthetic turf also contains PAHs and it is not even regulated. Check the facts here.
Montgomery County MD Resolution 18-58 which states, "The Council plans to approve only the use of plant-derived infill materials for new artificial turf playing fields in projects where the County funds or contracts for the installation of a new artificial turf playing field." The press release goes further, stating "for years, community members have expressed concerns about the potential health and environmental impacts of crumb rubber used in our County's artificial turf fields." And continues, "Today, our County turns the page on this debate." The catch is in the funding mechanism. Most school fields are partnerships between private soccer clubs and parents in booster clubs who raise the $1.2M+ needed to install a new field, then charge use fees that are 3 x's higher than grass fields to raise funds for the $700K+ replacement in a few years. No data on actual usage, funds raised or any other facts to justify claims of the need for 'more hours of use' than a properly maintained grass field provides today at the Maryland Soccer Plex. It seems schools have their own funding thus are not forced to "be good stewards of the environment." The school system is never mentioned in the resolution (although the press release claims the MCPS is on board), so on 6 April 2015 when Montgomery County's Richard Montgomery High School needed a new field, the Council approved it to be installed with waste tire infill. This was approved by the same County Council whose resolution sponsor, Councilmember Roger Berliner, declared in the 10 Feb 2015 press release, "Going forward, our artificial turf fields will use plant-derived materials that do not pose health or environmental concerns. Significantly, this is a decision that has the unanimous support of the Council, our Parks Department and our school system." Guess they didn't read the preamble to the resolution that states, "County Government should lead by example with environmental initiatives to affirm the County's commitment to reduce its environmental footprint and to show that viable environmentally-friendly options are available and should be pursued whenever possible."
Generic Legislation - Warning Signs!
The SHPFC advocates for signs at the entrance of fields to require warning signs for users of synthetic turf surfaces. Industry lobbyists oppose warning signs claiming there are no health or heat issues with these surfaces. They must have forgotten about their partnership with Penn State University...and the studies on heat ("there is no magic bullet to reduce heat on sythetic turf fields") and injury ("clinical studies have indicated that higher injury rates occur on artificial turf than on natural surfaces") in the years since the 2009 partnership began. Since the EPA, CPSC and CDC all issue precautions for users of artificial turf - why not share the precautions with the users of the fields? Know the facts:
Heat warning signs are used in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Virginia: Click here to see those signs and learn more.