The City of San Francisco has at least 5 million earmarked for synthetic turf installations in select athletic fields across the city. While some parents are concerned about the long term health risks associated with crumb rubber, “[t]ests for toxins and carcinogens, conducted by local and state officials in 2008, found no significant risks, according to the Department of the Environment.” according to the San Francisco Examiner.
Citing increased play time, the city is looking forward to increasing the number of athletic fields covered with synthetic turf. “The seven synthetic fields are supposed to increase The City’s field playtime by 66,000 hours a year, Rec and Park officials estimated, and they have become some of the most desirable fields for sports leagues.”
Not only do the synthetic turf fields require less maintenance, but they are more playable during the rainy seasons. Whereas grass can easily pool with water and get slippery, turing an athletic field to mud quickly requiring major repairs, synthetic turf athletic fields need little maintenance compared to the natural form.
While some people are concerned about the environmental effects of turf, more studies keep coming out showing that turf itself and the crumb rubber infill commonly used in sports fields is perfectly safe. The state of Connecticut recently funded a study conducted by the University of Connecticut researching the possible toxic effects of turf. The study found synthetic turf and crumb rubber to be safe for the environment.
More studies will be conducted for sure. As well, synthetic turf manufacturers will continue to produce products that meet and exceed EPA standards for sure. While these studies are taking place and while the manufacturers are developing better products, we are certain that more municipalities will turn to artificial turf for athletic fields and parks. The water and maintenance savings are phenomenal.