Synthetic turf at two multi-use fields at Stagecoach Community Park in southeast Carlsbad will be replaced with new synthetic turf that includes an infill of coated granules of rubber that don’t get as hot and reduce possible contact with the rubber material. The City Council approved the replacement project at its July 23 meeting after considering a comprehensive report about the pros and cons of different field surface options, including available data addressing potential health concerns.
The existing synthetic turf on the two multi-purpose fields at Stagecoach Community Park is nearly 14 years old and is in need of replacement due to age and wear. The turf was under warranty for its expected useful life of eight years.
Synthetic turf - must include a cushion component for safety and to most closely mimic the feel and footing of natural grass. Black rubber pellets called “crumb rubber, made from recycled tires, has been the industry standard infill for many years. The city will use a newer technology where the individual granules are coated.
Advances in Turf Technology
The application of coated crumb rubber granulate represents an advancement of technology in synthetic turf systems:
The crumb rubber is coated with a green acrylic and then a clear polyurethane.
It can reduce a field's surface temperature by 3 to 10 degrees over traditional uncoated crumb rubber granulate.
Under normal conditions, there is little potential for direct public exposure to the crumb rubber granules because they are individually coated.
City staff and its consultant, Bob Harding, principal with DA Hogan and Associates, provided a summary of existing studies on synthetic turf and infill materials, with a focus on the crumb rubber infill material. Harding has 40 years of experience as a practicing landscape architect, including over 35 in athletic field design and construction monitoring. His portfolio includes the design of over 150 athletic fields, including the City of Carlsbad's five synthetic turf field replacements, which are at Poinsettia, Aviara, Pine Avenue and Stagecoach community parks, between 2013 and 2019.
The summary includes the following points:
The predominant infill material used with synthetic turf systems continues to be uncoated crumb rubber granules, which are used on the overwhelming majority of the 1,000 turf fields that are installed globally each year Based on the scientific research currently available, due to the amount and type of possible exposure, synthetic turf/crumb rubber granulate infill material is not considered to be a health hazard for field users.
All studies acknowledge that additional data is needed to more fully assess potential exposures and possible health risks associated with the use of artificial turf fields with crumb rubber.
Leading public health agencies -- the EPA and Consumer Product Safety Commission – continue to study the use of artificial turf with crumb rubber, but presently support the continued use.
The complete staff report is available on the city’s website. It evaluates nine different types of synthetic turf infill materials according to cost, maintenance, known health effects, quality and other factors. Replacing synthetic turf with natural grass was another option considered by the City Council. For the Stagecoach fields project, it would have cost about $500,000 more to use natural grass than synthetic turf with uncoated crumb rubber granulate infill material.
The current estimated construction cost for this project is $1,588,663. This estimate includes a premium of $149,064 for the staff recommended application of coated crumb rubber granulate infill material, instead of traditional uncoated crumb rubber granulate infill material. The next step is for city staff to put the project out to bid. Once a contractor is under a City Council approved contract, the replacement is expected to take about 120 days.
The city will coordinate with sports groups and other users to make alternate arrangements while the fields are temporarily closed for resurfacing.