Resolution could put moratorium on synthetic fields

The Natural Resources committee talks about the concerns about the crumb rubber during a previous meeting. (Photo by Greg Fitzpatrick/The Westfield News)

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The City Council’s natural resources committee has drafted a resolution that could ban crumb rubber use on city property in Westfield.

The resolution, drafted by Ward One Councilor and committee member Mary Ann Babinski, would allow the City Council to vote to adopt a three-year moratorium “on the construction or installation of certain synthetic turf” with infill, such as crumb rubber, on any city-owned property.

“This resolution will prohibit any use of crumb rubber on any city property,” Ward Four Councilor and committee member Mary O’Connell, said. “Any parks, any school playgrounds, anything like that.”

The resolution comes as members said that residents have become increasingly vocal of potential health effects crumb rubber use may carry. However, recently the Board of Health opted to not ban the material, claiming that there weren’t studies showing whether or not a health risk exists with the material. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) though, are currently still conducting studies on the material and its potential effects.

And in the resolution as it is currently drafted, it acknowledges the lack of conclusive evidence but reads that “in an abundance of caution” the resolution is put forth.

“Even though the EPA has not come out with a definitive ruling on crumb rubber and carcinogenic effects, I feel that there is enough evidence out there for us to be very cautionary and to protect the health of Westfield residents and whoever else uses the parks and playgrounds,” O’Connell said.

“Sometimes it takes a while for regulations to catch up,” she added. “And in an abundance of caution our committee is putting forth this resolution.”

O’Connell was clear though, that the moratorium would not ban the use of crumb rubber on city property forever, but would rather provide time for more studies to be concluded before the material is used. Additionally, if studies show that there is no link then the moratorium can be revisited.

The resolution is set to now undergo revisions and changes according to O’Connell, and Babinski is set to meet with the city’s law department regarding the draft. From there, O’Connell expects the draft to go back to the committee when they next meet June 26, and then possibly go to city council as early as July 6.

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