Patch Letter: Making A Case For No Artificial Turf

If the NFL Players Association is advocating the removal of all artificial turf fields due to higher injury rates, shouldn’t we be concerned about the health risks to our children if it is installed at Rockville High School?

Based on research into possible health effects, injuries and environmental problems caused by artificial turf, we say: “Repair the field, YES! Artificial turf, NO!”

A special virtual city meeting and public hearing will begin on Tuesday, April 20 at 7:35 p.m. The zoom link is on the city’s website at The vote will take place in front of the town hall. Qualified voters and qualified property owners pull up and stay in their vehicles to vote. Walk-up voting is also possible. The vote can be extended until 9:30 p.m. All parties must provide current photo identification and then show a show of hands or vote negative to vote yes or no for the entire $ 1.55 million athletics project.

There is no doubt that the current field needs to be replaced. The existing field has drainage and water retention problems due to the rock and clay content of the soil. These problems can only be used to a limited extent on site. Artificial turf was the only new surface considered by the BOE for the RHS pitch. There was no evaluation or cost comparison of the replacement with natural turf or turf over a new topsoil layer. The artificial turf installation is a multilayered system with a base of 8 inches of rock, often a shock absorber, the synthetic “carpet” with crumb rubber and sand filling. Underneath is a drainage system and a water cooling system. Once installed, removal would be a hassle.

Compared to natural turf, artificial turf has an advantage that allows more use / playing time – an artificial turf field offers about three times the use of a natural turf field; but there is a cost!

First and foremost are health concerns. Artificial grass is a harder surface than natural grass. Studies show that more injuries occur with artificial turf. The NFL Players’ Association recently called for the removal of all NFL artificial turf fields due to the high injury rate. Synthetic carpets can get up to 20 to 50 degrees hotter than natural grass, which puts athletes at higher risk of heat stroke. Rubber and plastic can contain bacteria that cannot be washed off like on natural grass. Injuries can also result from incorrect installation. Like any carpet, it can stretch, pucker, and tear if not installed properly. Who pays for the special shoes required for athletes and other performers (band, cheering squad) on the field?

The environmental costs are also significant. A rug is £ 40,000. made of plastic, and only a small percentage is recycled. The current disposal cost is $ 30,000 plus the cost of shipping to a recycling center if accepted for this product.

The risk of cancer was a problem with artificial turf. The crumb rubber filling consists of recycled tires and contains carcinogenic metals. A limited study done in the CT field can be found on the CT Public Health Department website. There it says: “27 potentially questionable chemicals were examined” and “The cancer risks were slightly above the de minimis values ​​for all evaluated scenarios.” A Washington state study reports, “We know that crumb rubber is made from tires that contain chemicals that have been shown to cause cancer. What matters, however, are the routes of exposure and the potential dose someone receives, research has shown that that exposure to crumb rubber is very low and does not cause cancer in football players. “Concerns relate to exposure of children and adults to artificial turf. The longer you play on artificial turf and the more time you spend each year, the greater the risk could be. Could it be that our best players are most at risk?

The Washington State Health Department recommends several ways to minimize potential exposure to chemicals from artificial turf fields:

  • Always wash your hands after playing on the field and before eating.
  • Take off shoes / cleats, exercise equipment, and soiled uniforms outside or in the garage to prevent crumb rubber from entering the house.
  • Take a shower after the game and quickly clean any cuts or scratches to prevent infection.
  • Athletes who accidentally get rubber crumbs in their mouths should spit it out. don’t swallow it.

In addition, artificial turf installation costs about $ 500,000 more than a natural turf surface. (The future maintenance costs for each type of surface are estimated to be roughly the same per Park and Recreation Director, Marty Sitler, and Headmaster Macary.) Artificial synthetic “carpets” must be replaced every 10-15 years. The replacement cost is between $ 150,000 and $ 400,000.

As a parent, relative, athlete, or concerned citizen, please ensure you have access to unbiased news articles and literature. Studies funded or produced by artificial or natural grass companies are likely to be biased. Government or university studies are the least biased.

Citizens Against Artificial Turf (CAAT) has provided many of the above facts and resources below.

Will you vote NO so that we can engage as a community and discuss alternative and safer options for our children? We know they deserve better!

Thank you for your attention!

Ann Bonney



Associated Press Story on NFL Players, 10 -01

CT Department of Public Health – Information on artificial turf fields,

National Recreation and Parks Association Magazine, May 2019, “Synthetic Sports Fields and the Heat Island Effect”; see also Penn State Center for Sports Surface Research, Department of Plant Science.

Vernon Board of Education and City Council Joint Meeting, Feb. 19, 2020: Field Turf Company Seller Presentation; Comment from Headmaster Macary and P&R Director Sitler

Proposition from Liberty Landscapes, LLC to the Vernon School Administration, December 7, 2020, (Guilford CT)

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