Two artificial turf fields in Ridgefield, CT now feature warning signs posted by the town’s Health Department. Posted signs at fields at Ridgefield High School and the Scotts Ridge Middle School warn students and parents to follow some simple rules after playing on artificial turf:
1. Wash hands and exposed body parts aggressively after playing on field.
2. Turn clothes inside out as soon as possible to avoid tracking dust to other locations.
3. Keep beverages closed and in bags/coolers when not drinking to minimize contamination from field dust and fibers.
4. Be aware of signs of heat-related illness and dehydration. Fields can get excessively hot on sunny days. Take all necessary precautions.
Ridgefield is the second town in the state to post such signs. Ed Briggs, Ridgefield’s health director, said his department posted the warnings after consultation with the Board of Selectmen. For opponents of artificial turf, the signs are important reminders that the fields may have health hazards. They claim the filler used to cushion the fields, crumb rubber made from chewed-up tires, can release toxic chemicals. One mode of release, they say, is gas that escapes when the sun heats the rubber. Another is the dust created when players grind the rubber to dust.
“We need more public conversation about this,” Elizabeth Butler, one of the activists who have opposed construction of a new artificial turf field in Ridgefield, said June 29.
“This is a public safety issue.”
Ridgefield’s First Selectman Rudy Marconi said results of different tests of artificial fields vary because rubber used in them isn’t uniform.
Some crumb rubber may have higher levels of toxins, some lower levels, because different tires have different levels of the chemicals.
The state Department of Environmental Protection is beginning a $245,000 study of artificial turf.