Hill Bill Calling for Temporary Ban of Artificial Turf Fields Made From Recycled Tires Gets First Hearing in Legislature

March 17, 2015

News Advisory – Office of State Senator Jerry Hill – March 18, 2015

Senator Jerry Hill’s Bill Banning New Artificial Turf Fields Made With Recycled Tires To Get
First Hearing Wednesday In Legislature

SB 47 Would Place Two-Year Moratorium on New Fields in California While State Studies
Possible Health Risks

WHAT: Legislation by Senator Jerry Hill – D, San Mateo County and Santa Clara County – to impose a two-year moratorium in California on the installation of turf fields and playground surfaces containing waste tires will get its first hearing before the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. Prompted by increasing concerns that artificial turf fields made with crumbs of rubber from recycled tires may be linked to cancer and other illnesses in children, SB 47 would bar new fields containing this material from being installed while the state conducts a comprehensive study on potential health impacts for frequent users of these surfaces.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 9:30 a.m.

WHERE: State Capitol, Room 3191

BACKGROUND: Concerns have mounted in recent years about chemical compounds contained in recycled rubber tires as an increasing number of young athletes have developed leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and testicular, prostate and other forms of cancer.

In 2009, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation banned turf fields made out of waste tires. This week, USA Today reported that an analysis by the newspaper showed that lead levels high enough to potentially harm children have been found in artificial turf used at thousands of schools, playgrounds and day care centers across the country. Over time, exposure to high levels of lead can result in lost intelligence, developmental delays, and damage to organs and the nervous system.

But only a few studies have investigated the possible harm to young children from ingesting turf fibers or rubber crumbs, which can be as small as a pencil tip or as large as a wood chip.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has deferred such studies and regulation to states. SB 47 would require the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, in consultation with the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, the Department of Public Health, and the Department of Toxic Substances Control, to conduct a study to be completed by July 1, 2017, into possible health risks posed by these artificial fields containing waste tires.

In California, the Legislature commissioned a 2010 study that looked specifically at whether these fields release significant amounts of volatile organic compounds that are harmful to humans and if the fields increase the risk of serious skin infections.

Hill’s legislation calls for a more comprehensive study, including the cumulative impacts on human health from various chemicals found in tires that might also be present in turf fields and playgrounds made with crumb rubber. The study will also look at alternatives to crumb rubber from used tires such as coconut fibers, rice husks, cork and used shoes.

Money for the study would come from the California Tire Recycling Management Fund, which requires a person who purchases a new tire to pay a state fee for programs related to disposal of used tires.

SB 47 would prohibit a public or private school or local government until Jan. 1, 2018, from installing, or contracting for the installation of a new field or playground surface made from synthetic turf containing crumb rubber from used tires in public or private schools or public parks. The temporary moratorium would not affect the installation of fields already underway. The legislation also would not impact turf fields and playground surfaces containing alternative materials made without used tires.

Hill’s bill is supported by more than two dozen environmental and education groups, including Sierra Club California and California Safe Schools. Also lending their support in a joint letter to Hill’s office was a group of concerned parents and entertainers that included Laura Dern, Courteney Cox, Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, and Sheryl Crow.

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Contacts: Aurelio Rojas, 916-747-3199 cell or 916-651-4013 office

Leslie Guevarra, 650-212-3313 office or 415-298-3404 cell