When Green is not Green, OR-- The Question of Artifical Turf
When one of
our dear friends proudly displayed his new, permanently manicured lawn to us
some years back, my intuition immediately kicked in saying, this doesn’t feel
right…Here was a yard where two dogs
handled their daily duties, and a slew of kids played regularly.I wondered, how does it get clean?He explained to us that he sprays it down
(waters it…?) to clean off the poop.But
no mowing required, and far less water required to keep it clean than to grow
are trend-setters and, as usual were well ahead of their time.In the last year or two, however, I am
noticing more artificial lawns being installed and felt the need to investigate
the matter more thoroughly.Is this a
real concern, or just an odd hunch?
all, I can say that a lot of people really don’t want to discuss this.And it will definitely be offensive to those
who have already installed the lawns.Regardless, it is imperative that we look to the future and not succumb
to instant gratification when it may have dangerous implications in the long
So, on that
eerie note, let’s begin with the pro’s.I didn’t even have to look these up or research them!
great.Here is an always green lawn, always
perfectly manicured.(Though I do have a
sick love, actually enjoying the mowing of grass, especially executing what I
call the “Vanity cut”, which is a cut on the bias— you don’t see that with
maintenance.Without pets, the need to
water this grass is non-existent.Leaves
will still need to be blown, but they appear to sit lightly on top of the grass
vs. getting all stuck and requiring a real rake.Does not require feeding.
Pesticides.Pests will not live on this
surface = no pesticides.
has led me to understand that artificial turf also allows for longer, safer playing
on fields because it doesn’t come up in trip-hazard clumps and big streaky,
(These I had
to look up because, other than my hunch that the dog poo was lingering, I didn’t
have a clue…)
had the most unabashedly frightening list of which here are the highlights:
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. (Authors note:
How might this play into climate change?)
exposure to lead has been linked to severe mental retardation, stunted growth
and death. As Don Mays, senior director of product safety at the Consumer's
Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, says, "There is no safe level of
lead; let's be clear on that." The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees,
saying that there is no safe level of lead exposure and suggesting that levels
in soil be no higher than trace amounts (40 parts per million).
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.
Turf, the largest artificial turf manufacturer in North America, sells a
lead-free artificial turf, but only if the community asks for the
custom-made field. The fields that most communities purchase use lead to
brighten the field's colors and for a sport team logo.
Jackie Lombardo, a member of the Sierra Club National Toxics Committee,
"We know older turf products contain toxic chemicals associated with
asthma, learning disabilities, and cancer. Saying they are safe because
they don't contain lead is like saying cigarettes are safe because they
don't contain lead. There are so many chemicals in this synthetic grass
and we don't know what the effects are going to be not only on children's
health, but also what the effects are on the ground water as well."
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has consistently
recommended "the elimination of all non-essential uses of lead"
because of the potential health hazards they pose and has long considered
lead dust one of the biggest known health hazards to children; it notes
that the combination of age, weathering, exposure to sunlight and wear and
tear can cause dust containing lead to be released from older or well-used
?Zinc hazard (See article for more details)
?Other harmful chemicals: according
to EHHI, shredded rubber could contain other toxic metals like arsenic,
cadmium, chromium, and selenium.
?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
?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
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.
Read more: http://www.momsteam.com/health-safety/turf-wars-pros-and-cons-of-artificial-turf#ixzz3G4rnbeBA
On a softer
note, Redbeacon.com simply states: “There are fears
that the chemicals used in the manufacture of synthetic grass can be harmful to
the health. Although manufacturers say that they meet health and safety
standards, the debate remains inconclusive.”
thing that disturbs me the most is the “Once artificial, always artificial”
bullet point from the Momsteam.com article.“It kills any living organism in the subsoil”.Wow!That would include worms, the natural aerators, ants—picnic hoodlums,
lady bugs…What about four leaf clovers,
and the other little wonders one discovers when laying in the grass like those
teeny-tiny orange flowers?
Universal Studios film, The Lorax, based on the Dr. Suess book by the same
name, portrays a world in the future where there are no longer any trees.They have all been replaced with synthetic
trees as the others were so messy and unpredictable.They are now selling oxygen in bottles
because they failed to remember that the trees used to make it naturally.This is not a child’s movie, though it is
mistaken for one.It is full of
important, mature messages about the environment.
If you cannot take care of your lawn anymore, due to drought or health problems or any other concern, there are lovely and artistic options with ground-covers, xeriscaping and rock work.
An example of xeriscaping.
you have ascertained by now that I am very wary of artificial lawns.It’s not about me, it’s about the
future.The quality of our land
eventually effects the quality of our water and the quality of our food.A great oxymoron would be to put in an
artificial lawn and go by organic products.
twice.Not all good things in life come