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“Install Synthetic Turf as Health Effects Are Studied” Says East Coast Health Commissioner

Benepe’s Creed: ‘If It’s Good Enough For Harvard, Good Enough for Harlem’ By Sarah Ryley
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
CITY HALL — A Health Department official urged the City Council to continue installing synthetic playing fields rather than await the completion of a study on their health effects, expected next spring. Most of the fields are made springy with rubber pellets from recycled tires that can stick to skin or find their way into children’s mouths. “Many of the chemicals are already found in the environment,” Nancy Clark, assistant commissioner of environmental disease prevention at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said at a hearing on the matter. She went on to list a litany of pollutants containing the same chemicals as the rubber pellets: gasoline, paint, cigarettes, smoke and soot, for example. (ed emphs)

Clark said benefits from increased athletic activity and decreased use of pesticides probably outweigh any health concerns from the synthetic fields.

Parks Department Commissioner Adrian Benepe said cities, professional teams and universities across the country, including Harvard, are installing the fake grass. “And my philosophy has always been, if it’s good enough for Harvard, then it’s good enough for Harlem.”

He testified that during 1999, when the city started installing synthetic fields, 66,000 hours of league play were logged. In 2007, after the city installed 77 synthetic fields with plans for 23 more, many replacing asphalt, the city logged 137,000 hours of league play. (ed emphs)

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