Tire Crumbs on our Playgrounds

When I was younger I lived only a few blocks away from a large playground. I used to go there with my family and friends to do the ‘usual’ playground activities: run, swing, race the boys on the monkey bars, and ride down the slides into sand, grass, or my personal favorite, concrete. I was, and still am, a very active person and because of this a have acquired my fair share of bumps, bruises, and scars from my exciting playground sessions. Perhaps this is why we are beginning to see a shift in the way in which playgrounds are being constructed.

More and more we are starting to see playgrounds, and playing fields covered in artificial synthetic turf. While there are some benefits to artificial turf, including low-cost maintenance and less potential for injuries, artificial turf may have potential environmental hazards that could overshadow its advantages. The crumb rubber used in artificial turf may include chemicals such as latex and other rubbers, phthalates, and toxic metals.

The EPA has done studies in attempts to uncover the potential harms of artificial turf. So far, the studies have not revealed any hazards of concern. It is suggested, however, that more studies should be done to better understand the potential environmental hazards of artificial synthetic turf.

The two sides of the argument have very strong points, each bringing issues even beyond the health standpoint and into the financial and environmental positions as well. I believe it is appropriate to view the issue as “unresolved.” More research should be done to learn more and make accurate decisions as the whether artificial turf is here to stay or needs to be taken away.

What are your opinions on artificial synthetic turf? Do you play on artificial turf?

About the author: Nicole Reising is an intern at the Office of Children’s Health Protection. She is a sophomore studying non-profit management at Indiana University.