No. 17 The Gaffin speaks on coolness of grass (April 2008).
No. 16 Wayland's Selectman wants to keep the public in the dark about turf temps (March 2008)
No. 15 Wayland Board of Health warns against turf temperatures (March 2008).
No. 14 Hot times at Weston (Mass.) High (March 2008).
No. 13 North Carolina school official says turf can get hot in the summer! (March 2008).
No. 12 Thermal images of artificial turf fields (the Arrau portfolio).
No. 11 Micro-climate temp readings in early September.
No. 10 Artificial Turf Impacts Football for Madera South High School.
No. 09 Some August temperature readings around Boston, Mass.
No. 08 Los Lunas High School football team feels the heat.
No. 07 Cace for Grass: Artificial Turf Causes Global Warming.
No. 06 How hot was it? 132 degrees in the park!
No. 05 Sports Illustrated: "Sports and Global Warming."
No. 04 The New York City Study.
No. 03 The University of Missouri Study.
No. 02 The Utah Study.
No. 01 The Texas Study.
The Heat Effects
One of the adverse environmental and health impacts of artificial turf fields is the “heat island” effect. This means two things: the synthetic surface undesirably absorbs, retains and emanates heat at temperatures and rates that are harmful to the environment, and the turf in its life-cycle is responsible for generation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. The thermodynamics of the turf in winter and summer conditions accelerates the breakdown of the synthetic grass fibers and rubber crumb into dust particles, which easily can be inhaled or ingested by children. This is likely to produce respiratory and dermatological health risks in children. The promoters of artificial turf admit openly that the field runs 10° to 30° F hotter than a natural grass field. That admission alone however does not tell the whole story. Often, 10 or 30 degrees will tip the surface temperature past a dangerous point. Skin injury can result from a ten-minute contact with a surface that runs about 120° F. According to Joseph Shirley, Director of Facilities at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Newton/Brookline, Massachusetts, the surface is watered down prior to game time in order to cool down the surface. During summer youth camp programs, in a hot day, every 20 minutes the children are taken off the field so that the field can be cooled down.
[No. 59] Belmopan, Belize -- Artificial turf is a hot commodity. How hot? I am glad you asked! According to a news report in Amandala, 14 June 2016, the artificial turf at Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan on June 9 and 10 “got so hot that it melted the glue of the players’ boots, which did not have the soles sewed on, and many of the players, e.g. San Lazaro's star, Katie Jones, lost the soles of their boots which came unglued! They then had to borrow or change to a fresh pair of football boots!” The filed, which hosted the National Primary School Football Championships on those days, “has a black rubber cushion underneath, that absorbs an enormous amount of heat during the day. Looking across the field, you can see the chain link fence on the other side distorted into wiggly lines by the heat haze from warm air rising off the field. Sitting on the side, the breeze blowing off the field feels like it is coming out of an oven; and for the children playing on the field, it was like playing in a sauna, and many suffered from dehydration and heat exhaustion.” According to the editor’s note on this story National football champions Belmopan Bandits FC practice and play their home games in the late evenings or nights at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium. The primary school games for the football Nationals were played there on Thursday and Friday of last week, from 10:00 a.m. through to the mid-afternoon. The experience Mr. Ysaguirre describes above may be a concern for organizers, as Belize is scheduled to host the football portion of the CODICADER [Consejo del Istmo Centroamericano de Deportes y Recreación - Central American (Isthmus) Council on Sports and recreation] Games 2016 at the same venue, Isidoro Beaton Stadium on July 6-11. Source: William Ysaguirre, “Artificial turf puts pressure on kids at primary school football Nationals in Belmopan,” in Amandala, 14 June 2016, at http://amandala.com.bz/news/artificial-turf-puts-pressure-kids-primary-school-football-nationals-belmopan/. Click here for pdf of the article.
"Data compiled by Professor Jim Chi-yung, chair professor of geography at the University of Hong Kong, shows that the surface temperature of artificial turf can be ninety percent hotter than the air temperature in summer, and that athletes and children are particularly vulnerable to heat stress and the risk of heat stroke. This adds to concerns that artificial turf can intensify urban temperatures, contributing to the heat island effect."
"According to Chi-yung’s data, the surface temperature of artificial turf in 35°C [66.2F] heat can shoot up to a sizzling 70°C [129.2F], whilst natural turf peaks no higher than 38°C [71.6F]. Chi-Yung also found that the air temperature 50cm above ground was higher than temperatures at 150cm, meaning small children were at greater risk to high heat exposure. The research also found that heat stress - the effect of heat in generating pressure or discomfort on the body - to be far greater on artificial turf pitches than natural grass pitches. ‘A human being will not be feeling just the air temperature but the heat sensation,’ Chi-yung said. He spent two summers collecting data at the university's Stanley Ho Sports complex in Sandy Bay [Hong Kong], over the course of ten consecutive days, with a heat stress monitoring system comprising infrared radiometers and temperature sensors at different levels from the ground. ‘Natural grass pitches serve important ecosystem purposes and help mitigate the urban heat island effect - the increase in temperatures in urban areas compared with suburban areas due to urbanisation. Water evaporation from natural turf produced a cooling effect,’ Chi-yung said. He criticised the policy of replacing natural turf with artificial grass, noting that the trend in cities such as Singapore and in Japan was to convert more hard ground into grass. ‘It is very disappointing that, whilst every developed country is working to reduce the urban heat island effect, the government here is doing things to intensify it,’ he said. Although The Leisure and Cultural Services Department in Hong Kong is committed to replacing most natural grass pitches with artificial ones to raise “availability and quality” - and reduce maintenance costs, Chi-yung isn't the only person expressing concerns over such a decision. Professor Edward Ng Yung-yan, an expert in sustainable architecture and urban climatology at Chinese University, is quoted as saying, even if thermal effects were localised and not directly related to the urban heat island of an entire city, there was no running away from the fact that more natural grass would help to CODI down a city."
"‘The key scientific reason is water evaporation,’ Yung-yan said, pointing out that evapotranspiration cools both the turf and the air above. ‘Real grass, not the fake stuff, has a cooling benefit for entire neighbourhoods.’ Ng said studies had shown that grass cools the surrounding air by about one degree and reduces radiation temperature by 20 [36F] to 30 [54F] degrees. ‘Real grass is harder to maintain, but it’s not impossible,’ Yung-yan said. ‘While other cities are moving from the concept of 'garden in a city' to ‘city in a garden’, we are reversing the trend entirely.’"
[No. 57] Los Angeles, California: China syndrome of the artificial turf kind. In case you are wondering, the title of this post is a play on the name of a 1979 movie! Anyway - according to a news report on KABC (ABC affiliate), “[s]ports fields at five Los Angeles high schools will be replaced after the plastic that made the base of the synthetic fields melted into clumps. El Camino Real, Fairfax and Sotomayor high schools have all begun to replace the fields…. All five synthetic turf fields failed after the plastic foam beads melted into clumps. LAUSD said it noticed the problem about three years ago and deemed the fields off-limits to students.” “The Los Angeles Unified School District “says it’s working with Regal Field, a Chinese company that manufactured the synthetic material, to pay for a portion of the cost to install the new football fields. The schools installed the fields within the last five years. The company allegedly offered an eight-year warranty on its work, but some of the fields have melted since then.” Source: Leo Stallworth (with contribution from The Associated Press), “5 Los Angeles high schools to replace fields after turf melted,” on KABC (TV Channel 7, Los Angeles), 1 September 2015, at http://abc7.com/news/5-los-angeles-high-schools-to-replace-fields-after-turf-melted/965845/ or here
[No. 56] Australia: Matildas dancing on hot coals. According to a news report in The ROAR (6 July 2015) on the performance of the Australian women’s soccer team (the Matildas) at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada this past summer, “[o}ne thing of note was the fact they played their game against Japan on a synthetic pitch, in temperatures reaching 40 degrees. While both sides were dealing with the heat, reports came from Edmonton that many of the girls had problems with the synthetic pitch, or at least the heat generated by it being transferred through the sole of their boots. Many returned from training with icepacks on their feet and legs, as they experienced what falling onto a synthetic carpet can do to you. … Football was not designed to be played on artificial turf and the authorities should get rid of them. You won’t find a creditable league across the world playing their competition on the surface, yet FIFA sanctioned its use at the Women’s World Cup in Canada.” … “Two English League sides in the late 80s introduced a synthetic pitch and played home games on it. The FA were quick to abolish that caper and made the sides dig it up and revert to grass. With the improvements in turf technology, most teams in most leagues play on what I would call carpets compared to the days when I played, so there’s no reason to change the game as we know it by playing on synthetic turf… Turf is also unpredictable on the body. Defenders can apply a slide tackles on grass knowing there’s no danger of your dermis being ripped off your leg. When you stop abruptly on turf there’s give in the ground, which cushions the action and helps with less stress on ankles and limbs. If you fall on synthetic turf there’s plastic and underneath that a bloody great concrete slab, which doesn’t give at all. Source: Graham Heys , “Would the Matildas have won had they played on real turf?,” in The Roar, 6 July 2015, at http://www.theroar.com.au/2015/07/06/would-the-matildas-have-won-had-they-played-on-real-turf/
[No. 55] The Heat is On at Women’s World Cup in Canada. In a recent news report in The Sydney Morning Herald (25 June 2015), “[t]he synthetic turf at the 2015 Women's World Cup has come under its harshest criticism yet with the Matildas [moniker of the team from Australia] comparing the extreme heat of the surface to walking on hot coals. The temperature of the playing surface at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton is likely to soar over 50-degrees celsius [122 F] when Australia play Japan in the quarter final on Sunday morning (AEST) [28 June] which is leaving blisters and cuts on the players' feet. Matildas striker Michelle Heyman slammed the conditions of the playing field where the synthetic turf is absorbing heat at a rapid rate due to the rubber and other materials. Australia's quarter final will take place at 2pm local time with forecasests [sic] predicting a sunny 31-degree [87.80 F] day potentially making for a more blistering heat of the playing surface.”
According to Heyman, “It's like you can't really get grip on your feet and your feet keep sliding around in your boots because they're that hot and kind of sweaty. [The player's feet] just turn white, your skin is all ripped off. It's like walking on hot coal with your skin blistering and cracking." She also said that Matildas “[a]re used to playing around 30-40 degree temperatures but it's always going to be a little bit different on the synthetic because it does bring a lot of heat and your feet will burn." Source: Dominic Bossi, “Women's World Cup: Matildas say synthetic turf 'like hot coals',” in The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 June 2015, at http://www.smh.com.au/sport/soccer/womens-world-cup-matildas-say-synthetic-turf-like-hot-coals-20150625-ghxbkk.html
According to a related story published in The New York Times (23 June 2015), US footballers “Alex Morgan and others will recall [from this tourney] how the pellets [of crumb rubber] absorb not only shocks but heat, making a match in the midday summer sun something like playing on a simmering frying pan. Morgan has told stories of playing on turf so hot — as high as 160 degrees — that she needed to be in constant motion to keep from searing the soles of her feet right through her cleats. ‘Your feet will burn right off,’ [according to her teammate Meghan Klingenberg].” Source: Juliet Macur, “At the Women’s World Cup, a Memento Players Are Stuck With and Stuck To,” in The New York Times, 23 June 2015, at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/24/sports/a-memento-players-carry-with-them-like-it-or-not.html?_r=0
[No. 54] Stirling, Australia:Manager of engineering operations gives thumbs down to synthetic lawn. According to a news item in the Stirling Times (5 Augsut 2014), the ”City of Stirling manager of engineering operations Ron Spragg said synthetic lawn generated heat, discouraged drainage, complicated underground services and killed living organisms in the subsoil but it was up to the council to ban it. The heat radiated from synthetic turf and the hardstand materials associated with laying synthetic turf have an adverse effect on street trees. By limiting the amount of synthetic turf, the City is enhancing the trees’ opportunity to survive.” Source: Tom Rabe, “Call for ban on synthetic lawn,” in Stirling Times, 5 August 2014, at http://www.inmycommunity.com.au/news-and-views/local-news/Call-for-ban-on-synthetic-lawn/7663262/ .
