A brewing scandal

Today’s blog is about a brewing scandal and what you should know about it.

Following a recent Irish Times article on the potential carcinogenic effects of rubber infill in artificial grass and a subsequent discussion on the Ray Darcy RTE radio show today I’d like to clarify where we stand. And when I say we I mean us in Sanctuary and you as installers or potential installers of artificial lawns as part of your overall landscaping services.

There’s good news and maybe a touch of bad news. Im very happy to report that from day 1 (around 2002) we’ve never sold or installed synthetic grass that required rubber infill.

95% of the time, with the exception of beer garden smoking areas and the odd sports surface (e.g. hurling ball walls, goal mouths etc) that require a SAND infill, our grasses require NO infill.


The difference is that astro pitch grasses tend to have far longer fibres, 50-70mm, thus requiring ballast to both keep the fibres upright and to provide shock absorption. Our synthetic grass on the other hand are shorter (typically 20 to 40mm), have a curled fibre root zone, so designed not to need infill. More appropriate then for domestic, school and child care settings. Besides, those feckin black balls get everywhere.

The bad news – a potential downside of this brewing scandal is that we, as purveyors of safe non-infill grasses may get tarred, through ignorance, with the same brush as the sports pitch guys. Really, it’s a technical, but crucially important, distinction that the layman cannot be expected to immediately grasp. So it’s our job to allay fears.

We were in touch with the Ray Darcy researchers to clarify our position and in fairness to Ray he did read out my assertion that the vast majority of installations in people’s gardens are in fact non-infill (i.e. dead safe). But only after his contributor, the author of the article spooked the nation talking about it being used in crèches and gardens. Maybe no publicity is bad publicity eh?

Since the newspaper article we’ve had several calls (ok -3) from previous customers – both crèche owners and domestic – worrying about the safety of their grass. We’ve gladly reassured them and posted same on Twitter (@thefakegrassman), on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/sanctuarysynthetics), and put a prominent post on our website, as well as featuring our reassurance on our e-newsletter to 5000+ punters.

Furthermore we recently commissioned a survey of people’s awareness of and attitudes towards artificial grass in Ireland. Dont worry, you’ll be the first to hear the results. We’ve been promised a feature article on it in the Irish Independents Saturday magazine. So hopefully they will lead off with a topical clarification there too.

Not much more can we do really.

As to the question is rubber infill – chopped up and granulated tyres – actually carcinogenic? I genuinely don’t know. Used tyres are a hazardous material. I’ve been following this growing problem out of professional/academic interest for years, primarily in the US where awareness is more advanced. It was only a matter of time before it broke here.

The potentially toxic particles – heavy metals, Pah’s(?) could be ingested. there was a cluster of young goalkeepers in and around Washington DC which was linked (though not proven) to playing on Astro. Ray Darcy had a UK guy on whose son was similarly afflicted. He said it was ‘an industrial scale experiment’. Industry studies insist there is no problem but the scientific jury may still be out.

There’s usually no smoke without fire so its a bit of a worry alright. Especially for the sports grass companies though, not us.

They say there’s well over 100 such pitches in Ireland. I’d have said more, and up to 1000 in the UK. Im just glad our niche is in all non-sports applications. Although, we are currently laying Ireland’s first Non-infill sports grass pitch as it happens. I’ll include a drone video of the install in this blog once its complete.

Anyway I’ll keep you posted on any developments. I don’t usually talk about our products in this forum but its no harm to be aware in case you are asked.

In other news I’m glad to announce our best selling Arizona grass is now €1 less per m2 (no change in quality) @ €21.95/m2 INC Vat (Trade price) from now on. (That’s down to volumes and us haggling on your behalf).

Question – who the hell watches TV in the morning? Little old ladies? Mammies with new babies?
Well, we were recently persuaded to do an ‘infomercial’ for RTE’s Shopping from Home programme which featured us transforming a Diarmud Gavin designed garden lawn (it had no chance of growing…) with me blathering away to the presenter.

Here’s the link if you could be arsed watching, but please remember the camera adds several pounds!
We got 3 enquiries on day 1. Hey, it’s all part of our ongoing mission to promote artificial grass.

Next time ill be giving you my take on the recent GLDA conference. Meanwhile, in an increasingly futile effort to fight middle age spread, I shall continue to play 5-a-side once a week on the dastardly astro.

It’s hard to kill a bad thing.

Slan 🙂