'Perfectly safe'

Test results on McCormack Turf Field


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  • Many events take place at McCormack Field including sporting events, graduation ceremony, Relay for Life, the township's fireworks and more. Here, field hockey campers practice.



Advice from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission
For communities concerned about playgrounds or athletic fields with recycled tire surfaces, the CPSC offers the following advice:
“Communities, parents, state and local officials are encouraged to explore Federal Agency websites, www.cpsc.gov/ and www.epa.gov/tirecrumbs to review the research results available to date on the use of recycled rubber tires for playgrounds and artificial turf fields. In addition, concerned individuals can check their state’s public health agency websites to determine if there are state-specific recommendations.
While no specific chemical hazards from recycled tires in playground surfacing are known by the CPSC at this time, the following precautions to limit exposure are recommended:
1. Avoid mouth contact with playground surfacing materials, including mouthing, chewing, or swallowing playground rubber. This may pose a choking hazard, regardless of chemical exposure.
2. Avoid eating food or drinking beverages while directly on playground surfaces, and wash hands before handling food.
3. Limit the time at a playground on extremely hot days.
4. Clean hands and other areas of exposed skin after visiting the playground, and consider changing clothes if evidence of tire materials (e.g., black marks or dust) is visible on fabrics.
5. Clean any toys that were used on a playground after the visit.”
Source: www.cpsc.gov/content/status-report-on-tire-crumb-rubber-full-questions-and-answers

BY PATRICIA KELLER

WEST MILFORD — West Milford Superintendent of Schools Dr. Alex Anemone announced Tuesday that the results of testing done at McCormack Turf Field came back as “perfectly safe.”

At the July 18 meeting of the West Milford Board of Education, a proposal from LAN Associates, Midland Park, in the amount of $2,900 to conduct turf field sampling at McCormack Field was approved.

Anemone announced “very good news” at the meeting Tuesday - the results of the testing were in, and the crumb rubber at McCormack field tested “perfectly safe.” Anemone read a statement from the report: “All the compounds analyzed were either not detected or were detected below the most stringent NJDEP criteria.”

Concerns for yearsSince 2008, concerns have been raised and growing about the safety of recycled rubber tire materials, which are used in synthetic turf fields and playgrounds throughout the United States. The use of synthetic turf has grown since its introduction in the 1960s, with more than 11,000 synthetic turf fields in use throughout the United States today.

Synthetic or artificial turf is a surface of artificial fibers and other components mimicking the look of natural grass, and is used in professional sports stadiums, recreational athletic fields, and on playgrounds. In a synthetic turf field, infill materials, typically “crumb rubber” — shredded rubber particles made from recycled automotive tires, often mixed with sand - are spread between the “grass” fibers to provide cushioning and traction. Anyone who has walked or played on a turf field can tell you that those little black rubber “crumbs” get everywhere, like sand after a walk on the beach. According to the National Toxicology Program, US Department of Health and Human Services: “As athletes and children dive and play on synthetic turf surfaces, crumb rubber particles have been found to cling to clothing, hair, and skin. This could lead to breathing, unintentionally ingesting, and skin contact with tire crumb or chemicals that may leach out of the crumb rubber.”

Testing recommendedIn August, 2011 the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) funded a study by the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI) to measure lead concentrations in wipe samples and in air at artificial turf fields.

“Sampling was conducted at five fields in New Jersey using an autonomous, programmable robot that agitated the turf surface and collected air samples above the turf in the breathing zone of a child. Other potentially toxic metals were also measured including chromium, cadmium and arsenic.”

The lead level measurement was significantly elevated at one of the five fields tested; however, the elevated levels “did not approach standards for protection of health.” But researchers stated that “the small number of fields sampled during this study makes it difficult to generalize the conclusions of this study to other artificial turf fields.”

On the basis of those results, it was recommended that artificial turf fields be screened for lead using wipe sampling, particularly fields older than three years; and if wipe samples show elevated levels of lead, more intensive sampling of air with agitation of the turf is recommended.

Research continuesIn February, 2016 the EPA, along with the CDC, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry ATSDR, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission launched a multi-agency action plan to study key environmental and human health questions relevant to crumb rubber. On Dec. 30, 2016, a status report describing the progress of the research was released, and included characterization of the chemicals found in tire crumb, characterization of the exposure scenarios for those who use turf fields containing tire crumb, study to better understand how children use playgrounds containing tire crumb, and outreach to key stakeholders; however, the status report did not include research findings.

In May, 2017 the Children’s Environmental Health Center of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai released “Artificial Turf: A Health–Based Consumer Guide,” which included a Position Statement on the use of Recycled Tires in Artificial Turf Surfaces.

“Based upon the presence of known toxic substances in tire rubber and the lack of comprehensive safety studies, The Children’s Environmental Health Center of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai urges a moratorium on the use artificial turf generated from recycled rubber tires.”

Sources: https://www.safefieldsalliance.com/our-story, http://www.nj.gov/dep/dsr/publications/turf-pm.pdf, https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/results/areas/syntheticturf/research.html, http://icahn.mssm.edu)



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