Artificial turf is made up of polypropylene, polyethylene, or nylon “grass blades,” and tiny crumbs made from rubber tires. So on a hot day on these fields a child is inhaling off gassed fumes and tiny particles of plastic and tire, and absorbing substances through their skin. If they rub their hand to their mouth or their water bottle falls, or if they fall headlong onto the surface, they may even ingest a small amount.
Here are 10 reasons why this is a bad idea.
1.Long term exposure could lead to an increased risk for cancer.
There is a question about a cancer cluster in high school soccer goalies who have played on artificial turf. A Department of Health study did not bear this out.
But of 197 chemicals that are used in artificial turf fields their classifications are ominous. 45 are predicted to be carcinogenic, five are known carcinogens, 28 are presumed carcinogens and 12 are suspected carcinogens.
The five chemicals classified as known human carcinogens are benzene, benzidine, benzo(a) pyrene, trichloroethene and vinyl chloride. The worst exposure is from the rubber crumb, but do you want your kids inhaling plastic dust?
2. Some of coloring for the turf may contain heavy metals. Cadmium and chromium are among those found on fields. Long term exposure can lead to neuromuscular problems.
3. Some fields are treated with fire retardants or use PFAS to extrude the plastic. These are forever chemicals that build up in our bodies and in the environment.
4. Disinfectants are often used on artificial turf and that can lead to resistant bacteria. Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been a problem on a number of these fields. If a small scratch gets infected with MRSA the infection is very difficult to treat and dangerous.
5. Weeds can grow up through the crumbs on fields, so herbicides can be used. The most common is glyphosate which is linked to an increased incidence of non Hodgkins lymphoma and other serious health threats.
6. California suggested a moratorium on the installation of crumb rubber artificial turf until more studies have been done on the health effects of exposure.
7. Disposal cost every eight to ten years is a huge issue.
8. If your town has green house gas goals, this could be a stumbling block to meeting them. Plastic and rubber are petrochemicals and emit greenhouse gasses during production. Despite promises, many find that recycling at the end of the materials lifetime on the field is not feasible.
9. The fields can also get much, much hotter than natural turf. This is of increasing concern with climate change and hotter summers.
10. These chemicals can leach into both surface and ground water, the sources of our drinking water.
If your community is still going to install artificial turf research the different materials that can be used on the surface and pick the least toxic.
Consider a natural turf field as an alternative.