Why wasn’t anyone concerned when artificial turf was installed at Kehler or Sid Fey/Houlihan?
The dangers of PFAS are only starting to be researched and understood. In 2021, the US Environmental Protection Agency established a Council to “protect public health and the environment from the impacts of PFAS.” In just the past year, 4 states have advanced legislation banning, or placing a moratorium on, artificial turf fields due to health and/or environmental concerns. (Connecticut, Vermont, MassachusettsCalifornia)
The Massachusetts legislation was introduced with the following preamble:
“Considering the apparent appearance of a Public Emergency, in The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, caused by the installation of artificial grass, and various artificial surfaces, on outdoor surfaces, including athletic sports fields, and parks; which may have caused, and may be continuing to cause, serious environmental contamination by PFAS chemical materials; and/or the covering over of ground soil, and water contamination; it is declared that this legislation is that of an Emergency Nature.”
If artificial turf is so toxic, why aren’t advocates asking to rip up the artificial turf at Kehler?
Transforming existing artificial turf fields into natural grass fields would require significant amounts of time and money. When an artificial turf field is first installed, the top soil and some subsoil are removed. The remaining subsoil is heavily compacted to support the weight of the new field. This process creates a “dead zone” that can no longer sustain life, including grass plants.
Reverting back to natural grass would require special equipment to break-up the heavily compacted soil so air and water can once again flow through it. Truckloads of new subsoil and topsoil would then need to be brought in and spread across the field. Finally, organic soil amendments would need to be added to promote soil health and microbial activity.
Which is less expensive – natural grass or plastic grass?
The turf industries often say that plastic grass is cheaper to maintain than natural grass. That is true, but they leave out one important (and expensive!) cost – the fields need to be replaced every 8-10 years. Edison will cost approximately $3-4 million each time it is replaced.
When you factor in ALL costs (including hiring a full-time Field Manager), natural grass is LESS expensive than plastic grass.