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Letter: Keep Crumb Rubber Out of Woodbridge

Would the residents of Woodbridge ask for 40,000 used car tires to be dumped onto the property of Amity High School?  Of course not.  And yet, that is exactly what is about to happen.  There are roughly 40,000 used car tires in the crumb rubber infill of an average artificial turf field.  Crumb rubber undisputedly contains petroleum products, carbon black, cadmium, lead, zinc, asbestos-twin carbon nanotubes (CNTs), arsenic, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), phthalates, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and dioxin-like benzothiazole.  In fact, of the 92 chemicals found within crumb rubber, 11 of them have been identified as known or suspected carcinogens, according to Dr. Gaboury Benoit, a Yale University professor of Environmental Chemistry and Engineering.

At the December 4, 2019 referendum, the towns of Bethany and Orange approved “various athletic facility improvements at Amity Regional High School,” including an “all-season field” (or artificial turf field).  Woodbridge, which opposed these improvements, was outvoted—and now a field we have rejected at three different times in recent history will be installed in our town.  Superintendent Jennifer Byars claims that the public was always made aware of the artificial turf field, and perhaps that is correct.  What she doesn’t admit is that the TYPE OF INFILL (crumb rubber from car tires) was not specified anywhere in the ballot language.  Thus, residents had no idea it was even a possibility.

Now our children, as part of P.E. and extracurricular sports, will be susceptible to the toxins listed above in numerous ways, including accidental ingestion, inhalation of tiny particulates (off-gassing), and dermal contact and absorption.  This kind of health risk is completely unacceptable, especially since the pediatricians, epidemiologists, and scientists at the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mt. Sinai explicitly state that kids “are uniquely vulnerable to harmful exposures from recycled rubber surfaces.”  Mt. Sinai doctors in fact urge “a moratorium on the use of artificial turf generated from recycled rubber tires.”

Even if you do not have a child who attends Amity High School, you still have cause for concern.  The leaching and run-off of toxins from old tires into water supplies is well-documented, and it is one of the reasons why Connecticut dumps consider tires “special waste” that cannot be thrown away with other garbage.  Once the crumb rubber infill is installed, Woodbridge, a town with thousands of wells fed by common aquifers, will be absorbing these toxins.  Our entire water supply could potentially be polluted.  The possibility is alarming, but so far First Selectman Beth Heller has not acknowledged it, though numerous residents have brought it to her attention.

If there is any silver lining to the outrageous prospect of a glorified tire dump in our otherwise green town, it is that construction has not yet started.  THERE IS STILL TIME TO DEMAND A SAFER INFILL.  While grass is the safest surface for kids, cork and coconut husk infill are much better choices than pulverized car tires.  We strongly encourage you to contact Beth Heller, Jennifer Byars, and the Amity Board of Education and urge them to keep crumb rubber out of Woodbridge.

Sincerely,

Woodbridge Parents Against Crumb Rubber

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