[No. 53] Naples, Florida: Gotta water that plastic turf. Every now and then we hear or read a story that gives us a chuckle about the disingenuous presentations usually made by the purveyors of plastic fields that the fake grass fields need no watering thus reducing a major expense to the municipalities and educational institutions. Recently, WZVN (ABC-7.com) in Fort Myers set out discover the bizarre practice at GulfCoastHigh School where they water the artificial turf by giant sprinklers. “All high schools in CollierCounty have artificial turf, and they all use irrigation systems” and according to Jose Arias the athletic director at GulfCoastHigh School “even artificial turf needs a natural touch. We need to water it. Absolutely, we need to water it.” “It helps bring down the temperature of the field,” Arias said just minutes before the irrigation system turned on.” The reporter covering the story “decided to put the temperature theory to the test. Even on an overcast day, the surface temperature measured 99 degrees before getting watered. Arias said that’s minimal compared to really hot days when the field's temperature spikes well over 100 degrees before watering. After thirty minutes of irrigation time, the field was cooler. I measured 94, a five degree drop, on the thermometer.” Source: Chad Oliver, “Good Question: Why water artificial turf football fields?,” on ABC-7.com, 1 November 2013, at http://www.abc-7.com/story/23854847/good-question-why-water-artificial-turf-football-fields#.Un0furso5xA
[No. 52] Columbia, Missouri: Professor says “the fibers in a synthetic field control the heat.” According to a news report in theColumbia Missourian (6 September 2013), the Faurot Field at the University of Missouri’s Memorial Stadium registered a high of 151 degrees during the school’s football season opener on Saturday 31 August. “A team of turf experts used an infrared thermometer to measure the heat coming off of the field in Memorial Stadium.” “The National Weather Service in St. Louis [had] reported Saturday'’ high temperature in Columbia as 100 degrees, but that reading was on a natural grass surface about 6 feet above the ground.” The service’s hydrologist, Mark Fuchs, said “on an artificial-turf surface, the temperatures jump.” The Division of Plant Sciences professor Brad Fresenburg had this to say about the heating of the artificial turf fields: sunlight plays a vital role in turf temperature. “If we’ve got the sun in the air and there’s a clear blue sky, we’re easily going to be in the 150s. It could even be in the 160s.” “We know that the fibers in a synthetic field control the heat.” “Artificial fields are made of petroleum-based fibers that absorb heat as weather conditions change. Mid- to late afternoon, when direct sunlight has had its greatest effect on temperature, is usually when turf fields reach high temperatures. Much like vinyl in cars, the fibers capture and hold heat until the field has time to cool. Often, the fields get so hot that the heat can be felt through the soles of shoes.” “Temperature readings vary depending on the kind of surface, amount of cloud cover, humidity, wind speed and thermometer height during the time of the reading. A slight breeze, for instance, can change temperatures by 20 or 30 degrees.” “The clarity of the sky and the time of day — that makes a huge difference in what reflects off of that field as far as heat. The sky, if it’s more clear blue, that’s going to allow the field to absorb more heat.” Source: Beth Castle, “Artificial turf turns up the heat on Faurot Field,” in the ColumbiaMissourian, 5 September 2013, at http://www.columbiamissourian.com/a/165243/artificial-turf-turns-up-the-heat-on-faurot-field/ . See pdf of the news report here.
[No. 51] Quincy, Illinois: School Board wants to prevent heat-related illness. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. 14 June 2012. According to a news report in the Quincy Herald-Whig (11 June 2012), on 23 May 2012, the Quincy School Board unveiled its proposed “heat related illness prevention,” which expected to be adopted at the board’s meeting on 20 June 2012. It will be the first of its kind in the state. According to the policy, “no practice or activity will be allowed once the heat index reaches 105 degrees or higher. This will apply to all athletics and other physical activities, including PE [physical education] classes, marching band and indoor sports when air conditioning is not available.” “Other steps will have to be followed when the heat index enters the 95-to-105 range. For instance, practices will have to provide water breaks every 20 minutes; students will have to be given five minutes of ‘total rest’ each hour (with helmets off if they play football); practices must not exceed two hours; and free access to water must be provided at all times.” The School Board member Dr. Steven Krause, a Quincy cardiologist, has been pushing for such a policy because “students are at the highest risk for heat stroke when they are involved in lengthy, arduous practice sessions while the heat index is rising to dangerous levels.” Source: Edward Husar, “Quincy School Board unveils proposed policy aimed at preventing heat-related illness,” in the Quincy Herald-Whig, 11 June 2012, available at 1http://www.whig.com/story/18754455/school-board-unveils-proposed-policy-aimed-at-preventing-heat-related-illness .
[No. 50] Hot Times at Graduation. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. 4 May 2012. It is graduation time in the Nation. Many of those grassy fields that once hosted the graduation ceremonies are now artificial turf. For a variety of reasons, schools do not use artificial turf fields for graduation ceremonies. Some of the reasons for this are described in the various postings on our “Forbidden Fields” page at http://www.synturf.org/forbiddenfields.html . This past week, we received word that at schools where graduation ceremonies will take place on the artificial turf fields, the school administrators are tinkering with schedules in order to beat the turf’s heat factor!
Exhibit A - In a “Community Notice,” dated 27 April 2012, Rose Bertucci, the principal at NatickHigh School (Natick, Massachusetts) wrote this to Seniors and Parents:
Dear Parents and Seniors,
After a discussion with Central Administration and the Parks and Recreation Department, I have decided to change the Graduation Ceremony start time to 12 p.m. instead of 2 p.m. as previously published.
I was alerted to the fact that because the field is now a turf field, the temperature on the field from the ground to about your knee can rise to an uncomfortable temperature should it be a hot day. In other words, the field temperature would be approximately 12 degrees hotter than the actual air temperature. If the day turns out to be in the 80’s it could be very uncomfortable for anyone seated on the field. With this in mind, I have decided to move the time to 12 p.m.
In January of this year we reported on a 2011 heat-related research that was done at PennState’s the Center for Sports Surface Research regarding the cooling of artificial turf surfaces. http://www.synturf.org/heateffect.html (Item No. 49). There is a recent work from the Center: It is a progress report on Synthetic turf heat evaluation (January 2012). http://cropsoil.psu.edu/ssrc/research/synthetic-turf-surface-temperature . The report - http://cropsoil.psu.edu/ssrc/documents/heat-progress-report.pdf - beings with the admission that “The issue of high surface temperature on infilled synthetic turf continues to be a significant concern. Because surface temperatures can reach up to 200° F.” The evaluation noted the influence of fibers on surface temperature and, of course, that of the infill. Focusing on the role of the infill in heat retention, the evaluation tested rubber and plasticized infills only - but in various colors - black rubber, EcoFill (green), green rubber, TPE (green), and tan rubber. It noted that one manufacturer claims to produce a fiber that significantly reduces surface temperature, but the evaluation dismissed the viability of the claim because there is no publicly available scientific evidence to support that claim. Then why not for the center to test it itself? The same can be said about the Center testing the infill we call corkonut – an amalgam of cork and coconut fiber. So, the Center’s great achievement so far has been to test between various rubber and plasticized infills! And with predictable results: “No product in this test substantially reduced surface temperature compared to the traditional system of green fibers filled with black rubber in both the indoor and outdoor test. Reductions of five or even ten degrees offer little advantage when temperatures still exceed 150° F. Until temperatures can be reduced by at least twenty or thirty degrees for an extended period of time, surface temperature will remain a major issue on synthetic turf fields.”
[No. 49] A duh! moment for the artificial turf industry. For years this website and others have called attention to the heating of the artificial turf fields, a phenomenon that the purveyors of plastic-and-crumb rubber fields – and their politician allies -used to dismiss with a perfunctory reply, “it gets a little warm.” While attention is always paid to the 200 degree field temperature recorded in Utah one summer, there have been plenty others studies that have confirmed the ugly truth about artificial turf – it heats up considerably more than the grass fields, asphalt and cement covering. See, for example, The Thermal Physics of Artificial Turfby Tom Sciacca (2008), published on this website four years ago, at http://www.synturf.org/sciaccaheatstudy.html . There have been other studies – and anecdotal reports - that we have reported on this page for as long as we have been on-line . We reported also on the heath implications of heated fields on the health page at http://www.synturf.org/health.html.In 2010 we also reported on a thoughtful article by Chris Hummer, which asked “How long until someone dies of heatstroke on a synthetic turf field?” athttp://www.synturf.org/justwords.html (Item No. 30).
Now comes this jolly-come lately news on National Soccer Wire, 2 January 2012, at http://www.nationalsoccerwire.com/news/5322/15444 , entitled “Synthetic turf undergoes ‘cool’ study.” The blurb states: “Did you know the highest recorded temperature for a synthetic turf field was 200° F during a summer day on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, UT? In comparison, a natural grass field rarely rising above 100° F.
While most turf fields across the country will not reach temperatures that extreme, there's no question that turf heats up quickly under a day full of sunshine. The quick rise in temperature has become a concern for soccer organizations every where, and Penn State’s Center for Sports Surface Research is trying to figure out how to beat the heat.”
“How hot can synthetic turf really get? The highest recorded temperature was 200° F during a summer day on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. While this may be an extreme case, it is not uncommon for temperatures to surpass 150° F. In fact, during Penn State’s Turfgrass Field Days this past summer, we recorded temperatures as high as 175° F on our research plots. For a comparison, natural turf rarely reaches 100° F, even on the hottest, clearest days.”
“Irrigation is the most common method used to try to reduce the surface temperature of synthetic fields. Pumping water onto synthetic turf may garner some odd looks, but the application of water can rapidly cool the surface of the field. The problem is that cooling effect is short-lived. Our research shows temperatures quickly rebound 20 minutes after irrigation stops and the irrigated surface is only slightly cooler than a non-irrigated surface three hours after watering (less than 10 degree difference). Another issue with irrigation is the potential for increased humidity directly above the turf’s surface. Rising temperatures coupled with high humidity may expose athletes to even more heat stress.” (Emphasis added).
“Although it is common to blame the sunlight’s interaction with the black crumb rubber for the hot surface, the fibers also significantly contribute to a field’s temperature. [Emphasis added].
“At the Center for Sports Surface Research, we conducted a series of experiments to evaluate the effects of varying these components on surface temperature. … A variety of infill materials including various colors of crumb rubber, Ecofill (polyolefin granules), and TPE [thermoplastic elastomer] were evaluated… For the fibers, we recorded the temperature of white, gold, silver, black, and green (FieldTurf Duraspine, FieldTurf Revolution, and AstroTurf AstroFlect) fibers. The combined turf system test included a total of 11 fiber-infill combinations. We conducted our tests indoors using a 250-watt infrared heat lamp … that has been correlated to sunny outdoor conditions at Penn State.”
“Our study indicates that none of the fiber-infill combinations tested measured substantially lower in surface temperate than the standard green fibers and black crumb rubber infill systems…. We did find certain combinations of infill type and fiber can lower the surface temperature slightly. In the fiber test, it’s not surprising that the darkest colors produced the hottest surfaces …. White fibers were the coolest, resulting in a surface temperature approximately 10 degrees cooler than green fibers. When comparing the three green fibers, both FieldTurf fibers (Duraspine Pro and Revolution) and AstroTurf’s AstroFlect did not statistically differ from one another.”
“In the infill material comparison, the color of crumb rubber proved to have little or no effect on surface temperature…. Green rubber was marginally cooler (less than 10 degrees) than both black and tan rubber, but was still nearly 150° F.Both Ecofill (141.6° F) and TPE (136.4°) were cooler than all crumb rubber colors (black: 156.0° F, tan: 153.4° F, green: 147.9° F).”
The article then asked, “What do these results tell us? As of right now, it is obvious that there is no ‘magic bullet’ available to dramatically lower the surface temperature of synthetic turf.Reductions of five or even ten degrees offer little comfort when temperatures can still exceed 150° F. Until temperatures can be reduced by at least 20-30 degrees for an extended period of time, surface temperature will remain a major issue on synthetic turf fields.”
SynTurf.org Note: The biases of this research are quite self-evident. By finding no or negligible difference between the crumb rubber and other infills, the research is bound to favor the purveyors who typically spec their products with crumb rubber because, while slightly warmer, the cost of crumb rubber typically makes the crumb rubber-based products less expensive. The report on the research does not indicate if any “organic” infill was tested, include just sand. The report works to the disadvantage of TPE and other providers of non-organic infill that have been touting their cooler and less toxic characteristics.
In 2006 we reported on the communication by Drs. Cynthia Rosenzweig of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and Stuart Gaffin of the Earth Institute at Columbia University to Mayor Bloomberg’s Long-Range Sustainability Planning Office, in which Rosenzweig and Gaffin identified four physical reasons for such high temperatures on the turf. (1) In trying to simulate grass coloring, the manufacturers employ dark pigments. Using an approximate albedo meter we recorded albedos of only 7%, meaning only 7% of incident sunlight radiation is reflected from the surfaces. Such low albedos are comparable to freshly laid pitch asphalt. (2) There is a filamentous structure to the turf surface, simulating grass blades again, we assume. These filaments however also lower the albedo by creating micro light traps. (3) The surfaces are low mass and “cushion-y,” for obvious reasons. The low mass means that they heat up very rapidly in sunlight, as compared to dense surfaces. They provided three suggestions. (1) Use of lighter pigments that still enable good sports performance. There may even be ways to alter the “near infrared” albedo of the turf that does not affect its visible spectrum. (2) Explore less filamentous systems that reduce micro light trapping. (3) Explore creating pervious versions of the turf that may enable both evapotranspiration and reduced runoff. This would probably have the biggest temperature reduction benefit. Seehttp://www.synturf.org/heateffect.html (Item No. 4).
None of these suggestions and alleged efforts by the turf industry can ever reduce the synthetic turf field’s temperature to that of natural grass. Whether any “advances’ can even reduce the temperatures by 20 to 30 degrees, as the SportsTurf article wishes, is anyone’s guess. We do know this much – even then on a 98-degree day in Utah the field could register 180 degrees. Some improvement!
