What about the environment?
The Keystone Central School Board recently announced it will replace astro turf at Central Mountain’s Malinak Stadium at a cost of $423,321. It will be done by Keystone Sports Construction of Exton.
What KCSB failed to mention about this project is, how is the old turf going to be disposed of? Is it going to be recycled? Is the disposal cost figured into the replacement cost? Has anyone on the board done their homework on the safety of astro turf and the environmental problems created from worn out turf?
According to Nov. 18, 2019 article in The York Daily Record, artificial turf is expected to produce 1 million to 4 million tons of waste in the next 10 years and it has nowhere to go, according to solid waste industry analysts.
This is creating a huge problem because thousands of these used rolls of turf are being dumped along road sides and on private property. Municipal landfills don’t accept it and there are no recycling plants in the U.S. for it. When it rains on these piles of turf, chemicals and micro plastics are being washed into the streams and the water table.
Artificial turf fields are largely made of scrap tires and synthetic fibers and are designed to look like natural grass. As this turf ages, it breaks down into micro plastic particles. According to Consumer Reports, people could be consuming as much as a credit card’s worth of plastic a week from the break down of plastics in our environment. The raw materials for plastic come from fossil fuels including oil and natural gas. And thousands of chemicals, depending of the product, are used to make it harder or softer, or more flexible.
A Boston Globe article reports that a decomposing pile of astro turf above a wetlands was found to contain benzene, cadmium and other carcinogens. Now, for the first time, a new series of tests has found that the blades, and their plastic backing, may also contain toxic chemicals.
The test results showed that the turf contained elevated levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals known as PFAS, which have been linked to kidney cancer, low infant birth weights and a range of diseases. The findings have raised concerns about the safety of millions of square feet of artificial turf installed in recent years on public fields and playgrounds across the country.
Not only is astro turf bad for the environment, according to James Voos, M.D., of The University Hospitals Sports Medicine Institute, but athletes are 58 percent more likely to sustain an injury on artificial turf.
Injury rates were significantly higher for football, girls and boys soccer and rugby athletes. Lower extremity, upper extremity, and torso injuries were also found to occur with a higher incidence on artificial turf. The authors found an increased rate of ACL injury in football athletes playing on artificial turf compared with natural grass.
So, are the benefits of astro turf over natural grass worth polluting our water and destroying our health?
Why is it so hard for people who work for us to do their homework on issues at hand? Sometimes the cheapest way will cost you more in the long run!