Letter to the Editor: Concerns About Artificial Turf

Submitted by Terry Gleason

There are many myths about artificial turf (AT). At March 25 Annual Town Meeting we will be voting on whether to replace the aging AT on our primary athletic field (Sabourin) with a new version of AT. Back twelve years ago, when we first debated the pros and cons of AT, the toxicity issue centered around the ‘crumb fill’ layer used to support the plastic grass. Because of the lead, arsenic, and other toxic materials, AT manufacturers have switched away from shredded tires for their ‘crumb fill’ layer.

More recently the concern has turned to the PFAS compounds used in the manufacture of the plastic grass itself. For those unfamiliar with PFAS contamination, it was the reason Bedford’s last functional town well was shut down.

For a quick but detailed analysis of facts and myths around AT, the 17 minute video by Dr. Bennett is excellent. The Bedford Board of Health has also posted a list of reference links on the Town’s website for Town Meeting including one from Mt Sinai Children’s Health Center. Its conclusion is:

“For the reasons outlined above, the Children’s Environmental Health Center recommends natural grass fields and playing surfaces as the safest option for areas where children play”

A number of Massachusetts towns have instigated a moratorium on new AT fields including Arlington (2023) and Concord (2022). Besides the toxicity issues, towns recognize that plastic fields are unusable on our ever more frequent ‘heat days’, and that there is no facility to recycle AT as documented by Dr. Bennett.

Finally, there are pending MA House and Senate bills that would ban the installation of AT in towns. Spending $!M on a project that is deemed unsafe for children and may be banned in Massachusetts would be a mistake.

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The opinions expressed in Letters to the Editor are those of the writer, not The Bedford Citizen.

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Brian B
March 18, 2024 9:16 pm

The turf was installed 10 years ago, same concerns cited. In the last 10 years there has been no heat problems, no toxicity issues and no health issues due to the artificial turf. What has happened is a safe, beautiul playng surface used in all weather conditions. The field is a space the town can be proud of and needs to be reconditioned just as recognized 12 years ago.

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