"by itself, playing on the fields does not pose a health concern",

In Uncategorized on June 13, 2008 at 3:23 pm

My understanding is that the infill at Maple Park was something called Nike Grind, which FieldTurf offers as an option and blends recycled Nike shoe soles with specially treated and cleaned ground tire rubber.

The tests that were conducted on the fields in question found no safety concerns about the rubber infill. In the past, people had raised concerns about the infill. But, legitimate testing has repeatedly dispelled these concerns, which were based on erroneous claims. Why would you criticize FieldTurf for recycling tires in an environmentally responsible manner, which would otherwise end up UNTREATED in landfills? Below is the full text from which your selective excerpt was taken.

“Installation of a FieldTurf field eliminates the use of harmful pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides, while at the same time, removes over 40,000 tires from landfill sites.

FieldTurf requires no mowing, fertilizing, reseeding or watering. A typical soccer / football field can use between 2.5 million and 3.5 million gallons of water per year.

FieldTurf saves a billion gallons of fresh water every year. Coupled with reduced labor costs related to maintenance, equipment and elimination of costs for supplies such as fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, many of our clients report a reduction in maintenance costs of as much as $30,000 to $60,000 per field, per year.”

The concern from the NJDHSS report is with lead from lead chromate in the dye used to color the green fibers. As others have pointed out, this is encapsulated in the patented FieldTurf fibers (which are different from other manufactures). The lead does not “leach” out of the fibers and is not transmitted through contact with the fibers. The tests that have raised this issue dissolve the fibers in acid to release the lead. The pesticides, fertilizer and geese droppings that were previously found on Maple Park Field, leached into the ground water and were easily transmitted through contact with the skin represented the true health risk.

It is very important that concerned individuals distinguish between FieldTurf and other “synthetic turf designs”. Despite the fact that the NJDHSS test DO NOT indicate that the lead on the FieldTurf fields is released through normal usage and that they state that “by itself, playing on the fields does not pose a health concern”, FieldTurf has voluntarily explored ways to reduce or eliminate lead entirely from its design.

In support of the environmental responsibility of FieldTurf’s design, it should be noted that the EPA has formed and partnership with FieldTurf through its GreenScapes program (see http://fieldturf.com/specialFeatures.cfm?specialFeatureID=331&lang=en).

FieldTurf’s design has also been recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council for qualification under its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Green Building Rating System™. This is the national standard for what constitutes a “green building” and is utilized as a design guideline and certification tool for architects and designers seeking to develop high-performance, sustainable buildings. FieldTurf’s qualification falls under LEED Version 2.2,. which is an updated version of the rating system for new construction, major renovations, and water efficiency. It is designed to guide and distinguish high-performance commercial and institutional projects. A recent large FieldTurf project in Nevada earned LEED point recognition by saving 129 acre feet of water a year, enough to provide water to 428 single family homes, while providing a safe recreational space.

When you take the time to learn the facts and consider them rationally, it is hard to make a compelling case against the safety and environmental responsibility of FieldTurf’s design.


  1. The fact is that Demerest and Old Tappan have indefinetely closed their artificial FieldTurf fields because of high lead content. Northern Valley Board of Ed is taking this very seriously and have moved their graduation which was to be held on their FieldTurf field to an alternate location until further testing can be done to determine how serious the problem is and whether the fields might need to be replaced. We have a FieldTurf field at Maple. Why not test for lead just to be safe?

  2. Testing has already been done.. stop waisting time and money… this is a dead issue…

  3. It’s only a dead issue for the people who for some reason have decided that artificial turf is some kind of miracle product rather than a grass replacement made out of grround rubber. Old Nike shoes donot a grass field make.

  4. The Fieldturf @ Maple field has not been tested for lead.

  5. If you own a pre-1950s house in Ridgewood, here’s something worth worrying about: Soils adjacent to houses with exterior lead-based paints may have lead levels of >10,000 mcg/g (EPA 1986).

    In plain english, this is about 6000 times greater than the lead content of Fieldturf. Also, the lead content in Fieldturf is 26-50 times that of natural soil.

