Update 4/9/15: Senate Bill 47 (The Children’s Safe Playground and Turf Field Act of 2015) will be heard at the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting on Monday, April 13th, at 10 am in Capitol Room 4203.
On March 18th, members of the State Senate Environmental Quality Committee voted unanimously to support a state-mandated study on the health impacts of the synthetic crumb rubber infill made from tire waste (also known as SBR) that is used on artificial turf playing fields and playgrounds. The study is part of Senate Bill (SB) 47, The Children’s Safe Playground and Turf Field Act of 2015, introduced by Bay Area State Senator Jerry Hill. The legislation also includes a statewide moratorium on the use of tire crumb in new projects until the completion of the study, unless certain conditions are met. Having secured the approval of the Environmental Quality Committee, SB 47 now goes to the Appropriations Committee, where it will be heard in April.
The Sierra Club strongly supports SB 47. Both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment have identified long lists of toxins in the tire crumb, including carcinogens. However, the legislation will continue to be fought by the artificial-turf manufacturers and tire-waste recyclers. SB47 needs widespread support from individuals and organizations all over California. See below for what you can do to support this important legislation!
Senator Hill (D-San Mateo) introduced the legislation after becoming aware of the growing list of athletes who have played on the tire waste fields and subsequently developed cancer. In NBC investigative news reports that aired in October 2014, soccer coach Amy Griffin described taking one of her players in for cancer treatments. The attending nurse said to the ill player, “Don’t tell me you are a goalkeeper. You’re the fourth goalkeeper I’ve hooked up this week.”
“I’ve coached for 26, 27 years,” Coach Griffin has said. “My first 15 years, I never heard anything about this. All of a sudden it seems to be a stream of kids.”
At the March 18th hearing, Senator Hill said that coach Griffin has identified 126 athletes who had contracted cancer, 109 of whom were soccer players. Griffin’s list includes 51 players with lymphomas and 19 with leukemia. Ten players contracted brain cancer, and others developed a variety of other cancers including sarcoma, testicular, and thyroid. Goalies, who spend a lot of their playing time diving into the rubber-crumb-filled turf, seem more prone to developing cancer.
A star witness at the hearing was cancer survivor, soccer player, and soccer coach Casey Sullivan. Sullivan testified that he had been diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when he was a 21-year-old college goalkeeper. “I had a tumor in my chest, the size of a soccer ball in diameter,” he said.
Many Bay Area supporters traveled to Sacramento to speak at the March 18th hearing. Testimony in favor of SB47 included soccer moms, soccer grandmothers, coaches, and representatives of environmental and neighborhood groups. Over 35 organizations have come out in support of SB47, including the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, with 44 member organizations.
Opposition to this common-sense legislation will be stiff! SB47 needs widespread support from organizations and individuals all over California. Ask your family and friends to write in and attend the hearings!
1. Call the following members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and tell them you support SB 47. If anyone in your family plays on tire-crumb fields or playgrounds, let the Senators know about your personal concern:
Ricardo Lara (Chair): 916-651-4033
Jim Beall: 916-651-4015
Connie Leyva: 916-651-4020
Tony Mendoza: 916-651-4032
2. If you are a member of ANY organization, ask them to write a letter of support today! The legislation has the support of environmental groups; what is needed is support from other types of organizations throughout the state.
3. Write a personal letter of support today. If you or anyone in your family plays soccer or other sports, talk about it! Address letters to:
Senator Jerry Hill
Attn: Nate Solov
1303 10th Street, Room 5035
Sacramento, CA 95814
Email your letters to Nate.Solov@sen.ca.gov
4. Attend the next hearing! SB 47 will be heard at the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting on Monday, April 13th, at 10 am in Capitol Room 4203. Join us! With questions, email Nate.Solov@sen.ca.gov or call 916-651-4238. To read the amended legislation, click here.
Unfortunately, SB 47 will not stop the Beach Chalet soccer-fields, as construction has already begun on that project; however, it the legislation is bringing attention to the artificial-turf controversy that will help in the battle not only for grass fields and habitat in Golden Gate Park but also for the health of everyone who plays on artificial turf fields.
More background information on this issue:
- “Health, environmental concerns about tire-crumb turf call S.F. plans into question” in the Yodeler
- Listen to expert witnesses and an eloquent soccer player and cancer survivor! The SB47 hearing at the Environment committee can be viewed online (minute 28:22).
- Watch the NBC investigative report on the potential link between cancer and artificial turf.