[No. 48] Abilene, Texas: Heat forces practice off artificial turf field. According to a news story in Abilene Reporter-News (30 August 2011), “No, your eyes weren’t deceiving you if you drove by Bulldog Stadium earlier this month and thought you saw the Wylie High School football coaches watering the artificial turf. They were doing exactly that - and for good reason. ‘There's always been an issue of being hot on the artificial turf, but not like this year,’ said Hugh Sandifer, Wylie’s athletic director and head football coach. ‘The heat is so intense. You can feel the heat coming up.’ About 3 p.m. Tuesday [August 30], Sandifer used a handheld infrared thermometer to detect temperatures of 119 degrees on the natural grass near his office, 156 degrees in the asphalt parking lot at WHS and as high as 185 degrees on the Mondo-brand football field turf in Bulldog Stadium. Sandifer said he’s seen it as high as 202 degrees on a spot of concentrated rubber pellets used in turf installation near the surface of the running track that surrounds the football field.” “The readings came as the National Weather Service reported a high of 104 degrees Tuesday in Abilene. The findings are similar to a 2002 study of surface heat on a Brigham Young University artificial-turf practice field that showed the temperature generally to be more than 30 degrees hotter than natural grass. That's why Wylie coaches have chosen to practice on grass. ‘We practice on grass as much as we can this time of year,’ Sandifer said, referring to a nearby field. ‘We don't want to put our kids in a situation to compound the problems. Some teams practice on this stuff every day. That wears on you.’ Sandifer said watering the Mondo turf field ‘almost immediately drops the surface temperature to about 100 degrees. Two or three hours later, it has risen to about 130 or 140.’” Source: Garner Roberts and Carl Kieke, “Wylie High’s fiery artificial field: Turf adds to heat Practices held on grass, which is cooler,” in Abilene Reporter-News, 30 August 2011, available at http://www.reporternews.com/news/2011/aug/30/wylie-highs-fiery-artificial-field-turf-adds-to/ .
[No. 47] Kolkata, India: Hot enough for you?! According to a news item in Hindustan Times (March 9, 2011), “If the scalding early March heat is any indication, Indian football will have to brace for one of the hottest I-League in recent years.” Adding to the effect of the searing temperatures on soccer play is the heating effect of the artificial turf field. In the face of “the artificial turf at Yuba Bharati Krirangan … players might now have to devise ways of keeping their feet cool.” On Tuesday [March 8] the venue hosted the game between Chirag United and Pune FC. The Pune FC coach Derrick Pereira said later, “Our players' feet were literally burning.” Source: Somshuvra Laha, “Chirag, heat take toll on Pune FC,” in Hindustan Times, March 9, 2011, available at http://www.hindustantimes.com/Chirag-heat-take-toll-on-Pune-FC/Article1-671151.aspx
[No. 46] Columbia, Mo.: Research farm to test artificial turf for heat and bacterial growth. According to a news report by the Associated Press (August 31, 2010), “The newest crop at a University of Missouri research farm is a man-made product more commonly found in sports stadiums than the state’s rural reaches. South Farm scientists are studying five brands of artificial sports turf to better understand the synthetic material’s density and heat-absorbing properties. They also want to find out if infectious bacteria can survive if not thrive amid the fake blades of grass. A growing number of high schools in Missouri and elsewhere are converting their sports fields to artificial surfaces. The turf samples and other material were donated to the university by manufacturers and distributors.” Source: Associated Press, “Mizzou plant scientists test artificial turf temps, bacterial growth,” on KPLR (NBC affiliate, Channel 11, St. Louis), August 31, 2010, available at http://www.kplr11.com/news/sns-ap-mo--missouri-turftests,0,4214117.story .
SynTurf.org Note: Someone should make sure that the samples “donated” by the artificial turf companies do not contain antimicrobial agents.
[No. 45] Burlington, Vermont: Heat poses danger to athletes, especially on artificial turf. According to a news report on WCAX (September 2, 2010) “Record high temperatures have schools across Vermont taking extra precautions to prevent heat exhaustion. This is especially true when it comes to their student athletes.” “[F]ootball linemen are most susceptible to heat related illnesses. But all athletes should know the warning signs” -- the first thing is a headache, getting sick to your stomach is the next level, vomiting and muscle cramps are all things telling the athlete that he or she is starting to get overheated. According to Becky Handel, athletic trainer at BurlingtonHigh School, “We make sure the kids drink plenty of water. We have a waterhorse for the football players and all the other teams use it as well. They can stay plenty hydrated. We put ice bags and ice towels on their necks and on top of their heads if they get overheated.” “It’s been really tough especially on the turf. I know guys pray for the days we get the grass,” Travis Nolan, a BHS varsity player told WCAX. “In Vermont the Burlington, South Burlington and Rutland school districts all have this synthetic turf. In many cases practices have been shortened or moved to grass because the surface of these fields can actually rise to at least 10 to 15 degrees hotter than the temperature outside.” Source: Jennifer Reading, “Scorching heat puts strain on school sports,” text and video, on WCAX Channel 3 (Burlington, VT), September 2, 2010, available at http://www.wcax.com/global/video.asp?clipId=5083040&autostart=true .
SynTurf.org Note: The beauty of reports from high schools is that every now and then a coach is caught saying something really dumb and ignorant. In the news report above,
The athletic trainer is quoted as saying, “We made it clear to the coaches in the beginning of the season that heat is not a wuss factor. It doesn’t play into it at all.” Obviously, Mike Arcovitch, the defensive coordinator for BHS varsity football did not get that memo. The news report quoted him as saying that he and the other coaches are trying to find that balance. “You have to constantly send them to get water and shade and all that kind of stuff which is fine, but it constantly cuts into your time,” said Arcovitch. In these temperatures, synthetic turf fields become incredibly hot. And that poses even greater challenges for the coaches and players. “The field’s hitting 118 degrees. It’s really unplayable,” said Arcovitch, “But we’ve still been out here and the guys have been toughing it out.” Toughing it out? And when a dehydrated player succumbs to injury, coach, I guess he was not tough enough, eh?
[No. 44] From Maryland to Boston plastic fields, the heat is on! SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. July 31, 2010. In the last few weeks, the north Atlantic region had been in the grip of a scorching hot weather. Bad enough to make the media once again take note of the effect of the sunshine on the plastic and crumb-rubber carpets and the athletes who play on them. According to a news report on WJLA (ABC 7 – DC Metro Area) (Markham Evans, “Summer Heat Rekindles Artificial Turf Battle,” July 19, 2010, available at http://www.news8.net/news/stories/0710/756756.html ) “The summer heat wave is reigniting debate about the use of artificial turf at some local schools.” According to Kathleen Michels, a neuroscientist, “Any temperature over 120 can cause a skin burns with skin contact in two seconds.” “Using a heat gun, Michels detected temperatures of up to 135 degrees on the field at [RichardMontgomeryHigh School]. At the same locale, Samie Scaffidi to WJLA that she has “poured water into her cleats to keep cool. Some of her friends sprint for shade when they’re playing.” According to the WJLA report, “A new American Cancer Society study just added Carbon Black to a list of possible causes of cancer. Critics say that's one of many possible dangerous chemicals within artificial turf.”
Moving up north, in Boston, we find Tony DiCicco who coaches the Boston Breakers of the Women's Professional Soccer. In 1994-1999 he coached the United States women’s national soccer team, winning the Olympic gold medal in 1996 and the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup. In 2008, DiCicco coached the U.S. U-20 Women's national team to victory in the FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup in Chile.
In and around BeanTown, for many years, the purveyors of artificial turf fields, their boosters and allied politicians misrepresented to the public the thermal effect of plastic and crumb rubber fields. Recently, L.E. Eisenmenger of Boston Pro Soccer Examiner (“How hot was it? Stadium field turf soars to 120 degrees,” July 24, 2010, available at http://www.examiner.com/x-4128-Boston-Pro-Soccer-Examiner~y2010m7d24-How-hot-is-that-field-turf ) asked Tony DiCicco exactly how hot it was out on the Harvard Stadium field turf, where the Breakers had just defeated the Washington Freedom 2-1.
“There are thermometers they put out on these fields because these fields get too hot,” said DiCicco. “If it’s 95 degrees or 100 degrees, the fields get to about 120 degrees and that’s why it’s so dangerous for young kids. For our height it’s 105 degrees, but down there [kids’ height] it’s 120 degrees.” “The first halves are usually a little bit slower because there’s a lot of heat coming up,” explained DiCicco, “because it’s at least ten degrees higher.”
To stress the point, the report cited the 2002 BrighamYoungUniversity study that found “The surface temperature of the synthetic turf was 37º F higher than asphalt and 86.5º F hotter than natural turf. Two inches below the synthetic turf surface was 28.5º F hotter than natural turf at the surface. Irrigation of the synthetic turf had a significant result cooling the surface from 174º F to 85º F but after five minutes the temperature rebounded to 120º F. The temperature rebuilt to 164º F after only twenty minutes.” The report also mentioned a PennStateUniversity study that revealed “similar results measuring nine different types of synthetic turf. Temperature measurements were made on three occasions with air temperatures registering 79 degrees, 78 degrees, and 85 degrees F. The corresponding average surface temperatures reported for the synthetic turf plots were 120 degrees, 130 degrees and 146 degrees F.”
[No. 43] Overland Park, Missouri: How hot was it on Wednesday July 14th? According to a news blurb on KMC-TV (July 14, 2010), it was so hot that “The sprinklers were turned on at halftime Wednesday night during a soccer tournament in Overland Park. This helps cool the synthetic field and players. Players are required to take mandatory water breaks every 20 minutes during games.” Source: “Construction Crews Work Hard To Beat Heat, Drinking More Water, Working Earlier Among Tricks,” on KMC-TV Channel 9 (Kansas City, Missouri), July 14, 2010, available at http://www.kmbc.com/news/24262035/detail.html .
[No. 42] WestIsland, Montreal: Random musings about natural grass and artificial turf fields. The following are some of the observations made by J. Meagher in “Nothing terribly artificial about fake grass,” West Island Gazette, June 9, 2010, available at http://westislandgazette.com/soccer/15401 , around a story about the announcement of“a $3-millon dollar project that will see the installation of an artificial playing surface, new lights and bleacher seating for 800 at the CEGEP’s main field in Ste.Anne’s.”
“Most artificial surfaces, covered with so many painted lines for different sports, are about as attractive as Don Cherry’s wardrobe.”
“Speaking of downpours, I was at the Icebreaker Soccer Tournament in Ottawa last weekend and witnessed firsthand how well well-maintained natural grass fields can hold up to inclement weather when the skies opened up on Sunday [June 6, 2010]. Of the five fields at the OttawaBusinessPark location, nearly all of them were in better shape than almost anything you’d see locally. Guess Ottawa grows better grass.”
“I’ve always said that nothing truly compares to a well-maintained, natural grass pitch. There is a good reason why AC Milan asked the Impact to lay down 95,000 square feet of natural grass for last week’s friendly at the Big O.”
“One major drawback to artificial turf is that it reaches wickedly hot temperatures on steamy summer days. The surface needs to be watered down in cases of extreme heat.”
[No. 41] Jackson, Mississippi: The surface temp of artificial turf fields is a huge problem; risk of injury to athletes. According to a news item in the Jackson Clarion Ledger (May 9, 2010), “Keith Annulis has seen some hot surfaces in his two decades as a football coach. But never anything like the heat generated by synthetic turf fields.
“It’s a huge problem,” Annulis said. “That sucker gets hot.” “Annulis is an assistant football coach at St. Patrick Catholic School in Biloxi. The artificial football field the school installed four years ago got so hot last summer some football players suffered burns and blisters on their hands during a drill.” “We had to quit doing it,” Annulis said. “The moral of that story is don’t put your hands on that turf.” “When fall football practice begins in August, more than 25 high schools in the state will be practicing on synthetic turf football fields. While injury seems to be the most common concern when discussing turf, the heat factor is often overlooked. With temperatures soaring in the upper 90s and beyond, a synthetic turf surface can reach more than 150 degrees - 70 degrees hotter than grass.” “That's definitely a concern,” said Brian Robinson, the chair of the National Athletic Trainers' Association Secondary School Committee. “It may be 80 degrees on the grass, but on the turf it's about 140.” “Studies show the heat rising off of synthetic turf surfaces can reach 120 degrees at head level.” “Barry Stewart, an associate professor of agronomy at MississippiState, has measured the surface temperature on the MississippiState artificial turf practice football field to be 150 degrees on a 95-degree day. The turf industry has researched ways of cooling the plastic grass, Bateman said, but not many work - save for an underground cooling system that costs $2-3 million.” “Several schools have built field-side water cannons as a cooling measure, but watering a synthetic field is just a temporary solution. The BYU study found that 20 minutes after watering turf the temperature climbed back to 150-degree-plus levels. Also, watering a field that hot creates a ‘sauna effect,’ Stewart said.” “Not only do you have high temperatures, but we are creating humidity.” “Bobby Hall, the football coach and athletic director at MadisonCentralHigh School, has implemented more breaks during the team's practices on the school's [artificial turf field] that was installed in 2008. During a two-hour practice, Hall said, Madison will take up to six five-minute breaks.” “NichollsStateUniversity in Thibodaux, La., has discussed implementing an alarm system that rings when the field gets too hot for practice. But nothing has been done yet.” “OakGroveHigh School coach Nevill Barr said his players have gotten used to the heat of the school's synthetic turf. As soon as the sun sets, Barr said, the field cools.” “It’s definitely hot in the middle of the day,” Barr said. “But I don't see it as unbearable. We get used to it.” Source: Ross Dellenger, “Debate over injuries often overlooks the heat factor: Artificial surfaces can hit 150 to 200 degrees in summer,” in Jackson Clarion Ledger, May 9, 2010, available at http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20100509/SPORTS06/5090338/1287 .
