Batavia High School Artificial Turf?

On May 27, 2014, at the BPS101 School Board’s Finance Committee noon meeting, the sports boosters proposed to pay for the estimated $1.5 million artificial turf for the football stadium through a pledge of $100,000/yr. Aside from the additional cost to the taxpayers who would front the money (as well as interest, financing costs, maintenance, and replacement costs upwards of $400,000 every 8-10 yrs), what has not been talked about is that the use of artificial turf is controversial.

Artificial turf may carry serious health risks. Under its most common form, it is a fake grass carpet with crumb rubber infill. The rubber comes from recycled tires, containing known carcinogens. During play, that rubber becomes airborne, in its crumb form and as dust. It gets tracked home on shoes and clothing. It is inhaled and ingested. What are the long-term health consequences? We don’t really know, as there have been no long-term studies.

Though the artificial turf salesmen maintain it is perfectly safe, there are plenty of prominent healthcare professionals who are not so sure. From a recent article dated November 2013 (highly recommended reading):

The scientists at EHHI decided to test the fields for themselves. They sent samples of artificial turf to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, a lab associated with Yale University. There, scientists identified several harmful chemicals in crumb rubber, from Butadiene, a carcinogen linked to leukemia, to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), a harmful organic compound.

Dr. Barry Boyd, the director of Cancer Nutrition Health at Yale Health System and a board member at the EHHI, warned that “because artificial turf playing fields are disproportionately used by children and adolescents, these childhood exposures to environmental carcinogens may add to lifelong risk of cancer.”

Also recommended for viewing is this video compilation of major news coverage and commentary by scientists.

Throw in greater risk of abrasions (and infections), knee injury, toxic zinc pollution from stormwater runoff, and dangerous high temperatures (in July 2013, at Aurora Christian’s artificial turf field, with air temperature at 87 degrees, the turf measured 143-150 degrees F)–and one has to ask, “What is the real price of artificial turf?”

What cost are we willing to bring to bear on Batavia’s children? on taxpayers? on the environment?

The school board seems to be under the impression that most Batavians want their tax dollars used for artificial turf. Is this true? If you happen to think this is NOT a good use of your money, please let the school board know. Send them an email. Or better yet, if you are able, tell them in person at their noon Finance Committee meeting or 7pm Regular meeting the 4th Tuesday of the month.

Especially after the Bulldogs’ state football championship victory this past year, it should be obvious that it is not turf, but talent, that determines success.

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