Other Cities Halt Toxic Turf Projects
Who and what’s actually behind the scheme to plasticize and toxify SF’s playfields.
Where’s the City going to find an extra 1000 kids to play soccer?
If they’re not for kids, who are the fields for?
Good science-based overview of the issues
Safe Healthy Playing Fields Coalition ( “http://www.safehealthyplayingfields.org/” http://www.safehealthyplayingfields.org/) provides information backed up by science. They have good summaries of information on environmental and health concerns as well as on the actual costs of artificial turf compared with the costs of grass playing fields.
Effects on water quality, and fish and aquatic life
Claire Dworsky, who lives in San Francisco and plays soccer, studied the effects of runoff from artificial turf fields and grass fields in San Francisco (with help from Adina Paytan at UCSC). You can find out more at “http://blip.tv/todaysgr/episode-26-science-kid-6185249” http://blip.tv/todaysgr/episode-26-science-kid-6185249 and “http://www.sierraclubgreenhome.com/success-stories/4th-graders-research-reveals-dangers-of-artificial-turf/” http://www.sierraclubgreenhome.com/success-stories/4th-graders-research-reveals-dangers-of-artificial-turf/.
Why Dark Sky Matters
Effects on migrating birds
Golden Gate Audubon Society took part in the appeal against the plan to install artificial turf and night-time sports lighting at the Beach Chalet field (“http://www.goldengateaudubon.org/conservation/make-the-city-safe-for-wildlife/artificial-turf-and-lighting/” http://www.goldengateaudubon.org/conservation/make-the-city-safe-for-wildlife/artificial-turf-and-lighting/).
Cost of renovating the Polo Fields and projected costs for artificial turf at the Beach Chalet fields
Other information on costs
Articles by Brad Fresenburg (of the University of Missouri) and Aaron Patton (formerly of the University of Arkansas, now at Purdue) both show that over the long term it is costlier to maintain artificial turf.
Aaron Patton ( “http://turf.uark.edu/turfhelp/archives/021109.html”) gives a succinct overview of the types of maintenance necessary for artificial turf (very complex), the short-term and long-term costs, the costs of replacement, the costs of disposal, and increasing concerns over whether manufacturers will honor their warranties. He briefly discusses injuries, and professional football players’ preference for playing on grass to reduce injuries. He also provides a short reference list.
Despite using cost estimates that are likely to favor artificial turf, Brad Fresenburg concludes that over the long term it is much cheaper to maintain grass fields than artificial turf (“https://web.archive.org/web/20100818185614/” “http://archive.lib.msu.edu/tic/turfn/articles/2006marapr40c.pdf” https://web.archive.org/web/20100818185614/). He also advocates an interesting approach to funding that is in some ways similar to that put forward by many people in response to the Environmental Impact Report for the Beach Chalet fields: install state-of-the-art grass fields (which will cost far less than artificial turf) and put the money that is saved into a fund that can be used to maintain the fields (or in SF’s case, provide additional hours of play elsewhere). The second page of Fresenburg’s article is a good, brief discussion of injuries and bacterial growth on artificial turf.
Information about the authors
A fact-sheet on artificial turf prepared by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, a non-profit environmental organization, includes information on costs supplied by SF’s own Recreation and Parks Department (see pages 5 and 6).
The Department’s own data shows that grass fields are cheaper ( “http://www.delawareriverkeeper.org/resources/PressReleases/Fact_Sheet_Artificial_Synthetic_Turf.pdf” http://www.delawareriverkeeper.org/resources/PressReleases/Fact_Sheet_Artificial_Synthetic_Turf.pdf).
Additional facts that are specific to the proposal by City Fields and SF’s Recreation and Parks Department
(1) According to the Memorandum of Understanding between City Fields and the City of San Francisco, the full cost for replacing the fields will be the responsibility of SF’s Recreation and Parks Department.
(2) According to Dawn Kamalanathan of SF Recreation and Parks Department’s capital division, there are absolutely no resources set aside in the Recreation and Parks budget for replacing the fields.
(3) And there is no sound fiscal plan in place for raising the money in the future.
Information on fields needing to be replaced earlier than expected
In Dinuba, CA, in 2013 an artificial turf field installed by FieldTurf in 2007 had to undergo extensive repairs after only 6 years of use. Despite spending more than 8 hours grooming the field, FieldTurf could not say how long the field would last; as a result play on the field has been restricted to only high school teams, and two youth programs have been notified that they will no longer be able to use the field (“http://www.thedinubasentinel.com/articles/2013/07/18/news/doc51e83476cbb43451581685.txt” http://www.thedinubasentinel.com/articles/2013/07/18/news/doc51e83476cbb43451581685.txt).
In early April 2012 artificial turf fields bought by the school district in Beaverton, OR, began failing after only 6 years. The fields had been expected to last until 2016, but in 2010 staff noticed that the fields already had bald spots and other problems. For a while, FieldTurf repaired the smaller defects at no charge but eventually the school district decided to replace the fields before the warranty expired. However, poor recordkeeping by the district meant that the warranty was void, and the district had to pay for reinstallation of two fields at a cost of $850,000 ( “http://www.oregonlive.com/beaverton/index.ssf/2012/04/beaverton_school_district_to_s.html” \t “_blank” http://www.oregonlive.com/beaverton/index.ssf/2012/04/beaverton_school_district_to_s.html).
In January 2012 an artificial turf field at a high school in Texas failed after only 2 years, and the school board had to sue the manufacturer to get them to honor the warranty; the manufacturer was FieldTurf. Also in Texas, in September 2011 another artificial turf field was reported to have failed prematurely while still covered by the warranty. Although the school district had been trying to contact the manufacturer (again, FieldTurf) since September 2011, they only heard from them in January 2012. ( “http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/news/article/PN-G-fires-first-shot-in-turf-war-2726642.php” http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/news/article/PN-G-fires-first-shot-in-turf-war-2726642.php)
The manufacturer of the fields described above is FieldTurf, the same company that installed the fields at Crocker Amazon and Kimball in San Francisco.
In Portland, OR, artificial turf installed for the Portland Timbers soccer team in 2011 was replaced in January 2014; it was originally scheduled to be replaced in 2019 but now it is expected that the turf will need to be replaced every 2 years ( “http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/03/portland_timbers_and_city_rene.html” http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/03/portland_timbers_and_city_rene.html). Of the 19 teams playing Major League Soccer, only 4 play in stadiums with artificial turf.
Additional information from the Sierra Club
Real Players prefer Real Grass
Article from Reuters that states what competitive athletes have known from the beginning–that players are more likely to get hurt on artificial turf. Real grass is a safer field surface, for real.
Elite women’s soccer players take a stand when it comes to their safety and the 2015 World Cup. They prefer playing on real grass. News from Sports Illustrated.