Readers Write: The answer is no to artificial turf

Readers Write: The answer is no to artificial turf

Having put a lot of time and effort into researching the risks and benefits of artificial turf, I agree 100% with Doug Wood’s assessment of its hazards (“Artificial turf must be a community decision,” May 3, 2024).  The chemicals in artificial turf are dangerous, not just to the children who play on the fields, but to the community at large.

Artificial turf fields are made up of blades of plastic grass as well as crumb rubber (from used tires). The crumb rubber is ground up and sprinkled in between the blades of grass to give the turf a more cushioned feel.

These fields contain chemicals, including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, vanadium, zinc, and acetone, which can interfere with hormones, reproduction, and immunity and which can cause developmental delays and neurological impairment in children. These chemicals are linked to cancer, liver problems, thyroid issues, birth defects, and kidney disease.

Compared with natural grass fields, artificial turf causes a higher incidence of sports-related injuries, including knee and ankle injuries, abrasions, and concussions.

In hot weather, artificial turf sports fields significantly exceed the temperatures of natural grass. These higher temperatures (on the playing field) have been directly linked to skin burns, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion. On a summer day (80o), the temperature of the artificial turf has been measured at about 176o!!

On a more practical note, the crumb rubber usually becomes embedded in the children’s sneakers, ending up in cars and houses when they come home.  Also, consider what happens (or doesn’t happen) with animal droppings. With natural grass, they will gradually be absorbed into the ground. Not so with artificial turf. Same with food that’s dropped. That’s why someone has to come around regularly to clean the entire field.

In light of the known dangers of the chemicals inside artificial turf, the New York State legislature has proposed that a comprehensive environmental and public health study be undertaken immediately.

Until the results of the study are in, NYS has proposed a moratorium on the installation of synthetic turf products that contain crumb rubber.

What might be the benefits of artificial turf? It may look neater than natural grass. Some people believe that artificial turf is less expensive to maintain, but this is not the case. Although it may not puddle up in the rain (depending on how well it was installed), how many children will want to play in the rain?

Now to the question of who should be making the decision—to install or not to install—in any particular community. I think it’s clear that in no case should a private group of residents be allowed to install an artificial turf playing field on public property. If an artificial turf field is being considered for a public space, the appropriate board of trustees, with input from the community, has the responsibility to make decisions as to what is permitted on that property. In any case, we need to have a decision as important as this controlled by people who have a clear understanding of the dangers involved.

We all need to inform ourselves as to the hazards presented by artificial turf. We can’t make a reasoned decision unless we do so!

It’s true that several communities on Long Island have artificial turf playing fields, which were installed a number of years ago. In Great Neck in particular, serious consideration is being given to installing artificial turf fields both in Great Neck North HS and in Kings Point Park. We now know a lot more about the hazards of these fields than we did several years ago. Knowing now about the hazards of artificial turf and those of microplastics (which have come to light only recently), we should hold back on installing these fields.

Let’s follow the lead of the New York State legislature, which is considering banning it outright. Our health, our children’s health, and the health of the environment demand it.

Let’s be the smart ones!

Amy Glass

Great Neck




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