Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Medway: Petition for turf moratorium circulates

MEDWAY - After the Board of Health last month considered a moratorium on artificial turf fields but ultimately let the issue go, a resident petition is seeking to gather enough signatures for a Special Town Meeting warrant article.
A petition organized by resident Tracy Stewart seeks to place a temporary ban on the “engineering, planning, construction or installation of any synthetic turf” surface using tire-derived material.
At issue is crumb rubber, which is essentially thousands of pieces of ground-up rubber tires that act as dirt and cushioning on artificial turf fields.
Stewart, in her petition, said the crumb rubber used on three turf fields at Medway High School came from Liberty Tire, which also supplies the material for a field in Concord, which passed a similar moratorium earlier this month.
The petition comes two months after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Centers for Disease Control announced a multi-agency plan to study the material after several legislators wrote to the CPSC asking for further study.
Stewart presented her petition to the Board of Selectmen Monday and said she has gathered 164 signatures for the warrant article. Selectman Dennis Crowley, while applauding Stewart’s work, asked her why she isn’t waiting until the results of the federal study come out, especially as the town is planning to upgrade and improve several recreational areas and parks in town.
Crumb rubber and artificial turf, which has been used on playgrounds, has not yet been discussed as a component of the project.
Stewart replied that if the study comes back with findings that link crumb rubber to adverse health effects, the town would then have to “tear it all up.”
According to Town Administrator Michael Boynton, Stewart will need 200 signatures to call a Special Town Meeting and 100 to get the article on the warrant, but both sets of required signatures can come from the same pool.
Selectmen then have 45 days to call a Special Town Meeting, he said.
Artificial turf and crumb rubber have been in national headlines for several years, partly due to the research of a soccer coach for the University of Washington, Amy Griffin, who has compiled a long list of former athletes who have developed cancer after playing on the fields.
Several public health agencies have said that there is no definitive link between the material and cancer, but the EPA suggested in a press release announcing the study in February that comprehensive studies are needed for the conclusion.
“Concerns have been raised by the public about the safety of recycled tire crumb used in playing fields and playgrounds in the United States,” the EPA said. “Limited studies have not shown an elevated health risk from playing on fields with tire crumb, but the existing studies do not comprehensively evaluate the concerns about health risks from exposure to tire crumb.”
Zachary Comeau can be reached at 508-634-7556 and Follow him on Twitter @ZComeau_MDN.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

ABOUT: Medway MA Proposed 3 year moratorium

Petitioner: Turf Grass Forum / group
Drafted: April 14th 2016

Article:  To determine whether the Town of Medway will adopt a moratorium on the engineering, planning, construction or installation of any synthetic turf (monofilament carpet with infill), any surface covering of loose fill and playground pour-in-place surface covering made from tire derived material on any land, of any size, owned by the town for a three-year time period starting on June 1, 2016 and ending on June 1, 2019; or take any other action relative thereto.

This moratorium does not include pour-in-place surfaces that are currently in use on running tracks or intended for use on running tracks e.g. the Hanlon Field running track. Town land includes, but is not limited to, that of the Medway Public Schools but does not include private land.

So what is synthetic turf?
It was originally promoted as a way of recycling and disposing of old tires instead of putting them into a landfill. They are ground up into tiny pellets and put into a plastic carpet to produce playing fields and playground surfaces. The process of breaking up the tires varies but the product is the same – crumb rubber pellets which are loosely held in place by the carpet. These pellets are not coated with anything or rendered “inert”.

So why the moratorium?
Medway Massachusetts’ current fields contain crumb rubber infill supplied by Liberty Tire.  Liberty Tire is the same supplier of crumb rubber infill in Concord Massachusetts,  a  Town which passed a similar moratorium by residents’ Town Meeting vote on April 6th, 2016.

Crumb rubber, made from discarded automobile tires and used in synthetic turf, contains about 40% rubber, together with dozens of chemicals. Some are known carcinogens and endocrine disrupters. Those chemicals found in testing requested by the Town of Concord and conducted by Haley and Aldrich on the fields include:

·      Benzo(a)pyrene
·      Benzo(b)fluoranthene
·      Chrysene
·      Indeno(1,32,3-cd)pyrene
·      Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate

The first four of them are carcinogens and the last is an endocrine disrupter that blocks the effect of the male hormone androgen. These are not safe at any level in the environment. There are many other chemicals in crumb rubber, that have never been investigated and for which there is no data available.

In Europe, heavy oils containing benzopyrenes and other toxic chemicals have been banned in automobile tires since 2010 because they are highly carcinogenic. Tires in the US, however, still contain them and are a potential source of benzopyrenes in the environment.

Exposure in Children
To have these chemicals in close contact with children is a major concern. Children are more susceptible to both carcinogens and hormone disrupters since their bodies are still developing. These chemicals can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled during “gassing off” of the rubber on hot days and eaten. One athlete estimated that she swallowed crumb rubber every time she played on synthetic turf. The crumb rubber is also carried home on clothing, in hair and in shoes. Any parent whose child has played on these fields can attest to the quantity of this material that routinely comes home.
Of additional concern are young siblings who play with the crumb rubber on the fields while their parent are watching the games and are also in contact with pellets that are brought home.

