Quantcast

Is Artificial Turf Safe for Your Children?

Health + Wellness

Artificial turf is commonplace on athletic fields all over the U.S. There are benefits to turf: it uses less water, requires less maintenance and has much higher durability than grass fields. But many have become concerned about the impact artificial turf can have on children's health, as well as the burden on taxpayers with synthetic turf costing around $800,000.

Many turf fields are covered in fake dirt called crumb rubber, which is made up of recycled tires. Experts are still trying to figure out how much of a threat crumb rubber poses to children, but we already know that tires contain dangerous toxins. It's just a question of whether or not kids are being exposed to these toxins and what schools and city officials are doing to address the potential exposure. That's what reporter Cara Santa Maria seeks to find out in this video posted on KCET, the largest independent pubic television station in the U.S.

Santa Maria interviews people in the Los Angeles area like Jenny Chamberlain, who avoids turf fields in her area because her child's shoes kept melting from the heat that turf fields give off. She measured the temperature of the turf fields her child was playing on, and they often registered 40 degrees hotter than grass fields. Turf companies claim artificial turf is safe because kids don't ingest the crumb rubber. Chamberlain, however, doesn't buy it because she has seen kids drop an orange, brush it off and eat it—putting them at risk of exposure. Kids also fall on the ground constantly in sports and risk ingesting the crumb rubber that way, too.

Kids might not even have to put the crumb rubber in their mouths. Dr. James Seltzer, an allergy and immunology specialist, says, "There is a number of heavy metals that are present in crumb rubber" and "some of the chemicals in crumb rubber can vaporize into the air, so anybody in the vicinity can be exposed to small amounts of these volatile compounds. Whether those small amounts are truly harmful or not is still a question mark. It hasn't been fully answered," he said.

There are a number of heavy metals, including lead, present in crumb rubber, the fake dirt in artificial turf.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

The potential threat to children's health and well being is enough for Michael Shull, general manager of the City of Los Angles Department of Recreation and Parks. He says that even though the research is inconclusive, the city has already decided to stop using crumb rubber in its fields. Check out this map that shows where crumb rubber fields are in the LA area.

The Los Angeles Unified School District already banned crumb rubber in 2009 because of the health risks. When they tested their fields and found lead, even in low concentrations, they decided to phase out crumb rubber and instead use virgin rubber or cork. Now that all city-operated athletic fields are phasing out crumb rubber, community members who use athletic fields that aren't property of the city and those who live outside of Los Angeles are still concerned about their health and their children's health.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Scientists Find High Fructose Corn Syrup Is as Bad For You as You Might Think

5 Ways to Make Grocery Shopping Healthier for You and the Planet

1 Simple Way to Get Your Kids to Eat Their Fruits and Veggies

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Emily Deanne

Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.

Read More Show Less
Kokia drynarioides, commonly known as Hawaiian tree cotton, is a critically endangered species of flowering plant that is endemic to the Big Island of Hawaii. David Eickhoff / Wikipedia

By Lorraine Chow

Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Frederick Bass / Getty Images

States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of lava flows from the eruption of volcano Kilauea on Hawaii, May 2018. Frizi / iStock / Getty Images

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
A couple works in their organic garden. kupicoo / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristin Ohlson

From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A competitor in action during the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championships in Uummannaq, Greenland on April 9, 2001. Michael Steele / Allsport / Getty Images

Greenland is open for business, but it's not for sale, Greenland's foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters after hearing that President Donald Trump asked his advisers about the feasibility of buying the world's largest island.

Read More Show Less
AFP / Getty Images / S. Platt

Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.

Read More Show Less
Newly established oil palm plantation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

By Hans Nicholas Jong

Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.

It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."

Read More Show Less