Raymond Kimbell Athletic Field (historic Fillmore District / San Francisco, CA)
"To be truly compassionate, we should always err on the side of cautious reason
when it comes to the health and well being of our children." - Martin Luther King
(video clips, links, & contacts are posted at the bottom of this page)
Recent News Releases - National & International
(click topic buttons for details)
San Francisco (August 18, 2009) San Francisco’s 5th District Supervisor, Ross Mirkarimi, presented to the Board of Supervisors Resolution 091045, which requests that the Recreation and Park Department temporarily suspend the program of converting natural turf playing fields to artificial surfaces pending release of a report by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment on the health and environmental impacts of synthetic turf fields. New York City (February 10, 2009) New York City: Decision to install turf gets very little due diligence, say medical experts at Mount Sinai Hospital. According to the text of a communication received by SynTurf.org, on March 5, 2009, a group of medical physicians from the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit of Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City, sent a letter to the California Environmental Protection Agency, advising it of the health hazards of synthetic turf fields. Addressed to the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, the letter, which was written by Drs. Philip Landrigan, Maida Galvez and Joel Forman, stated, “Our most global finding was that decisions to install synthetic turf fields were for the most part made with very little due diligence. A number of these very expensive fields were installed with little or no consideration of possible negative effects.”
San Francisco (August 18, 2009)
San Francisco’s 5th District Supervisor, Ross Mirkarimi, presented to the Board of Supervisors Resolution 091045, which requests that the Recreation and Park Department temporarily suspend the program of converting natural turf playing fields to artificial surfaces pending release of a report by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment on the health and environmental impacts of synthetic turf fields.
New York City (February 10, 2009)
New York City: Decision to install turf gets very little due diligence, say medical experts at Mount Sinai Hospital. According to the text of a communication received by SynTurf.org, on March 5, 2009, a group of medical physicians from the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit of Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City,
sent a letter to the California Environmental Protection Agency, advising it of the health hazards of synthetic turf fields. Addressed to the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, the letter, which was written by Drs. Philip Landrigan, Maida Galvez and Joel Forman, stated, “Our most global finding was that decisions to install synthetic turf fields were for the most part made with very little due diligence. A number of these very
expensive fields were installed with little or no consideration of possible negative
New York City (February 10, 2009)
First Deputy Parks Commissioner Liam Kavanagh said that “The controversial material made from recycled tires will no longer be used in synthetic-turf fields for parks and schools." The officials said they stopped using it because it could pose a health risk.”. Officials said yesterday, "New York City will replace the crumb in all city fields."
New York City (February 3, 2009)
US District Judge Paul Gardephe in Manhattan ruled that “toys containing a plastic-softening chemical [phthalate] linked to infertility and testicular cancer in men must be removed.” Artificial turf has been found to contain phthalates.
San Jose: CA (January 22, 2009)
The San Jose Unified School district voted no to tire waste synthetic turf on environmental and health grounds.
Connecticut (January 2009)
Connecticut State Representative Kim Fawcett will seek a moratorium on the installation of new synthetic turf fields until "such time as an honest assessment of its risk can be had."
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey set forth the findings of a scientific investigation into absorption of lead form artificial turf infill crumb rubber granules into gastric fluids. “[A] new study by researchers at the UMDNJ-School of Public Health finds that when children or athletes ingest the tiny rubber granules in synthetic turf, it is likely that a significant portion of the lead in the granules will be absorbed by their bodies' gastric fluids,”.
Fields in two well-known high school stadiums, including the one made famous by the book and movie "Friday Night Lights," were announced to have lead levels far exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency's standard for soil, according to independent tests.
The California Senate passed SB 1277. It will require that by September 1, 2010 the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, in conjunction with the Department of Public Health and California Integrated Waste Management Board, prepare a study investigating the health and environmental impacts of natural turf versus synthetic turf fields.
Senator Abel Maldonado commented. "It is important that we know our children are using safe and healthy playing surfaces." Synthetic turf fields are made up of a combination of polyethylene plastics and recycled tires. The presence of volatile organic chemicals from these tires, as well as deadly bacteria that can remain on the synthetic grass blades, has prompted several states to take a closer look at potential negative impacts associated with these fields.
Studies have shown that athletes who use synthetic turf are seven times more likely to receive open skin lesions. These open lesions are often the source of contracting and vehicle for spreading dangerous infections. In fact, a 2003 study of MRSA infections among St. Louis Rams football players found that all eight MRSA infections began at turf burn sites.
