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Artificial Turf is Wrong for Somerville

Somerville plans to install artificial turf on our few grass fields. Plastic fields are the wrong choice for Somerville. Bad for the environment. Bad for our health. Bad for our wallets.

Can Somerville become carbon neutral by 2050 with artificial turf? To offset the carbon from an average artificial turf field we would need to plant over 1,800 10-year-old trees. See for Somerville’s carbon neutral plan.

What happens when it rains? Artificial turf stormwater runoff contains the algaecides, sanitizers, pesticides, antistatic agents, and chemical solvents used to care for the field. Modern conventional grass care has significantly reduced the amount of pesticides and fertilizers used. Organic grass care uses no synthetic chemicals.

What does it cost? A 2-acre artificial turf installation can cost up to $1,000,000 and will last an average of 8-10 years. Replacement costs for an artificial turf field average $500,000 and involves disposing of several tons of plastic. A high-quality grass field costs up to $350,000. How does the city plan to pay for the carpet replacement and old carpet disposal in 8-10 years?

After installation, many communities discover they must restrict public access to an artificial turf field in order to protect their million dollar investment. Fencing, increased police patrols, night illumination, and security cameras create additional costs.

What’s in these fields? Crumb rubber infill in artificial turf fields gets into eyes and mouths. That means people can ingest the cancer-causing chemicals including arsenic, benzene, cadmium, and nickel that have been found in crumb rubber. The EPA found 30 chemicals in artificial turf and advises further study. Is this an experiment we want to run on our children and residents?

Is it hot? Artificial turf can be 37℉ hotter than asphalt and 86℉ hotter than grass. The maximum observed surface temperature on artificial turf was 200℉. At a temp of 122℉ it takes less than 10 minutes to cause injury to skin. NASA satellite maps of New York City showed that some of the hottest surfaces were artificial turf fields.

Why do professional athletes prefer grass? This year, Abby Wambach led 40 top female soccer players in filing a lawsuit against FIFA for using artificial turf, calling it "dangerous". 89% of NFL players surveyed felt that playing on artificial turf shortens their playing careers and 82% said it increases injury.

Grass is a living ecosystem. It provides stormwater retention, erosion control, pollutant removal, microbial activity, carbon sequestration, heat island mitigation, air and water filtration, wildlife habitat, noise reduction, psychological benefits, and oxygen generation.

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