Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-924

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING A MORATORIUM ON STATE FUNDED ARTIFICIAL TURF ATHLETIC FIELDS AND THE POSTING OF SIGNS.

Vote Date:

3/18/2009

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/2/2009

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Rep. Kim Fawcett, Environment Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

There have been concerns that turf fields made from shredded or ground rubber may be harmful to the health of people playing on these fields. This bill imposes a moratorium on state funded artificial turf athletic fields until February 1, 2010.

In committee section 2 of the raised bill, which dealt with the posting of signs, was removed from the bill. An exemption was also made for organizations that had entered into contracts to construct turf fields before July 1, 2009.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

State of Connecticut Department of Public Health opposes this bill. The CT Department of Public Health, Department of Environmental Protection, UCONN Health Center and the CT Agriculture Experiment Station are currently conducting a study of the exposures, releases and potential health effects associated with such fields. Establishing a moratorium before this study is complete is premature and will send the wrong message to the public. Along with CT four other government agencies are currently conducting studies on this issue. Reports from New York City, New Jersey, New York State and the US EPA will be published soon. Preliminary review of data by CT DPH shows little evidence of public health risk. Based upon the limited data currently available, DPH has conducted an extensive review of the chemical exposures and health risks possible from the crumb rubber-bases artificial turf fields. This review concluded that there was little evidence of immediate or significant health hazards.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Caroline Kavetas supports this bill. It makes no sense how we can use old tires to create a field for our children to play, roll, and be tackled on. It doesn't make much sense that if we can not put these tires into our landfills, what are we doing putting them on top of the land for our children to play in?

Patricia Taylor supports this bill. These fields are simply a waste management strategy for the disposal of shredded rubber tires. Scrap tires are hazardous waste – kids don't belong on such stuff. It is the state's responsibility, and within your ability, to provide minimum protection while Connecticut studies synthetic turf fields by withholding state funds to install them and providing field signs that contain basic information recommended by the CDC.

Nancy Alderman, President of Environment and Human health, Inc. supports this bill. 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. We know that rubber tires contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals. When you grind up these tires the chemicals and heavy metals do not disappear. This ground up rubber has a lot of crumb-rubber dust and this dust has the same toxins as the rubber. The CDC recommends aggressive hand and body washing for at least 20 seconds using soap and warm water. Clothes worn on these fields should be taken off and turned inside out as son as possible after using the field to avoid tracking contaminated dust to other places. Eating while on this field or on the turf is also discouraged.

The Center for Excellence in Children's Environmental Health at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine supports this bill. The decision to construct these turf fields were for the most part made without due diligence – without any analysis of potential negative consequences of turf fields. The Center for Excellence in Children's Environmental Health have identified several hazards associated with these turf fields. These are: extreme heat, MRSA skin infections, inhalation and ingestion of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, exposure to lead and the transportation home of crumb rubber pellets. There is also the threat of the chemicals escaping from the fields into the environment. There is also a concern with how these fields will be disposed of down the road.

Tanya L. Murphy, Board Member, Healthy World Healthy Child & Mount Sinai Children's Environmental Health Center, supports this bill. It is confusing how we can allow our children to play on ground rubber recycled tires, which were formerly classified as hazardous waste. Scientific evidence increasingly points to environmental chemicals as contributing too many learning disabilities. Initial research shows that granules contain worrisome levels of zinc and lead which are neurotoxins. These granules also contain carcinogenic substances. There is also new evidence that suggests that children need contact with greenery for their mental development.

Ecological Health Organization, Inc. supports this bill.

Stacy Prince supports this bill. This bill is a no brainer. CT's budget is already stretched past breaking in the effort to keep essential programs alive. At the same time the state has already begun a second test of the crumb rubber infill for turf fields. Until the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station study is completed and , more to the point, until the state can afford to fully fund all social welfare, environmental, health, transportation, and other programs of vital importance to its citizens, it makes absolutely no sense for any taxpayer dollars to go toward the installation of new turf fields.

Rhonda Sherwood, Vice Chairman, mount Sinai Children's Environmental Health Center, supports this bill. The blackish granules or crumb rubber used on turf fields are made from ground tires from semi tractor trailers, trucks and cars. Tests reveal the crumb rubber contains lead, arsenic, at least tow carcinogens and heavy metals. The lead dust from the turf fields is undoubtedly breathed in by the kids who play on these fields as they stir up the crumb rubber. The tires that are used for the crumb rubber are forbidden by law from being disposed of in town dumps. The reason for this that the rain runs off the tires into our groundwater and this is toxic. Yet these same tires are allowed to be shredded and sprinkled on the fields where our children play. MRSA is also more prevalent on turf fields.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Joe Monroe, Athletic Director, Wolcott Public Schools Athletic Department, opposes this bill. The benefits of having an artificial turf field are immeasurable. These fields are more durable than grass and when bad weather hits they quickly drain and can be easily cleared of snow. These fields are giving our kids an opportunity to be healthier by allowing them to be more active. Players at Wolcott Public Schools have experienced a decrease in season-ending injuries such as ligament tears and concussions and there has not been a single player or member of the community that has experienced any adverse health problems.

Vincent C. McDermott, Senior Vice President, Milone & MacBroom, opposes this bill. This bill seems pretty drastic particularly since there has not been scientific evidence to support the underlying assumption of that there is a risk. In 2007, the CAES examined an extremely small sample of the rubber infill used in the construction of a synthetic field and found that the rubber contained a host of chemical compounds, some of which are considered to be potentially harmful. This was a laboratory “bench” test and did not reflect actual field conditions. Milone & MacBroom undertook an independent evaluation of three fields with respect to air quality, water quality, and temperature. The study found, that on one of the hottest days of 2008 when the ambient temperature was approximately 100 degrees, the surface temperature of the synthetic turf fabric was significantly elevated above the ambient temperature. However, the temperature of the rubber was only slightly higher than the ambient temperature. The temperature of the rubber did not rise to the level used in the test conducted by CAES. Of the heavy metals identified by CAES, only Zinc was found in the runoff and the level of zinc was significantly below the drinking water standard. The air quality was found to be virtually free of the compounds noted by CAES in their laboratory tests.

Eric Hughes, Regional Manager, FieldTurf, opposes this bill. FieldTurf is totally committed to factual science and they welcome and support any effort behind additional scientific studies on this subject. A major Connecticut study is currently underway and will be presented to you at the end of the year. This legislation has reached a conclusion before any of the facts and analysis have been reached. This legislation makes assumptions before the study has even been conducted. Hundreds of studies have been done on these fields by governments, scientists and others and have shown them to be healthy and safe. There has never been an injury reported anywhere in the world, nor has an athlete or anyone else ever fallen sick as a result of inhaling, having skin contact with or by ingestion of artificial turf infill materials.

David G. Carter, Chancellor, Connecticut State University System, opposes this bill. This bill creates an issue at two of the CSU schools. Both Eastern and Central have projects that will be negatively impacted by this bill. We would ask that projects underway be exempt from the bill's moratorium.

An exemption for projects underway was put into the bill in committee

Reported by: Chris Zavagnin

Date: 3/31/09