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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Turf Battle at Oval

Any of you living in Norwood will have noticed the bulldozers in Williamsbridge Oval. The reconstruction of the field and track is under way.

It would appear to be too late for an argument about whether the synthetic turf field is the best idea or not. Nonetheless, just such an argument has erupted on the Norwood News letters page. It started with this letter from a member of the Bronx Greens, who believes there are safety and health risks of the material.

But William Crain, a City College professor, wrote in a Times op-ed that the rubber granules that simulate dirt are made of hazardous materials. Here's an excerpt:

For starters, synthetic turf contains highly toxic chemicals. The tiny rubber granules that contribute to the turf’s resiliency are primarily made from recycled tires. Because these granules often lie on the turf’s surface, children and athletes come into frequent contact with them.

Junfeng Zhang, a professor of environmental and occupational health at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, has found that the granules contain worrisome levels of zinc and lead, as well aspolycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are likely to be carcinogenic. Some preliminary research by others suggests that it might be difficult for these toxic chemicals in the granules to get into the body through skin contact, ingestion or inhalation, but more research is needed.

Meanwhile local park advocates like Annette Melendez wonder where the Greens were during several community meetings about the Oval rehab work.

It's an interesting issue and one we're certain to hear more about, as more and more synthetic fields get installed around the country. But as we look out our office windows at the Oval construction here at the Keeper's House on Reservoir Oval, we can only surmise that any consensus on this issue will probably not come until the Oval's new carpet is laid down and open to all next spring.

1 comment:

  1. The truth of the matter is that nothing beats grass. But on the other hand it is costly. I would rather have the new synthetic turf rather than the dust that we breathe just from being around the field not to mention playing.

    On top of that the field that had no more patches of grass was dangerous as there would be stones, holes and sometimes even glass in which i have had the pleasure of falling on once.

    If they can do anything to get as many people going to these parks as a change other than sitting down and eating chips then great. It certainly brings about a community whether it is grass or turf. But not dirt!

    I am for the granules. I'd rather die from them, then the dust in my lungs or sitting my butt all day.


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