National Response
In response to the growing health concerns around synthetic turf nationwide, four US
Congressmen from the Committee on Energy and Commerce and two US Senators have
written letters of inquiry regarding these concerns to the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA). They asked very specific questions about health and safety and these questions have
yet to be answered.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has not rated synthetic turf or crumb rubber as a child-safe product despite the high level of exposure in young children playing on them. The CPSC has backed away from its 2008 position of approving these fields.

In March of 2016, Mount Sinai announced a very clear position on the use of Crumb rubber advising a moratorium nation-wide:  Dr. Robert Wright, chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City states:  "We are advising against the use of crumb rubber fields until safety is proven. This is because the product is made from recycled automobile tires, which are well known to contain metals and other toxic chemicals. Some components of tire rubber are linked to cancer and others are toxic to the nervous and other systems." 

The EPA no longer backs the use of crumb rubber. Together with the CPSC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, they have launched the Federal Research Action Plan. This multi-agency effort will investigate the effects of crumb rubber on human health.

The objectives of this Federal Research Action Plan are to identify gaps in our knowledge of crumb rubber, to understand exactly what chemicals are in it, to investigate the level and means of exposure to these chemicals and to identify further research that would provide information about their potential health risks.  According to the Federal Research Action Plan publicly presented on April 14th 2016; it will include research and testing of all tire derived materials: crumb rubber used on synthetic turf athletic fields, rubber playground mulch and pour-in-place rubber playground surfaces.  The pour-in-place surfaces are referenced in the April 14th Federal presentation as “unitary / pour-in or tiles”.  The CPSC admits that: the current CPSC Public Playground Safety Handbook addresses the impact attenuation to minimize serious head injuries, and not on other aspects that may pose other risks, such as chemical exposure or ingestion. (addendum to Handbook, Dec 29, 2015)

State Responses:
Medway’s own State Representatives Jeff Roy and John Fernandes along with Massachusetts Senator Karen Spilka wrote a letter of inquiry to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in December 2015 regarding the potential hazards of ingestion and inhalation of toxins; detecting the existence of known human carcinogens and investigation any potential risks to children or adult users.  CPSC response to our legislators indicated that the Federal Research Action Plan is result of their letter inquiry and the culmination of elevated concern through out the US.

The cancer cases found in Washington State soccer goalies are now being investigated by agencies in Washington (state) to determine whether they represent a cluster linked to synthetic turf.

California’s three-year study (OEHHA) is already under way in which they are evaluating the “potential human health effects associated with use of recycled waste tires in playground and synthetic turf products.”

Connecticut legislature is reviewing a new bill to ban crumb rubber playgrounds across the state.

In Conclusion:
A three-year moratorium will allow time for the current research on synthetic turf and tire-derived surface materials to be carried out.  From the data gathered, scientists and public health professionals will be better able to assess the risks involved in using these materials.  We will continue to monitor this research and its conclusions and wish to communicate it to the relevant town boards. Since there are no known artificial turf fields or playgrounds currently being planned, this moratorium will ensure that the Town of Medway will have ample time to make a considered and informed policy about these materials for the future use.  A vote in favor of this Moratorium would provide our Community the option to avoid the unknown while still improving our recreational facilities.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

NEWS: Concord voters approve moratorium on artificial turf

By Henry Schwan

April 07. 2016 11:17AM

Concord voters approve moratorium on artificial turf

Voters at Town Meeting have approved a three-year moratorium on artificial turf in Concord.
Article 47 prevents the placement of synthetic turf with crumb rubber infill on any town-owned land.
It doesn’t include pour-in-place surfaces currently in use on running tracks, like the Emerson playground track, and in children’s playgrounds.
The moratorium ends April 18, 2019, and applies to the Concord Public Schools, but does not include Concord-Carlisle High School.
Janet Miller, a member of Grass Fields for Safe Sports, presented Article 47 on the final night of Town Meeting on April 6 at Concord-Carlisle High School. She said the crumb rubber infill, made from tires, includes chemicals that are carcinogens and endocrine disrupters that are especially dangerous to children, because their bodies are still developing.
Lori Gill-Pazaris, a member of the Concord Climate Action Network, urged the town to form a committee to study the health affects of artificial turf on young children, suggesting that the town could possibly place age limits for playing on the surface.
Susan Feinberg said she supported the article, adding, "I don't understand how tires that are regulated by the government because of health risks can show up on fields."
John Boynton, President of Concord-Carlisle at Play, said, “The moratorium is an opportunity to heal wounds from the intense debate.”
Concord-Carlisle at Play has a five-year lease with the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee for a $5 million fields’ renovation project at the high school.
The project included the construction of an artificial turf field with crumb rubber that opened in Fall 2015.
"My hope is that, in time, we can all feel good about our young athletes playing on these first class facilities," Boynton said.
Proponents of the ban said the moratorium will allow more time for research on crumb rubber, so scientists and public health officials will be able to access the health risks of synthetic turf.
Town Manager Chris Whelan said no artificial turf fields are planned in town over the three years of the moratorium, and Baker said the moratorium “ensures that Concord will develop informed policy for the future.”
Follow Henry Schwan on Twitter @henrycojo.