[No. 40] Cleveland, Ohio: Some love it hot. The Senior safety on the ChardonHigh School football team Geoff Paschke gives a new meaning to the term “hot head.” According to a news report in The Plain Dealer (August 11, 2009), “Monday’s [August 10th] heat wave - the air temperature in Chardon Memorial Stadium was 97.5 degrees on a digital thermometer - had some coaches cutting back on practices and reducing the amount of pads players were wearing. Monday was the third day of full-contact, full-pads “two-a-days.” Yet, leave it to some hothead showoff to make light of the temperature on the field. According to The Plain Dealer, “Paschke laughed as he watched the thermometer placed at his feet soar to 112.2 degrees on the new artificial turf at ChardonHigh School. ‘Keep going up!’ he said, encouraging the digital readout. ‘I love it.’ Nothing beats getting ready for football season,’ Paschke said during one of several water and fruit breaks. ‘It’s rough, but at the end of the season, when you look back, you realize what you accomplished and how hot it really was, it always makes good stories. ‘Other than your feet burning, you just push through it. The best part is knowing if you get through it, then all the rest of the days are going to be easy.’” “Paschke said he drinks three or four 32-ounce Gatorade drinks at night, and drinks more in the morning before practice.” Source: Tim Warsinskey, “Chardon safety thrives as the temperature rises,” in The Plain Dealer, August 11, 2009, available at http://www.cleveland.com/hssports/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/sports/1249979601130840.xml&coll=2
[No. 39] Foxborough, Mass.: New England Patriots succumb to heat exhaustion. According to a news story in The Boston Globe (August 17, 2009), “The Patriots returned to practice yesterday [on Sunday, August 16], but not everyone made it through the sweltering session, which was held in full pads. Starting left guard Logan Mankins and rookie reserve offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger were carted off the field. The team did not provide an explanation for their departures, although neither player appeared to have gotten injured. Linebacker Tedy Bruschi said, “You had guys passing out because of the heat.” “They took him off the field for precautionary reasons due to the heat,” said Ohrnberger’s agent, Joe Linta. “He was given several bags of IVs and he responded favorably to that. The Patriots were very proactive and we appreciate that in this type of situation. He should be fine, if not tomorrow then the next day …According to the National Weather Service, the high temperature yesterday in Foxborough was 90 degrees. That was the temperature at 3:53 p.m. The Patriots started practice at 3:45.” Source: Christopher L. Gasper, “A hot-button issue arises: Two carted off from practice,” in The Boston Globe, August 17, 2009, page C2, available on the web at http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/articles/2009/08/17/two_patriots_carted_off_from_practice/ .
SynTurf.org Note: And how hot was it on the artificial turf field at Gillette Stadium?
[No. 38] Greenwood, Indiana: On an 80-deree day, windy, partly cloudy – artificial turf heats up to 140 degrees! The following is a reproduction of an investigative news report from WISH-TV, Channel 8 in Greenwood, Indiana, about the heating effect of artificial turf. Toward the end of the story, the reporter refers to a coach who told the I-Team that some days he actually got blisters from the heat of the turf. Karen Hensel, “I-Team 8: Heat of the Game - Turf Temperatures: I-Team 8 & Forecast 8 team up for testing,” produced by Dawn Clapperton, WISH-TV 8 (Greenwood, Indiana), July 30, 2009, text and video available at http://www.wishtv.com/dpp/news/Turf_Temperatures_20090730 .
GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) - Preseason football practice is about to officially begin in Indiana. The type of surface a football team practices on can crank up the heat. More than 30 Indiana schools have artificial turf football fields.
Research done across the country has shown artificial grass is much hotter than natural grass. So, I-Team 8 teamed up with Forecast 8 to do our own tests.
One school football field with artificial turf is CenterGroveHigh School.
Football Coach Eric Moore says he knows artificial turf can be hotter than grass.
We wanted to find out how much hotter.
Forecast 8 Chief Meteorologist Steve Bray started our tests by measuring the air temperature on the July day we took our cameras to Center Grove.
“Typically when you measure air temperature, you measure it in the shade out of direct sunlight,” Steve said.
It was a partly cloudy afternoon at CenterGroveHigh School. Our temperature gauges measured the air temperature around 80 degrees, a cooler than average summer day. Then, Bray used a mini infrared thermometer to get the temperature of the surface. The thermometer measured the surface temperature in the shade at about 75 degrees.
Next, we went into the sun, but still on a natural grass surface. The air temperature went up to about 83-84 degrees. The surface temperature also went up.
“Most of the areas I'm seeing are between 90 and 95,” Steve said.
Then, Steve took the thermometers to concrete walkways. Again both temperatures climbed. The temperature of the concrete was 105 degrees.
Now that we tested those surfaces, we took the thermometers to the artificial turf that covers the high school's football field.
When clouds moved in and covered the sun, the temperature read 105-106 degrees. But when the sun came back out, it heated the field quickly.
Minutes later, the temperature climbed to a high of 142 degrees with an air temperature of almost 90 degrees.
The surface temperature on the artificial turf is almost twice the temperature of the natural grass. It was a full 65 degrees hotter than in the shade and nearly 55 degrees hotter than in the sun.
If you think the black asphalt where the band practices must be even hotter, think again. Asphalt is actually a cooler surface.
It's “bouncing around 81-85 (degrees) basically but the surface temperature up to 126 and that's actually less than the football field,” Steve said.
Coach Eric Moore doesn't think the extra heat from the artificial turf puts his team more at risk.
“It's all about how we get our guys ready, according to Coach Moore. “It's all about them conditioning and hydrating on a regular basis.”
Again, we picked a cooler than average summer day to do our tests at just 80 degrees. When the temperature spikes over 90, some research found surface temperatures on artificial turf topping 160 degrees.
We talked to one another area coach who usually plays on natural grass. He told I-Team 8 he did a three day camp on artificial turf and had blisters on his feet because of the heat.
[No. 37] Needham, Mass.: Officials caution on use of artificial turf fields in hot days. According to a letter by Stephen Epstein, M.D., Chairman, Board of Health, andGerald Rovner, President, Needham Exchange Club, published on WickedLocal.com (Needham) on July 2, 2009, “The Needham Health Department has been monitoring the field temperatures during hot, sunny days to let us know what to expect. For example, just before Memorial Day weekend, on a 90-degree day, the Memorial Park field temperature was 153 degrees at noon, 116 degrees at 4:15 p.m., but only 75 degrees at 7:30 p.m. Temperatures over 110 degrees raise the risk of heat-related illnesses. For this reason, if it is a hot, sunny day, we would encourage you to remain off the synthetic turf area at Memorial Park until around 5 p.m. the evening of the fireworks. The field should not pose any comfort issues, but use caution before letting small children sit or play on the surface if it still feels hot to the touch. The field was cool to the touch during this year’s NeedhamHigh School graduation, and we are not aware of any complaints of heat-related issues from that event.” Source: Stephen Epstein, M.D., Chairman, Board of Health and Gerald Rovner, President, Needham Exchange Club, “Needham fireworks back on July 3, but safety precautions necessary,” on WickedLocal.com, July 2, 2009, available at http://www.wickedlocal.com/needham/news/opinions/letters/x135735080/Letter-Needham-fireworks-back-on-July-3-but-synthetic-turf-at-Memorial-Park-makes-safety-precautions-necessary#relContent .
[No. 36] Punta Gorda, Florida: No bare feet at turf water park. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. July 5, 2009. If the fear of vandalism and other considerations cordon off artificial turf fields behind fences and “No Trespass” signs, if a host of human activity is banned from them for fear that it may damage the turf, if pets are not allowed and children are warned of heat exhaustion and hygienic and health challenges that could result form contact with artificial turf fields – then we ask, what’s the use ofspending public’s treasure on public land for such limited purpose as scholastic and league play?
It is not often that we sermonize about the loss of open space multipurpose public parks to private sporting pursuits. The following story reminded us of yet another anti-social effect of synthetic playing surfaces. According to a story on NBC2 News (June 21, 2009), the city of Punta Gorda recently “spent $20,000 for astroturf to make the Laishley Park playground safer for kids.But some parents say the fake grass is hurting their children. On an overcast morning, parents say they appreciate the bright side of a playground with astroturf. But in the afternoon sun the mood changes. “My daughter just ran onto the grass and you know she was screaming. I thought she got stung by something. It’s just the grass was so hot,” said Debbie Muso of NorthPort. “It was really hot. It hurt,” said 10-year-old Quinn Sifrit after hurrying off the grass. Some people said they’ve called the turf company, Forever Lawn, to complain that the turf was too hot. “I saw a three-year-old get on there and just start crying, jumping up and down,” said Bob Sifrit of Port Charlotte. Forever Lawn said the same thing it told other callers, ‘kids should be wearing shoes on the turf.’ Parents argue that’s impractical because the turf is next to fountains built for kids to run through. “I mean I guess with shoes, but they’re running around a water park,” said Muso. Some kids say the water helps cool their toes so they can play on the hot turf. City counselors say the water is part of the reason they chose artificial grass. It's an issue they say they want to solve. “It’s easy enough to take the astroturf out and put in regular grass. I think our thoughts were it would just get chlorinated an wouldn’t last very well, so we tried the astroturf...if it’s not the right answer, we’ll change it,” said District 5 council member William Albers. He says last week the council approved installing a shade canopy over a seating area near the artificial grass, but so far no proposals for dealing with the hot turf are on the table.”
[No. 35] New York City: Green roofs are hot, Bloomberg’s idea of one is not!
There are only a few things more obnoxious than a private sector – public sector “partnership” in advancement of sports. Usually, they are lob-sided deals: public money and/or land for mouthful of platitudes and promises. According to a news report in the METRO(June 1, 2009), four years ago New York Mayor Bloomberg “stood with the New York Yankees and promised “a dramatic improvement” in South Bronx parks after the team grabbed 25 acres of public parkland for a new stadium. Now the community is dealing with the improvement. As the first installment in the delayed replacement plan, a single athletic field quietly opened last month on the roof of an unfinished parking garage. Baseball, soccer, football and track all crowded onto the field Saturday [May 30]. “While a cool breeze was blowing on a partly cloudy day in the mid-70s, the artificial turf field was 147.5 degrees. “You can see the heat waves,” noted jogger Jared Davis, 20.
“It’s too hot,” complained Willie Best, a retired corrections officer who’s coaching a Bronx Colts youth football team. “And when this turf gets wet, the kids slide and hurt themselves. Our first day here, a kid broke his ankle.” Source: Patrick Arden, “Bronx still waiting on city’s fields of dreams: So far, new Yankee park doesn’t live up to mayor’s promise,” in METRO, June 1, 2009, available at http://www.metro.us/us/article/2009/06/02/04/1851-82/index.xml?print=1
[No. 34] It’s not even June; players already complaining about turf! SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. May 3, 2009. For a few days in the last week, the temperatures on the East Coast mimicked the heat in July and August, in the 90s. While most of us enjoyed the warmth, not surprisingly, the weather was not kind to the athletes sweating it on artificial turf fields. According to Steve Goff of Soccer Insider (April 27, 2009) http://voices.washingtonpost.com/soccerinsider/2009/04/united_sights_and_sounds.html?wprss=soccerinsider ,
after the match at Giant Stadium between D.C. United at New York Red Bulls (April 26, 2009), the United players “Chris Pontius and Ben Olsen were limping around the locker room, victims of an artificial turf that is harder than a week-old scone.” Another United player, Santino Quaranta said of the hard surface and the searing heat: “It was so hot on that turf, underneath my shoes, my feet were just burning. It was pretty awful.”
Meanwhile, the following from Tom Grady of Star News (Tom Graady, Wilmington, North Carolina, April 28, 2009) is self-explanatoiry: “Soccer on a Hot Tin Roof: The artificial turf at Charlotte Christian [School] stadium combined with rising temperatures Saturday [April 25] afternoon to make for an oven-like atmosphere at field level. ‘It must have been 110 degrees down on that turf,’ Irving said. ‘It was absolutely brutal. The guys’ feet were boiling it was so hot.’ Tim Karalexis put the Fahrenheit reading at more like 120.”http://blogs.starnewsonline.com/default.asp?item=2369788 . The Hammers were playing Charlotte Eagles. Both teams belong to the United Soccer Leagues (USL), Second DivisionSL-2nd Division. Karalexis is a defender with the Hammers; David Irving is the coach of Hammers.
[No. 33] New York City: Politicians cooling it on heat signs?
According to a news story in Daily news (April 23, 2009), “Following reports that children have been burned by safety mats used in city playgrounds, the [New York] City Council voted yesterday to require warning signs be posted in time for this summer. The bill was approved 46 to 2.” “The Daily News reported last year that the temperature of the black safety mats can soar above 165 degrees on hot summer days.” “But some parents and parks advocates said the warning language in the bill has been toned down to satisfy city lawyers who are worried about negligence lawsuits.” The warning simply states: “Warning: Some surfaces may become hot. Please take precautions with exposed skin.” Geoffrey Croft, president of New York City Park Advocates, said “This bill is basically useless as written. The city is more interested in their liability than in protecting their children. They have completely watered this down, and they should be ashamed of themselves.” “Croft’s group and parents of burn victims had pushed for the following language: Warning: Unshaded playground equipment including safety surfacing can cause severe burns to exposed skin.Source: Frank Lombardi, “Council OKs playground mat warning,” in Daily News, April 23, 2009, available at http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2009/04/23/2009-04-23_council_oks_playground_mat_warning.html
[No. 31] What’s a life worth? Listen Up! Guive Mirfendereski, SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. January 25, 2009. The regulars of this site are aware of the thermal dynamics that cause artificial turf fields and synthetic playing surfaces heat up to unbearable temperatures. If you are a newcomer to this site, please check out the items on this page and our health page at http://www.synturf.org/health.html.