  6. I swear I’m having deja vu, or, as Yogi Berra once said “deja vu all over again.” Maple Field is a wonderful addition to the Village’s field inventory. The kids love it, it’s a cool (meaning it rocks) place to play and it’s a more consistent surface to play on than say, the rut-filled field at BF School or Brookside. Truer bounces of the ball, fewer twisted ankles and knees. Coaches and the sports organizations love it because you can play on it nine or 10 months out of the year, as compared to the three to four quality months you get out of Vets field or Brookside. I don’t claim to know all of the science that is fueling this debate, but we should let real experts, not the political environmentalists, look at the situation and give counsel to our leaders. If you don’t want your kids to play at Maple, make other arrangements for them. Nobody is forcing you to do anything. And if you’re still pissed about Maple Park being built in the first place, and that’s why you seize on these opportunities to whine and gnash your teeth, please stop. The field is here and a lot of people like it. I invested in it and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out.

  7. Lead in old house paint in also very dangerous. Inhaling or ingesting lead can cause brain damage and other neurological illnesses. One of the concerns is the added cumulative effect of a child also being exposed to lead from an artifical turf field.
    Concentrations of lead in fibers from the green-colored synthetic turf at the Demarest school’s Field Turf field were about 15 times the state standard for residential soil A sample taken of the green turf fibers of Old Tappan’s Field Turf field was 10 times the state standard.

  8. When artificial turf fields are not in use, they are not habital for living organisms. That is human passive recreation[like sitting!],bird life and environmental contributions[like air quality]. This is supposed to be an environmentally aware community. Let’s pay the price { still cheaper than turf] for the best grass fields obtainable while playing hard and being good stewards of our environment.

  9. hey 12:47 & 1:37… if there weren’t any concerns about health risks related to turf fields then why are fields being closed? Why is the state active in the pursuit of the safety regarding the artifial fields? I guess it isn’t such a dead issue. We should always err on the side of caution when considering the health and well-being of our children.

  10. Why do the “wannabe environmentalists” think that they know more than the experts at the EPA and scientists? And why do they keep ignoring the facts?

    1) The concerns that NJDHSS have raised have NOTHING to do with the rubber infill on FieldTurf fields. Let me repeat that…the rubber infill is NOT a health concern. So, move on.

    2) The lead that is contained in the fibers of FieldTurf fields is not released or transmitted through contact or through dust in the air. So, walking, playing or rolling around on a FieldTurf field DOES NOT expose you to lead. PERIOD!

    3) The EPA soil test that the NJDHSS raised concerns about attempts to simulate a the process within the human stomach. They use acid to dissolve the fiber , thus, releasing the lead. The results from this test suggest that a 50 pound child would have to consume over 100 pounds of fiber (which is permanently attached to the playing surface and not easily removed, let alone ingested) before lead exposure MIGHT exceed acceptable levels.

    The fields are closed in Demarest as a political CYA move by the superintendent. FieldTurf fields pose no more health risk than a healthy grass field and, in terms of the field conditions, are far safer.

    Virtually every legitimate test ever conducted by a reputable source has shown that there is no greater risk of exposure to any dangerous chemical or compound by playing on a FieldTurf field vs a grass field. The NJDHSS has clearly stated this.

    If ingesting 100 pound of fiber per every 50 pounds of body weight is the actual threshold for lead exposure, we all need to keep in mind that this would be impossible. 100 pounds of FieldTurf fiber on an installed field represents hundreds of square feet of turf. The person would have to pull up the permantly attached fibers and spend many hours eating them. This is an absurd suggestion.

    It is time for common sense to prevail in this discussion and to let the real scientists and environmentalists prevail over the fear mongers and politicians.

  11. So THAT’S why Ridgewood kids can’t do math – lead poisoning. (Just joking, folks.)

  12. In my post from 2:40 yesterday I made an error: The last sentence should have read: ‘Also, the lead content in natural soil is is 26-50times that of FieldTurf.’ So don’t worry about it!

    I came to this conclusion after finding Fieldturf’s claim for how much lead is in their product. I don’t know what’s happening in Demarest, but it’s very strange that turf fibers could have enough lead to be of concern.

