Turf Wars
April 18th, 2007

There are 73 artificial turf athletic fields in New York City parks – and there are plans to spend $150 million to convert another 100 grass fields to turf in the coming years.

While the synthetic material solves the problem of overuse of limited green space in the city –- which turns many “fields” into patches of dirt and rocks — the move has set off a debate about safety.

Some argue that turf is harder on human bodies than grass (see illustration of “turf toe”, which the NYU Medical Center describes as a “sprain at the base of a big toe” caused by impact with artificial grass.).

Others question how the fake grass will hold up over time. “What happens if someone spills something on the artificial turf?” one New York blogger asks. “The gum, or whatever it is, will stay stuck in it. I wouldn’t want to play on a field that looked like the bottom of a subway track.”

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum has called for an independent testing of rubber pellets that she believes may contain “cancer-causing materials” and pose serious health risks to New Yorkers; the Parks Department has refused to do the testing.

The group New Yorkers for Parks has issued a report on the topic (available in .pdf format) and writes that “important environmental benefits of natural turf, such as its ability to absorb and filter rainwater and pollutants, and to decrease the impact of the urban heat island effect, must be considered in the debate.”

To view a map of synthetic athletic fields in NYC, click here.

By on April 18, 2007, 7:54 am
In category: Environment,Health,Parks | Comments Off on Turf Wars

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