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Letter: Crumb rubber poses risk in new artificial turf fields

Crumb rubber poses risk in new artificial turf fields

The Williamsville School Athletic Field Improvement Project approved last week by voters will add artificial turf fields at East, North and South High Schools.

But according to Environment and Human Health (ehhi.org) we know there are carbon black nanoparticles in tire “crumbs” used as infill on artificial turf fields.

A new study (scientificamerican.com/article/carbon-nanotubes-danger/) showed that long, needle-thin carbon nanotubes can lead to lung cancer and are as harmful as breathing asbestos.

Schools, health departments and the Environmental Protection Agency claim these fields are safe, yet none of the studies cited accounts for carbon black nanoparticles.

In 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Commission decided synthetic turf was safe. However, on April 30, Communications Director Scott Wolfson stated, “What was done in 2008 was not good enough to make a claim either way as to the safety of those fields.”

Is the proposal for synthetic fields an irresponsible oversight of Superintendent Scott Martzloff and his School Board? Surely, if they are informed, they know students playing on those fields will inhale carbon nanotubes and bring crumb rubber home in their shoes, athletic gear and clothing. What will happen when the fields are laid, then need to be removed? Each field has 40,000 ground-up tires. Where will we put that waste? Who will pay?

This health and environment risk issue is too huge and important to ignore. The consequences of laying down hundreds of tons of crumb rubber on our schools’ public properties demand much more scrutiny, time and attention by every one of us.

Daphne Finnegan

East Amherst