    8:20 AM is correct.

    As I mentioned yesterday, we should worry about the lead in the soil around or pre-1950s houses And enjoy watching our kids play on the turf field.

  13. You can get a wicked turf burn if you fall/slide on the field. Can the lead enter the system through the open wound?

    If your child played on the turf recently, you know that the field was much hotter than grass. It was downright unhealthy.

  14. 7:57’s probably misguided on the notion of there being any connection between turf burn and lead poisoning, but right on a turf field being hotter than grass on hot days. Overall, though, I’m still a supporter of striking some sort of appropriate balance between turf and natural grass in town, a position I would expect most die-hard environmentalists to reject out-of-hand based on their particular brand of politics.

  15. 7:75…

    The simple answer to your question is “NO” sliding on the field at Maple Park cannot lead to lead exposure…no threat of lead exposure from contact with the fibers and, unlike older AstroTurf and other manufacturers of artificial turf today, FieldTurf’s patented design looks and feels like natural grass. Thus, the specially treated polyethylene fibers blades are soft/slick and players can slide without fear of abrasions.

    The FieldTurf field surface “can be” hotter than grass on very hot days, due to the black rubber infill, which absorbs heat. Although, in Ridgewood, some measurements taken at Maple Park and Vets Field that showed the ambient temperature several feet above the surface to be a few degrees cooler than grass, not hotter. The “perceived” ambient temperature has a great deal to do with current weather and if the field is open and surrounded by trees, vegitation and open water (like Maple Park) or not. The temperature at the surface of a FieldTurf field CAN BE up to 10 degrees hotter than a grass surface, although the typical differential measured at Maple Park has been -2 to 5 degrees. The difference in surface temperature is inperceptible through shoes and has little or no impact on the ambient temperature for athletes playing on the field. There are also benefits to modestly higher surface temperatures after rain and in early spring, when snow and ice may exist.

    People walking or running on concrete sidewalks or tar roads throughout town will feel much greater “heat effect” than athletes on a FieldTurf field. The issue of elevated heat on these fields has been wildly exaggerated and is highly dependednt upon current weather conditions and the field’s surroundings. The field at Maple Park does not pose an unusual risk from heat.

  16. I noticed the increased temp at Maple Field on those hot days. I didn’t think that it could get much hotter – till I got to maple.

    I wasn’t running, I was just watching. I can’t float several feet above to cool off. I can’t imagine what it was like for a fully suited lax middie who has to run the full length.

  17. 10:58, let’s try to cut back on the canned responses.

    Ambient air temperature being similar between turf and grass as measured a few feet off the ground is not really relevant, because it ignores the impact of radiant heat transfer.

    The reason athletes and those who watch them perceive a disproportionately high heat effect at Maple field, despite no real difference in ambient air temperature, is the difference in radiative heat transfer from the various components of the turf versus what you would expect from a natural grass field.

    Ambient air temperature measurements do not take into account such differences in radiant heat transfer.

    So give us the radiant heat transfer numbers as between artificial turf and natural grass, and stop tossing out the “red herring” data on ambient air temperature readings.

    FWIW, I say all this while still being in favor of an appropriate balance between artificial turf and natural grass for Ridgewood’s athletic fields. I just don’t appreciate it when advocates think they need only fill the air with words without really addressing the issues raised by others (many of whom are on the fence and could end up being supporters if shown the proper respect).

  18. If you can’t imagine what it is like, perhaps you should refrain for commenting and leave it to someone who has actually experienced playing on FieldTurf fields with full equipment on during 95+ degree days…

    When it is that hot, it really dosn’t make a difference whether you are playing on grass or turf.

  19. I agree with you, 9:43, that we need a complimentary balance between grass and turf in Ridgewood.

    I think I understand the idea of “radiant heat transfer” that you reference. But, I must be missing something. I can see why the temperature of the grass or turf surface is irrelevant, unless you have bare feet. However, if radiant heat transfer makes it feel hotter on turf than grass, wouldn’t that higher radiated heat be recorded by a thermometer located a few feet off the ground? Yet, 10:58 said that was not what was observed. What am I not understanding?

