With respect to the April 3 letter to the editor, “Safety of turf fields remains questionable,” I agree with Bob White’s position that artificial turf is detrimental to student players’ health; however, the risks don’t stop there: artificial turf is also detrimental to environmental health.
Yes, turf needs less upkeep than some other playing surfaces, and it can be used during poor weather, but at what cost? Bob White is correct in citing the much higher incidence of injuries to players on this surface. In fact, The Women’s World Cup was played on real grass after the U.S. team complained to FIFA that they sustained more injuries on artificial turf. However, increased risk of injury is only part of the problem; artificial turf also raises playing field temps by up to 30 degrees.
NOAA predictions for Frederick County’s number of summer days over 90 degrees is a serious cause for concern. The news that the EU is investigating a possible ban on the plastic turf due to its potential for exposing players to dangerous carcinogens should certainly give us pause as well.
Then there are the costs of artificial turf to the general community: Artificial turf adds to the Earth’s worrisome accumulation of long-lived micro plastics as it biodegrades. Artificial turf creates micro plastics and also contributes to landfill waste. Guy Barter, chief horticulturalist at the Royal Horticultural Society warns, “Not only does [artificial turf] not provide any of the environmental benefits of grass — like soaking up moisture, home for insects, feeding birds, self-sustaining — its life isn’t that long ... It can’t be re-laid or reseeded; it has to be rolled up, lifted and sent to landfill.”
The average lifespan of an artificial turf field is only 10 years. Does Frederick County need to add massive rolls of artificial turf to our already stressed landfills?
Artificial turf is not safe for our children’s bodies. Artificial turf is not safe for our Earth’s body. To learn more, see the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI)’s compilation of health and safety information about natural grass versus artificial turf here: turi.org/artificialturf.
Stakeholders, including the Frederick County Board of Education and TJ High, please think again. Do we really want to trade the advantage of “endless play” for the safety of our children and the environmental health of our community?