Letter to Washington, D.C.'s Mayor Bowser

“Synturf removal contractors may tell clients the material will be recycled. That is factually inaccurate. There is no facility in all of North America that is recycling synthetic turf back into synthetic turf or any other product. A single facility, in Denmark, is the only one that is actually set up to do so -- even the synturf industry trade group concedes this.  In addition there is no known pipeline of any North American-based used synturf being sent to the Danish facility.  What is called “recycling” is just finding a place to park the materials, which continue to contaminate the air, soil and water as they disintegrate into plastic debris, dust and micro-debris.”

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Rebekah Thomson
Synthetic Turf – Not Supported by Science as a Safe Solution

"None of this fits with Vancouver’s ambition to be the Greenest City, or with the overarching need to protect the environment and deal with the climate emergency. There are climate impacts to consider: synthetic turf is a Lifecycle GHG Emitter of 108.2 tons CO2 equivalent over 10 years compared to a grass sport field that acts like a carbon sink to remove and store 16.9 tons CO2 equivalent over the same period. In addition, living grass can remove pollutants from the air, cool the playing surface and air above, and filter rainwater, all of which help in the fight against climate change."

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Incidence of Knee Injuries on Artificial Turf Versus Natural Grass in National Collegiate Athletic Association American Football: 2004-2005 Through 2013-2014 Seasons

Conclusion: Artificial turf is an important risk factor for specific knee ligament injuries in NCAA football. Injury rates for PCL tears were significantly increased during competitions played on artificial turf as compared with natural grass. Lower NCAA divisions (II and III) also showed higher rates of ACL injuries during competitions on artificial turf versus natural grass.

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Players Officially File Lawsuit Against FIFA, CSA Over Artificial Turf at 2015 Women’s World Cup

“CSA and FIFA’s decision to hold the [2014 Women’s World Cup] on artificial turf is inherently discriminatory and injures an elite group of female athletes in three significant ways: (1) by forcing them to compete on a surface that fundamentally alters the way the game is played, (2) by subjecting them to unique and serious risks of injury, and (3) by devaluing their dignity, state of mind and self-respect as a result of requiring them to play on a second-class surface before tens of thousands of stadium spectators and a global broadcast audience.”

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Synthetic Turf Will Contribute to Greenhouse Gas Problems

“Given that most plastic carpets are made out of polyethylene — the plastic found to release [methane and ethylene] at the highest rate — and given the high surface area occupied by this material, including each individual blade of plastic ‘grass,’ synthetic turf likely contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. I strongly urge you to consider how you can reduce these gases through policies restricting the installation of synthetic turf, as well as other synthetic surfaces, to guide consumers to make better choices and reduce plastic production everywhere we can.”

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Artificial Turf May Equal Real Litigation

“I am writing this letter as a concerned part-time resident of Martha’s Vineyard and an attorney with experience in mass tort litigation — i.e., tobacco, asbestos, and defective drugs. Sadly, what is currently unfolding within the synthetic turf industry bears striking similarities to the aforementioned mass tort catastrophes - deceptive marketing practices, industry funded junk science (aimed at misleading customers and creating doubt in the courtroom), and a focus on corporate profits over consumer health and safety.”

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Letter from the Martha's Vineyard Environmental Educators Alliance

"As they grow into adults we hope these students will keep this love for the Island close in their hearts and let it weigh heavily on the decisions they face as future community leaders. Change is inevitable. But change of any particular sort is not... In the end it is often money that rules the day. Ironic and shortsighted, when looking many years down the road, artificial turf is a costly financial choice, not to mention health and environmental one."

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School, Hospital Officials React To Large-Scale Heat Exhaustion at John Marshall

“On Thursday, dozens of band members were rushed to area hospitals after the heat became too much during band practice. Students from John Marshall High School, Sherrard and Moundsville Middle Schools were practicing at Monarch Stadium, when they were overcome with heat radiating from the turf. 10 EMS agencies from Ohio, Marshall and Belmont Counties responded and transported 37 students to area hospitals.”

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Rebekah Thomson
Athletic Playing Fields: Choosing Safer Options for Health and the Environment

“Artificial turf poses a number of health and environmental concerns. Those communities that have decided to install artificial turf are encouraged to make careful choices among the materials available to them... Communities should bear in mind that existing tests apply only to the sample on which they are conducted, and materials used in artificial turf may vary widely in composition. From an environmental and health standpoint, organically managed natural grass is a safer choice for sports fields. When the full product life cycle is considered, organically managed natural grass also offers lower costs over time.”

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Major New Fears Emerge Over Absence of Recycling Plan for 3G Pitches

“One individual who asked not to be named working in the recycling of 3G pitches in the UK described it as a ‘massive issue’ and said that in the next two decades the problem ‘will escalate beyond belief’. ‘Most surfaces will have to be relaid in the next 10 to 15 years and there will have to be a home for them. You cannot begin to imagine how much. You will be able to fill Wembley Stadium [with artificial turf].’

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Letter From Vineyard Conservation Society

"Against this backdrop of growing enthusiasm for measures to reduce plastic waste, and the progress already achieved by our Island community, the possibility of replacing natural grass with one or more massive plastic carpets is particularly dissonant, and disappointing. Artificial turf, while not disposable in quite the same sense as a plastic drinking straw, is indeed a plastic waste issue."

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Benefits of Turf Grass

Sustainability maintained turf serves the environment in many ways.
Turfgrass reduces runoff, prevents erosion, replenishes air, promotes safety, regulates temperature, supports bio-remediation, sequesters carbon, and helps with noise

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Rebekah Thomson
Penn State Center for Sports Surface Research: Synthetic Turf Heat Evaluation – Progress Report January 2012

Summary: No product in this test substantially reduced surface temperature compared to the traditional system of green fibers filled with black rubber in both the indoor and outdoor test. Reductions of five or even ten degrees offer little advantage when temperatures still exceed 150° F. Until temperatures can be reduced by at least twenty or thirty degrees for an extended period of time, surface temperature will remain a major issue on synthetic turf fields.

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Artificial Turf: A Health-Based Consumer Guide

Tips for Safer Play on Artificial Turf Surfaces

  • Avoid use on very hot days

  • Avoid use for passive activities (i.e. sitting, lounging, picnicking)

  • Monitor young children to prevent accidental ingestion

  • Always wear shoes on artificial turf

  • Wash hands before eating, drinking, or adjusting mouth guard

  • Clean cuts and abrasions immediately

  • Brush hair thoroughly after play

  • Remove and clean shoes and gear outside before getting in car

  • Shower immediately after playing on artificial turf

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