Everett Okay With Crumb Rubber Fields

crumb rubber fields

A look at the soccer fields at Kasch Park which do contain crumb rubber.

crumb rubber fields

Field 2 is set to be replaced in 2016.

The City of Everett is getting ready to replace more soccer fields at Kasch Park and crumb rubber will be used. Recently the issue of crumb rubber and its health effects made news in Edmonds but Everett does not share those concerns.

Here’s Everett’s rationale regarding crumb rubber fields as provided to MyEverettNews.com by Meghan Pembroke at the City of Everett…


Three sand soccer fields at Kasch Park were converted to synthetic (i.e. artificial grass) fields in 2001.  The fields included styrene butadiene rubber (a.k.a. crumb rubber) as an in-fill material on the artificial grass.  Crumb rubber stabilizes and cushions the playing surface of the artificial grass.  Crumb rubber is a recycled product created by grinding used truck and car tires.

The lifespan of the artificial “grass” blades is lengthened by ensuring that a sufficient amount of crumb rubber is on the surface.  That amount is approximately 2.2 pounds per square foot.

The three synthetic soccer fields had an original lifespan of approximately 8 to 10 years.  While we lacked capital funding to replace the fields, the field maintenance by department staff allowed us to extend the life of the fields past their predicted lifespan.

Funding became available in 2012 and Field #1 was replaced.  Its in-fill material is crumb rubber.  Fields 2 and 3, now five to seven years past the end of their life cycle, are scheduled for replacement in the late spring/early summer of 2016.  City Council authorized a call for bids on Nov. 3.  We anticipate that a construction contract and funding ordinance for this project will be scheduled for City Council action in late January/early February 2016.

Crumb Rubber Use

Crumb rubber is used on approximately 95% of synthetic fields across the world.  It is also the most widely tested in-fill material in terms of its effects on the environment and player health.

Within the last year, several elected officials in Congress and in the Washington State legislature have asked whether crumb rubber is related to and/or causes cancer. Peer-reviewed studies to date and assessments by many organizations, including state departments of health and, locally, the Verdant Health Commission, have and continue to conclude that there is no significant public health risk.

The Snohomish Health District does not have a policy position regarding the use of crumb rubber, and refers to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH).  DOH has concluded that “the currently available research does not suggest that crumb rubber presents a significant public health risk.”

Crumb rubber is currently in use at many local facilities. The Everett School District’s Lincoln Field and Memorial Stadium have synthetic surfaces with crumb rubber.  The Edmonds School District just completed its synthetic field project at Woodway High School with crumb rubber as the in-fill (September 2015).  Verdant commissioned an assessment study related to this issue and the study was presented to its board in May 2015.  The study’s authors write that the study focused on publicly available data and “potential risks from chemical exposures related to artificial turf products…”  The study’s conclusion was that crumb rubber does not present a risk to people playing on fields with this product.


With respect to public health, the best available science to date indicates that crumb rubber is a safe in-fill material.  It is also the most cost effective material in terms of its life cycle cost.  At this time, the City plans to move forward with the Kasch Park Soccer Fields #2/#3 replacement project as it is currently designed, using crumb rubber as the in-fill material.

About myeverettnews

My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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3 Responses to “Everett Okay With Crumb Rubber Fields”

  1. Laura Johnson Says:

    Who do you look to for guidance when it comes to your child’s health and protection from toxic substances? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91svvfuF7iY

    Just last Monday when EPA Spokesperson Liz Purchia called existing studies inadequate (the one’s reviewed in the above referenced Gradient Study), and said “new science” is needed to answer questions about turf safety and that “existing studies do not comprehensively address the recently raised concerns about children’s health risks from exposures to tire crumb.”

    An interview with Dr. David Brown, renowned toxicologist and children’s environmental health expert- the article states..I asked Dr. Brown when he thought that people would start to take notice of the cancer-related harms of artificial fields. Ten years? Fifteen? I expected ambiguity — he had been helpful, but he had been reserved with his words, as scientists are and lawyers are not. “Five,” he said. “Five years. Because we’re putting first graders and cancerous materials together.” He continued: “And when the cancer starts, people like myself will be sorry we didn’t argue more effectively.”

    Dr. David R. Brown’s comments when asked what advice he would give parents thinking of letting their children play on turf fields: Brown was adamant “My basic advice is, don’t do it,” he replied. And what if there are no other alternatives to artificial turf fields? “If we feel the need to use [turf fields], I’d require that everyone shower and that they use only shoes that they would use on that field and that they not wear the same clothes in and around afterwards, because you want to reduce the chance that [tire crumbs] would be ingested.”
    In the absence of conclusive long-term studies on the known carcinogens found in some artificial turf fields, Brown believes it’s better to be safe than sorry.“If I had to make recommendations, I would never have a soccer goalie practice on the turf fields,” he said. “Play on it, but not practice on it. The very young children, I’d get them off those fields.”

