[No. 05] EHHI to schools: Recent artificial turf study shows carcinogens and toxins in synthetic turf fields. On August 30, 2010, Environment and Human Health, Inc. released a statement, warning schools that the recent Connecticut study on artificial turf fields has shown the presence of carcinogen and toxins in synthetic turf playing fields. A copy of the statement is available here. Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI) is a nine-member, non-profit organization composed of doctors, public health professionals and policy experts. It is dedicated to protecting human health from environmental harms through research, education and improving public policy. EHHI does not receive any funds from businesses.
The release stated, “A sampling of just some of the chemicals off-gassing from the fields includes benzothizole - according to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is harmful if swallowed or inhaled; toluene - the MSDS says is a skin, eye, and respiratory irritant and can cause headaches; acetone - the MSDS safety sheet says is a skin, eye, and respiratory irritant, and can affect the central nervous system; zinc - a respiratory irritant; acenaphthene - a carcinogen; and naphthalene - which is listed as a possible carcinogen.”
After performing a peer review of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection’s Artificial Turf Study, the state Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) advised that the findings “be softened” in order to avoid alarming the public. CASE warned, “Parents may be motivated to withdraw their children from beneficial athletic activities, and schools and towns will consider the financially wasteful removal of existing fields.”
According to EHHI, “The health assessment looked at one chemical at a time for the artificial turf's affect on people's health - yet the data indicates that children are being exposed to a soup of toxins from these fields, and these exposures are experienced all at the same time. The data also shows that the more people who are playing on a field the more toxins are released -- and thus the greater the exposures to students. The study indicates a very high variability of the levels of toxins found in each field. Since there are 40,000 used tires in each field, enormous variability of toxins would be expected.”
“The actual field-testing took place last summer when temperatures were unusually cool, between 70 and 80 degrees. Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI) points out that the temperatures this summer have consistently reached 90 degrees with fields frequently exceeding temperatures over 135 degrees. If the testing had been done this summer, the off-gassing of chemicals would have been higher and health risks shown in the report would have been greater.”
EHHI stated, “The National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina reported that more than 40 football players nationwide have died of heatstroke since 1995 -- 31 of whom were high school athletes.” It is therefore essential that one have “better measurements of individual exposures from artificial turf during periods of high temperatures, as many children participate in sports on these fields throughout the summer months when the high heat causes greater exposures to multiple toxic compounds simultaneously,” according to Dr. D. Barry Boyd, Oncologist at the Greenwich Hospital and the Yale Cancer Center, quoted by EHHI in its statement. “Although new fields off-gas more chemicals, all the fields tested were two years old or older,” EHHI said.
[No. 04] EHHI critiques the Connecticut turf study, porcess. In July 2010 the state of Connecticut released its multi-agency study of artificial turf fields, as reported here at http://www.synturf.org/westportbrief.html(Item No. 09). On August 5, 2010, Yahoo Financial News carried the following critique of the study by Environment and Human Health Inc. Entitled: “Connecticut's Artificial Turf Study's Risk Estimates Were Modified to Avoid Alarming the Public, Warns Environment and Human Health, Inc.,” the piece is available at http://sg.finance.yahoo.com/news/Connecticuts-Artificial-Turf-pz-2922305234.html?x=0 . It stated:
HARTFORD, Conn., Aug. 5, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI) was astonished to learn that despite the significant health and safety concerns shown in the Connecticut Department of Public Health's (DPH) Artificial Turf Study, the state agency was urged to re-frame its press release so as not to alarm the public.
Unbelievably, the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE), which performed the study's peer review, advised that the findings of the artificial turf study "be softened" to avoid causing the public to be alarmed.
The CASE report urged the DPH to change its press release headline from "The Results Indicate Cancer Risks Slightly Above De Minimis Levels for All Scenarios Evaluated" to the more reassuring headline, "Result of State Artificial Turf Study: No Elevated Health Risk."
