PORT WASHINGTON – The use of artificial turf fields at Long Island schools is growing, yet the jury is still out on whether they put children at risk. Synthetic turf fields, like the 150 Landtech has sold to schools on the Island, are made with rubber from recycled tires. Grassroots Environmental Education’s Doug Wood and other experts claim the used tires contain toxic metals and carcinogenic chemicals, and therefore so do the fields. "Tires are so full of toxic chemicals they have to be disposed of in a special landfill," Wood said. "So why would you grind them up and put them on a field where kids are going to play?" Ken Marlborough, athletic director for Port Washington schools, said Landtech assured him the artificial turf it installed was safe. Marlborough said the appeal of the $750,000 surface is its convenience. "The real benefit I think is that [it] is truly an all-weather surface," he said. "Even in a heavy downpour with[in] a matter of minutes, the field drains and can be ready to play on almost immediately." Landtech, which declined to speak on camera, said through a spokesperson that studies show the tire crumbs are not harmful. News 12 Long Island decided to test the claims, taking a sample from the Port Washington field for lab studies. The content levels of heavy metals were within government limits. However, some cancer-causing chemicals were well in excess of state safety levels. Chrysene, for one, was present in amounts more than 1,250 times the safe limits. Dr. David Carpenter, of Environmental Health and Toxicology, said the state Department of Health should impose a moratorium on the installation of artificial turf fields until enough research proves they are safe. A prominent New York toxicologist is conducting a study and promises to release her results in the near future.
No. 17] Doctor urges caution on fake turf
Lisa Chamoff, The Advocate [Stamford, Connecticut], October 16, 2007