Feature Article - June 2008
Find a printable version here

SCHOOLS AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS

School Days



Keep on the 'Grass'
18 Percent of Schools Plan to Add Synthetic Turf Fields

Synthetic turf sports fields were among the top plans of respondents from schools and school districts. While 19.7 percent said they currently have synthetic turf fields at their facilities, another 18 percent said they plan to add synthetic fields within the next three years.

The benefits of synthetic turf for playing fields at schools—which often must accommodate physical education classes, team practice and team play, in addition to other activities—are undeniable.

"The escalating need for durable fields that accommodate multiple sports teams, coupled with increasing maintenance, water usage costs and climatic shifts, have prompted a rising number of schools and parks to turn to synthetic turf to balance their program needs," states the Synthetic Turf Council (STC) on its Web site. "Today's synthetic turf is designed to stimulate the experience of practicing and playing on a grass-like surface year-round."

The STC adds that more than 800 multi-use synthetic turf sports fields are installed every year in North American schools, colleges, parks and sports stadiums, and about half of all NFL teams play on synthetic turf.

Recently raised concerns about the safety of synthetic turf due to suspected high lead levels are unfounded, according to the STC. David Black, Ph.D., a forensic toxicologist, and Davis Lee, Ph.D. a synthetic organic chemist, both assert that there's no scientific evidence of any health risk related to three older synthetic turf fields recently closed in New Jersey.

Concerning absorption of lead chromate by the body, the STC stated that trace amounts of lead exist in everyday products, and the key issue is ensuring that quantities of lead that could be harmful are not absorbed. "Used to extend the yarn color lifespan in some synthetic turf products, lead chromate is encapsulated in plastic to prevent any health risks."

To learn more about synthetic turf, visit www.syntheticturfcouncil.org.