  20. O.K., 8:10PM, here goes.

    The vast amount of ordinary heat transfer occurs via radiation, convection, and conduction. Conduction doesn’t appy here (it’s what makes a pot handle too hot to handle after a while on the griddle). Knowing the temperature of the air adjacent the skin gives you a good start on calculating the amount of heat transfer that can be expected to occur via convection, particularly on a day with little to no wind (humidity, obviously, also factors in to this calculation).

    You’re trying to grasp the concept heat transfer via radiation, as opposed to via convection, so consider these examples. The Sun heats the earth via radiation, even though the temperature of the intervening area or space between the Sun and the Earth is at or near absolute zero. A campfire heats surrounding campers on a cold fall night via radiation, even though the vast majority of the convective heat transfer that is occurring does so in mid-air directly above the flames, and the surrounding air temperature between the campfire and the campers remains nearly as cold as the surrounding woods.

    The data provided by local supporters of artificial turf appears to show that the air temperature surrounding a lacrosse player running across the artificial turf of Maple field on an extremely hot day is about the same as it would be were the field covered with natural grass. So convective heat transfer is roughly the same. A wash.

    But the amount of heat being transferred via radiation from the artificial turf to, lets say, the torso and head of the hard-charging player, is demonstrably higher than would be the case with natural grass.

    To measure the difference in radiative heat transfer, you need special equipment. A simple thermometer is of no use.

    I think this would be an interesting project for the science and math students of the high school to undertake. The science students could take air and surface temperature measurements, humidity measurements, and radiative heat temperature measurements at different heights and angles of incidence above the surface of the ground at Maple field and at Veterans field on a hot June day. Based on the measurements, the math students could get their hands on a Mechanical Engineering textbook and model the system to try to determine the total effect on the body of two typical lacross player, one playing at Vets field, the other playing at Maple field.

    The only reason I would conclude that this would be a bad idea is if it became clear that the information would be misused for political purposes. From what I can tell, there is recalcitrant minority in this town who, for whatever reason, think it would be a good thing to tear up the turf at Maple field and replant with grass. They are also determined to prevent additional use of artificial turf on ballfields that otherwise warrant the change. Being exausted from the sheer volume of junk science that washes through the mainstream media these days, only to be picked up and misused by feckless know-nothing politicians, I would hate to fan the flames of their discontent.

  21. The facts are that Field turf is not dangerous. It is not bad for the environment. It is better suited to handle many games and activities (anybody that has played football on vets and Stevens knows this fact). The cost required to keep a real grass field in good condition has never been discovered in the town of Ridgewood because none of our fields has ever been kept in good condition unless by the luck of Mother Nature. Even then, the town struggles to get a lawnmower to cut infield grass. I love a great grass field if it is maintained properly. Overall, field turf is less expensive to upkeep, provides much better conditions to play on and is not dangerous or damaging to the environment. I am an environmentalist and even Al Gore would not have a problem with field turf. The cost of installation is obviously the REAL point of contention. Anybody that has any other issues with field turf is a liar, stupid, or both. As long as the town does not get ripped off by the contractor we should be installing are few of these fields on our high usage area fields. I remember the price tag on “fixing up” some of the baseball/softball fields and it was very high. The fields still suck. We would be far better off installing a few of these fields. The High School field should be a no brainer and it should not require some kind of additional tax levy. We need to make it a priority within our current budget and tax revenue. Other high use fields should also have field turf installed. Anybody that has had kids play (or personally played) on our crappy baseball/softball fields knows that the clay infields are usually more like cement than soft clay. Again, there the real fields can be nice and safe if the clay infields were lucky enough to get a recent rain or if Warren Clark personally came early to water it down, rake and smooth it out before the game. The town of Waldwick managed to install a field at Waldwick high school just like many of the other schools and towns in the area are doing for all the obvious reasons but mainly because it is better to play on and easy to upkeep.

