Newswise — As spring approaches, many parents around the country are concerned about the wide scale use of artificial turf fields on school grounds and in parks properties. While the recognized benefits include the potential for increased use and thereby increased physical activity, these benefits must be tempered by the potential risks. It is widely recognized that there is a potential for burn injuries related to high temperatures on the turf surface in the heat of the day. Studies in athletes have also shown increased risk for wound infections when playing on these surfaces. A major question that remains unanswered is whether exposure to the myriad of potential toxins found in recycled tires may unduly expose children playing on the fields and hence negatively impact children's health. There is a potential for these toxins to be inhaled, absorbed through the skin and even ingested. These exposures do not remain on the field alone. Children then track the rubber pellets found in the surface into their homes where young children may also be exposed. More recently, lead, a toxin with well-studied health concerns, was found in the plastic, green blades of fake grass that top the fields. Citizens and school boards should question the wisdom of installing synthetic turf until a credible independent study has been conducted and published.
Tips for safer uses of turf fields:"¢ Do no use the turf fields on extremely hot days."¢ Be sure to clean and monitor any "turf burns" obtained while playing."¢ Attempt to remove all pellets from shoes and clothes prior to leaving the fields."¢ At home, shake out your children's equipment and clothes in the garage or over the garbage."¢ Have your child shower and wash thoroughly after playing on the field.
Experts available at The Mount Sinai Children's Environmental Health Center Dr. Philip LandriganProfessor and Chair, Community and Preventive Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine Director, The Mount Sinai Children's Environmental Health Center
Dr. Joel FormanAssociate Professor of Pediatrics and Community and Preventive Medicine and Vice Chair of Education at Mount Sinai School of MedicineAdvisory Committee member, The Mount Sinai Children's Environmental Health Center
Dr. Maida GalvezAssistant Professor of Pediatrics and Community and Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of MedicineDirector, Mount Sinai Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU)Advisory Committee Member, The Mount Sinai Children's Environmental Health Center