We all want our kids to enjoy safe sports fields that will help enhance their lives—not put their health or safety at risk. Unfortunately, many parents are unaware of the concerns that come with artificial turf fields.
Did you know?
- Children and teens are especially vulnerable to harmful exposures from artificial turf because of their specific physiology and the fact that their reproductive and nervous systems are still developing.
- Exposure to chemicals in artificial turf doesn’t end when our children come off the field. “Over time, the infill used in play surfaces breaks down into smaller pieces and fine particles that may be picked up on children’s shoes, clothing and skin,” says Dr. Sarah Evans of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Icahn School of Medicine in NYC. “These particles are tracked into home and cars, and carried into the places where children live, play, eat and sleep. Thus exposure can continue for many hours beyond the time that a child spends in the play area.” Add time spent in school to this list for our children with artificial turf proposed to go right out the back door of Edison Intermediate School.
- Epidemiologist Dr. Stuart Shalat who researches exposures to children talks about the “Pigpen Effect,” which describes the invisible cloud of particulate created by activity on artificial turf. He says based on his research, “casual sampling of fields massively underestimates the dose a child can receive while playing on these surfaces.” Hear Dr. Shalat describe how children inhale artificial turf particles
- According to a Penn State Center for Sports Surface Research, artificial turf fields run 40-70 degrees F hotter than natural grass.
- The high surface-level temperatures on synthetic fields can lead to dehydration, heat stroke, burns and blisters if exposed skin comes into contact with the hot surface.
- A study conducted at Brigham Young University found that, “The surface temperature of the synthetic turf was 37° F higher than asphalt and 86.5° F hotter than natural turf.” And, as neuroscientist Kathleen Michels points out: “Any temperature over 120° F can cause skin burns with skin contact in two seconds.”
- “Lead, a toxic heavy metal, can be found in both the tires used to produce crumb rubber and the plastic grass on artificial turf. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) state there is no safe level of lead exposure, and affected children can experience headaches and abdominal pain. Other effects of high lead exposure include: hearing problems, delayed growth, decreased IQ, behavioral and learning problems, damage to the brain and nervous system, and in extreme cases, death.” The Children’s Environmental Health Network
- “It is scientific fact that artificial turf (as well as rubber playground surfaces) exposes children to lead as well as risky chemicals that affect their hormones. Pediatricians agree that there is no level of lead exposure that is considered safe for all children,” Diana Zuckerman, Ph.D., President, The National Center for Health Research
- “In addition to lead, endocrine-disrupting chemicals are also dangerous. Regardless of whether the turf contains PFAs, the turf definitely contains similar endocrine-disrupting chemicals with similar health risks. These chemicals affect hormones and can cause or exacerbate the following health problems: Attention Deficits, Early Puberty, Obesity, Asthma. They are also known to reduce male fertility and eventually they can also increase the risk of developing cancer.” Diana Zuckerman, Ph.D.
- High school athletes were 58% more likely to sustain an injury on artificial turf than grass, according to a 2019 study. Injury rates were significantly higher for football, girls and boys soccer, and rugby.
- “From an environmental and health standpoint, organically managed natural grass is a safer choice for sports fields. When the full product life cycle is considered, organically managed natural grass also offers lower costs over time,” according to the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute.
Want to learn more? Check out these links:
Children’s Environmental Health Network: FAQs Crumb Rubber and Artificial Turf
Artificial Turf: Use It? Ban It?
Teen Talk: Artificial Turf with Dr. Sarah Evans, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Environmental Medicine and Public Health | Icahn School of Medicine (mssm.edu)
Why Expose Children to the Danger of Artificial Turf Fields?
CDC Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevent: Artificial Turf
CDC – Lead – Tips – Sources of Lead – Artificial Turf