Artificial Turf: Green or Toxic?

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 Artificial turf: green or toxic

Image by desalvea

We see it on major fields, in people’s yards, on school yards and of course promotions for it on TV, but did you know that the artificial turf you see is apparently toxic?  I personally have always seen it as being promoted as a great solution to that brown patchy lawn.  It doesn’t need to be watered, requires little maintenance and is even supposed to be green and “kid-friendly”.

However, when I was watching the news the other day I saw a report about artificial turf containing toxic chemicals.  The report also mentioned that despite the fact it has been shown to have toxic chemicals in it, artificial turf is still being used to replace green grass in many schools around the southland.

The major concerns about the turf include:

  1. the worry about toxins in the rubber pellets (made from recycled materials) that are used in most artificial fields,
  2. the extreme surface temperatures that can occur on artificial turf vs. green grass (sometimes it gets hot enough to cause heat stroke or even start melting kid’s shoes) and
  3. the possibility that the artificial turf surfaces may harbor dangerous bacteria.

Apparently tests were done and here’s just an example of how hot the artificial turf can get.  On a 98 degree day, the artificial turf got up to 200 degrees, while asphalt was “only” 163 degrees and regular grass got up to 114 degrees.  That’s a pretty big difference and one that kids probably wouldn’t be aware of.  I wouldn’t think it would be safe for them to even kick back and relax on the artificial turf like they do on green grass.

Also, since the artificial turf doesn’t need to be watered or “cleaned off”, bacteria and disease can sit and fester.  Regular green grass requires water in order for it to grow and be maintained and the water has an added benefit of cleaning off some of the bacteria from the grass.

Now on the other side of things, FieldTurf, a large artificial turf manufacturer has an article on their home page about how the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) just released a study showing artificial turf to be safe.  So, what do you think?  Safe or not safe?  Green or toxic?

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