May 29, 2008

From Our Friends Of The Parks

Blogged with permission from Friends of the Parks. It's from an email blast I received yesterday.

Please click below the article from today's Chicago Tribune regarding the construction of Artificial Turf Fields. Earlier this year, Friends of the Parks (FOTP) requested the City Council Committee on Parks and Recreation and its Chairman Alderman MaryAnn Smith to conduct a subject hearing on this matter. We just received word that the next City Council Parks and Recreation Committee meeting is scheduled for June 9th, 11 a.m. on the 2nd floor of City hall. However, the subject hearing on Artificial Turf is not yet scheduled.

The Chicago Park District's 2008-2012 Capital Improvement Plan is programming the construction of several new artificial turf fields. At the May 14th, CPD Board of Commissioner meeting, Commissioner's approved an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Chicago for the transfer of Tax Increment Financing funds for the construction of an Artificial Turf Field and Field house renovation at Riis Park located at 6100 West Fullerton ($1.5 million budgeted).

Chicago Tribune Story

Today, FOTP will be requesting that the City's Parks and Recreation Committee include as part of its June 9th meeting a public hearing on Artificial Turf Fields and/or during the month of June 2008.

Please allocate time to attend park related meetings and hearings. Here are other park related dates to place on your calendar:

May 29th, Community Dinner and Dialogue on 2016 Olympic Bid, U of C - Harris School of Public Policy, 1155 East 60th Street

June 2nd, 7 p.m. Portage Park Playground Design Charette - 4100 North Long (Senior Citizen Center)

June 5th, 10 a.m. - City Council Committee on Zoning "Chicago's Children's Museum" CCM Plan

June 7th, Walk and Ride Event, from Tuley Park to Meyering Park along South King Drive

June 9th, 11 a.m. - City Council Committee on Parks and Recreations - Agenda: Open Space Impact Fees

June 11th, - 11 a.m. - City Hall - City Council Meeting

June 11th - 4 p.m. - Chicago Park District Board of Commissioner's Meeting @ 541 N. Fairbanks

June 12th, 7 p.m. - Last 4 Miles Community Meeting @ Loyola Park (1230 West Greenleaf) Roger Park Residents ONLY!

June 14th, Park events all day at Lindblom, Loyola, Odgen Park, Brainerd, Wicker Park and Sheil Park

June 18th, 6:30 p.m. Last 4 Miles Community Meeting @ Broadway Armory (5917 North Broadway) Edgewater Residents ONLY!


mcl said...

I became aware of this
possible lead issue with artificial turf over a month ago, and reported it to NOHPAC at that time. A couple of weeks ago, I contacted Rep. H. Osterman's office and reported the concern about the artificial turf area in the Harold Washington Playlot. Within a day, Rep. O's office called me to report that the CPD had been notified and that they, CPD, would test for lead right away and report results ASAP. At this time we are awaiting results of those tests.

mcl said...


Feds are looking into the dangers of lead in artificial turf

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is looking into the possible health hazards of lead in artificial turf installed at schools, parks and stadiums across the country.

Two fields in New Jersey were closed this week after state health officials detected what they said were unexpectedly high levels of lead in the synthetic turf and raised fears that athletes could swallow or inhale fibers or dust from the playing surface.

The artificial-turf industry denied its products are dangerous. But the CPSC it is investigating.

"We have a great deal of interest into any consumer product that could be used by children where children could potentially be in harm's way because of lead exposure," CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson said.

The United States has about 3,500 synthetic playing fields made of various materials, including nylon and polyethylene, and about 800 are installed each year at schools, colleges, parks and stadiums, according to the industry's Synthetic Turf Council.

Pigment containing lead chromate is used in some surfaces to make the turf green and hold its color in sunlight. But it is not clear how widely the compound is used. The New Jersey Health Department found lead in both of the nylon fields it tested, but in none of the 10 polyethylene surfaces it examined.

Both nylon fields were AstroTurf brand surfaces.

Jon Pritchett, chief executive of General Sports Venue, the Raleigh, N.C.-based licensee of AstroTurf products in the United States, said the company's tests have shown a low risk of exposure to lead.

"Obviously, we take very seriously any concerns about the safety of our products, and this is no exception," Pritchett said.

New Jersey found itself at the forefront of the issue after state health authorities stumbled onto the lead while investigating whether runoff from a scrap-metal operation in Newark had contaminated an adjacent playing field.

New Jersey's epidemiologist, Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, said fibers and dust created through wear and weathering might become airborne, where they could be inhaled or swallowed.

But Rick Doyle, president of the Synthetic Turf Council, said the lead is fixed in place in the nylon and does not leach out, and thus poses no health risk. He also said that in recent years, manufacturers have begun offering lead-free nylon surfaces.

"In the 40 years that synthetic sports turf has been in use in the United States and around the world, not one person has ever reported any ill effects related to the material composition of the fibers," he said.

Bresnitz has ordered additional tests on how easily fibers and particles from artificial turf can be swallowed or inhaled. He said the risk from playing on a lead-impregnated field is probably very low. Nonetheless, he suggested washing thoroughly after play, laundering clothes separately and wetting down fields to keep the dust and fibers down during play.

Two fields in New Jersey — Frank Sinatra Park in Hoboken and a playing surface at the College of New Jersey in Ewing — were voluntarily closed after state health officials found up to 10 times the amount of lead that is allowed in soil on contaminated sites that are being turned into homes. The government has no standard for how much lead is allowable in artificial turf.

A city-owned field in Newark was closed last fall after similar test results; officials there are replacing the surface.

Lead can cause brain damage and other illnesses, particularly in children.

Fibers don't break off easily on nylon fields, according to Dr. Davis Lee, a Georgia Tech professor and consultant to turf manufacturers. He said even if fibers were to come loose, the lead pigment particles still would not fall out.

Artificial soccer, baseball and football fields are popular because they are durable and eliminate the need for watering, pesticides and mowing. Costs start at about $300,000 and go up depending on the type of turf, the size of the field and other factors.

On the Net:
New Jersey Health Department:
Synthetic Turf Council: