Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-361

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING A STUDY OF THE TOXICITY OF ARTIFICIAL TURF ATHLETIC FIELDS.

Vote Date:

2/29/2008

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

2/27/2008

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Environment Committee; Environment and Human Health, Inc.

REASONS FOR BILL:

This bill results from concerns about the toxicity of artificial turf athletic fields, which are made from ground-up tire crumbs and plastic. Some studies have determined that these fields raise human health and environmental concerns, while others have concluded that they are safe. It is felt that an independent study funded through DEP is necessary to attempt to find independent, conclusive results, as the results of previous studies have been mixed. The substitute language changes the implementation date to February 1, 2009.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Ellen Blaschinski, Chief, Regulatory Services Branch DPH supports this bill, however she stresses that DPH has previously looked into this issue, and requests that they be consulted with during the studies. DPH concluded that a public health risk is unlikely, however they acknowledge that there are gaps in the information and believe further investigation is warranted.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General supports this bill because a recent study by Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI) raised a number of public health concerns regarding the release of certain toxic and cancer-causing chemicals when the surface is heated by the sun. There are also environmental concerns about from potential leaching of chemicals into surrounding soil.

David R. Brown, Sc.D., Public Health Toxicologist for EHHI supports this bill. The EHHI is a non-profit organization comprised of ten members including physicians, public health professionals and policy experts who are dedicated to protecting human health from environmental harms. They reviewed existing research and concluded that there was a serious need for more reliable information and research directly applicable to protect children's health and environmental exposures. They state that although there is information that recommends not using ground-up tires where children will play, it has not yet been determined whether or not the chemicals released are hazardous at the levels of exposure that children will be exposed to. Further study is necessary.

State Rep. Gerald Fox supports this bill because he believes that there have not been sufficient public health evaluation studies to determine whether artificial turf fields pose significant health problems. He states it is impossible to determine whether or not municipalities should continue to install these fields without this study.

Patricia Taylor, Resident of Westport CT supports this bill because she believes artificial turf fields pose a threat to the health of her children and others in her town. She expresses concerns that there is inadequate information on the effects of this turf on the environment and human health, including on drinking water. She will not allow her children to play on these fields.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Dr. Tuncer Edil, Research Director of Recycled Materials Resource Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison believes that artificial fields are safe for humans of all ages and safe for the environment at large. Dr. Edil quotes studies from sources, including universities and European Institutes on biomechanics and technology, which conclude that exposure poses no relevant risk to children or the environment. He also reviewed the EHHI study, concluding that the study stresses the harmful effects on air quality in the area where the rubber is manufactured, however that this does not mean it would have the same effect in the area where the end product is used. Also, he believes that if chemicals are released, the are not in harmful quanities.

David Burman, Representing FieldTurf Tarkett does not believe that this study is necessary, as he believes that previous research has concluded that the fields are safe for humans and the environment. FieldTurf produces these fields and believes that they pose no health threats and that in fact they are beneficial to athletes and the environment. They state that they are safer for athletes to play on and reduce injury. Also that they are safer for the environment, not to mention save taxpayer money, because they eliminate the necessity for pesticides and the wasted water used to maintain grass fields. They are not opposed to a study in general; however believe that previous studies conclude the fields are safe and hope that they are reviewed in order to save money and resources.

Reported by: Marissa Kirshenbaum

Date: March 6, 2008