The CASE summary urged the DPH:
"To revise its risk assessment and then present its findings with appropriate cautions. At the least, the various assumptions underlying the risk assessment should be compiled and presented in a manner so that they can be understood by non-scientists (e.g., parents and journalists) reading the report."
CASE continued, "[We are] very aware of the shrinking resources available to support our children's and recreation activities. It is almost certain that the 'headline' conclusion of the CT Department of Public Health (DPH) report will become the focus of media reports and will unnecessarily frighten parents as well as school and municipal supervisors. Parents may be motivated to withdraw their children from beneficial athletic activities, and schools and towns will consider the financially wasteful removal of existing fields. This would be an unfortunate result, one that would likely pose greater risks to the welfare of Connecticut than the continued use of outdoor Artificial Turf Fields."
Testing of the artificial turf fields took place last summer when temperatures were unusually cool, between 70 and 80 degrees. EHHI points out that this summer temperatures have consistently reached 90 degrees with fields frequently exceeding temperatures over 135 degrees. If the testing had been done this summer, offgassing of chemicals would have been higher and health risks shown in the report would have been higher. Although new fields offgas more chemicals, all the fields tested were two years old or older.
According to the DPH's press release and executive summary, many toxic chemicals were found in the fields. "The field investigation detected a variety of compounds that were present above the fields at concentrations greater than the range seen in background samples. Based upon the pattern of detection, it is considered likely that benzothiazole, acetone, toluene, methyl ethyl ketone, methyl isobutyl ketone, butylated hydroxytoluene, naphthalenes and several other [polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons] PAHs were field-related, with other detected chemicals less certain to be field related. For example, benzene, methylene chloride, methyl chloride and acrolein were detected only in personal monitoring samples and not in the stationary samplers placed just above the field."
The laboratory testing found numerous toxic chemicals off-gasing from the crumb rubber. According to their report, "The laboratory studies showed offgassing of numerous compounds including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (particularly naphthalenes), VOCs (e.g., benzene, hexane, methylene chloride, styrene, toluene), and rubber-related SVOCs (benzothiazole, tert-octylphenol, butylated hydroxytoluene). The primary constituent detected by both laboratories was benzothiazole. Pre-weathering the crumb rubber outdoors for ten weeks decreased the volatile emissions 20-80%."
The report went on to say that indoor synthetic turf fields are offgassing toxic chemicals at high enough levels for the DPH to call for greater ventilation of such facilities. "However, it would be prudent for building operators to provide adequate ventilation to prevent a buildup of rubber-related VOCs and SVOCs at indoor fields. New indoor fields should consider alternatives to crumb rubber infill as a cushioning agent."
The study showed very high variability in the levels of toxins that were found in each field. Since there are 40,000 tires in each field, enormous variability of toxins would be expected.
The stormwater sampling detected various metals and semi-volatile compounds. Zinc was found in high enough levels to cause risks to surface waters and aquatic organisms. "Three samples exhibited acute toxicity for both Daphnia pulex and Pimephales promelas. The only analyte in the stormwater detected in concentrations exceeding acute aquatic toxicity criteria for surface waters was zinc. Zinc exceedences of the acute criteria were detected in the same three stormwater samples that exhibited acute toxicity for both Daphnia pulex and Pimephales promelas. These results showed that there is a potential risk to surface waters and aquatic organisms associated with whole effluent and zinc toxicity of storm-water runoff from artificial turf fields." The results of the ground water sampling documented in this press release leads us to not only believe ground-up rubber tires are not good for children, but are also not good for the environment.
There is nothing in this press release and executive summary that reduces EHHI's concern about children playing on ground-up rubber tires. The study looked at the safety of chemical exposures one chemical at a time and yet it is clear from this study that the exposures are to many chemicals at the same time. If the study had been conducted when the ambient temperatures had been more in line with normal July temperatures in Connecticut, the off gassing of chemicals would have been greater and that would have pushed the risk levels higher. As well, the data show that more people playing on a field will cause more chemicals to be released from the crumb rubber, as the players' impacts on the turf cause more toxins to be released into the air. The data collected in this study are very important -- EHHI's strong disagreement is with the interpretation of that data.
Read the report's executive summary on the Conn. Department of Environmental Protection's website:
Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI) is a nine-member, non-profit organization composed of doctors, public health professionals and policy experts. It is dedicated to protecting human health from environmental harms through research, education and improving public policy. EHHI does not receive any funds from businesses or corporations.
[No. 03] LEED’s counting of artificial turf as “green” is problematic. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. June 27, 2010. The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED is a rating and certification system, which gives points to buildings according to sustainability of sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design. ‘LEED’ stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental design. In a report conducted by Environment and Human Health, Inc (EHHI), North Haven, Connecticut ( http://www.ehhi.org/leed/ ) calls on LEED to pay more attention to human health issues. The report is called The Green Building Debate: LEED Certification Where Energy Efficiency Collides with Human Health. It is available at http://www.ehhi.org/reports/leed/LEED_report_0510.pdf .
According to a news story in Kansas City Star (June 14, 2010), the EHHI report identified “several health threats that are overlooked by the LEED rating system. These health threats fall into two different categories: indoor air quality and drinking water. The use of artificial turf was also identified as a third health threat but is in a category of its own.” “EHHI's concerns with drinking water include plastics, bisphenol-A (BPA), PVC and phthalates, and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). While a building can earn points for its water management systems, there is nothing in place to address the quality of the water used in LEED certified buildings.” “The use of artificial turf is also problematic. Although artificial turf has come a long way since the 1970s from an aesthetics standpoint, it is still toxic. Many types of artificial turf use recycled rubber tires (crumb rubber) and this can cause a multitude of health problems. EHHI's analysis of the crumb rubber shows that it contains a bevy of chemicals including known carcinogens, neurotoxicants, and suspected endocrine disruptors. Artificial turf also adds to the heat island effect, is not biodegradable, and disposing it at the end of its useful life can be difficult at best. However, artificial turf is water efficient and thus can earn a LEED registered project up to four points in the Water Efficiency category as well as additional points in Materials and Resources and Innovation in Design.” “Overall, EHHI's concern is that consumers will translate the term LEED certified into healthy for humans and that isn’t always the case.” Source: Melissa Hincha-Ownby, “Is LEED missing something?,” in Kansas City Star, June 14, 2010 (Mother Nature Network - mnn.com), available at http://www.kansascity.com/2010/06/14/2015587/is-leed-missing-something.html
[No. 02] Hartford, Connecticut: EHHI testimony before the Connecticut state legislature on March 2, 2009.
RAISED BILL S.B. 924 AN ACT CONCERNING A MORATORIUM ON ARTIFICIAL TURF PLAYING FIELDS AND THE POSTING OF WARNING SIGNS
Chairs Senator Ed Meyer, Representative Richard Roy, and Members of the Environment Committee:
My name is Nancy Alderman.I am President of Environment and Human Health, Inc. a non-profit organization comprised of nine members who are physicians and public health professionals dedicated to protecting human health from environmental harms.
Environment and Human Health, Inc., is in strong support of Bill 924. Taxpayer's dollars should not be going into installing synthetic turf fields that can cost up to a million dollars until we know far more about the health implications from these fields.
What we presently know:
1.We know that rubber tires contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals.
2.We know that when you grind up these tires the chemicals and heavy metals do not disappear.
3.We know that the tiny particles of the ground up rubber tires get into children's hair, ears, noses, shoes and socks when they play on these fields.
4.We know that these ground up rubber tires have a lot of crumb-rubber dust that is created when they are on the fields.
5.We know that the dust contains the same chemicals as the tires -- only now the dust is so small in size that it is capable of being breathed in deep into the lungs.
(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 on turf product is discouraged.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.
These things alone should cause legislators to pass this Bill.
