If you’re the parent of a soccer kid or a lax bro that plays on the turf at Fortunato or Woodman field, there’s a potential health hazard right under your nose — and your kid’s feet. The shredded tire infill, those tiny black pieces of rubber your kids track into your car and home after playing on those fields, contain carcinogens, heavy metals and neurotoxins, such as benzene, mercury and styrene-butadiene to name a few. On hot days when the turf heats up, it releases those toxins.
The BOE has received approval from the Montclair Board of School Estimate to upgrade overhaul Fortunato and Woodman fields. But they haven’t decided on what materials to use.
Justin Klabin, a managing member of the sustainable design firm Klabin Eco Development, spoke at the March 28 BOE meeting about the possible hazards of shredded tire infill. Currently the EPA has no idea if rubber infill is safe.
Philip J. Landrigan, the Dean of Global Health of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and author of the textbook Children’s Environmental Health, stated in a memo that “the use of recycled waste tires for playground mulch and crumb rubber athletic field infill potentially puts the health of children and athletics at risk.”
Some municipalities are taking action. In 2008 New York City stopped installing fields with crumb rubber and started to switch to carpet-style fields (no infill) or alternative plant-based infill. In January 2016 Hartford, Connecticut banned crumb-rubber turf in January 2016. Voters in Concord, Massachusetts approved a three-year moratorium on artificial turf in 2016.
During his statement at the BOE meeting, Klabin said other infill options are available. They include coconut husks, cork, plastics and coated silica sand. The installation costs of these materials is generally 10 percent more than rubber infill.
Parents and caregivers who want to know more about potential hazards of shredded rubber infill can check out this CEHC Artificial Turf Infographic. To let the BOE know your opinion about rubber infill contact them at email@example.com.