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This page is dedicated to "breaking news" from the trenches. Items appearing here are culled from the mainstream media or from the material that contributors share with this site. Many contributors of this site are active in the community as well as consult with civic and public health departments. Their insight and information helps this site to be at the cutting edge of issues and a part of the solution to pressing problems.
[No. 09] Caldwell and West Caldwell, New Jersey, vote down funding for turf! On December 11, 2007, the voters in the New Jersey communities of Caldwell and West Caldwell voted to raise $14.7 million for school repairs, but said “no” to a $2.4 million measure to make improvements at Bonnell Athletic Field at James Caldwell High School, which also serves West Caldwell. The improvements called for an artificial turf field. Source: Elizabeth Moore, “Caldwell and West Caldwell voters approve $14.7M in school repairs,” in The Star Ledger, December 11, 2007, available at
[No. 08] In Nyack, the turf is dead for now!Newton, SynTurf.org. December 12, 2007. Yesterday, voters in Nyack, New York, defeated a bond referendum which contained $millions for artificial turf playing fields. With a 62% versus 48% overall tally, in each of the four districts – Valley Cottage, Upper Nyack, Hilltop and Depew – the $16.5 million measure lost. Check here for the results. http://www.aninconvenientturf.com/. While this result rewards the hard work of many who opposed the artificial fields – especially www.aninconvenientturf.com -- it is by no means the end for turf. One must presume that the fiscal and other concerns helped achieve the outcome. In due course, a combination of private sector and public sector funding may end up still financing an artificial turf field or two in the school district. The public education undertaken by www.aninconvenientturf.com may need to continue until the idea of artificial turf becomes in itself least desirable of all options in the community.
[No. 07] Maplewood, New Jersey. December 8, 2007. Maplewoodvotes.org is spearheading a citizens’ petition drive calling for a referendum on the townships’ decision to issue a $2.8 million bond for purposes of constructing DeHart Park, including synthetic turf fields. The decision to bond the project was decided by Township Committee on November 20, 2007, even though in April 2006 the town’s Environmental Committee voted down the project and advised the town not to proceed with artificial turf at the site. On January 1, 2007, the town will be voting on another $1.4 million in additional monies for the project. To find out how you can help Maplewoodvotes.org in its efforts to save the environment, please visit http://www.maplewoodvotes.org/index.html or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more on this story, please see news article at http://www.localsource.com/articles/2007/12/06/maplewood/local_news/doc4758339b18f03652305475.txt.
[No. 06] EHHI quizzes Conn. DEP over disposal of turf fields.SynTurf.org, Newton. December 5, 2007. The Environment and Human Health, Inc. today asked the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection to clarify its position with regard to the eventual disposal of artificial turf fields in 8 to 10 years, as they will have to be replaced with new rugs and infill. In her e-mail to Gina McCarthy, the Commissioner of CT DEP, the president of EHHI, Nancy Alderman, pointed out that “Each field has overone hundred tons of shredded tires. The ground up tires have a large amount of zinc, (as well as many other metals and chemicals) and, we know from studies, that the zinc effects soil and water.” Perhaps it is time that the DEP consider now the solution to a problem that is sure to land later in its lap, the letter stated. Connecticut law defines tires as a "special waste" as opposed to municipal solid waste (MSW) because they require special handling whether in a landfill or an energy recovery plant.However, Connecticut no longer permits the landfilling of waste tires, either whole or in pieces. The DEP Solid Waste Management Regulations, under Section 22a-209-8(g) of the Regulations of CT State Agencies (RCSA) specify the handling requirements for the storage,disposal or processing (sort, shred, grind, etc.)of waste tires. The CT DEP views about disposal of used tires is available at http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?A=2714&Q=324902. The CT regulations on disposal of tires and tire material is set forth at http://www.ct.gov/dep/lib/dep/regulations/22a/22a-228-1.pdf.
[No. 05] New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to study potential health impact of turf. November 23, 2007. Dr. Eileen Murphy is Director of the Division of Science, Research and Technology at New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in Trenton. Recently, in a news story about the proliferation of artificial turf fields in North Jersey, she said artificial turf is “one of our emerging issues” because early research suggests children could be harmed by breathing the chemicals in the turf or by getting it on their skin or in their mouths. She expressed the hope that state’s DEP would study the potential health impacts within the next six months. Source: Colleen Diskin, “Critics worry about artificial turf’s impact on ecosystem,” in The Record, northern New Jersey, November 23, 2007, available at http://www.northjersey.com/page.php?qstr=eXJpcnk3ZjczN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXkzJmZnYmVsN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXk3MjI0OTg5JnlyaXJ5N2Y3MTdmN3ZxZWVFRXl5Mg.
In the interim, the NJDEP is issuing permits for turf projects. Jeff Tittle, executive director of New Jersey Sierra Club thinks that is nuts. “So we're going to allow different places to install artificial turf and then we're going to study it? That makes no sense. What are you going to do -- have the kids who play on these fields act like guinea pigs?," he told NorthJersey.com. Ibid. The proliferation of artificial turf fields in North Jersey is acute. Some 27 of 73 public and private high school football teams play on artificial turf. Turf is or will soon be in use on fields at six of the seven colleges and universities that have athletic programs in the area. Turf has also become the “rage” at municipal parks, taxpayers paying millions to have them installed. Ibid.
