Letter: Parks and Rec Director Siciliano makes False Statement to BET Law Committee in Effort to Drive Artificial Turf Agenda

Letter to the editor submitted by Real Grass for Healthy Kids – Jude Braunstein, Susan Rudolph, Warren Silver, Liane Tel, and Arthur Yee, MD

We are writing to correct two misstatements made by Mr. Siciliano, Director of Greenwich Parks and Recreation and recorded in the minutes of the Friday, September 14, 2018 meeting of the BET Law Committee.

“Mr. Siciliano also informed the Committee that the State of Connecticut did a study of artificial turf in Greenwich and they concluded there were no health issues.”

The study Mr. Siciliano is referencing is the Artificial Turf Field Investigation in Connecticut Final Report July 27, 2010 (1) and featured in a CT Department of Public Health Fact Sheet five years later (2) . The collection of the field data for the collaborative study was under the purview of the University of Connecticut Health Center.

False statement #1:

John Meyer, MD, MPH supervised the University of Connecticut Health Center’s Field Investigation and confirmed in an email that no Greenwich field was included in the study.

He wrote, “…for the 2010 study, all sites were within a 35-mile radius of downtown Hartford, and that Greenwich, being beyond that distance, was not among them (indeed no site in Fairfield County was tested/studied).” (January 17, 2019)

False statement #2:

Mr. Siciliano also distorts the conclusions of the study by stating “they concluded there were no health issues.” He fails to acknowledge the study’s statement of limitations that in part includes the following caveat: “The 2010 risk assessment of five artificial turf fields in Connecticut does not provide conclusive evidence about the safety of artificial turf fields. There is still uncertainty and additional investigation is warranted.”

The limitations expressed by the State of Connecticut about their own 2010 research along with the EPA’s current statement that “existing studies do not comprehensively evaluate the concerns about health risks …”(3) should resonate concern to caring leadership considering installation of synthetic turf fields.

The misuse of information is unfortunately indicative of conversations about the topic that have occurred in the past and those that surely will take place in the future.

Decision makers must be willing to examine, question and verify statements such as the one articulated at the BET Law Committee meeting. We rely on you to do so when making decisions that will seriously impact the health of the public, especially that of children and the state of the environment. Therefore, until such time science has proved conclusively artificial turf fields are safe, we request the $4.7M placeholder for artificial turf at the Central Middle School be removed from the BoE budget.

For more information, please visit our website http://bit.ly/RealGrassinGreenwich and sign the petition. Every signature counts.

Real Grass for Healthy Kids

Jude Braunstein
Susan Rudolph
Warren Silver
Liane Tel
Arthur Yee, M.D.

(1) https://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?A=2690&Q=463624
(2) https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Departments-and-Agencies/DPH/dph/communications/pdf/ArtificialTurfFs2015decpdf.pdf?la=en
(3) https://www.epa.gov/chemical-research/federal-research-recycled-tire-crumb-used-playing-fields