"Medical experts have found that staphylococci and other bacteria can survive on polyethylene plastic, the compound used to make synthetic turf blades, for more than 90 days. Blood, sweat, skin cells and other materials can remain on the synthetic turf because the fields are not washed or cleaned. In short, playing on these fields is like playing on a giant used band aid. I am glad to see that the Senate recognized the importance of further investigating the safety of these fields," Maldonado concluded.
New York City, NY (December 23, 2008)
Betsy Gotbaum, a former New York City Parks Department Commissioner called on the city to issue an immediate moratorium of the installation of artificial turf fields, “For two years, I have called for independent physical testing of the synthetic turf in our parks. For two years, the city has dragged its heels, insisting that there was no cause for concern. And now, the city has announced that it is closing a synthetic turf field because of elevated lead levels. We don’t know how many people have been exposed to this lead hazard. What we do know is that the city can no longer ignore our concerns. I expect a full and public disclosure of the results of the testing currently underway, and I renew my call for an immediate moratorium on the installation of new synthetic turf until New Yorkers can be assured that it is safe.”
“The fact that the city could not be bothered to conduct a single environmental study in ten years before spending more than $ 150 million dollars speaks volumes,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates. “Dumping more than 50 million pounds of a product which is wildly known to contain a host of metals, including lead, arsenic and cadmium, into our park system is irresponsible at best. The city should instead be installing natural grass which cleans the air and filters out harmful particulate matter and provides a host of other environmental benefits.”
In April, 2007 Public Advocate Gotbaum called for independent testing of rubber pellets that may potentially pose serious health risks to New Yorkers. The rubber pellets, used in more than 70 athletic fields throughout the city, are made from recycled tires that contain chemicals that have been linked to birth defects, cancer and other health problems. The health risks to families and kids playing on the turf remain unknown.
Texas (December 18, 2008)
An independent test of the field at Ratliff found lead “at roughly 14 times the EPA standard,” while a test of the turf at Birville ISD facility found a lead level nearly 10 times the EPA standard. The test at the Birdville stadium “also found about twice the EPA limit for lead in drinking water in the runoff from the field, an indication that the lead is being released into the environment.”
Tacoma, Washington (December 16, 2008)
Keith Eldridge of KOMO-TV (Seattle Washington) reported on a cluster of soccer players at Tacoma High School who have been diagnosed with cancer. There have been tests that have shown the presence of carcinogens in artificial turf fields. (Note; video footage of a San Francisco’s synthetic field was used in the broadcast news story to help illustrate the problem.)
A lead test was conducted on the artificial turf field at the U.S. Army Garrison, Ansbach’s Storck Barracks in
Illesheim, Bavaria, Germany. It showed lead levels above the recommended level for lead. According to a news story in Stars and Stripes, this is the fourth playground at a U.S. base in Germany to test above recommended levels for lead, after playgrounds in Grafenwöhr, Baumholder and Kaiserslautern’s Kleber Kaserne. The Illeheim facility is now closed until the playground is replaced.
New York City, NY (December 11, 2008)
Philip Landrigan, M.D., M.Sc: a professor of pediatrics and director of the Children's Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, concluded the following regarding artificial turf;
We are suddenly, and belatedly, beginning to realize they may lead to health problems, such as:
1. Extreme heat. On hot summer days, temperatures of over 130 degrees Fahrenheit have been recorded a few feet above the surface of synthetic turf fields - the altitude where children play. Vigorous play in these conditions conveys a very real risk of heat stress or heat stroke.
2. MRSA skin infections. Outbreaks of skin infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus have been documented in children who play on synthetic turf fields (New England Journal of Medicine, February 2005).
3. Chemical hazards to human health and the environment. Crumb rubber, a major component of current generation synthetic turf fields, is typically made from ground-up recycled tires containing styrene and 1, 3-butadiene, the major constituents of synthetic rubber. Styrene is toxic to the nervous system, and butadiene is a proven human carcinogen.
Lead was recently found in synthetic turf fields in New Jersey at levels so high that several fields were closed by the state Health Department. Citizens and school boards should question the wisdom of installing synthetic turf until a credible independent study has been conducted and published."
Consumer Reports (December 7, 2009)
Jim Guest the president of Consumer Union wrote,
“New legislation will essentially eliminate lead in all children's products, require safety testing of toys before they hit the market, ... And then there are those artificial-turf playing fields. Various government agencies are at odds over whether the levels of lead found in some of them should worry us. CU thinks it should, and we've asked the appropriate agencies to assess all risks and not ignore research that raises concerns.”
Wayne, New Jersey
Wayne, New Jersey has decided to change the color of the stripes (lines) on its soccer field from yellow to black, over concerns about he yellow stripes containing high levels of lead.
