To: Sherri Lightner, San Diego City Council President

Stop the proposed placement of Artificial Turf in Carmel Valley Parks

Stop the proposed placement of artificial turf in Carmel Valley Parks.

Why is this important?

As a physician, I am very concerned about the plans to replace some of the grass in Carmel Valley parks with artificial turf. Artificial turf is toxic to humans and the environment. One of the most commonly used artificial turf uses infill consisting of ground up old tires, which contains toxins including dangerous chemicals and lead that are loosely packed into the turf and can be easily inhaled, absorbed or eaten. These chemicals have been implicated in causing lymphoma in soccer goalies, among other health concerns.

As a mother of two boys at Ocean Air Elementary school, I am particularly concerned that one of the parks to be affected is Ocean Air park.

On the off chance that a selected turf may not contain these directly toxic compounds – for example some use silica for infill – it still is dangerous in other ways. It does not support our desert ecosystem. It requires regular maintenance, including frequent washing with WATER, often weekly, to keep it clean. This dirty outdoor carpet also is prone to growing bacteria, MRSA (flesh eating bacteria), mold and fungus, and for that reason it requires regular spraying with toxic antibiotic chemicals that wash off into our groundwater. It also gets very hot in direct sunlight and increases ambient temperatures and can cause burns.

While I certainly understand the need to conserve water in the drought, I have unsuccessfully requested a safe and environmentally friendly option instead of toxic turf. This concerns me because I have enough patients already with devastating neurological diseases; I want to protect our kids from this.

Relevant articles:
"As the turf ages and weathers, lead is released in dust that could then be ingested or inhaled, and the risk for harmful exposure increases. If exposures do occur, CDC currently does not know how much lead the body will absorb; however, if enough lead is absorbed, it can cause neurological development symptoms (e.g., deficits in IQ). Additional tests are being performed by NJDHSS to help us better understand the absorption of lead from these products."

"There are now 153 cancer cases reported, and of those, 124 are soccer players with 85 being soccer goalies. Many of them are student athletes."

"The most conservative approach would be to limit access to an artificial turf field that contains lead. Proper maintenance can reduce exposure risk. Field users should wash properly afterward and ensure that their clothing is washed."

"The study evidences the high content of toxic chemicals in these recycled materials. The concentration of PAHs in the commercial pavers was extremely high, reaching values up to 1%. In addition, SPME studies of the vapour phase above the samples confirm the volatilisation of many of those organic compounds. Uses of recycled rubber tires, especially those targeting play areas and other facilities for children, should be a matter of regulatory concern."

"Hazardous chemicals in synthetic turf materials and their bioaccessibility in digestive fluids."

"Carbon black, which makes up 20-40% of crumb rubber, has been identified as a cancer-causing chemical by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment"

“What to Know About Artificial Turf Fields.” Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center.

Further Resources: