Toxic Artificial Turf To Be Installed At French Bilingual School Berkeley


Toxic-Plastifying Planet, One Elementary School Playground At A Time.

The short of it: EB plans to install at least 15 tons of toxic plastics and Prop 65 Silica Sand in the playground, for a total cost of around $350,000. The risk to small children? Death, cancer, pneumonitis, lung fibrosis, through Prop 65 products, silicosis, or suberosis. That “Artificial Turf”, considering the chosen technology, pulverulent cork, will have to be torn down within five years. EB doesn’t plan to treat the toxic effluents (contrarily to usage); according to “turf team” the runoff of herbicides, biocides, fire retardants, disinfectants and other deleterious chemicals will go straight into the Bay… when not in the lungs of the little ones.


Artificial Turf carcinogens flying away. Situation is worse with cork. Clouds are bigger. I saw it, still looking for the pictures I saw

Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley informed parents it was planning to install “Artificial Turf” on its playground. 7,500 square feet of it. We were explicitly told, repeatedly, that would be done so that some boys could play soccer.

This particular Artificial Turf consists of:

1) plastic grass blades coated with URETHANE, a Prop. 65 product (that is, “known to the state of California to cause cancer”). There would be several tons of it.

2) artificial soil made mostly of SILICA SAND, another cancer causing Prop. 65 product. Once breathed in, tiny silica sand can’t be expelled and causes inflammation, alveolitis, pneumonitis, fibrosis and silicosis; it is made of tiny balls of SiO2, and associated dust. It’s an irreversible disease. There would be TEN TONS of Silica Sand. To prevent the intrusion of algae, moss, plants, the silica sand is treated with BIOCIDES (life killers) such as glyphosate (“Roundup”), triclosan, “Bioban” (trade secret poison), etc…

3) mixed with the silica sand would be cork. Those cork pellets would start as half a millimeter across, and then would shatter, under impact, in much smaller pieces. CORK DUST causes a disease called “SUBEROSIS”. The mechanism for suberosis is quadruple: cork itself, lodged in the lungs, is hard to expel, like silica sand, causing inflammation. Cork gets moreover also covered by a mold specific to cork, which by itself, once in the contact with the lung tissue, causes allergies, inflammation, alveolitis, pneumonitis, fibrosis (just as the cork itself and the silica sand). Cork is also endowed with two specific bacteria, with the same effect.

4) A thick pad below the whole artificial grass and soil is made of recycled tire crumbs and polyethylene pellets. It acts as a shock pad. As, under impacts, the sand compactifies, huge accelerations of 200 times gravity, or more, have been recorded upon impacts (more than 200 gs; natural grass doesn’t go over 115 gs, and is typically around 60 gs). Putting a thick layer of styrofoam like material, 2 inches thick, or more, is supposed to reduce impact forces, hence the crumb rubber pad.


The brown cloud behind the running player is toxic cork dust. It is always mixed with Silica Sand, as in the system proposed at EB. But the sand itself is laden with herbicides, fungicides, biocides, pesticides, etc. When dry and dusty those become airborne too, joining the toxic cork as a deadly aerosol.,

Why does EB plan to use cork? Because the previously used technology for Artificial Turf, coming directly in contact with players, “crumb rubber”, also known as ELT (End of Life Tires) is known to cause various diseases, including several types of cancer. Climbing gyms used crumb rubber, until, after a few years, employees and climbers noticed they suffered breathing difficulty and were coughing black mucus. Recent epidemiological statistics have shown increased cancer risk, especially among soccer goalies. Goalies get closer to the ground.  

Proximity to the ground is of relevance here, as small children, in an elementary school, are closer to the ground. Cork dust has been shown in pictures to fly into small brown clouds, a few feet high, upon impact of a player.

In the particular technology proposed at EB, biocide laden cork and silica sand dust, would readily fly into the lungs of the little ones. The crumb rubber element in the proposed EB technology would be hidden below, affecting effluents. 

Tom Bates Athletic Field at Gilman in Berkeley has two Artificial Turf fields, with cork. Entry is restricted to authorized personnel only. (The other four natural grass fields don’t have such a restriction.)