Illinois (November 25, 2008)
The Illinois Attorney General’s office is reviewing the factual and legal issues relating to children’s exposure to lead in artificial turf fields. “Our office is currently reviewing all of the factual and legal issues in an effort to ensure that human and the environment are protected and that manufacturers of artificial turf are complying with the environmental laws,”
Bergen County, New Jersey
Elevated levels of lead found on FieldTurf fields. A sample taken of the green turf fibers of Old Tappan’s field was 10 times the state standard.” According to the Record, “The state recommends restricting the use of fields for children under the age of 7. If the fields are used, they should be watered down to suppress dust and hand, body and clothes should be washed thoroughly. The most conservative recommendation is to close the field.” “We want to take every precaution to find out exactly what we have… before we let anybody go back on the fields,” said Ray Jacobus, the assistant superintendent for business.
Northern New Jersey
Turf at Ramapo and Indian Hills high schools test positive for lead; closed to summer sports.
Redwood City, Calif. - Palo Alto Daily News (November 15, 2008)
The artificial turf field at Hoover Park in Redwood City still has two years left on its 8-year lifecycle warranty,
but already it has begun to show what the paper calls “a 5 o’clock shadow all day long.”
According to News, “The city council last week green-lighted spending $905,447 on the upgrade."
"The city said it circumvented a competitive bidding process for the project, which is usually required by state law, because Oregon-based FieldTurf's discounted price of about 40 percent off was not available from other suppliers.”
(FieldTurf is a supplier of San Francisco's artificial surfaces)
Chicago, Illinois (November 3, 2008)
The Great Lakes Centers for Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health has issued the following statement: “We believe that the data collected by multiple researchers and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demonstrate the need to conduct a risk assessment. Until a risk assessment is conducted we strongly urge park planners to stick with regular grass fields instead of installing a product that may harbor bacteria, function as a heat sink, and may contain chemicals which are hazardous to children.”
Seoul, South Korea (December 22, 2008)
Carcinogens found in school turf field. The Korea Times reported, “Substances that can cause cancer have been found in artificial turf at schools. A large amount of poisonous metals and other harmful materials were found in man-made fields of three schools inspected at the beginning of this month.” One school tested for 290 mg of lead, three times the allowed 90mg, and the other two measured 46.7mg and 810mg of polyaromatic hydrocarbon, which included Beazopyrene, respectively.
Bethesda, Maryland (May 15, 2008)
The Synthetic Turf Council and FieldTurfTarkett successfully lobbied the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) last May to make sure that their product, artificial turf, became excluded from the testing that is required of all products having to do with children: the requirement to get tested for lead levels.
San Francisco (2008)
The City of San Francisco created a Synthetic Fields Task Force which identified
"11 environmental and health issues of public concern".
The task force found that;
· they could not determine if synthetic tire waste fields were safe,
or if they pose a long term and/or short term harmful risk to children’s health,
pets/wildlife health, or to the surrounding neighborhood environment.
· the finely ground up tire waste contains unregulated quantities of lead, carcinogens,
and other hazardous chemicals,
· it is expensive to properly control the virulent bacterial growth in tire waste fields,
re: The City of San Francisco’s Synthetic Playfields Task Force Report.
SynTurf.org reviewed the report and concluded;
"The Report is a masterpiece of obfuscation. It defends the use of artificial playfields and promotes the continued installation of artificial turf fields in the San Francisco area for some time to come. The Report’s tone is defensive of Recreation and Park Department’s long-held view that the turf fields are fine and the answer to increasing need for playing surfaces. With a few exceptions, there is not much critical thinking or even adequate research into the topics that the Task Force has addressed." http://www.synturf.org/sanfranciscobrief.html
- Environment and Human Health
- Center for Environmental Health
- Children's Environmental Health Center
- Truth about Artificial vs. Natural Turf
- Heather School Parents Against Artificial Turf
- Parents for Real Grass
- Menlo Park fights synthetic turf
- Voters Against Synthetic Turf
- San Francisco Fights Artificial Turf
- Potrero Hill Fights Artificial Turf
- Plastic Fields For Never
- Save The Park! Quebec
San Francisco (August 18, 2009)
Julian Davis for the Fog City Journal. http://www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/2009/09/22/astroturfing-san-francisco/________________________________________________________________________________ CONTACT
Without asking us, the parks department is knowingly putting our children's health at risk.
Speak up now before it's too late.
Other San Francisco neighborhoods have stopped them.
It's up to us to protect our neighborhoods.
Send your petitions and emails to;