On January 23, 2009, The Boston Globe carried a story on page A7, entitled “High School coach charged in death of football player.” The football player, Max Gilpin, was all of 15, a sophomore in high school, when in August 2008 he succumbed to heat exhaustion during football practice and died a few days later in the hospital. The air temperature at Pleasure Ridge Park High School, a magnet school in Louisville, Kentucky, on the fateful day was 94 degrees. Now, a grand jury has indicted the football coach for reckless homicide in the death of Gilpin. The Globe story is available at http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2009/01/23/high_school_coach_charged_in_death_of_football_player/.
Pleasure Ridge ParkHigh School has a football stadium and a football practice field. According to SynTurf.org’s inquiry at Courier Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), the practice field where the young Gilpin was overcome by heat stroke is natural grass. The potential for dehydration and heat stress on artificial turf fields is even greater on hot days. This brings me to a point that parents and coaches need to understand: What is a life worth - playing on fields that can snuff out a life as readily as they can make an athlete shine like a star?
[No. 31] Las Vegas, Nevada: Déjà vu ~ Some like it too hot!In October 2008, SynTurf.org ran a piece on the findings by the UNLV/Desert Research Institute that said artificial turf is too hot for summer use. See below http://www.synturf.org/heateffect.html (Item No. 30). The story is back in the news, I a sort of folksy piece in the January 15th edition of the Las Vegas Sun. According to the article,
Artificial turf has been billed as the cure for the Las VegasValley’s addiction to grassy eye candy. But while its water-saving prowess is unquestionable, there is a temperature problem with the emerald green lawn substitute. According to a UNLV study, fake grass can heat up to nearly 170 degrees in the warmer months. That’s far higher than the 122 degrees that’s considered safe for sustained use by trained athletes, let alone your average toddler or family pooch. The turf temperature study, funded in part by the city of Las Vegas, which has 20 artificial fields, found that green artificial turf reached surface temperature highs of about 180 degrees. “This was a temperature where if you put your hand down on it, you could only hold it for five seconds or so before it would burn,” said Dale Devitt, director of UNLV’s Center for Urban Water Conservation, who worked on the study with Mike Young of the Desert Research Institute’s Division of Hydrological Sciences. And the study didn’t even measure temperatures during the hottest months of the year — it ran from August 2006 to March 2007.
And if the turf does get too hot to use, [says Steve Hofsaess, who installs faux putting greens and lawns], hosing it down for a few minutes solves the problem. “That cools it down drastically,” he said. But Devitt said watering fake grass that’s installed specifically to save water “seems like an oxymoron.” He said other universities have found that the false turf needs to be irrigated every 30 minutes to keep it cool enough to play on. Devitt said artificial turf has some other unintended consequences as well, such as adding to the urban heat island effect, which means artificial turf, like concrete and asphalt, radiates heat back into the air at night, giving cities warmer nights. And that radiating heat also means nearby plants may need extra water, Devitt said.
[No. 30] Las Vegas, Nevada: UNLV/Desert Research Institute researchers sayturf is too hot for summer use! SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. October 17, 2008. On September 18, 2008, the University of Nevada in Las Vegas issued a press release about an UNLV/Desert Research Institute that found “surface temperatures on artificial [turf] far exceed those of other surfaces, significantly limiting recreational use during the summer months.” The study recommends that “manufacturers need to improve the way synthetic surfaces react to solar radiation.” The study found the maximum surface temperature of green artificial turf was approximately 69 degrees F higher than that of irrigated natural grass, and 62 degrees F higher than air temperature. The study, which was conducted between August 2006 and March 2007, recorded maximum surface temperatures as high as 169 degrees F, or 46 degrees higher than what previous research has determined to be the threshold for safe extended use. What’s more, the study did not record data during the two hottest months of the year, according to the press release. According to Dale Devitt, professor of soil and water in UNLV’s College of Sciences, “surface temperatures during the summer months could entirely preclude recreational use on artificial [turf] during daytime hours, thereby offsetting any benefits realized by reduced irrigation.” The green-color turf reacted much more quickly to solar radiation than did any other surface in the study, including concrete, asphalt, natural grass, and white artificial turfgrass, according to Devitt. Funded in part by the City of Las Vegas, the research study is published in Journal of Turfgrass and Sports Surface Science, Volume 83 (April 2008). For the UNLV press release, go to http://news.dri.edu/nr2008/Artificial_Turf_Research_091808.pdf or click here.
[No. 29] Director of Sports Medicine suggests ways to combat heat illness.Perry Denehy M.Ed., ATC/L. is the Director of Sports Medicine for the SycamoreCommunitySchool District in Cincinnati, Ohio. From 1980 to 2000 he was a volunteer firefighter for the city of Mason, Ohio, retiring as a station captain. Today he serves as a volunteer lieutenant with the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department Emergency Services Unit and is a coordinator for the Southwest Ohio Critical Incident Stress Management team. In an article published on Fire Rescue 1 (San Francisco, Cal.), Sepotemebr 23, 2008, he wrote:
And although the athletic community does not currently have an organization such as the [National Fire Protection Association] to mandate the actions of coaches and athletic trainers, educational resources are widely utilized. The National Athletic Trainers Association has tips for recognizing, preventing and treating heat illness. You can find them by typing "heat illness" into the search window at Nata.org. The AmericanCollege of Sports Medicine's consensus statements on hydration and heat illness are available at Acsm.org. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an entire web site devoted to extreme heat and the prevention of heat illness. And finally, the National Federation of High Schools has recommendations posted at Nfhs.org. Consider reviewing the current literature and policies utilized by those health care providers whom look after the well being of athletes.
If your local high school football team and marching band administrators can be concerned for their participants, certainly the fire department should be taking a strong stand on illness prevention, too.
As the certified athletic trainer for my school district, I've helped put together procedures and supplies that have been utilized to prevent heat illness among our football team and cheerleaders. It means these athletes have been adequately prepared physically for the demands and conditions they will encounter. It is not unusual for temperatures to reach above 100 degrees on our artificial field turf. The protective gear worn by the football players increases the stress on the body, and some of our athletes play both on offense and defense, having little down time on the bench.
We have no control over Mother Nature. Sunlight, heat and humidity all contribute to the conditions affecting the performance and energy level of any individual. For a football game, the sports medicine staff prepares the following arsenal of supplies and equipment:
10 gallon coolers filled with ice water and electrolyte sports drinks
Towels immersed in ice water, misting fan, cups and water bottles
Kore Kooler rehab chairs
10' by 10' tent for shade, with sideline benches already in position
In addition, an advanced cardiac life support EMS unit is contracted to be on site during the game. Our medical staff includes two certified athletic trainers, two college senior student athletic trainers, a volunteer orthopedic surgeon and a family practice physician. Despite our best efforts, we do occasionally have athletes experience calf cramping. Fortunately we have not had any serious heat illness patients. By following our example and transferring some of our best practices and pre-planning to your department, hopefully you can say the same.
[No. 28] Whatrelation between turf and water poisoning?SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. September 4, 2008. Water intoxication or hyperhydration occurs when the normal balance of electrolytes in the body is pushed outside of safe limots by drinking too much water. The disturbance in brain functions caused by hyperhydration could be fatal. Athletes typically address dehydration with sports drinks, which claim to provide the necessary electrolytes to support extended exercise. As Wikipedia points out, “not all drinks advertised as sports drinks are suitable for this purpose, and professional advice should be sought for potentially risky situations such as those described above.” In the various items posted on this thread (page), many testify to the heating ofartificial turf fields and the effect that turf field’s heightened microclimate temperatures can have on athletes who play on them. Several municipalities have posted heat advisories and instructions about what to do in the event of heat stress/dehydration when playing on artificial turf fields.
Several entries on this website’s page “Forbidden Fields” (http://www.synturf.org/forbiddenfields.html) highlight the prohibition of certain beverages on artificial turf fields, because of the damaged that sugary liquids can do to the field. It is not for SynTurf.org to say whether these prohibitions rob athletes of the necessary electrolytes.
It is obvious that there can be a connection between heat stress/dehydration caused by playing on super-heated artificial turf fields and hyperhydration if an athlete consumes too much water as the result of playing on artificial turf fields. This may obtain most readily in sports that require cumbersome and padded uniforms, which increase sweating and an athletes’ core temperature.
There is not a week in this country that some young and promising athlete is not lost due to cardiac arrest or some other “inexplicable” or “unexpected” misfortune. If one were to Google the terms “football player died,” one would learn, for example, Sean Fisher of Waldwick, New Jersey, had just turned 13 the day he collapsed after 15 minutes of warm-ups on August 25, 2008, “unable to even extend his hands to cushion the fall. Sean was pronounced dead at a local hospital later that evening -- his 13th birthday,” according to Star-Ledger. See Russell Ben-Ali, “Bergen teen’s death at football practice stuns community,” in Star-Ledger (Waldwick, NJ), August 27, 2008, available at http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-11/121983638083570.xml&coll=1 . It may well behoove public health officials and athletes and coaches to begin exploring the relationship between playing on artificial turf fields, heat stress, “suck it up” mentality, and hyperhydration.
[No. 27] Westport, Conn.: Parks & Recreation Department issues Heat Advisory for Synthetic Athletic Field Users. On August 4, 2008, Westport’s Parks and Recreation Department issued a heat advisory for the benefit of users of synthetic turf fields. The advisory stated: “The Parks and Recreation Department reminds all athletic field users that SAT [synthetic athletic turf] fields retain heat and in warm weather can be substantially hotter than grass fields. In supervising activities on SAT fields, coaches should assure players are well hydrated. Take frequent water breaks and have additional water available. Coaches should always be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke in athletes and take appropriate first aid measures.” The recognition that SAT fields can run substantially hotter than grass is major admission of heat issues associated with turf fields, despite the downplaying of the matter by the turf industry and its political allies in the halls of government and sports clubs. To prevent and/or combat the effects heat stress caused by turf fields, the Westport advisory recommends users and coaches and players to follow the guidelines issued by the American Red Cross. The text of the advisory is available here.
[No. 26]Wayland, Mass.:Environmentalist slams town officials for ignoring turf’s thermal problem. On August 14, 2008, the Wayland chapter of WickedLocal published an opinion piece by Tom Sciacca, an electrical engineer and life-long environmentalist. He is no stranger to these pages, as his seminal study of turf heat in Massachusetts has been on going since 2007. See http://www.synturf.org/sciaccaheatstudy.html . In the piece, entitled “Feeling the heat on artificial turf,” Sciacca criticizes the Wayland public officials for burying their heads in the proverbial silica sand about an issue that is being recognized as major problem in many municipalities despite the turf industry’ nonsensical downplaying of heat stress risks associated with playing on the super-heated turf surfaces. The text of the piece is available athttp://www.wickedlocal.com/wayland/news/lifestyle/columnists/x1822514650/Feeling-the-heat-on-artificial-turf and here.
[No. 25]National Public Radio reports on turf heat and heat island effect. High Temps On Turf Fields Spark Safety Concerns
by Allison Aubrey, NPR - Morning Edition, August 7, 2008.
On August 7, 2008, NPR’s Morning Edition broadcast a piece on the heating of turf fields and their relation to urban heat island effect. The piece featured interviews with Stuart Gaffin of Columbia University, an authority on urban heat island effect as it relates to turf fields, and Geoffrey Croft of the NYC Parks Advocate, a nonprofit organization. In the report, Gaffin and Croft come across as intelligent and informed individuals, who speak with certain command of the science and public policy. The public’s comments in the piece, including those by children, sound unfiltered and true. The comic relief in the piece, surely unintended, is supplied by Rick Doyle, the president of the Synthetic Turf Council, who is aware of reports of 160-degree temperatures on the fields. "I don't think anyone in our industry would suggest it's a good idea to play on a surface that's that hot," Doyle is heard saying on NPR. According to the report, Doyle knows of no documented cases of people being injured. Doyle’s solution to heated turf surfaces: “Just as coaches have to reschedule games due to rain when they play on grass fields,” so too they need to reschedule or consider an alternative surface to play on when it's hot and sunny.
Gee, SynTurf.org muses, we guess this product is not exactly weather proof after all!
[No. 24] Union City, Oklahoma: Suck it up, and fry! SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. August 3, 2008. A recent report by KJRH NBC2 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, featured the high field temperatures at UnionHigh School turf field. “It's a race against the rising mercury, Union players hit the field at 7:30 morning, hoping to beat the heat,” the report said. Myles Ekund, a Union football player, is quoted as saying, “It gets really hot with the turf and your pads. It can probably get up to 120 degrees.” “Can't think about it. Just talk to myself, motivate myself, keep going, pushing. You're not out here for nothing. You're here to get the gold ball,” another player, Lance Cox, said. Source: Marla Carter, “Football players tackle heat,” KJRH NBC2 (Tulsa, Oklahoma),July 28, 2008, available at http://www.kjrh.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=43cf6127-dc6e-4dad-8a90-9531ab28c1f2 .
[No. 23] New York City: The barefoot child on the hot rubber playground surface, ouch! SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. July 25, 2008. It was going be matter of time before the controversy about the heating of artificial turf fields would spill over into the rubberized playground surfaces, which also use used tires in their composition. The issue is a full blown conflict between the citizen’s constitutional right to be bare foot and the government’s Marie Antoinette-style retort, “let them wear shoes” when on the playgrounds that get hot. None of this, of course, would be an issue if the city’s parks department partnered up with nature instead with the purveyors of artificial surfaces.
