LETTER: Consider health concerns linked to artificial turf before voting

* Editor’s Note: Due to the media attention and unknowns about health risks associated with crumb rubber, the VISD board has already committed to not using crumb rubber and utilizing an alternative infill material.

Before voting on the school bond, please consider health concerns of the proposed artificial turf sports field. Actions were initiated first in the Pacific Northwest to protect children against carcinogenic materials linked to cases of lymphoma in football players.

Developed by Monsanto (the company that makes Roundup), artificial turf contains a cocktail of toxic chemicals including benzothiazole, carbon black and heavy metals. Mt. Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center writes: “Exposures to chemicals present in crumb rubber at very high levels … known to cause birth defects, neurologic and developmental deficits, and some can even cause cancer. Children are particularly vulnerable.”

In 2009, a women’s soccer coach at the UW connected artificial turf and cancer after goalies were diagnosed with lymphoma, possibly from diving for balls onto crumb rubber and inhaling into their lungs. One soccer player in Tacoma died from lymphoma after spending half his life playing on artificial turf. Families suspect rubber specks that stick to skin, hair and clothing and get in players’ eyes, mouths and open wounds contain toxic substances that contribute to cancer in young athletes.

Financial ramifications:

1. Average life is 15 years. No cost advantage shown for artificial turf. Warranties are about eight years, when maintenance problems start. Do you want a 21-year tax lien on your home for products to be replaced before bond and interest is paid?

2. Maintenance cost has no benefit over grass. This chemical turf produces dead zones underneath inhibiting future biological grass restoration.

3. Many professional football players believe injuries are more frequent and severe on artificial turf.

Vote “no” on bonds to install artificial turf. Be cautious. Protect kids. Surveys show players prefer biological grass. Vashon can promote that teams play here on real turf — not fake from toxic chemicals.

— Lawrence Allen