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Monday, July 7, 2008

More Artificial Turf Data

The following article is from the New York Daily News:

Parks' fake grass can reach a scorching 162 degrees
By Jeff Wilkins And Elizabeth Hays
Saturday, July 5th 2008, 10:00 PM

It's like walking on hot coals.

Artificial turf installed in city fields can heat up to a blistering 162 degrees even on a mild summer day, a Daily News investigation has found.

"My feet are burning! I had to dump cold water on my shoes just to walk around," Yannick Pena, 9, complained to his mom on a recent visit to Macombs Dam Park in the Bronx, where The News found the turf hit temperatures of 145 to 160 degrees on an 80-degree day.

At Staten Island's Greenbelt Recreation Center, where turf temperatures reached 149, park regular Diana Stentella, 58, wondered how kids survived the heat.

"When they play soccer here, do they have an ambulance to take the kids away?" Stentella said. "On a hot, humid day you would faint out here."

Over two mildly warm days last month, The News took surface temperature readings at five synthetic fields across the city accompanied by NYC Park Advocates, a group that has been critical of the fake grass.

At all five, temperatures at the synthetic fields soared roughly twice as high as at nearby natural grass ones, from a low of 144 degrees at the Greenbelt Recreation Center on Staten Island to a scorching 162 at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens.

"It's sadistic that the city is installing a product which gets so hot and is actually expecting the public to play on it," said NYC Park Advocates President Geoffrey Croft.

"Clearly, artificial turf presents many serious public health and safety issues that the city simply refuses to address," Croft said.

The scorching temperatures are just one of the nagging fears critics have about the turf, an infill made of recycled crumb rubber from old tires.

The city has installed the turf at nearly 100 parks and playgrounds across the city. An additional 68 projects are in the works.

Earlier this year, The News reported concerns that the millions of tiny crumbs contain heavy metals like lead and cadmium, as well as volatile organic compounds and other chemicals.

"This is very alarming," said Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum when told of The News' findings. "Now this, on top of the other questions we have. There needs to be a moratorium on these fields."

Despite the uproar, a city Department of Health study concluded this spring that the chemicals in synthetic turf fields cause no known health problems.

Health officials acknowledged fake fields can get excessively hot and can cause more heat-related problems, especially in children.

When confronted with The News' findings, the Parks Department also conceded high temperatures can be a problem at turf fields.

They said they were in the process of installing signs warning visitors of the dangers at fields across the city.

"The temperatures can get very high during the heat of the day. But people are smart. They are not going to use a place that is uncomfortable to play on," said Liam Kavanagh, first deputy parks commissioner.

Kavanagh also said the city plans to stop using the crumb-rubber infill because of excessive heat and switch over to a carpet-style turf.

One of the fields The News tested, in Macombs Dam Park, already has the new turf - and still tested as high as 160 degrees.

"My feet always blister coming out here. The bottoms of my shoes feel like melted rubber, it gets so hot," said Luis Coronell, 33, who regularly takes his 10-year-old nephew, Andres, to play on turf field because there are no real ones in the neighborhood.

"You bring the kids out here, but you can't do anything because the turf gets too hot," Coronell said. "This turf is a killer."

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