According to a news story in The New York Daily News, in 2004 one Kian Mehran-Lodge burned his feet on the playground surface at Van Voorhees Park. In June of this year, a 2-year old suffered minor burn injuries when playing at St. Catherine's Park on the Upper East Side. And on July 2 of this year, Parker, age 1, burned his feet as he stepped onto the rubber safety mat atDitmars Park; he ended up spending three days in New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell's burn center.
In response to parents’ complaints about the heating of the rubberized (mat) surfaces at playgrounds, the NYC’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg said park-goers should use common sense when it came to hot playground equipment. “If it's hot, don't sit on it," he said. "I don't think we put anybody in a hazardous situation.” “The mayor's comments were ignorant," said Geoffrey Croft, of NYC Park Advocates. “It would be helpful if he were even remotely familiar with the situation.”
[No. 22] New York City: Joker Strikes Gotham: Rips off the heat sign. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. July 25, 2008. On July 8, 2008, New York City began posting heat advisory signs at the City’s artificial turf fields. This was an important, albeit incremental change, in the position of the New York City Parks Department, which so far had been steadfast in denying anything problematic with fields that can heat up to over 160 degrees in a typical sunny summer day. See background story at http://www.synturf.org/heateffect.html (No. 21 below). According to a news report in the New York Metro, on July 10, 2008, two of the signs that had been posted at Asphalt Green on the Upper East Side disappeared. It is not clear who removed them and why. As a precaution, the field is closed on days above 92 degrees; on an 83-degree day, a watchdog group NYC Park Advocates found the field reached 150.7 degrees. See Patrick Arden, “City on hot seat over turf signs,” in New York Metro, July 23, 2008, available at http://ny.metro.us/metro/local/article/City_on_hot_seat_over_turf_signs/13081.html .
Who took down the signs? One possible perpetrator may be the very City department that decided to put them up in the first place. There was no legal compulsion for these signs to have been posted and, therefore, it was at best an olive branch extended by the City’s Parks Department in order to placate the very vocal criticism over its bias for artificial turf fields and rubberized playgrounds. But…
No sooner the signs went up, the parents whose children play on the artificial turf fields and rubberized playgrounds complained that the signs did not have enough detail, warning of the heat. In a news story appearing in The New York Daily News (July 17), NYC Parks Advocates’ Geoffrey Croft said, "The fields are hot and dangerous. You can put up all the signs you want but signs can't take the place of poor public policy." See Ayala Frank, “Park signs give only tepid warning on hot synthetic turf,” in The New York Daily News, July 17, 2008, available at http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/brooklyn/2008/07/17/2008-07-17_park_signs_give_only_tepid_warning_on_ho.html. A few days, after Mayor Michael Bloomberg dismissed parents’ complaints about the hot rubberized playground surfaces, Croft was quoted in The New York Daily News (July 24) as saying,“The mayor's comments were ignorant," said Geoffrey Croft, of NYC Park Advocates. “It would be helpful if he were even remotely familiar with the situation.” Bloomberg had said park-goers should use common sense when it came to hot playground equipment. “If it's hot, don't sit on it.I don't think we put anybody in a hazardous situation.” See Rachel Monahan, “Parents blast Mayor Bloomberg on unsafe playground mats,” in The New York Daily News, July 24, 2008, available at http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/brooklyn/2008/07/24/2008-07-24_parents_blast_mayor_mike_bloomberg_on_un.html .
[No. 21]New York City: Heat warning signs go up at City’s turf fields.. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. July 12, 2008. Less than a week ago The Daily News reported that New York City would be posting heat warning signs at turf fields. See http://synturf.org/heateffect.html (Item No. 19). On Tuesday, July 8, 2008, NYC became the first municipality to post heat warning signs at turf fields. According to the news story in New York Metrothe sign at the gate to Asphalt Green reads:
This field can get hot on warm, sunny days. If you experience symptoms of heat-related illness, such as dizziness, weakness, headache, vomiting, or muscle cramps, move to a shaded area. Drink water, rest, and seek medical attention if you do not feel better.
The news story also quoted a NYC health department report as stating that “At temperatures above 120 degrees, it only takes 3 seconds to burn a child’s skin severely enough to require surgery.” One day last month, the artificial turf at Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza was 165.5 degrees, while a nearby plot of grass measured just 83 degrees, according to the Metro. “Waves of heat rose from the field. ‘It’s outrageous,’ said Josh Srebnick, a pediatric neuropsychologist.”
SynTurf .org Editor’s Note: Recently, the City of Newton, Mass. contracted with Gale Associates of Weymouth, Mass. to undertake a hydrological and hydraulic analysis at the Newton South High School, where the City intends to rip out some of the natural grass fields and replace them with artificial turf fields per Gale Associates’ own recommendation. In the course of public discussions on the project, several members of the Board of Aldermen inquired of Gale Associates to comment about reports that turf fields get hot. On May 8, 2008, the Board of Aldermen received the following response to the question: Is there a danger from heat generated from synthetic turf fields? "Gale Associates has been asked this question a number of times. In response they polled 10 of their past clients to report their experiences. In their questionnaire they asked “how much of a problem do they see the temperature difference to be?”. The options for an answer were No problem, very little, Moderate, significant. The majority of the responses were this was not a problem. With none answering considering it significant or even a moderate issue. Additionally, cliets [sic] were asked hw many times they watered their fields during a year to address temperature. The answer options were “never, once, 1-2 times or 3-5 times”. In all cases the responses received were never or once or twice. None watering the fields even 3 times. Many factors can contribute to heat exhaustion for athletes, including the time of day, ambient air temperature, length of play, amount of exertion, physical fitness, etc. Also in a survey by Gale of athletic directors of area schools with synthetic turf fields, none found this to be an issue or attributed any injury or illness to synthetic turf temperature."
This response by Gale Associates/City of Newton to the Board of Aldermen is an example of the length to which the proponents of artificial turf will go to obfuscate the issue. The bottom line is that the thermometer has no political or financial incentive to obfuscate, lie, misrepresent, or dismiss and sidestep the question of the turf fields heating up to almost twice the ambient temperature.
[No. 20] Westpoet, Conn.: Heat causes change of venue from turf field. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. Jluy 12, 2008. According to a news story in Westport News, “on a hot day three weeks ago [late June] those involved chose to move a soccer game from Wakeman Field B (artificial turf) to Wakeman E (grass) due to the turf temperatures." The admission was made by Stuart McCarthy, who is the director of Westport’s Parks and recreation Department, to Westport News after the chairwoman of the Environment Committee of the Representative Town Meeting, Diane Cady, disclosed the matter at the July 7th meeting of the committee. According to Cady, “the department also plans to install signs, reminding players not to eat on the fields and to wash their hands after games as precautionary measures.”
[No. 19] NYC will post heat warning signs at turf fields. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. July 6, 2008. Chalk up one for the Herculean effort of the NY Public Advocate Bestsy Gotbaum and a grassroots organization called NYC Park Advocates. By their relentless effort to inform the public and officials of potential and actual hazards of artificial turf, the NYC Parks Department has decided to post signs at artificial turf fields warning the public of the hot temperatures that obtain on turf fields in the summer months. In reprting this decision, the NYC paper TheDaily News also revealed that itself conducted heat measurements at five NYC parks on a day when the ambient (air) temperature was 80 degrees. According to the paper, the department will also discontinue use of crumb rubber infill.
At Staten Island’s GreenbeltRecreationCenter, the temp reached 149 degrees, while the field at Macombs Dam Park in the Bronx hit temps between 145-160 degrees, and the field at Flushing Meadows-Corona park in Queens registered 162 degrees.
The News also reported public’s comments about playing on the fields that measured twice as hot as the natural grass. "My feet are burning! I had to dump cold water on my shoes just to walk around," said one 9-year old."On a hot, humid day you would faint out here," worried a 58-year old for the children who play soccer on the turf fields. "My feet always blister coming out here. The bottoms of my shoes feel like melted rubber, it gets so hot," said one 33-year old, who takes his 10-year-old nephew to play on turf field because there are no real ones in the neighborhood. "You bring the kids out here, but you can't do anything because the turf gets too hot," he said. "This turf is a killer."
When confronted with The News findings, “the Parks Department conceded high temperatures can be a problem at turf fields. They said they were in the process of installing signs warning visitors of the dangers at fields across the city.” The first deputy parks commissioner, Liam Kavanagh, is quited by the paper as saying "The temperatures can get very high during the heat of the day,” but he minimized its effect because “people are smart. They are not going to use a place that is uncomfortable to play on." For the uncle who brings his nephew to play ball on the turf field, Kavanagh’s statement is nonsense because people bring their kids to the turf because there are no real ones in the neighborhood. Besides, what of the effect of super heated turf surfaces and crumb rubber on the environment, on the surrounding vegetation, the flora and fauna, particularly birds?
According to The News, “Kavanagh also said the city plans to stop using the crumb-rubber infill because of excessive heat and switch over to a carpet-style turf.” However, the field in Macombs Dam Park is already a carpet-style turf and it “still tested as high as 160 degrees.”
[No. 18 ] Introducing UrabHeatIslands.com.SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. May 24, 2008. The website www.urbanheatislands.com is the brainchild of Camilo Perez Arrau. His portfolio of thermal images of synthetic turf fields was featured on SynTurf.org a few months ago at http://synturf.org/heateffect.html (Item No. 12).
“At a first glance,” Arrau wrote to SynTurf.org, “we show urban heat islands in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, its impacts and its consequences. But that's not all.” The website also has a chapter specially dedicated to synthetic turf fields. “Concerning field turf, I've created a chapter specially dedicated to this. I'm working to show on our site some images of heat on artificial turf in Vancouver and Toronto as I did for Montreal some time ago,” Arrau said.
[No. 17] Why Grass Is Cooler Than Turf? SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. April 5, 2008. Here are a few excerpts from comments posted by Stuart Gaffin, a climate researcher at Columbia University, on Reuters Blogs, as cited below.
“Concerned individuals from many different quarters, including environmental scientists and park advocates, health researchers, parents and community groups, are raising many questions about the potential environmental and health consequences of unmitigated synthetic turf usage.”
“I and other scientists have recently been reporting how hot these playing surfaces are on summer days…. I often find that synthetic turf fields run 60° F hotter than grass fields on sunny afternoons, easily reaching temperatures of 140° F or more. This is close to the temperatures I have recorded on black ‘tar beach’ rooftops. So, when children play on synthetic turf fields in the summer heat, it may be like sending them to play on a rooftop surface.”
“Which brings me to the interesting science question: Since synthetic turf fields look like grass fields and have a similar dark-green color, how do grass fields and plants in general manage to avoid reaching such high temperatures and dying as a result? The answer is evaporation of soil moisture through their leaves. Plants are nature’s “geniuses” when it comes to evaporating water to stay cool in the sunlight. They need sunlight for photosynthesis of course so they perfected mechanisms of evaporation to avoid burning up.”
[No. 16]Wayland, Mass. From the horse’s mouth: Let’s keep the public in the dark about the turf’s heat effect! SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. March 27, 2008.
A few days ago SynTurf.org reported on the suggestion by the Wayland Board of Health that public/users of the town’s artificial turf field ought to be warned about the risks of playing on a field that can heat up to extraordinary temperatures during the mid-spring to mid-autumn months. Seehttp://www.synturf.org/heateffect.html (Item No. 15).
After that story broke, a few readers wrote to take exception to SynTurf.org’s characterization of Mr. Tichnor (affectionately known also as“Mr. Turfnor”) as one who looked like an imbecile trying to impeach the Board of Health’s advisory. Well, judge for yourself: Here is the transcript of what he said and how he said it. By the way, like fish, fools too swim in schools – in the transcript below you will read the remarks of two more commonsense-impaired persons, a Selectman named of Joseph F. Nolan and the Town Administrator Frederice E. Turkington, Jr.:
Transcript of the remarks of Tichnor and Nolan at the March 17 of the meeting of the Board of Selectmen:
Michael Tichnor: Item number two, a letter from the Board of Health to the Board of Selectmen regards a turf field posting a sign of the dangers of the field of the heat and uh I did some checking uh first of all I'd like to find out uh who made that presentation to the Board of Health uh but I feel this kind of a sign is totally unwarranted uh there is no evidence that there's any additional health hazard as a result of having a turf field and the heat uh the evidence is to the contrary uh and the checking I did I'm not aware of any other turf field anywhere that has this kind of sign up. Certainly to put a sign up for the turf field for concerns about the heat uh I would think you'd do the same thing for tennis courts, for basketball courts uh any other fields. Uh, and uh again I just find this totally unwarranted and, uh, no clue where this came from but uh I don't know why this letter came to us from the Board of Health but if there's any action for us to take I would urge that we suggest that this sign not go up.
Joe Nolan: I concur with you on that one Michael. I'm interested in the study and I wonder how many of our neighbor towns nationwide that have turf fields I've never seen a sign like that at any…
Tichnor: There's never been I did some checking and there's not one up that anyone's aware of in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and I'm sure there are well over a hundred fields and there are four just in Sudbury and again the studies are to the contrary the actual experience in the fields. Again, is there any action for us to take on this Fred or…
Town Administrator Fred Turkington: No I'll follow up with uh the Park and Rec Commission they'd be the ones uh what the School Committee uh considering putting up a sign based on this letter. So I'll follow up and see what their intended action is I know Park and Rec is meeting down the hall as we speak so…
Tichnor: I certainly hope they do not follow through on it and I would ask that they at least uh put a hold on it until there's further discussion.
SynTurf.org rests its case. Just think that the public pays for these clowns' salaries.
