Ward Street Grass Roots

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

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The crumb rubber used to make artificial turf fields leads to major negative effects on our environment. Their “fill” leeches chemicals into the groundwater and into surface run-off, and the crumb rubber itself, made from recycled tires cut into tiny crumbs, migrates into the water and onto anyone who comes in contact with it.

When the fields are replaced, they are treated as hazardous waste for disposal – they may not be buried or deposited in any town landfills.

These same issues lead to potential health implications for the children playing on these fields. The crumb rubber releases toxic particles, airborne chemicals and dust. Our younger athletes are particularly susceptible to inhaled particles and to skin burns and rashes. Many states are now revising their previous whole-hearted acceptance of turf fields in light of new studies. Why would we want children and animals coming into intense contact with materials that are disposed of as hazardous waste? Plus, these fields can heat up to unsafe temperatures on warm days, leading to hot zones environmentally and heat exhaustion in young athletes.

(crumb rubber sticks to children)

In addition, studies have already shown that toxins that leech into groundwater in this area of South Hingham migrate into the Plymouth River, Cushing Pond, Glad Tidings Plain, and the South Hingham aquifer, eventually reaching the town wells. More immediately, there are 63 families on Cushing and Ward Street who rely on private wells for their water. Covering 2 playing fields with the equivalent of 25,000 recycled tires cut into crumbs leads to contaminated ground water that affects people and animals throughout Hingham.

CDC’s General Recommendations on the Use of Fields with Artificial Turf

At this time, CDC does not yet understand the potential risks associated with exposure to dust from worn artificial turf.  The following precautions can be taken to minimize any potential risk.
  • Field managers should consider implementing dust-suppression measures.  Suggestions for dust-suppression methods can be found at NJDHSS’s website, which is provided in the additional information section.
  • Children ages 6 and younger are most susceptible to lead’s harmful health effects.  To protect the public, in particular young children, consider posting signs indicating that:
  1. After playing on the field, individuals are encouraged to perform aggressive hand and body washing for at least 20 seconds using soap and warm water.
  2. Clothes worn on the field should be taken off and turned inside out as soon as possible after using the field to avoid tracking contaminated dust to other places. In vehicles, people can sit on a large towel or blanket if it is not feasible to remove their clothes. These clothes, towels, and blankets should be washed separately and shoes worn on the field should be kept outside of the home.
  3. Eating while on the field or turf product is discouraged.
  4. Avoid contaminating drinking containers with dust and fibers from the field.  When not drinking, close them and keep them in a bag, cooler, or other covered container on the side of the field.

Read the official CDC Health Advisory here

To learn more:
• Read more about the impact on well water in the area here
• Read more about toxins in turf here
• Read more about what happens to crumb rubber here
Read more about NFL Injuries and Player Preferences here
Read more about Milone & MacBroom Turf Report Critique here
• Read about 2 Major Cities Banning Crumb Rubber here
• Read about Lead in Crumb Rubber here
• Read about the Problems with Silica Sand Dust here
NEW Read the San Francisco Synthetic Playfields Task Force Report here