For the second time, carcinogens have been found on athletic fields in Lawrence Township, NJ. The initial soil sample tests, done as part of a project to install synthetic turf on the baseball field at Lawrence’s middle and high school campuses, showed evidence of benzopyrene.
More recent tests showed positive, in six soil samples, for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, (“PAHs” or “AHs”) and arsenic in the district. AHs have been linked to cancer and can be found in gasoline, diesel exhaust and cigarette smoke. Arsenic is a naturally occurring toxin but is also the result of human actions such as pesticide use or industrial operations. Although natural, arsenic is worse in areas of overdevelopment as high nitrates level push the arsenic out of the soil.
“This is serious issue. These carcinogens are dangerous, especially to kids. We need to do better job in testing parks, play grounds, and athletic fields and we need to make testing mandatory,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We have seen hazardous materials showing up where children and teens play every day. Parks in Jersey City, playgrounds in Lambertville, now athletic fields in Lawrence. Our children are being threatened with toxic chemicals from lead paint at home, drinking water in their schools, and now even the dirt on the field they play on. We hope the school district can get to the bottom of where these carcinogens are coming from so that we can better protect our children.”
The cause of the contamination on the baseball fields remains unknown and the fields are currently off-limits.