    Credentials David R. Brown. ScD (Doctor of Science) Public Health Toxicologist Director of Public Health Toxicology for Environment and Human Health, Inc.; Past Chief of Environmental Epidemiology and Occupational Health at Connecticut’s Department of Health; Past Deputy Director of The Public Health Practice Group of Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) at the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.

    A 2012 study from the highly respected international journal Chemosphere identified many of the chemicals the EHHI found. The study said that many of these hazardous substances were at high or extremely high levels, and also confirmed that the particles are volatile (turn into gases) even at room temperatures.

    “The presence of a high number of harmful compounds in these recycled rubber materials … should be carefully controlled, and their final use should be restricted or even prohibited in some cases,” the study concluded.

    Another Dr’s perspective: Dr. Barry Boyd, the director of Cancer Nutrition Health at Yale Health System and a board member at the EHHI, warned that “because artificial turf playing fields are disproportionately used by children and adolescents, these childhood exposures to environmental carcinogens may add to lifelong risk of cancer.”

    Credentials- D. Barry Boyd, MD- Clinical Professor of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, Oncologist at Greenwich Hospital and Affiliate Member of the Yale Cancer Center. Research areas include environmental risk factors for cancer as well as cancer etiology, including nutrition and the role of insulin and IGF in malignancy. Dr. Boyd is the Founder and Director of Integrative Medicine at Greenwich Hospital – Yale Health System.

    Another perspective- “Children go to playgrounds almost daily,” said Dr. Phillip Landrigan, dean of global health at New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital and a top expert on the effect of chemicals on children. “And gifted athletes are on the soccer filed almost every day. That sort of cumulative exposure results in a buildup in their body of these toxic chemicals, and can result in a buildup of cellular damage that’s caused by these chemicals, that can then result in disease years or decades later.”

    “Little children should not be put in a situation where they’re forced to be in intimate contact with carcinogenic chemicals,” Dr. Landrigan added.

    Biography: Philip J. Landrigan, M.D., M.Sc., is a pediatrician and epidemiologist. He has been a member of the faculty of Mount Sinai School of Medicine since 1985 and served as Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine since from 1995 to 2015. He was named Dean for Global Health in 2010.

    Dr. Landrigan graduated from Boston College in 1963 and from Harvard Medical School in 1967. He completed an internship in medicine/pediatrics at Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital and a residency in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Boston. In 1977, he received a Diploma of Industrial Health from the University of London and a Masters of Science in Occupational Medicine degree from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He served for 15 years as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer and medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). While at CDC, Dr. Landrigan served for one year as a field epidemiologist in El Salvador and for much of another year in northern Nigeria. He participated in the Global Campaign for the Eradication of Smallpox. Dr. Landrigan directed the national program in occupational epidemiology for NIOSH. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal of the US Public Health Service.

    In 1987, Dr. Landrigan was elected a member of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the of the Institutes of Medicine). He is the President of Cellegium Ramazzini. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine and Editor of Environmental Research. He has published more than 500 scientific papers and 5 books. He has chaired committees at the National Academy of Sciences on Environmental Neurotoxicology and on Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children. From 1995 to 1997, Dr. Landrigan served on the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veteran’s Illnesses. In 1997-1998, Dr. Landrigan served as Senior Advisor on Children’s Health to the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and was instrumental in helping to establish a new Office of Children’s Health Protection at EPA. From 2000-2002, Dr. Landrigan served on the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board. Dr Landrigan served from 1996 to 2005 in the Medical Corps of the United States Naval Reserve. He retired in 2005 at the rank of Captain. He continues to serve as Surgeon General of the New York Naval Militia, New York’s Naval National Guard.

    Dr. Landrigan is known for his many decades of work in protecting children against environmental threats to health. His research combines the tools of epidemiology with biological markers derived from clinical and laboratory medicine. Dr. Landrigan is deeply committed to translating research into strategies for health protection and disease prevention.


  2. Anonymous Says:

    “It is also the most cost effective material in terms of its life cycle cost.”

    What does it break down into? It’s dissipating and going somewhere or it wouldn’t have a “life cycle”; is this making every sports field a tire landfill?

  3. Eleanore Says:

    I’m not so sure this is safe…a lot of soccer players are getting cancer oh well a lot of things cause cancer