[No. 15] Wayland, Mass.: Board of Health Warns Against Turf Temperatures. SynTurf, org, Newton, Mass. March 23, 2008. On February 5, 2008, Board of Health sent a letter to the Board of Selectmen, suggesting that the town post signs at town’s artificial turf field alerting/educating the public and users about the potential health risks brought about by elevated turf temperatures in the period between late Spring and early Fall. For the Board’s letter to the Selectmen, click here. The Board of health suggests the following wording:
On hot, sunny days, artificial turf can reach turf ground temperatures up to 20 degrees hotter than black asphalt surfaces and/or up to 50 degrees hotter than natural turf. Please be aware that direct contact with these surfaces by you, your children or pets when the temperature is elevated may lead to contact skin burns and/or heat prostration. In addition due to the increased temperature in the over all field environment during these periods, coaches, players and participants are advised to keep fluids readily available and pay close attention to staying hydrated to avoid metabolic heat stress.
This warning is the result of a presentation made by Tom Siacca and others to the Board of Health on January 8, 2008. Siacca shared with the Board the result of thermal readings that he had conducted at several fields in the neighboring cities and towns. The results of readings were first published as an exclusive on Synturf.org. For the Sciacca Heat Survey, go to http://www.synturf.org/sciaccaheatstudy.html. For a glimpse of Siacca at work, go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/09/13/grass_roots_uprising. Last summer, SynTurf.org visited a few venues in the Boston area: Lexington, Belmont and Cambridge and invariably there was a considerable amount of activity on the fields by youth and adults in unstructured or organized play. Besides some hyper-tem readings on the fields, we observed two interesting phenomena related to the use of the fields. First, at Belmont High School, where we saw little activity on the field, patrons were nevertheless walking and jogging along the rubberized track that circles the field. The effect of airborne particulates and off-gassing toxins on this group of adjunct-users of the turf fields has not been studied. The second phenomenon we observed had to do with children and youth playing on the fields in Cambridge and Lexington in hotter air and field conditions than the adults. Because they play after work hours, the adults get to play under safer conditions. The children are the most vulnerable among the users of the fields and yet they were playing at the hottest hours for the turf. The Board of Selectmen has reacted with “disbelief” to the Board of Health’s warning. According to a source familiar with the proceedings, “one has to wonder why it took the Selectmen over five weeks for [the letter] it to appear in their correspondence packet for last weeks meeting.” One Selectman in particular, Michael L. Tichnor, the Vice Chair of the Board and an ardent supporter of turf, was heard at the televised meeting mumbling something to the effect that “We cannot let this happen” and wanted to know who made the presentation referenced in the Board of Health’s letter. The “heat effects” of the turf was well known to Wayland officials who “examined” the pros and cons of the turf project that installed the field at the high school last summer. Yet for some reason, the officials ignored a few studies that told of some dangerous levels of heat build-up on turf surfaces. The officials dismissed as irrelevant those studies because Wayland, they believed, is in the northeast and, besides, the fields are not used much during the summer months and, if things got way too hot, we can always water down the fields. Not even the temperature readings by the Earth Institute in New York City parks and fields could awaken a lot given to plowing ahead with the project. The Siacca Heat Study has filled a critical gap in understanding turf temperatures in the Boston area. Tichnor’s aggravation is understandable; he now looks like an imbecile. After investing all this time and energy in becoming the water boy for the proponents of the turf field, he is about to be declared a public health hazard himself. One would have expected – or maybe not – the Selectman to say “this could have a serious impact on the health of our children” or “we should contact parks and the schools to have them prepare for warm weather on the field.” Instead, Tichnor, wanted to know ho made the presentation to the Board of Health. On this Easter Sunday, we should all be reminded about how truth of a message has a life separate from the messenger. For the details of what Wayland intends to do (or not),go to story to Gabriel Leiner, “Wayland, Weston finds artificial turf hot to handle,” The Metro West Daily News, March 22, 2004, available at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/x1564565741.
[No. 14] Weston, Mass.: Hot times at Weston High! SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. March 23, 2008.
The town of Weston is a suburb west of Boston, next to Wayland. The same sun that heats up the artificial turf field at Wayland High School in Wayland is also the one that heats up the fake grass field in Weston. In the summer 2007, Weston installed a synthetic turf field behind Weston High School.
In an article in Saturday’s edition of TheMetroWest Daily News, the Weston Public Health Director, Wendy Diotalevi, is quoted as saying “As the sun hits the field, the temperature on the field's surface can get very hot. And at 120 degrees the field starts off-gassing chemicals.” And so what is the town gonna do about it? “We definitely have had discussions about when the field can be used and when it can’t be,” Diotalevi said.
According to The Metro West daily News, Diotalevi is on the ball! “There’s not a lot of activity in the summer but we can still get hot days in the spring and fall, so we're working on a policy for monitoring temperatures that we want people to be aware of,” she told the reporter Gabriel Leiner. Diotalevi expects the Board of Health to vote by June on whether they will request that coaches monitor temperatures at certain intervals or that the town post warning signs of high temperatures on the field, reported Leiner.
[No. 13]North Carolina School official says, "Turf can get really hot in the summer."
In the context of the debate about installing an artificial turf filed at South Point High School in Belmont, North Carolina (see “Grassroots” page, Item No. 32), the county newspaper, The Gaston Gazette, set out to ask if the Buncombe County's school system was happy with its six artificial turf fields that cost $2.85 million to install. The Assistant Superintendent Dr. Tony Baldwin had no idea how much the school system had saved as the result of this money-saving, low-maintenance project. According to The Gaston Gazette, “Baldwin said it was too early to tell. The fields are so new that savings have not manifested, but in the long run, he says, they will.” The fields have not been without complaints. According to The Gaston Gazette, “The biggest complaint is the small black rubber pellets in the turf. Baldwin said players complain about the pellets collecting in their cleats during games. The other complaint is the heat. "Turf can get really hot in the summer," but to help this, the field can be watered to cool it off, he told The Gaston Gazette. See, Donny Wisor, “As Belmont considers artificial turf for South Point High School, we asked one school system for its experience with fake grass,” in The Gaston Gazette, March 17, 2008, available athttp://www.gastongazette.com/news/school_18318___article.html/experience_one.html.
[No. 12] Arrau’s Thermal Images of Artificial Turf Fields (“Cinq exemples de terrains de jeux synthétiques et de températures associées par une image thermique Landsat 5: le 27 juin 2005), by Camilo Perez Arrau, candidate for the degree of Master’s of Geography, University of Quebec in Montreal, April 30, 2007. Arrau has since graduated from the program.
The irony of all ironies -- At the time Mayor Karin Marks made her “non” announcement, the founder of FieldTurf was still among the living, residing just north of the Park.
In their effort to educate the public and officials about artificial turf, the Save the Park group made use of Arrau’s portfolio of thermal (infrared) images that contrasted Westmount Park’s grass field with artificial turf fields around Montreal. Arrau also has a portfolio of similar data for Vancouver and Toronto. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In evaluating the data, please be informed that the temperatures given on the high and low end of the spectrum are in centigrade. To convert into Fahrenheit, solve for value in 9C=5F-160. The comma between the numbers represents a decimal point. To view the Arrau portfolio, click here.
No. 11] Micro-climate temp readings in early September According to Union Leader, Macnchester, New Hampshire, on Septemebr 8, 2007, heat felled 50 Army National Guard members who were participating in a transformation ceremnoy at Gill Stadium. According to the paper: “Stagnant air and temperatures in the low 90s during yesterday morning's New Hampshire Army National Guard transformation ceremony proved punishing for the soldiers taking part. Guard officials said 50 soldiers were temporarily overcome by the heat on Gill Stadium's football field, which had no shade and, with its artificial turf, was even hotter than it was in the stands. Many soldiers were carried off the field on stretchers to recuperate. Four soldiers were taken to Elliot Hospital as a result of the heat, while a fifth was taken to the hospital due to a kidney stone, a condition which the heat likely exacerbated. Forty-six other soldiers were given water and were able to recuperate in the shade.” More of the story: http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Heat+fells+50+Guardsmen&articleId=ee14ffc9-be8a-4204-b7a0-cbce0dc051a5 On the same day, at Boston College Alumni Stadium, in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, a hot time was had by the BC Eagles and North Carolina football teams. According to The Boston Globe: “Heat was a factor, with coaches on both sides shuffling players in and out. Game-time temperature was 90 degrees, but the Alumni Stadium turf was a sizzling 126 . . .” http://www.boston.com/sports/articles/2007/09/09/not_all_good_news___larkin_hurts_knee/
No. 10] Artificial Turf Impacts Football for Madera South High School
ABC News Video Report, Lee DaSilva Field, Madera South High School, California This item reports on the delay of the starting time for a game to be played on artificial turf due to the heating of the field. The report refers to a temperature of 120 degrees F recorded at 5 PM. The coach of the team is shown saying that they will be having misting and cooling apparatus on the sidelines. The product is mentioned as being FieldTurf. Go here for the full report:
No. 09] Some August temperature readings around Boston, Massachusetts [Editor's Note: This data is part of an ongoing investigation of synthetic turf thermal characteristics by Tom Sciacca, a retired Electrical Engineer (and a graduate of MIT) whose professional work included design of computerized data acquisition systems used for precision temperature measurements. This data is consistent with observations from New York and Pennsylvania and show that elevated temperatures are an issue even in northerly latitudes. In interpreting this data, it is important to have an understanding of the parameters that influence the temperatures. Ambient temps are obvious, as is sun angle (i.e., time of day). The influence of sun angle also means that time of year is critical. The measurements began about six weeks after the summer solstice and so they are clearly not worst-case. But the fact that the solar cycle is at the same point now as in late April means that the temps I am finding now will be an issue for the spring athletic use. Other parameters obviously include cloud cover, and not so obviously wind -- that becomes obvious as one watches the temperature fall noticeably when a gust of wind comes up. But there is also significant variation from one field to the next, as one can see in the Sudbury readings. That differential requires further study, though it seems to involve age of the field and how recently it was raked, along with details of construction like width of the "grass" blades. There is however a good case to be made for the local boards of health to address these temperatures as a public health issue].
Sudbury Cutting Field [on Mass. Route 27] August 28, 2007, 11:45 AM, partly cloudy Ambient: 79 Asphalt: 116 Turf: 140 Tom’s notes: This is a particularly interesting measurement for several reasons. First, it is now about ten weeks past the summer solstice, or the equivalent of mid-April in the solar cycle. Mid-April should be right in the middle of the spring sports season. Second, the ambient temperature was 79 degrees, which is not extreme for a nice spring day. Third, this was more than an hour before solar noon (remember we're on Daylight Savings Time) and there were a fair number of clouds around, so it was certainly not worst-case conditions. And I still got 140 degrees. Or 61 degrees above ambient, which pretty much matches published reports from New York. Peer’s comments: Cutting Field gets a lot of use and seemed somewhat compacted when we walked it last month. Is it possible that the older, more heavily used fields have the tire crumb 'floating' to the top with use and the sand filtering to below the crumb? This would give the field a higher heat factor even in the pre-noon sun. Plus Cutting is wide open without any of the trees around the new Lincoln-Sudbury football field, for example, but it would have been interesting to have a reading of that field in the same time period. Another theory - as the poly 'grass' fibers break down and get smashed they provide less shade and allow the sun more access to the tire crumb below to heat. This would be a different mechanism than the 'floating crumb' theory but with the same effect and thermal impact. Third theory - the air movement above the turf is critical to the heat flow and if the air is still or heavy the heat from the surface isn't dissipated and hovers and lingers over the carpet building up rather than being whisked away from the field. I was finding this to be an issue and could be a confounder on your readings. You may want to characterize the breeze - direction, rate of flow, and the THI - in case this is happening as it would have a dramatic impact on the readings if true. If not, never mind. I'm guessing that compaction, use, and shuffling of the infill materials has something to do with the heat factor. Plus some fields tend to have more tire crumb and less sand - some competitors are all rubber (or all sand). Cutting may just have more crumb rubber infill. Tom’s Rejoinder: There is a definite difference between fields, but my data from the Lincoln-Sudbury fields doesn't support an "old is worse" hypothesis. The new field there is notably worse, from readings taken minutes apart on two separate days. Thermal engineering 101 says that air flow cools a hot surface, and my observations have been that when a gust of wind comes up the temp reading drops noticeably. Think of blowing on hot food to cool it - Mommies were the original thermal engineers! Yesterday the wind was calm, and that may well have contributed to the result. But the best one can do to document the wind is to go to the NOAA website and look at the observations from the nearest reporting site. A more revealing research on this phenomenon would entail instrumenting a bunch of fields with continuously recording and, preferably, remote- reading temperature, wind, humidity, and solar sensors.
Also as reported on August 15, 2007 by Tom: Lincoln-Sudbury athletic fields. Temps in degrees F, taken at surface. Instrumentation: Fluke Model 87 Digital Voltmeter, 80TK Thermocouple Module, Type K Thermocouple.
August 3, 2007, 2PM. Hazy Sun.
