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A Few Cons For Synthetic Turf

By Denise Valenzuela

Posted in

Most of the Cons involved with artificial turf are safety concerns for fields constructed to play sports on.  Really this is the only drawback as there are some questions regarding the safety of continuous play/exposure to the chemical components in turf fields and in the ground up tires that are used as infill material.  If your considering a turf installation for your business landscaping – or other applications where sports will NOT be played these cons really have no bearing on the safety and effectiveness of turf.  Either way our goal is to present the complete picture for consumer based B2B decisions.  Other cons include:

Cons

  • Heat hazard.  The heat-absorbing properties of an artificial field make it too hot to play on in extremely warm weather. On a 98-degree day, the temperature on the turf could rise to more than 120 degrees. A Brigham Young University study found that the surface temperature of synthetic turf at its football practice field was 37 degrees higher than the air temperature. Proponents point out that use of the fields can be managed to ensure that athletes aren’t playing at the hottest times of the day and are adequately hydrated; as a result, they argue, the higher temperature is more of a comfort issue than safety issue.
  • Toxic run-off. When an artificial field drains after a heavy rain, the run-off (which may contain lead and infill material) could leach into and contaminate a community’s ground and drinking water.
  • Increased MRSA risk. Open skin lesions (so-called “turf burns”) put athletes at increased risk of MRSA. Studies have shown that athletes who use synthetic turf are seven times more likely to receive turf burns than those who play on natural grass. These open lesions are often the source of contracting and vehicle for spreading dangerous infections.
  • Bacterial breeding ground. Medical experts have found that staphylococci and other bacteria can survive on polyethylene plastic, the compound used to make synthetic turf blades, for more than 90 days. Blood, sweat, skin cells and other materials can remain on the synthetic turf because the fields are not washed or cleaned.
  • Adverse affect on asthmatics. Breathing in dust of ground-up tires could exacerbate breathing problems for asthmatics.
  • Once artificial, always artificial. Once a community goes with artificial turf, it has no choice but to install another artificial turf field when the first one needs to be replaced because once plastic replaces natural grass, it kills any living organism in the subsoil making it impossible without years of soil remediation to grow anything on that surface.Older turf fields made from nylon or nylon/polyethylene blend fibers may contain levels of lead that pose a potential public health concern. Tests of artificial turf fields made with only polyethylene fibers showed that these fields contained very low levels of lead.
  • Other harmful chemicals: according to EHHI, shredded rubber could contain other toxic metals like arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and selenium.

 

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