First it was the field at Chelsea Park, then Hecksher Playground in Central Park, among many others. To date, the Parks Department has rolled out artificial turf in more than 40 parks and has pledged $50 million for more. “It’s like the Blob,” says Bill Crain, a City College professor and head of an anti-turf group. “It just keeps spreading.” He believes that high-tech turf carries high risk. Last month, Crain took in for tests a sample of the recycled-tire crumbs that constitute the fake dirt under the fake grass. A preliminary study found high levels of several carcinogens, including more than eight times the acceptable soil level of benzopyrene, which is known to cause developmental problems. “Worrisome” is Crain’s response to the results; he points out that kids can gulp down tire crumbs. A tire-industry study in 2003 called them “a minimal hazard to children.” The Parks Department’s Warner Johnston says the agency is unaware of Crain’s test.
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