Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hidden Hazards • State agencies agree to take a close look at the health and environmental issues of "crumb rubber"

January 12, 2009
For years, the federal government has tended to dismiss concerns about the health and environmental issues raised by artificial turf. We're hopeful a recently announced joint study involving four Connecticut agencies will bring long-needed focus and light to the subject.Last summer, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a report examining the potential health threat from the pigment that gives artificial turf its everlasting green. Tests revealed the presence of lead (a nerve toxin) on some turf, but the study concludes "consumers should not be concerned about using these fields."But lead is only one concern. Artificial turf uses "crumb rubber" from shredded tires for its cushioning effect and to hold the "grass" upright. The rubber is also sold as mulch. A study by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station last year found summer temperatures cause the rubber to release vapors, including one that's a known carcinogen. Other chemicals have been linked to asthma, eye and skin irritations.The state study also found that heavy metals — lead, zinc, cadmium and selenium — can leach from the rubber into water.
The new state-sponsored study will involve the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Public Health, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and the University of Connecticut Health Center. The health department will issue a full health risk assessment by Jan. 31 of next year. (Hartford Courant, click here)