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Are artificial turfs just toxic turfs in disguise?

This past fall, a city in New Jersey made national news when they decided to say “no” to an artificial turf. Although science on the risks of artificial turfs is thin, the precautionary principle is thankfully coming into play.

But this is just one city…

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How many other cities are installing these concerning turfs without considering the risks they may pose to growing children?

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Synthetic turfs are made of petroleum and on hot days can become very hot and thus end up not being used… So, there goes your child’s recess.

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The science on the risks of artificial turfs isn’t nonexistent. In 2008, a small scale study was conducted. Here are a few of the key findings:

  • PAHs (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) were present in every sample tested. PAHs are toxic and are listed on the US EPA’s list of priority hazardous chemicals.
  • Chromium and lead were detected in every sample.
  • Arsenic and cadmium were detected in most samples.
  • Chromium and lead were found at levels where they could be absorbed into our skin.

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The study, although small, supports the public health concern surrounding artificial turfs. The turfs contained high levels of toxic chemicals at levels that are troubling for good reason. Get details on the study here.

Guess what?

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Artificial turfs can cost up to 1 million dollars!

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Oh, and they don’t last forever, so they’ll need to be replaced eventually.

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So what does the EPA say?

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The EPA, agrees that more testing needs to be done, but in the meantime synthetic turfs continue to find homes in parks, school yards, and playgrounds.

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Is grass the best option?

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As we’ve blogged about before, kids can come in contact with a host of chemicals on natural grass due to pesticides. According to our friends at NRDC, “Some widely used herbicides, such as 2,4-D, are acutely toxic to humans at low doses, increasing one’s risk of cancer, reproductive and developmental harm and neurological disorders.”

The usage of harsh pesticides poses risks to the environment as well. The runoff in local waterways affects organisms and their habitat. Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides damage the soil, leading to shallow root growth, drainage issues, and soil compaction. So just steer clear of the pesticides if you can…
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So, you might be thinking…

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Don’t worry, our recommendation is natural grass without the use of pesticides. At the end of the day, a few weeds aren’t going to ruin your child’s experience on the playground.
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