The North County battle over artificial turf

Suzanne Hume, Hannah Smith. “We’ll meet Nathan Fletcher in late January.”

In an episode of Nan Sterman’s show “A Growing Passion” on KPBS-TV, the idea was mentioned that artificial turf, in contrast to trees and grass, creates a “heat island effect”. It showed how the replacement lawn spread was 148 degrees.

She says the soil underneath can be contaminated with toxic leachate. It is a petroleum product. And then when you rip it out at the end of its life, about 15 years later, there is nowhere to recycle it. “

Weeds grow through artificial grass

Sterman says when she spoke to a group in Fallbrook, she discovered that weeds were growing on the man-made turf that surrounds the public clubhouse they use. “They install it thinking they are saving water, but it turns out you have to wash it all the time because there is pet litter and dirt. And then when you wash it, the toxins pollute the floor underneath. “

The fight against artificial turf is being organized. Suzanne Hume says she was sidelined by exposure to pesticides dropped by helicopters and spread in 2017 in tomato fields near her seaside home. “I had difficulty speaking and breathing. My lungs were burning … tubes in my nose and throat. “She did not complain. But Hume and her husband, John Bottorff, moved away from their home near Guajome Park. She quit teaching full time to start, a nonprofit run by her and her husband.

“When something happens to you, like having difficulty speaking, you must do everything in your power to ensure that children have a safe and healthy future,” says Hume.

They work with teenagers to organize, organize clubs and get local politicians to plant trees and stop installing artificial turf. Her efforts at public gatherings were viewed as curious and sweet. But then they received a $ 99,560 grant from the California Air Resources Board to help make a difference.

It seems to work. “Everyone has a right to clean air and water,” says Hannah Smith, 16, a student at Oceanside El Camino High and a member of “We just got a grant to put up three no-idle signs and plant four trees at each school in Oceanside and Vista. One minute of idling produces more carbon monoxide than three packs of cigarettes. “

Neither Hume nor Bottorff are paid for their work with CleanEarth4Kids. In addition to the trees and signs, they also use the scholarship to draw prizes for essay writing contests and placing potted plants in classrooms.

Hume’s approach is cheerful and upbeat when speaking in schools and Rotary clubs. But she knows that her cause needs to be pushed firmly and professionally at local government level. “[County Supervisor] Diane Jacobs is currently conducting a full review of pesticides used in the county’s land. We meet [Supervisor] Nathan Fletcher in late January. “

But sometimes it’s not nice. “It was really a challenge,” Hume admits. “At one [Oceanside] City Council meeting on December 4th, [councilmember] Chris Rodriguez said the city could make money by paying to install artificial turf fields at Jefferson Middle School and then billing people for using them. And they want to pay [the synthetic turf] with grant money from Prop 68 [passed in 2018]. The park and recreation director said he applied for this grant. They claim these fields are safe, but they cannot claim because these blades of grass contain lead, heavy metals and a whole class of toxic chemicals. “

Diane Woelke is a retired certified nurse with a masters degree in midwifery from USC. She is embroiled in an ongoing battle over artificial turf with her neighbors in Oceanside’s Arrowood neighborhood. “My neighbor carpeted his entire front yard, which is on a slope of more than 25 percent, which is a violation of city law.” She says the slope causes toxic drains to flow into the city’s sewers. “Research shows that many carcinogens and other toxic chemicals get into our water table.”

Woelke says she has searched so far but has not received any support from her Arrowood homeowners association. “The temperature rises to 200 degrees and she lets her grandchildren play on it. I would never allow my grandchildren to do so. “

She adds that she has also railed against the city of Oceanside for installing rubber play mats in nearby Luiseno Park. “It’s falling apart.” Regarding the Jefferson Middle School installation of artificial grass, “I think it’s not surprising that they would expose the children in a lower socio-economic neighborhood to these poisons in their playground.”

Mary Anne Viney of Karlovy Vary says she has a mixed scorecard of her efforts to get her city and school district to stop exposing residents to poison. “Both now have non-toxic policies.” She says she successfully got the city to use organic pesticides instead of synthetic pesticides.

But Viney says she wasn’t that lucky with artificial turf. “I asked the city to postpone it in January 2019.” She says the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (EPA) will publish the results of a four-year-old study of the toxicity of artificial grass. “I just wanted them to wait for it to come out. And they put it off for about six months. “

But then she says Carlsbad started rolling out the artificial turf at Stagecoach Park in July.

“There are hundreds of chemicals,” says Viney. “Some are known, others unknown. Children are constantly exposed to them on their skin and through breathing. I just can’t imagine why they wouldn’t use natural grass. “

According to Viney, California was once on the right track. “The state tried to pass a law banning this stuff, but then it got watered down. Now you have [state agency] Cal Recycle grants schools and cities a grant to install this stuff. I find it cruel to exploit our children in this way. I did not tell the city of Karlovy Vary not to ever use it. I just said wait till we get all the facts. That would be much more careful than using these kids as guinea pigs. I want to know why they are still using it when there are all these studies out there that says we just don’t know if they are safe enough yet. I think we just have to wait 10 or 20 years to see if these kids get cancer. “

Viney says she relies on for her data. “At the moment, it’s all just a basic effort.”

Councilor Rodriguez replied, “I never referred to a field in Jefferson and then commissioned the public to use it.” Suzanne Hume says, “He may not have said ‘Jefferson Middle School’, but the grant application specifically mentions it as one of two locations to get artificial turf.”

A review of the meeting that evening reveals that the council approved a “park improvement” grant to raise funds from Proposition 68. The grant specifically mentions the Jefferson Middle School field and track as one of two local areas that, if granted, would have artificial turf.

On a separate point where the city council approved the call for city officials to conduct a feasibility study for installing artificial turf, Rodriguez referred to “league fees” to use fields that have been modified with artificial turf. At the time, he made no explicit mention of Jefferson Middle School.

Comments are closed.