Ward Street Grass Roots

A Hingham organization fighting for rational use of our Town’s resources

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Crumb Rubber Health Problems

From: Greg Torski
To: Dan Daluisem
Sent: Friday, April 09, 2010 9:40 AM
Subject: crumb rubber


I know from our conversations that the “turf” has undergone multiple generations.

Last night, I was told this is true the crumb rubber as well. I was told crumb rubber that is currently being distributed has no lead or other toxins.

I think the person is confusing the progress on the “turf”. I think the crumb rubber is the same and that you told me until the crumb rubber was delivered and test one couldn’t know what the lead level was.


From: Dan Daluise
To: Greg Torski
Sent: Friday, April 09, 2010 10:50 AM
Subject: Re: crumb rubber


You are correct. This person suffers from the general ignorance, regarding science as applied to the products, that pervades the turf industry.

All recycled tire rubber contains lead and other toxins. Only the amount of each varies. Read more about this issue at my website: http://www.fieldshieldami.com/


Note: Dan is a patent holder for certain uses of crumb rubber and is a leading expert on crumb rubber. Dan is no longer associated with crumb rubber Infills.

Recycled-tire rubber contains carcinogenic and toxic chemicals and “documented chemical exposures to a variety of volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile hydrocarbons, and other contaminants exist”

Another study by Dr. William Crane of CCNY and Dr. Junfeng Zhang of Rutgers Univ. raised serious questions and highlighted the risks.

On May 20th, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal urged that the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station be assigned to conduct a new study to determine the potential hazards posed by crumb rubber used in artificial turf and gardening mulch. Blumenthal sent a letter to Gina McCarthy, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

It is clear from these and many other studies that rubber and sand (silica) contain hazardous chemicals; that humans are exposed to these chemicals through contact; through out-gassing above a threshold temperature; through run-off into the aquifer; and through ingestion. What remains to be determined is: do these exposures have the potential to exceed safe levels. Such determination will take some time.

The infill matrix (1/2” depth in EcoGreen66™ – 1.75” for most standard turf designs) can be a Petri dish for the propagation of bacteria, fungi and mold. This growth is more likely to occur in the lower depth of the infill where temperatures are moderated by the insulative effect of the upper level rubber and where moisture collects on the backing and in lower level infill. In infilled systems, where the higher specific gravity of the sand causes it to stratify at the bottom, the moisture and nutrients held by the sand tend to promote mold growth at the backing

Also, OSHA mandates a WARNING LABEL (for typical sand containing silica).. Silica Dust can cause Sillicosis and Cancer. This is the dust that is to be avoided not nylon dust from first generation turf fields.

Infill rubber contains lead, arsenic, benzene, toluene, cadmium, copper, oil and carbon, as well as zinc and aromatic hydrocarbons. The extent to which water can leach these chemicals from the infill and contaminate soils or the aquifer is unknown, but anecdotal tests (Alison Draper, Bucknell U.) suggest harmful effects on aquatic communities from rubber infill. Significant controlled study, under actual use conditions, is needed to establish a valid level of risk. In addition, most artificial turf is coated with polyurethane, which can leave significant quantities of free un-polymerized urethane in the coating depending on the mixing, application and cure process. Urethane is known to cause reproductive toxicity and is listed on the State of CA Prop 65 list of harmful chemicals. Study is also necessary to determine if urethane leaches from these coatings and polyurethane backings need to be tested for free urethane, after each production run. This will take time. There is no second generation crumb rubber. These issues are the same for all fields with crumb rubber.

Artificial turf produces a higher ambient temperature above the playing surface due to absorption of solar energy (electromagnetic radiation). The reflectivity or albedo of an artificial turf system, including the infill, is generally higher than natural grass (darker colors absorb more electromagnetic radiation) due to the exposure of dark infill. Also, artificial turf and rubber infill do not naturally contain and hold moisture, to provide evaporative cooling, as natural grass and soils do.

Given a specific material (in this case, PE fiber or recycled tire rubber), the darker the color of the material, the more electromagnetic radiation will be absorbed and subsequently re-radiated to the ambient above the playing surface. Obviously, the darker the area of the playing surface; the more elevated are the temperatures to which the athletes are exposed during play.

Also, because artificial turfs tend to ‘lay-over’ and expose more surface area directly to the sun’s radiation, insolation (solar radiation energy received) can increase, dramatically. In hot, dry (less clouds/low humidity) climates, and especially in southern latitudes, the preponderance of exposed black (rubber) material is likely to create an unhealthy, excessively hot, playing condition (the 2002 “synthetic surface heat study” of C. Frank Williams and Gilbert Pulley, at Brigham Young University, recorded surface temperatures of 200° F, on a 98° F day). Thus the need for irrigation to cool the fields.

Not only is the air temperature above the surface excessive, but the surface temperature of the black rubber is actually dangerous to touch. In addition, as has been previously noted, surface temperatures exceeding 140° F facilitate the outgassing of toxic chemicals in recycled-tire rubber.

Every artificial turf field will eventually require replacement in 10 to 20 years. Each one of these full-sized fields contains approximately 225,000 lbs of recycled-tire rubber; 25,000 lbs of synthetic grass filament fibers, which contain undetermined levels of heavy metals; and 15,000 lbs of urethane harboring coating. In addition, a majority of the fields contain more than 500,000 lbs of sand containing silica, which may also contain fungi and mold and, unfortunately, cannot be separated from the rubber.

Many states define these products (or are likely to in the near future) as ‘special waste’ or as hazardous waste, which requires special handling. For example, Connecticut no longer permits the landfilling of waste tire-rubber. Brad Park, of the Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, warns that “towns need to be aware that the fields are not permanent and disposing of them could potentially be a financial and environmental headache in the future”.

However, the potential size of the financial part of this headache has not been emphasized. When a removed turf requires special handling and disposal sites, as almost all turf of conventional design will require, the cost, including OSHA and EPA compliant removal, transportation and special hazards disposal fees, will likely exceed six figures, in today’s dollars. In many cases the disposal costs and fees, alone, will exceed that amount, by a significant margin.

This makes a consideration of the ecological effects, which affect the eventual disposal costs of all the components of a proposed artificial turf installation, an important determination of the financial viability of a project.