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November 2008

November 2008

Turf Safety – The Verdict Is In

Would you eat over 100 pounds of synthetic turf? We didn’t think so.
© November 2008

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If you are fortunate enough to have a synthetic turf field at your facility, you know about all the advantages it offers. It holds up in any weather conditions, it’s consistent and durable and your athletes love playing on it. It provides unlimited practice time and can be used around the clock by other sports teams and activity groups.

But is synthetic turf safe?

A variety of issues have been raised by special interest groups, some rumored to have connections with the natural turf industry, concerning athlete safety on the nation’s growing number of synthetic turf playing fields. First it was increased potential for player injuries. Then it was potential health hazards from the granules of recycled rubber that make up turf infill. Then, concerns were voiced over the possibility of Staph infections “living” in synthetic fields.

One by one, these turf “hazards” have been debunked by credible independent and government-sponsored studies. Among the findings: 1. Players suffer fewer and less severe injuries on synthetic turf fields compared to natural grass, 2. There is no evidence of health or environmental hazards from infill materials, and 3. Synthetic turf is no more likely to act as host to Staph than any sports surface and far less likely than the locker room environment.

Potentially the most hazardous risk – lead content in the fibers that make up the turf – was a concern until the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a report in July that said, according to their tests, children are not at risk from exposure to lead in synthetic turf fields. One report concluded that a 50 lb. child would have to eat 100 lbs. of synthetic turf fibers in a day to have elevated levels of lead in the blood.

So, if you’re interested in getting a synthetic turf field for your program, you can rest assured that it’s safe for your athletes. And if you already have a synthetic turf field, relax and enjoy. Just don’t eat it.

“Our industry is proud of its unblemished record of human health and environmental safety since synthetic turf was first introduced more than 40 years ago. We are actively sharing information and cooperating with the…Consumer Product Safety Council and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and others to ensure the continued safety of the public.”

- Rick Doyle, President of the Synthetic Turf Council

“Research out of Penn State University and the CDC confirm that no Staph/MRSA has ever been found in the turf system itself, although it has been found throughout the locker room environment. FieldTurf Tarkett's emphasis on environmental innovation and testing procedures has been part of the company’s culture since the very beginning and is a big reason why FieldTurf Tarkett continues to set the bar for product safety and performance throughout the industry.”

- Joe Fields, FieldTurf Tarkett CEO

“Safety is at the forefront of every field we build. A-Turf supports and is committed to continually enhancing our product to improve its safety, quality and value. As a member of the Synthetic Turf Council (STC), A-Turf has long used high-quality fibers from only the top STC approved fiber producers. Long after the field is installed, A-Turf is still there – standing behind the field.”

- Jim Dobmeier, President and Founder of A-Turf

“We have taken a proactive approach in regards to lead in turf yarn and lead in certain types of infill.

Our turf products meet the European Standard for Heavy Metal content and are also currently being tested to meet several different US protocols.”

-Mark Carr, US Manager, Domo Sports & Leisure Grass


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