An open letter to all those making decisions about Martha’s Vineyard’s playing fields and to those parents who might have children who would play on those fields:

Environment and Human Health Inc. (EHHI) is concerned that as the public becomes more aware of the dangers of the waste tire rubber infill in synthetic turf fields, that industry is now pushing other infill products, again claiming their safety. As parents have become more concerned about the potential health risks of the crumb rubber, industry is advising many towns and schools to pay more money and get alternative infills.

One such infill is what they call EPDM — Virgin Rubber, others are Nike Grand, GeoFill and Greenplay. GeoFill and Greenplay are a blend of coconut fibers, cork with GeoFill also containing rice husks.

Industry is claiming all of these infills are safe — they have not even given up saying crumb rubber is safe.

EPDM stands for ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber. This product is also a synthetic rubber and like the waste tires that make crumb rubber, EPDM contains harmful chemicals as well as carbon black. The safety data sheet for EPDM says the product is a possible cancer hazard, and can be an irritant to lungs, eyes and skin.

As for Geofill and Greenplay, no one knows the long-term health effects of breathing in the dust from coconut fibers and rice husks. Why would anyone want to risk children’s health by using such a product.

The EPA gave us shredded rubber waste tires without ever testing it first, and there has been no independent testing of GeoFill or Greenplay. Why should anyone trust industry’s claims of safety at this point, as industry always claims its products are safe.

EHHI hopes that people will stop converting their athletic fields from grass that is safe to synthetic turf that poses health risks to children and athletes. The safest surface for students to play on is grass — there simply is no safer surface.

Nancy Alderman
North Haven, Conn.

The writer is president of Environment and Human Health Inc. • There’s a Better Way