The Batavia School District’s latest $15 million project list includes 2 artificial turf fields, for a combined total of $6 million for just the turf and stormwater drainage modifications. Replacing the artificial turf will cost an additional $1 million every 8-10 yrs ($500,000 per field), according to the latest estimates by Asst. Supt. of Finance, Kris Monn. That number has already grown from the $400,000/field estimate given to Marmion several years ago (one of the reasons they opted to resod with natural grass).
Aside from the hefty price tag, as reported here previously, there are controversies surrounding artificial turf. From temperatures that can reach as high as 199 degrees on a hot, sunny day, to nasty abrasions (“turf burns”) and increased knee injuries, to worries about cancer caused by the chemicals in the crumb rubber infill, artificial turf is, to many, a cause for concern. Just recently, 2 items made the news:
1. “Stars Sue Organizers of Women’s World Cup Over Use of Turf ,” by Andrew Das, New York Times, 10/1/14
A group of the world’s best female soccer players sued FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association on Wednesday, arguing that the plan to play next summer’s Women’s World Cup in Canada on artificial turf amounts to gender discrimination under Canadian law….
“Men’s World Cup tournament matches are played on natural grass while C.S.A. and FIFA are relegating female players to artificial turf,” a lawyer for the players, Hampton Dellinger, said in a statement. “The difference matters: Plastic pitches alter how the game is played, pose unique safety risks and are considered inferior for international competition.”
2. “How Safe Is the Artificial Turf Your Child Plays On?” by Hannah Rappleye, NBC News, 10/9/14 –(viewing of video recommended)–
The doctor told the young soccer goalie that his chest x-rays were the worst he’d ever seen.
Just 21 years old, Casey Sullivan was floored by the diagnosis of stage 4 Hodgkin lymphoma. The x-rays showed he had a tumor in his chest, he says now, “the size of a soccer ball….”
Tens of thousands of different tires from different brands may be used in one field. According to the EPA, mercury, lead, benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and arsenic, among several other chemicals, heavy metals, and carcinogens, have been found in tires….
Studies have found that crumb rubber fields emit gases that can be inhaled. Turf fields can become very hot — 10 to 15 degrees hotter than the ambient temperature – increasing the chances that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and chemicals can “off-gas,” or leach into the air….
Few studies have looked at the issues unique to goalkeepers – whether ingesting the particles by mouth or absorbing them into the body through cuts and scrapes is dangerous.
While many studies conclude that the fields studied do not present acute health risks, they often add the caveat that more research should be conducted….
“None of [the studies] are long term, they rarely involve very young children and they only look for concentrations of chemicals and compare it to some sort of standard for what’s considered acceptable,” said Dr. Forman. “That doesn’t really take into account subclinical effects, long-term effects, the developing brain and developing kids.”
Forman said that it is known that some of the compounds found in tires, “even in chronic lower exposures” can be associated with subtle neurodevelopmental issues in children. “Those are always suspect,” he said.
“If you never study anything,” said Dr. Forman, “you can always say, ‘Well there’s no evidence that’s a problem,’ but that’s because you haven’t looked. To look is hard.”
“I would like to see some more research,” he concluded.
Finally, they say a picture is worth a thousand words. U.S. Soccer star and Olympic gold medalist, Sydney Leroux, tweeted this image after a game on artificial turf, to show just one reason why the women are fighting to play the World Cup on grass:
Do we really want artificial turf in Batavia?