Dueling responses to consultant’s turf report – Westport News

Feb 6th, 2009 | By | Category: Artificial turf, Health

Dueling responses to consultant's turf report – Westport News: “The response to the year-long study by Milone and MacBroom, Inc. (MMI), an environmental consulting firm based in Cheshire, of the synthetic rubber crumb on three different artificial-turf playing fields in Connecticut only pointed to the need for further on-site study, according to Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI), a public policy study and advocacy group based in North Haven.”

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One Comment to “Dueling responses to consultant’s turf report – Westport News”

  1. george says:

    While TargaPro is a synthetic turf company and hence obviously in favor of putting in synthetic turf fields – we are also an environmentally sensitive company. The Milone and MacBroom study is being attacked not only because it performed only a cursory sample selection but because everyone questions the validity of a study performed by a company whose website shows turf field installations for the very company’s turf they were testing. How else would you expect the results to come out???

    There are alternative solutions to these problems plaguing the industry at this time only you won’t hear any of these solutions from the big turf companies. However, as we at TargaPro began to realize the potential dangers of the crumb rubber and silica sand infill’s to both the health of the children and athletes playing on the field, as well as to the potential environmental damage caused by the toxic run-off from these fields, we investigated several alternatives to both the yarns and the backing materials we were using in the turf manufacture. We also investigated alternatives to the potentially dangerous crumb rubber and silica sand infill’s.

    To this end we now use a lead-free yarn and have eliminated the use of urethane in the turf backing materials. In addition, we have developed a natural, organic, eco-safe infill alternative (Organite™), which is factory-coated with a virtually permanent, non-toxic anti-microbial . Thus, we have an EcoSafe, Environmentally Sustainable and Totally Recyclable product family.

    The turf is the EcoGreen66™, and in order to lower GMax and control PMax for the athletes we normally recommend the use a dual-function drain and shock attenuation pad, which is our EcoFlo™ product. The infill is an organic-based, anti-microbial treated product which we call Organite™. Having investigated several potential organic materials (such as coconut shells and pecan shells) we settled on a polyorganic mixture of “walnut shell” and water-retaining inorganic materials. Every particle of the organite infill is factory-coated with a non-leaching, durable (guaranteed for the same 8-year term of the turf warranty) anti-microbial agent, which prevents decomposition as well as the growth of bacteria, fungi and mold, through the full depth of the infill.

    In addition, I note in many on line discussions there are lots of issues concerning drainage. In particular individuals are concerned about surface water run-off (sheeting) from synthetic turf fields. I question their understanding of how current field drainage systems are designed. However, I do understand their concerns, since over the life of a field there can be no guarantee that typical field under drain systems will continue to function properly.

    To address this problem we have designed both a vertical-to-horizontal solution (with an impervious drain pad), which evacuates all water to a perimeter drainage system, as well as a hybrid system which provides infiltration (ie, to match or exceed permeability of existing surface) but topped with a pervious drainage pad which will direct excess water run-off (once the ground system becomes saturated) into a controlled perimeter drainage system (which can be routed and designed to produce desired or required storm water management). Thus we eliminate surface run-off (sheeting) and can guarantee that the field will always be playable. The warranty on this design is also for the full warranty period of the installed turf system.

    Finally, the EcoGreen66™ turf system we provide is a much denser 66 ounce material – 1.5 inches in height – with a fiber micron thickness of 240 microns. Our turf is about 3 times the blade-density of the standard 40 ounce – 2.25 to 2.5 inch height – 80-120 micron thickness material offered by our competitors. The micron thickness of our product provides fiber resilience and memory and hence keeps the turf from matting down. The infill requirements for our turf – because of its tuft-density requires only 1.2 pounds/sf of infill material (while meeting all GMax and PMax requirements for shock absorption and fatigue reduction) – as compared to the 3 pounds/sf of the all crumb rubber infill’s and the 9 to 10 pounds/sf of the crumb rubber/silica sand infill’s of our competitors.

    As a final cost saving note – the fact that our system is totally recyclable – will save 100’s of thousands of dollars in potential “special waste” removal and disposal costs when the field needs to be replaced 12 to 15 years in the future. Based upon all my discussions with potential customers, I have not found one who has calculated the cost of ownership (COO) to include the disposal and replacement of the fields in their initial calculations. To give you one set of hard figures on this issue – the Hawthorne Middle School in Bel Air CA recently had to replace a small field (27,000 sq ft) because of high lead levels in the turf. The removal and disposal cost of that field under California’s hazardous waste material handling regulations was $175,000 (yes, you read that correctly – One hundred and Seventy Five Thousand dollars for a 27,000 sf filed – just imagine the cost for a field 3 times that size). As states move to ban the use of crumb rubber infill and enforce current law governing the use of silica sand – these “special waste” disposal costs will continue to rise dramatically.

    Note also that the changes which some of our competitors have instituted to replace the current infill’s – Flex-Sand for example – are still silica sand based and the coatings on these products have not been tested for their potential coating durability, run-off potential, or respirable micro-particle generation, when used in athletic fields . Clearly, the organic based, recyclable product carries considerably less risk than silica sand based products.

    I hope some of this information is helpful to your understanding of where real problems lie with the design and installation of synthetic turf fields. These fields are absolutely necessary to the provision of adequate – always usable – athletic facilities and as explained above there are truly cost effective – available – EcoSafe and Environmentally Sustainable solutions to the problems which exist with present systems being marketed by the major synthetic turf purveyors today.

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