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Student health, money and artificial turf

  • The track and field at Amherst Regional High School.  STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE


Thursday, December 08, 2022

I know neither Ms. Jennifer Shiao nor Mr. Peter Demling, but I am familiar with science and how to locate information. There are a number of problems with artificial turf that seem to me to outweigh the finicalities of the myriad rules and regulations one encounters in this community. Ms Shiao’s transgression, if it is such, is in the service of a higher calling, the health and well being of our students.

Most of what follows was gleaned from studies by Penn State University and the New Jersey Work Environment Council (WEC) Fact Sheet. Artificial fields are less forgiving and the frequency of injuries of those who play on them is higher than those who play on the old fashioned stuff. The temperature of fields with artificial turf can be 35° to 55°F hotter than natural grass. The crushed rubber that comprises the bulk of such turf contains heavy metals (e.g. lead, arsenic, cadmium), and chemicals like phthalates, BPA, and PFAS known to be associated with cancer. Against these obvious dangers there is an argument for artificial turf … maintaining it is significantly cheaper.

What a difficult decision: The health of our young students vs $$$.

Douglas Raybeck

Amherst