Friday, January 5, 2018

Perrigo Park Turf Replacement

I talked with the city Parks Program Administrator yesterday to learn more about this Perrigo athletic field turf replacement and others in the hopper.  Apparently, the city decided to use cork infill rather than traditional *crumb rubber since cork is proven to be non-toxic and the field is located near a city wellhead.  In addition, cork is recyclable. The field is well drained so staff wasn't concerned about cork floating up and washing away.  

The Hartman Park turf fields are aging and could be replaced in 2-4 years.  Water pools up on these fields so drainage improvements are necessary for a cork installation.  It's my understanding Hartman fields are in or near a wellhead protection zone.  For a variety of reasons the city is holding off on their decision as to what materials they will use here.

After extensive study last year, the Bellevue School District decided to use coated crumb rubber on all their fields with the exception of elementary school play areas; cork will be used.  If you think LWSD would be interested in this information contact them at The video is excellent and I urge you to listen to it.

B. Yoder, opinion

*The use of crumb rubber infill is somewhat controversial and has been widely studied.  A Redmond resident Dr. David Morton actively participated in council's decision-making process, recommending the city not infill with crumb rubber.   


YampaRunner said...

Thank you for posting. This is GREAT news for the environment. I also dislike crumb rubber, and even rubber work out mats in gyms can release pretty awful odors.

David Morton, PhD said...

In the 1990s the EPA promoted an infill for artificial turf athletic fields called crumb rubber, made from recycled tires, which the EPA embraced as a solution to keeping old tires out of landfills. Crumb rubber provided an inexpensive and apparently durable material, and reduced water use.

In recent years, health concerns have risen about crumb rubber. A Yale chemical analysis found 12 carcinogens in the crumb rubber tested. Some young athletes playing on crumb rubber are getting diagnosed with blood cancers, possibly as a result of inhaling gases from, ingesting, or having direct skin contact with the crumb rubber. Anecdotal evidence being gathered shows that goalies in particular are more vulnerable, because they have more contact with the ground.

The Washington State Department of Health has attempted to dismiss these concerns by releasing a report in January which was based on shockingly bad science. Many people feel the Washington State DOH has demonstrated arrogance, absence of accountability, shirking of responsibility, conspiracy, and willful neglect of duty by producing this report. The report did not conclude that it’s safe for kids to play on crumb rubber, yet there are people who think that’s what the report says. If you’re not sure what to believe, READ THE REPORT!

At the May 2, 2017 Bellevue, Washington School District Board meeting, the board voted to approve the use of a polyurethane-coated crumb rubber on district athletic fields. The theory is that the polyurethane coating eliminates any potential human contact with the actual rubber and encapsulates the rubber to prevent the emission of any toxins. This theory has not been tested. It’s the children who play on this material who are the Guinea pigs in the actual testing of polyurethane-coated crumb rubber.

Polyurethane has been found to cause allergies and respiratory problems in millions of people.

When properly manufactured, polyurethane is not a danger. The danger lies in the isocyanate monomer used to make polyurethane. If not fully polymerized, polyurethane contains unreacted isocyanate, which can cause various reactions such as irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat, breathing difficulties, chest tightness, and asthma. Extreme exposure to isocyanates can cause blindness and disabilities. Methyl isocyanate from a chemical plant disaster in Bhopal, India killed thousands of people in 1984.

The fact that the crumb rubber industry offers polyurethane-coated crumb rubber as a safer alternative to uncoated crumb rubber is an admission by the industry that crumb rubber contains toxic chemicals which humans should not come into contact with. It is unethical to add potentially toxic polyurethane to produce a coated crumb rubber, which has not been tested for human safety. The crumb rubber industry is unregulated, and no one is monitoring the quality of polyurethane-coated crumb rubber to determine the extent to which the rubber crumbs are fully encapsulated or how much untreated isocyanate remains in the final product. The true test of polyurethane-coated crumb rubber will be to see if kids get sick playing on it.

There are no long term studies that demonstrate the safety of crumb rubber. The only studies we have use statistical analysis based on incomplete data to speculate whether the ingesting, inhaling and absorbing of tire rubber could be dangerous. The kids are the guinea pigs.

Bob Yoder said...

I'm happy Parks used cork infill here.

Cork is actually the outer bark of the Cork Oak tree and the structure and composition of the membranes make it very strong and waterproof. It’s naturally resilient, anti-microbial, hypoallergenic, has low conductivity, and anti-static properties. Cork provides energy absorption upon impact and it quickly regains shape and structure after being stepped on or pounded on. With all these characteristics, it’s plain to see why athletes will benefit from cork in the infill. I can't find a single study that proves cork is toxic and causes harmful effects to sports players This infill is new and not widely used.....yet.

Bellevue School District is using cork infill on all their elementary school play areas after exhaustive scientific review and extensive public input.