Letters to the Editor “Environmentally Unsound and Dangerous…”

To the Editor:   
In 2006 and again in 2008, the Irvington school administration and its compliant BOE tried to get the community to fund artificial fields that were environmentally unsound and dangerous to our kids. Fortunately, the community was wiser than its representatives and voted against the plastic/rubber turf both times.

It has since become clear that the kind of artificial field being proposed back then, one in-filled with crumb rubber, was extremely hazardous. Such fields raised surface temperatures to 150 degrees and above, caused abrasions, multiplied foot and ankle injuries, emitted fumes, and had to be disinfected with toxic chemicals.

The Irvington district has tacitly admitted it was wrong in trying to get us to buy crumb rubber fields by proposing, this time around, a new product called “Geo-Turf.” This product still contains 25 tons of non-recyclable plastic “grass,” but its infill is “organic.”

But what do we really know about Geo-Turf? It has been on the market for such a short time that the only studies of it have been done — or sponsored — by the company that manufactures it. As far as I know, there are no independent, peer-reviewed analyses of this product.

We don’t, therefore, know how long it lasts (the company guarantees it for just 8 years), what its injury rate is, and what happens when its in-fill breaks down. There is anecdotal evidence that when the “corkonut” (cork plus coconut husks) in-fill degrades, it forms into fine particles that could harm children when they breathe it in. Despite these unknowns, the District wants us to buy it anyway, to the tune of nearly $2 million. Had we trusted school administrators in 2006 and 2008, we’d be saddled with potentially dangerous, environmentally unsound crumb rubber fields. Fortunately, we didn’t trust them in the past, and we shouldn’t trust them now.

Geo-Turf is an untested product, which we must not buy on faith. Just this past year, Hastings wisely turned it down after a citizen committee (www.savereynoldsfield.org/ index.html) researched it exhaustively. By a 2-1 margin, the Hastings community stripped their bond of the plastic fields, and we should too.

Ed Berenson,
Irvington, NY

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