Loker Field Letter

UpdatedSunday May 16, 2021 byTodd Lyons.


As a parent of three and the President of the Wayland Children Parent’s Association, the recent information circulating about the turf field project was a lot. As someone who understands the serious need for additional recreational space in Wayland and knowing what’s at stake I have read all the materials circulated by the town, yet I have continued to dig, looking under every rock for myself. The good news is that I am not alone in my pursuit. This is some of the most scrutinized stuff!

With over 13K turf fields in the US alone, where the primary demographic of the user is our youth, I was able to find over 100 studies directly tied to crumb rubber used as infill for field – studies spanning 10-15 years in some cases. In the findings of which I poured over, I wasn’t able to find a single report that established a direct link between turf and cancer. Beyond that in the studies, many other possible health issues were raised and reviewed. There were no findings where adverse allergic skin reactions were found as a result of irritants, possible inhalation issues due to particle or dust were dispelled with outdoor use, and zero other medial issues tied to playing on turf were established.

I spoke with the same Regional Manager from Act Safe, the company likely to install our field (some of you may have seen this individual referenced on the social media boards), as well as two other people from that organization for good measure. I was able to connect with CEOs from two safe-field alliance groups and I have spent days reading research and studies as well as data sheets directly from manufacturers shared by those sources as well.

Highlighted below are some of my questions and the findings from the hours of my time spent getting to the bottom of the data for myself which has helped me to put my mind at ease.

My job as a parent is to protect my kids. Is there a link between turf fields

and cancer? No.
One study of particular interest was a coach in Washington state who raised concerns that several soccer players between 2002-2015 developed Lymphoma (several of which were goalies). Given the public health concern, The Washington Department of Health investigated the situation, and concluded the following: (Report can be found here)

This investigation found less cancer among the soccer players...and goalkeepers on the coach’s list than expected based on rates of cancer among Washington residents of the same ages. In addition, the currently available research on the health effects of artificial turf does not suggest that artificial turf presents a significant public health risk.

o Because it was in the news (ESPN even picked up the story), Connecticut investigated a possible link as did California (in 2007, 2010, and again through 2019, covering a full range of possible negative outcomes – reviewed by OEHHA). New Jersey, Norway, Sweden and 13 other states, as well as the EPA have too (in a four-part study). These investigations have concluded no material exposure from playing on the surfaces resulted in a direct tie to cancer, even where carcinogens may have been present.

  • What about exposure in general, should I avoid it if there is even a

    potential for harm? No.

  • As cited and published in the - U.S. EPA, Child-Specific Exposure Factors Handbook, Report. 2002. ‘Supplemental chronic risk estimates based on a child's typical incidental ingestion rate of 100 mg/day indicate that regular exposure (e.g., regular play on ground rubber filled athletic fields) to ground rubber for the length of one’s childhood does not increase risk of cancer above levels considered by the state of California to be de minimus or pose a likelihood of non-cancer.’

    o NOTE: The studies do not recommend that our kids eat the infill, as that could pose a potential risk. Otherwise, the studies showed that general exposure as players, coaches, referees, bystanders (siblings of players, who may even crawl on the surface...) adds no additional risk. One EPA study recorded responses from over 1,900 families illustrating hours of time across natural and artificial surface play structures.

  • Should I be concerned about the composition of the EPDM we are

    intending to use in our infill here in Wayland? No.
    EPDM Is a synthetic rubber substance, it is not made of ground up tires. Beyond turf infill it is

    found all around us – in our car doors, refrigerator seals, and garden hoses. It is in bungee cords, solar panel heat collectors, and cooling systems amongst many other uses.
    The proposed infill EPDM Wayland is considering has been aggressively tested and has passed every test –
    Important to note that this information has been shared with members of our Wayland community that are opposed to the proposed field but has been selectively left out of their messaging passed on to Wayland Town residents on social media boards.

o The intended product:
Does not qualify as a hazardous material as defined by OSHA 29CFR 1910.1200. Is compliant with California Prop 65
Passes Standard EN 71-3 – Safety of Toys including
Passes FIFA 2015 and World Rugby 2020 UVA 5000hr testing
Passes Heavy Metals EN71-3 European test method for children’s toys
Passes Heavy Metals CAM 17 6020 ICP/MS
Passes Heavy Metals Req. for OEHS for CAM 17 metals
Passes Heavy Metals F3188
Has no agglomeration or stability loss at 365 °F
It is rated dust free
It is rated odorless

o As has been presented on local messaging boards here in Wayland, the TURI organization from UMASS recently stated they had conducted analysis of chemicals in turf and had found PFAS. Wanting to know more I dug into this and this and here is what I learned: The information specific to PFAS in turf was based on only two samples, neither of which were EPDM, the synthetic infill proposed by the Rec Department for our use. Further, each of the fact sheets I read on their site, lends themselves only to hypotheticals and acknowledges that they have not conducted nor sponsored any laboratory testing of PFAS in turf or other products.

o Ifyouareinsteadinterestedinacomprehensivereviewofthestudies,ECHA–(the sanctioning body for chemicals legislation in the EU) published this report. The study speaks to chemicals from actual pitch samples from 10 Member States covering more than 100 fields (infill material already in use) and around 50 samples of new recycled rubber. These findings are consistent with what has been citied in the US and elsewhere.

What else should I consider?
o ManyturfcompaniesIresearchedareplayingacriticalroleintherecyclingofotherwise

unusable materials and several, including Act Global, have committed to zero waste manufacturing and recycling of their own materials as well, allowing for an added benefit to utilizing this material.

The punchline for me after all of this research was I should be aware but not concerned. To cite a study from the Department of Health in the state of Washington: ‘The available research suggests exposures from crumb rubber are very low and will not cause cancer among soccer players.’

I feel strongly that this field is desperately needed here in town. We need to come together as a community after 20 years since it’s purchase to recognize this vital recreational space and put it to proper use. I have studied the history of the project, re: the inability to have natural fields meet the scheduling needs of usage, the alternative locations/sites nearly a dozen that have been reviewed all over town for years – with Loker emerging again and again as the best option and I’ve read the reports provided by many environmental experts paid for by the down, illustrating that this project has been approached correctly in an effort to avoid long-term detrimental impact to the environment. Truth is, we do not have enough available land in Wayland to ever satisfy our athletic needs utilizing natural grass. This turf field can serve as the equivalent of five natural grass fields, five fields that we have nowhere to put.

My vote remains yes to Article 25 on Sunday.

All the Best,
Kate Taunton-Rigby