  22. 9:41…

    Very informative. But, you haven’t presented any evidence for or against the idea that “the amount of heat being transferred via radiation from the artificial turf to…the torso and head of a…player is demonstrably higher than would be the case with natural grass. Because there are several methods of heat transfer and so many factors that could impact the temperature that a person FEELS at any given location (grass or turf), does it seem logical that one might record temperature readings using a regular thermometer in conjunction with an infra-red thermometer? Wouldn’t a combination of these two different observations provide a reasonably accurate idea of the “heat effect” differential between grass and turf?

    Of course, unless observations are made at precisely the same moment in reasonable proximity, it is impossible to totally account for wind, clouds and other temporary variables. Thus, averages over specific periods of time seem to be a reasonable means of observation. Do you agree?

  23. So what if turf fields get a little warmer? Let me get this straight. You actually think that if it is observed that turf fields are hotter than grass that would be a reason not to have turf? So all the millions of professional, college, high schools and towns across the world with these fields have overlooked some sort of big health risk becuase the turf fields are hotter on sunny days? What about on cold days? Rainy or wet days? Maybe spring days? On the whole it is a fact that the conditions on a turf field in New Jersey are better almost all the time. So now, because on a 90 degree hot sunny day one might prefer a nice grass field we should therefore not have any turf fields? I agree you are stubborn beyond reason.

  24. Amen Brother Bill!!!!

  25. Tests on artificial turf fields at two more North Jersey high schools have found high lead levels and prompted school officials to ask for guidance from state and federal agencies.

    The lead content on Ramapo High School’s field was measured up to six times the state standard of 400 milligrams per kilogram for residential soil, according to district consultant RK Occupational & Environmental Analysis.

    The content at Indian Hills High School’s field was up to seven times the state standard, according to the consultant.

    FAST FACTSIn recent days, four North Jersey artificial turf fields have tested for high levels of lead. They are:

    Ramapo High School in Franklin Lakes

    Indian Hills High School in Oakland

    Northern Valley Regional High School in Demarest

    Northern Valley Regional High School in Old Tappan
    The fields at Ramapo, which is in Franklin Lakes, and Indian Hills, in Oakland, will be closed to summer sports camps, district Superintendent Paul Saxton said.

    “We’re not going to be using either of our fields until we complete further testing,” Saxton said. The results will not be available for several days.

    The fields are the third and fourth artificial surfaces to close in recent weeks because of concerns about lead.

    Is Ridgwood testing Maple Field for lead?

  26. This is a waste of time unless you are the one getting paid to conduct tests.

    NJDHSS reported even the old fileds in Hoboken are safe and yet we are all ready to join the ridiculous parade of people pretending they actually think playing on these fields is dangerous.

    Key Findings

    From its tests, the NJDHSS reported that the amount of lead chromate contained in fibers from the three fields available for absorption in the intestine, which is where food altered by stomach acid is absorbed by the blood and lymphatic systems, ranged from 2.5% to 11%. We used the most extreme scenario, 11%, to calculate the amount of turf that would have to be ingested to equal the federal standard of 600 parts per million. In practical terms, it is virtually impossible for a child to be at risk from synthetic turf:

    — According to calculations made by forensic toxicologist Dr. David
    Black, a 50 lb. child would have to ingest over 100 lbs. of synthetic
    turf to be at risk of absorbing enough lead to equal the minimum
    threshold of elevated blood lead. That level is even more unreachable
    than Dr. Black’s original worst case bioaccessibility, which was based
    on ingesting 23 lbs. of turf.

    — The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s guidance states that young
    children “should not chronically ingest more than 15 micrograms of
    lead per day from consumer products.” Putting these test results in
    perspective, polymer and fiber engineering specialist Dr. Davis Lee
    calculated that a child playing on the three New Jersey fields would
    have to wipe his fingers on the turf and put them in his mouth 750
    times in a day to receive enough lead to equal the CPSC threshold

    — Dr. David Black performed the same tests as the NJDHSS, using the same
    protocol during late May, which showed an average bioaccessibility of
    4%. The results of the two tests are similar and validate the safety
    of synthetic turf, including the synthetic turf NJDHSS reported to
    contain concentrations of lead chromate of between 3,400 and 4,700
    part per million.