The two plastic fields at Tom Bates were replaced at great cost (several millions) in 2017-2018, in a five months effort... and look already worn out. The two plastic fields are separated from the San Francisco Bay by a decantation zone 300 feet wide, including a catch basin at least 500 feet long. The decantation zone is closed off by an impassable metallic fence. The idea of the decantation zone is to catch the toxic chemicals and substances necessary for maintenance of the Artificial Turf, before they can reach the Bay. Access is restricted, upon authorization only. The four other fields at Tom Bates are natural grass, and access is open.

The cost of the materials that the EB administration has “decided” to install is $150,000. That doesn’t include installation and maintenance. Once those are included, the cost of the toxic plastic Prop 65 playground goes up above $350,000. But its even more ridiculous than that… explaining why toxic plastic feld promise to be a gold mine for private investors (at least five companies would build various elements of the EB plastic toxic field; they are all private, not public, companies, operating in an unregulated climate).

As the cork (density 14% water) flies away, it has to be replenished (tons of the material are stored in the open air at Tom Bates, and were vandalized, spilling their contents). In the end, though, the cork becomes so pulverulent, it becomes extremely toxic. The cork will turn to dust, blowing away… into the rest of the school… and the lungs of the little ones!

Another fraction of the cork is compactified into the carcinogenic Prop 65 Silica Sand. The cork mixed with the Prop 65 Silica Sand, compactified at the roots of the plastic blades, partially shredded by then as microplastic pollution, cannot be recycled. It can’t be vacuumed. Thus the entire Artificial Turf has to be torn out, and removed, polluting sea or soil. Because of the nature of the products involved and their intimate mix, they cannot be recycled or repurposed. The entire Artificial Turf system will go straight to landfill.

The preceding revelations were made by industry representatives.

How soon will the “cork” field be replaced? Five years. Only five years, because of the increased pulverulence of the cork, which makes it lethal. (By comparison, Crumb Rubber fields can hold twenty-five years… in theory. In practice, they become hard as concrete within ten years…) This means that the Artificial Turf cost will be $70,000 a year.

All the natural landscaping and trees around the Artificial Turf will have to be removed, as per technical requirement and contract (Artificial Turf exposure to biological plant debris has to be limited).

The environmental cost is considerable. As the Tom Bates Artificial “Cork” Turf field shows, chemical effluents are important and noxious. Worldwide, more than 91% of plastics are not recycled. Several countries including China and now Malaysia, are rejecting plastic waste from the US and France…

Aware of the preceding, the European Union is cracking down. In January 2019, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) published the Annex XV Restriction Report that suggested restricting microplastic according to Annex XV of REACH (1907/2006/EC). The report calls for the regulation to prohibit the marketing of “intentionally added” microplastics as of 2021. [1]

Want to save the Earth? Start by saving earth!



P/S: The Trump administration has been preventing any disclosure of the stalled commission on Artificial Turf mandated by the Obama administration in 2016.


[1] Microplastics include artificial grass blades, plastic envelopes of sand grains. cork grains, or crumb rubber, and crumb rubber itself, are microplastics, because they are it, or shed it. All these microplastic and carcinogenic silica sand should total 20 tons over a 7,500 square feet expanse. 


March 2019; ban on microplastics, including artificial turf, planned to be effective by 2021. Now why this ban is highly understandable: microplastics are polluting the world oceans, and most of the pollution is at great depths, that became clear in the last few months:

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5 Responses to “Toxic Artificial Turf To Be Installed At French Bilingual School Berkeley”

  1. Gmax Says:

    Beyond shocking, WTF? A school!!! Don’t they have a green label? I thought all scool had to be Prop 65 compliant? Or are laws different in France?


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      The school is not in France, but Berkeley, California. Yes, it’s beyond shocking, and what happened next is even more so…


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      This is happening in California, not France. Yes, if you had told me that was a possibility 2 months ago, I would have thought you were crazy. The plastic industry is trying to open new markets for itself… to survive…


  2. Figgiy Says:

    Don’t worry, your tin foil hat will protect you.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      I do worry, because, as an awesomely knowledgeable, hyper educated individual, I do not believe, contrarily to you, that tin foil hats help. I see the planet dying, I see the microplastics all over the oceans, and it turns out there is even more at depth, I see more and more giant zones of the world oceans, without oxygen, and I know where it’s all going: a catastrophe tin foil hat people can’t conceive of…

      Instruct yourself:


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