Montreal-based FieldTurf sold 1,428 Duraspine artificial turf fields in the U.S. from 2005 until it was discontinued in 2012, for an estimated $570 million.
As early as 2006, executives knew the fields were deteriorating faster than expected, according to an investigation by NJ Advance Media.
FieldTurf commanded top dollar for the fields — $300,000 to $500,000 each, plus installation — which was mostly paid by taxpayers in school districts across the nation, everywhere from New Jersey to San Diego.
FieldTurf admits that nearly one in five Duraspine fields in the U.S. were replaced under warranty. Most warranties expire at 8 years.
The turf fibers are supposed to stand up and bounce like real grass. When the fields deteriorate, the fibers fall flat and become matted, loose, or broken. Black ripples show bare patches of rubber infill.
The rubber infill is made from recycled tires, which contain lead and other toxic chemicals. Kids are exposed to these chemicals if the rubber gets on their skin, mouth, or scrapes. They can also breathe dust and vapors from the rubber.
Think about that next time you see an elementary school child playing with the “little black dots” before going to lunch. Or an athlete breathing hard on a hot day on an even hotter field made of rubber.
In 2008, FieldTurf was sued by then-attorney general Jerry Brown of California after high levels of lead were found in their turf. The lawsuit settled in 2010 when FieldTurf agreed to reduce the amount of lead.
Some turf products had more than 10-times the amount of lead that state and federal guidelines allow, according to a statement from Jerry Brown.
Lead is extremely toxic and no amount is safe. In children, exposure to lead causes permanent learning and behavior disorders.
In February 2016, the federal government launched a 3-year study to investigate possible health hazards associated with recycled tire crumb infill on artificial turf fields. They are sampling 40 fields and 9 tire crumb manufacturing plants across the U.S.
Source: The 100-Yard Deception