Environment and Human Health Inc. (EHHI) is concerned about the new synthetic turf fields that are being installed by schools and towns all over this country. These fields are made of a synthetic grass like material to which large amounts of recycled ground-up rubber tires have been added as "in-fill." It is the chemicals released from the ground-up rubber tire "crumbs" as well as the dust from the tire crumbs that pose the greatest health concerns.
EHHI is a 10-member, nonprofit organization composed of physicians, public health professionals and policy experts dedicated to protecting human health from environmental harm through research, education and improving publicpolicy. The new "synthetic turf" fields are not turf in any sense of the word. They are large surfaces, the size of football fields, covered with material derived from grinding up used rubber tires until they are the size of grains of coarse sand. These fields can cost up to $1 million apiece.
In terms of weight, there are more than 100 tons of ground-up rubber tire crumbs on each field. There is no barrier between the rubber crumbs and the athletes playing on the fields. The rubber crumbs are unstable and get into the shoes, stockings, clothing and even the hair and ears of those who play on the fields. Dust particles from these crumbs are easily inhaled.
Numerous studies have been cited in the past to justify the safety of the rubber tire crumbs that constitute the major portion of synthetic turf fields.
However, when EHHI members reviewed the findings of many of these studies, they consistently found that there would indeed be exposures to the components of the tire crumbs.
Many studies found that dust from the rubber crumbs contained carcinogens that could be inhaled into the deepest portions of the lung. Most studies indicated that there were serious limitations to their research due to insufficient safety testing of some of the components released from the tire crumbs.
Norway, Sweden and now Italy have recommended that there be no further construction of fields with rubber tire crumbs in their countries.
Norway's concern was that some people are allergic to latex, a component of rubber tires. Sweden considers rubber tire crumbs to be a hazardous substance and therefore recommends that no new fields containing them be installed, and Italy considers the rubber tire crumbs to be carcinogenic.
Because of the studies that had been done, EHHI decided to initiate a study with the testers for the state of Connecticut - the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station - to examine whether the rubber tire "crumbs" out-gassed harmful chemicals into the air or were capable of leaching into ground water.
Although many chemicals were found, the four compounds that were conclusively identified with confirmatory tests were benzothiazole; butylated hydroxyanisole; n-hexadecane; and 4-(toctyl) phenol. Approximately two dozen other chemicals were indicated at lower levels. The four chemicals found have the following reported actions:
• Benzothiazole: Skin and eye irritation, harmful if swallowed. There is no available data on cancer, mutagenic toxicity, teratogenic toxicity, or developmental toxicity.
• Butylated hydroxyanisole: Recognized carcinogen, suspected endocrine toxicant, gastrointestinal toxicant, immunotoxicant (adverse effects on the immune system), neurotoxicant (adverse effects on the nervous system), skin and sense-organ toxicant. There is no available data on cancer, mutagenic toxicity, teratogenic toxicity, or developmental toxicity.
• n-hexadecane: severe irritant based on human and animal studies. There is no available data on cancer, mutagenic toxicity, teratogenic toxicity, or developmental toxicity.
• 4-(t-octyl) phenol: corrosive and destructive to mucous membranes. There is no available data on cancer, mutagenic toxicity, teratogenic toxicity, or developmental toxicity.
People are asked by the synthetic turf manufacturers to assume that the amount of exposures from the rubber crumbs - as well as exposures from the rubber crumb dust - are insufficient to produce any health effect, irrespective of the age of the child or the number of hours, days or years that a person plays on these fields. Those who promote the safety of these fields provide no measurements in which to support these assumptions.
It is clear that children will be exposed to these rubber crumbs, their dusts and their vapors on these fields. A simple exercise in arithmetic will show the scale of the number of children/hours of exposure there would be from one synthetic turf athletic field.
To summarize, children will be exposed to recognized hazardous substances on these synthetic turf fields.
Although the health implications at this time are unclear, the evidence is sufficient to create a burden of proof of safety before more fields are installed. At the very least, more testing should be done before any new synthetic turf fields with ground-up rubber tires are installed.
Nancy Alderman is the presidentof Environment and HumanHealth Inc., North Haven, Conn.