    In addition to that there are countless studies both domestic and international; you just wnat to find a problem with it. It is amazing how many people there are that live for finding problems. Here is a field that is great, safer than the crappy fields the kids usually play on and evironmentally safer in many respects than regular fields. But no, let’s find problems with it. Let’s follow the buch of stupid CYA politicians closing down safe fields

  27. Check out Boca Raton –

    Boca High’s new field to open for play this fall

    The installation of the artificial turf is the first for any school in the Palm Beach County School District, according to Jim Cartmill, assistant director of program management with the School Board. The entire project will cost $11.2 million, Cartmill said.

    The new stadium will be wider than the old field, so it can be used for international soccer games. Massey would like the school to become certified for those games.

    The stadium also will feature a nine-lane track, bleachers longer than standard that will stretch from goal line to goal line for the home-team fans and from 10-yard line to 10-yard line for visitors, with seating for 4,025 people (about 1,000 more seats than before). The stadium will be handicap-accessible. A state-of-the-art timing system will be used to take photo finishes. It also will have a pole vault and high jump, along with seven new lighted tennis courts.

    And Ridgewood can’t find 800k – 1.5M just for the RHS 25 year old track and field.

  28. You said:


    Very informative. But, you haven’t presented any evidence for or against the idea that “the amount of heat being transferred via radiation from the artificial turf to…the torso and head of a…player is demonstrably higher than would be the case with natural grass. Because there are several methods of heat transfer and so many factors that could impact the temperature that a person FEELS at any given location (grass or turf), does it seem logical that one might record temperature readings using a regular thermometer in conjunction with an infra-red thermometer? Wouldn’t a combination of these two different observations provide a reasonably accurate idea of the “heat effect” differential between grass and turf?

    Of course, unless observations are made at precisely the same moment in reasonable proximity, it is impossible to totally account for wind, clouds and other temporary variables. Thus, averages over specific periods of time seem to be a reasonable means of observation. Do you agree?”

    I say:

    You’re getting there!

    Lots of different equipment can be used–its just that sole reliance on a simple thermometer in mid-air only tells part of the picture, particularly on very hot days.

    Measurements taken at similarly situated ballfields was my idea to provide a quick basis of comparison. Of course, it is best if these measurements are taken simultaneously. Your idea of taking measurements at different times is a good one too. For example, you could take measurements at different times of the same day, or over different days over the course of a week (e.g., during a heat wave, after a rainstorm, etc.).

    If you’re looking to make an reasonably accurate determination of the differential in radiative heat transfer based solely on differences in surface temperature, and thereby avoid the need to buy/rent/borrow and operate sophisticated heat flux measurement equipment, options exist. Good approximations of radiative heat transfer from ground level to objects positioned at different elevations above Maple Field can probably be derived mathematically from temperature measurements taken at or slightly below the upper surface of the artificial turf. To the extent a difference in surface temperature is observed that shows that the artificial turf is hotter than natural grass on hot days (which artificial supporters concede) the laws of physics provide that the former will be a more powerful radiator of electromagnetic energy than the latter on those days.

    Other issues might be considered. To the extent artificial turf is less dense than natural grass (which I presume to be the case), or the supporting/substrate material of the artificial turf is a more efficient conductor of heat than the dirt/earth below natural grass, the heat from the sun and hot daytime air above will generally penetrate deeper into the artificial turf than it will in natural grass over the course of the day. So the radiative heat contribution of portions of the artificial turf below the surface that are hotter than equally deep portions of the natural grass may need to be considered.

    Better conductive properties for artificial turf versus natural grass might allow the former to cool down at a quicker rate than the latter in the afternoon and early evening on the hottest of days, but the increased amount of stored heat in the five or six inches below the surface of artificial turf may negate this advantage.

    Once again, I say all this from the perspective of a person who:

    1) favors an appropriate balance of artificial turf and natural grass for the surface coverings of Ridgewood’s moderate- to heavy-use athletic fields,

    2) thinks important public decisions should be made not only on solid scientific information, but also with a healthy dose skepticism when it comes to puffery and exaggeration, and

    3) is tired of seeing battling sides talk past each other.

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