[No. 04] Turf: Rutgers researcher says officials not asking right questions. November 23, 2007. Brad Park is a sports turf education and research coordinator for Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. According to him, 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."The municipalities and school districts that are considering synthetic turf are not asking some of these environmental questions. They should be," he told NorthJersey.com. Source: Colleen Diskin, “Critics worry about artificial turf’s impact on ecosystem,” in The Record, northern New Jersey, November 23, 2007, available at http://www.northjersey.com/page.php?qstr=eXJpcnk3ZjczN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXkzJmZnYmVsN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXk3MjI0OTg5JnlyaXJ5N2Y3MTdmN3ZxZWVFRXl5Mg.
[No. 03] The RAMP Report Calls for Moratorium on Turf Fields. Rochesterians Against the Misuse of Pesticides (RAMP) is a citizens’ environmental coalition in Rochester New York. It is led by a health and environment advocate named Judy Braiman (email@example.com). In October 2007, RAMP issued a study that concluded “Many questions remain unanswered regarding whether or not there are potential health or ecological hazards that can result from installations of synthetic playing fields. Due to the unresolved public health and environmental issues, it is prudent public health policy to avoid installation of new synthetic turf fields until the health and environmental issues can be fully evaluated.” The study pointed to the filing on October 24, 2007, of the Assemblymen Englebright and Colton that called for a moratorium on new synthetic turf installations pending a careful review of information regarding potential human health implications and an evaluation of potential impacts. The RAMP Study consisted of a laboratory screening analysis of clean unused samples of fill from five synthetic turf suppliers. The screening was conducted by Paradigm Laboratories in Rochester in reference to an information summary and health-related links that were provided by Sciencecorps in Lexington, Massachusetts. The Study reported, “The chemicals listed above have the potential to cause serious harm under some conditions, and many are persistent in the environment. There is limited evidence regarding the potential for chemicals present in fill to move from into air, soil, and water under real world conditions. However, many are known to readily move through soil and other media when they are not bound within materials. The likelihood of their release from the fill matrix requires more evaluation under varied real-world conditions. The potential for environmental contamination, human exposures, health impacts, and ecological impacts as a result of the release of chemicals from fill is not fully characterized.”
The hurry-up offense of the proponents of the project soon ran into a block when it was learned that only 5 days earlier two Assemblymen in Albany had introduced a bill in favor of 6-month moratorium on the sale and installation of artificial turf fields until the health effects of turf fields could be studied (for the Englebright-Colton bill, see this site’s page “Moratoriums”).
The news of the moratorium legislation bolstered the position of the grassroots Anti-Synthetic Turf Action Group of F-M (http://www.geocities.com/fmturf/health.html, email: firstname.lastname@example.org). It launched a website and concerned parents like Valerie Clarke and other citizens began a campaign of public information about the health implications of artificial turf fields and the need for further studying of the product.
On November 19, 2007, the Board of Education voted to postpone the turf project. The Board indicated it would discuss the project in December anyway and it may put it before the voters in March 2008, hoping for a project start date sometime in the fall of 2008. The Board member Dawn Cottrell was quoted as saying, “We are responsible and liable for the safety of our students. Any word that this might endanger our students’ health should be investigated before we put this for a vote.” Elizabeth Doran, “F-M delays vote on new stadium,” in Syracuse.com, November 20, 2007, at http://www.syracuse.com/articles/news/index.ssf?/base/news-12/119555254742880.xml&coll=1.
Comments of officials like Cottrell smack with genuine insincerity and pretend- ignorance. In fact, the health and safety risks associated with artificial turf fields were known wide and far already at the time of the Board’s vote in October. In fact, a group of parents and concerned citizens made a presentation to the Board on October 29 about the subject. See http://www.geocities.com/fmturf/health.html. And yet, Cottrell had the audacity to claim after the vote on November 19 that any word of turf endangering students’ health warranted a postponement of the turf project!
What had changed suddenly between October 29 and November 19? SynTurf.org would speculate the Board changed its mind for now because the proposed moratorium legislation might nix the state financial help for the project. This would put the entire financial burden of the project on the residents/taxpayers, who already in 2004 had shown no stomach for such extravagant projects. Therefore, by taking a necessary wait-and-see attitude, the Board at the same time placated the anti-turf action group, which was quick to commend the Board of Education for its prudent decision. See http://www.geocities.com/fmturf/health.html.
[No. 01] Newton, Mass.: Green Decade Coalition Takes a Stand
Turf issues. The Green Decade Coalition/Newton (GDC/N) urges the Board of Aldermen to require a comprehensive assessment of the environmental impact for the proposed Newton South High School synthetic turf, prior to moving forward with any decision. The GDC/N understands that there are many factors (economics, usage, maintenance, etc.) that must be weighed in determining whether or not to install synthetic turf. However, we feel that the environmental factors have not been weighed adequately to make an informed decision. Included in an environmental assessment, the City should perform a comprehensive environmental life cycle assessment of the synthetic turf against the best natural alternatives, which would be a grass field using organic fertilizers and the appropriate drainage system to mitigate runoff problems. This life cycle assessment would include the evaluation of installation impact, water use, fertilizers, maintenance, and replacement over a 50-year life period. A geotechnical analysis must also be conducted. We understand this analysis is part of the proposal to build the Field Turf. The decision should be made separately from one related to synthetic turf, as it could have similar implications for natural turf. Finally, since the fields ultimately drain into the Charles River, we need to include assessments from the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA), allowing us to analyze the runoff implications. This assessment should investigate water runoff implications of the installation as well as the impacts of regular use. We understand that there is an environmental cost to maintaining the natural fields or installing synthetic alternatives, and that there is great pressure to use and enjoy the public lands. However, the environmental factors will ultimately have direct impact on the health and safety of our children and the City, and we feel that it is imperative that we understand these implications before moving forward with the synthetic turf option. This statement from GDC/N was sent to all members of the Board of Aldermen and published in the Newton TAB newspaper.