New York City recently put a halt to using crumb rubber infill on artificial lawns in its parks and school yards – even though the debate continues over the health risk that crumb rubber poses.

That’s the position NewGrass eco-friendly synthetic lawn and its distributors took several months ago when they switched to an environmentally safe, silicon-based infill.

NewGrass and New York City officials concede the jury remains out on the degree of risk from lead exposure to controversial crumb rubber infill (it’s made from recycled tires). But there’s another health concern that prompted New York City to stop using the stuff. City health officials believe crumb rubber could be unsafe when it heats up on hot days.

Like NewGrass and its authorized distributors in the New York area, New York City has chosen that going forward, it would rather be safe than sorry.

Dandelion Putting Greens, in Hopewell Junction, installs NewGrass® synthetic lawns using GreenFill, an environmentally friendly infill alternative, says company owner Frank Vitritti.

The debate over crumb rubber infill is being waged among environmental groups, concerned parent organizations, the rubber industry and some members of the synthetic grass industry.

“We’d rather err on the side of being responsible when it comes to public health,” Vitritti said.
New York City has no plans to remove existing crumb rubber in its 95 existing fields. One exception is a city soccer field that was closed in December when tests found elevated levels of lead.

“We believe it’s most likely some external contamination,” Assistant Health Commissioner Nancy Clark told the New York Daily News.

Activists and some legislators, however, have called the New York City fields potentially toxic and demanded removal, at an estimated cost of up to $1 million per field.

First Deputy Parks Commissioner Liam Kavanagh told a City Council panel recently that it will replace crumb rubber as part of the normal 10-year renovation cycle of the city’s fields.

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