Senator Alesi Introduces Legislation To Assess The Health And Environmental Impacts Of Synthetic Turf

James S. Alesi

November 20, 2007

Senator Jim Alesi (R- Perinton) today announced that he has introduced legislation (S.6531) that would assess the public health and environmental impacts of the use of synthetic turf in indoor and outdoor settings.

Senate Bill S.6531, which is being carried in the Assembly by Long Island Assemblymember Steve Englebright (D- Setauket), would establish a 6 month moratorium on the installation of synthetic turf pending a comprehensive assessment of the potential adverse impacts of synthetic turf on public health and the environment. The bill would also require an environmental impact assessment for each site-specific installation of synthetic turf.

"A few years back I was successful in passing legislation that reduced carcinogens in playgrounds," said Senator Alesi. " It certainly makes sense to investigate the potential dangers of these compounds on artificial playing fields."

Increasingly, synthetic turf is being installed in many locations in New York State, including parks, athletic fields, indoor facilities and other settings where natural grass was previously grown. In recent years, crumb rubber fill is being used as a component of synthetic turf and mulch. The crumb rubber is a result of processing waste tires, which contain numerous components, some of which are known to be hazardous. These contaminants can include arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, vanadium, zinc and acetone. Health effects associated with these contaminants include birth defects, cancer, nervous system damage and immune system suppression.

In 2004, the Legislature passed the historic Waste Tire Management Act, which provided for the collection and recycling/reuse of millions of waste tires stockpiled in New York State. While various options for waste tire use are essential to reduce the significant stockpiles of waste tires, these uses should not threaten or compromise public health or the environment.

Limited testing of synthetic turf has occurred, identifying levels of concern of lead, arsenic cadmium, chromium and other contaminants. However, Senator Alesi feels more information is necessary to make informed decisions on the appropriate uses of this material.