Ambient (shade, 3 feet off ground): 91 Clover Patch (green, two inches high): 93 Grass athletic field (grass brown and dry): 109 Asphalt (black): 135 Old Synthetic Turf Field: 143 New Synthetic Turf Field: 156
August 14, 2007, 2:15PM Mostly Cloudy Ambient (shade, 3 feet off ground): 78 Grass Field: 98 Asphalt: 131 Old Turf Field: 127 New Turf Field: 136
Veteran's Memorial Fields Complex, Waltham August 16, 2007, 11AM, Hazy sun Ambient: 85 Turf: 128 Adjacent grass: 85 Asphalt: 120
No. 08]Los Lunas High School football team feels the heat. Los Lunas [New Mexico] – August 25, 2007. The Tigers of Los Lunas High School in Valencia County hope to get hot season, but a temperature of 138 degrees on their practice filed is not what they had in mind, reports Jason W. Brooks, a staff writer for the Bulletin. “That was the measured temperature on the new synthetic turf field at Willie Chavez Stadium on Wednesday, and the mid-afternoon practice was the last in preparation for a Thursday scrimmage. The Tiger QB, Clayton Roggy, however, sees an advantage in playing on the new home turf.“Most teams will be practicing on grass, and the turf is really hot on your feet, even at night,” said Roggy. “We’ve gotten used to that.” The full text of the article is available at http://www.news-bulletin.com/sports/73738-08-25-07.htmland Jason Brooks can be reached at email@example.com
No. 07] Case for Grass: Artificial Turf Causes Global Warming. Posted Mar 26th 2007 9:17AM by Michael David Smith http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/category/nfl/2007/03/26/case-for-grass-artificial-turf-causes-global-warming/. I think nearly all football fans and nearly all football players prefer grass to artificial turf. Although modern Field Turf is vastly superior to old-school Astroturf in terms of both aesthetics and injuries, it's still not as good as grass. But artificial turf seems to be the wave of the future: Although it's expensive to install, once it's in, there's very little maintenance required, and that makes it cost-effective, which is why Field Turf is spreading through the NFL, college football and now even high schools. As several high schools in the Boston area consider installing artificial turf fields, advocates of grass are making a new argument: Artificial turf causes global warming. Stuart Gaffin, an atmospheric scientist whose focus is excess heat in urban areas and storm-water runoff, said synthetic turf poses problems on both scores. Last summer, as part of a study of heat radiation in New York City, Gaffin found the temperature above artificial turf fields measured at 140 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, creating what he described as "heat islands."The makers of Field Turf say it only gives off slightly more heat than grass, and I doubt the environmental argument is going to work on cost-conscious administrators. But I like any argument that leads to football being played on the surface Walter Camp meant for it to be played on: grass.
No. 06] How hot was it? 132 degrees in the park, by Oatrick Arden, Metro New York, August 3, 2006 http://ny.metro.us/metro/local/article/How_hot_was_it_132_degrees_in_the_park/3767.html. MANHATTAN — On the hottest day of the year, it was 99 degrees just before 2 p.m. yesterday at the corner of 112th Street and First Avenue. But on the synthetic turf soccer field across the street in Jefferson Park, it was a scorching 132 degrees. These measurements were low-tech, taken with outdoor thermometers purchased that morning in an Upper East Side hardware store by parks watchdog Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates. While community groups have been expressing alarm over the Parks Dept.’s increasing use of “plastic grass” as a cost-saving measure, Croft was primarily concerned yesterday with the fake turf’s use of rubber crumbs from recycled tires. “I was worried about the quality of the air and the excessive heat,” he said. Last month, Metro reported a Rutgers University lab sampling of rubber pellets from a synthetic athletic field in Riverside Park showed levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that would be considered hazardous by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. Though PAHs have been associated with lung cancer if inhaled, Dr. Patrick Kinney, a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University, had said, “I don’t know if they can get in the body through the [turf's] rubber.” Croft wondered whether a hot fake-turf field gave off toxic fumes. “Not only can you smell it but you can see the heat rising up in waves,” he said. A neighboring natural-turf baseball field was 108 degrees. “It’s dirt, not rubber,” Croft said. “The synthetic turf field is 24 degrees hotter.” Synthetic turf has long been known to get hotter than natural grass. In the spring of 2002, after complaints from its football team, Brigham Young University found “the surface temperature of the synthetic turf was 37 degrees higher than asphalt.” The university’s Dr. Frank Williams and Gilbert Pulley reported the surface temperature of artificial turf climbed to as high as 200 degrees.
No. 05] Sports Illustrated edition of March 12, 2007, has an informative exposé on sports and global warming [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/magazine/cover]. While the piece does not directly discuss artificial turf, it does speak about “carbon footprint” and how individuals and organizations are making their sports activities and installations carbon-neutral. Entitled “Going, Going Green,” the essay asks us to pay attention to the way our planet is changing due to global warming and how that affects the games we play. The article is available online at http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/more/03/06/eco0312/
No. 04] The New York City Study (2006).One of this country’s preeminent experts on “heat island” effect is Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. Her seminal work (co-authored with William D. Solecki and others) on abatement of urban heat island effect by means of installing green roofs is contained in Green Roofs: Urban Heat Island – “Potential Impact of Green Roofs on the Urban Heat Island Effect,” which is available at http://ccrs.columbia.edu/cig/greenroofs/index.html.
In January 2007 Dr. Rosenzweig spoke on “Climate Change in Our Back Yard” at a lecture sponsored by the Green Decade Coalition of Newton, Massachusetts. Presently she is exploring the mitigation of the “heat island” effect by turning rooftops green. And “by turning rooftops green,” she does not mean to cover them in artificial turf.
Dr. Stuart Gaffin of the Earth Institute at Columbia University is the lead-researcher on urban “heat island” effect in relation to synthetic turf. In the summer 2006 the Institute conducted urban heat island (UHI) reconnaissance around Manhattan and the Bronx. The study sampled many different urban surfaces, including sports turf surfaces in playgrounds and fields. The extremely high surface temperatures that were recorded on the sports turf were striking. Indeed, it appeared that such surfaces were among the hottest possible for urban areas, rivaling dark roofs and fresh asphalt. Typical early afternoon surface temperatures during the summer were in the 140 – 160 degrees Fahrenheit range.
In December 2006, Drs. Rosenzweig and Gaffin conveyed to mayor Bloomberg’s administration its concerns about the potential proliferating use of “sports-turf” and called urged that the sports turf manufacturers should be given a free pass to continue to manufacture their product without regard to urban heat island effect and urban combined sewage overflow water pollution.
In the letter to Mayor Bloomberg’s Long-Range Sustainability Planning Office, Dr, Gaffin and Dr. Rosenzweig identified four physical reasons for such high temperatures on the turf:
1. In trying to simulate grass coloring, the manufacturers employ dark pigments. Using an approximate albedo meter we recorded albedos of only 7%, meaning only 7% of incident sunlight radiation is reflected from the surfaces. Such low albedos are comparable to freshly laid pitch asphalt.
2. There is a filamentous structure to the turf surface, simulating grass blades again, we assume. These filaments however also lower the albedo by creating micro light traps.
3. The surfaces are impervious so that no water vapor from the soil can evaporate. And since they are non-living there is obviously no transpiration of water either. This also means that turf may be contributing to the urban runoff problem and combined sewer overflows, depending on where the runoff flows.
4. The surfaces are low mass and "cushion-y", for obvious reasons. The low mass means that they heat up very rapidly in sunlight, as compared to dense surfaces.
[Editor' Note: The New York Study recognized that using natural grass fields might not be an option in many communities and playgrounds. However, the authors of the study feel that this did not mean the sports turf manufacturers should be given a "free pass" to continue to manufacture their product without regard to the concerns of the urban heat island and urban combined sewer overflow water pollution impacts. In the same way that urban rooftops and asphalt are being re-envisioned and re-engineered to reduce urban heat island and combined sewer overflow impacts (green roofs, pervious pavement, light surfaces), turf manufacturers should also be approached about possible re-designs that reduce temperature and runoff. Of the 4 causes listed above, the first 3 suggest possible alternatives: (1) Use lighter pigments that still enable good sports performance. There may even be ways to alter the "near infrared" albedo of the turf that does not affect its visible spectrum. Such work is being studied at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories Heat Island group in connection with rooftops. (2) Explore less filamentous systems that reduce micro light trapping. (3) Explore creating pervious versions of the turf that may enable both evapotranspiration and reduced runoff. This would probably have the biggest temperature reduction benefit. Dr. Rosenzweig may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and Dr. Stuart Gaffin may be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.
No. 03] The University of Missouri Study (2005). On a summer afternoon in the year 2003, when the air temperature was 98° F, the surface temperature at the University of Missouri’s Faurot Field (FieldTurf brand) measured 173° F. The nearby natural grass showed a temperature of 105 degrees. The temperature at head-level height over the faux turf registered 138° F. The researcher who conducted the measurements stated, "If they are going to have artificial fields, we need coaches, parents and players to know that temperatures on these fields are going to be anywhere from 150 to 170 degrees on some days." Go here for details: http://www.plantmanagementnetwork.org/pub/ats/news/2005/synthetic
No. 02] The Utah Study. The results of the Earth Institute Study (New York Study) mirrored the results of the study conduct in 2002 at the Brigham Young University in Utah. In this study, at one point (2 PM on June 24, 2002), the surface temperature of the artificial turf surface measured 180° F, while the air at five feet above the ground measured 100° F. By contrast, the natural turf surface measured 93.5° F, while the air five feet above measured 96° F. What this data suggested was that natural turf was cooler than synthetic turf and the air five feet above the synthetic turf surface was considerably hotter than the natural turf superjacent air.
The following is Synthetic Surface Heat Studies by Drs. C. Frank Williams and Gilbert E. Pulley of Brigham Young University (2002): Synthetic turf surfaces have long been regarded as a lower maintenance alternative to natural turf. However, synthetic surfaces like natural turf have their shortcomings. In the spring of 2002 a Field Turf synthetic surface was installed on one half of Brigham Young University’s Football Practice Field. The other half of the installation is a sand-based natural turf field. Shortly after the Field Turf was installed football camps were started. The coaches noticed the surface of the synthetic turf was very hot. One of the coaches got blisters on the bottom of his feet through his tennis shoes. An investigation was launched to determine the range of the temperatures, the effect water for cooling of the surfaces, and how the temperatures compared to other surfaces. On June of 2002 preliminary temperatures were taken at five feet and six inches above the surface and at the surface with an infrared thermometer of the synthetic turf, natural turf, bare soil, asphalt and concrete. A soil thermometer was used to measure the temperature at two inches below the surface of the synthetic turf. Also, water was used to cool the surface of the natural and artificial turf. It was determined that the natural turf did not heat up very quickly after the irrigation so only the artificial turf was tracked at five and twenty minutes after wetting. The results of the preliminary study are shocking. The surface temperature of the synthetic turf was 37º F higher than asphalt and 86.5º F hotter than natural turf. Two inches below the synthetic turf surface was 28.5º F hotter than natural turf at the surface. Irrigation of the synthetic turf had a significant result cooling the surface from 174º F to 85º F but after five minutes the temperature rebounded to 120º F. The temperature rebuilt to 164º F after only twenty minutes. These preliminary findings led to a more comprehensive look at the factors involved in heating of the artificial turf. Three aspects of light were measured along with relative humidity. The synthetic surface was treated as two areas, the soccer field and the football field and the natural turf was one area. Four randomly selected sampling spots were marked with a measuring tape from reference points on the fields so it could be accessed for subsequent data collection. Bare soil, concrete, and asphalt sampling areas were selected and marked in a similar manner. The results are shown in table form below: Table 1. SurfaceAverage Surface Temperature between 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM Soccer117.38º Fhigh 157º F Football117.04º Fhigh 156º F Natural Turf78.19º Fhigh 88.5º F Concrete94.08º F Asphalt109.62º F Bare Soil98.23º F Table 2. Two inch depthAverage Soil Temperature between 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM Soccer95.33º Fhigh 116º F Football96.48º Fhigh 116.75º F Natural Turf80.42º Fhigh 90.75º F Bare Soil90.08º F Table 3. ShadeAverage Temperature between 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM Surface Temperature of Natural Turf66.35º Fhigh 75º F Surface Temperature of Artificial Turf75.89º Fhigh 99º F Average Air Temperature81.42º F Surface Temperature of A.T. (Artificial Turf) is significantly higher than air or soil temperature of A.T. The amount of light (electromagnetic radiation) has a greater impact on temperature of A.T. than air temperature. The hottest surface temperature recorded was 200º F on a 98º F day. Even in October the surface temperature reached 112.4º F. This is 32.4º F higher than the air temperature. White lines and shaded areas are less affected because of reflection and intensity of light. Natural grass areas have the lowest surface and subsurface temperatures than other surfaces measured. Cooling with water could be a good strategy but the volume of water needed to dissipate the heat is greatly lessened by poor engineering (infiltration and percolation). Average air temperature over natural turf in the late afternoon is lower than other surfaces. Soil temperature of A.T. is greater than bare soil and natural turf. Humidity appears to be inversely related to surface and soil temperature. It is likely that energy is absorbed from the sunlight by the water vapor. The heating characteristics of the A.T. make cooling during events a priority. The Safety Office at B.Y.U. set 120º F as the maximum temperature that the surface could reach. When temperature reaches 122º F it takes less than 10 minutes to cause injury to skin. At this temperature the surface had to be cooled before play was allowed to continue on the surface. The surface is monitored constantly and watered when temperatures reach the maximum. The heat control adds many maintenance dollars to the maintenance budget. A budget comparison was made using actual dollars spent and for every dollar spent on the A.T. maintenance one dollar and thirty cents was spent on the natural turf (N.T.) practice field. While construction costs are very unbalanced, for every dollar spent on the N.T. eleven dollars and seventy-seven dollars were spent on the A.T.
The area under the carpet of BYU’s installation is designed to move water from the surface and into an extensive drain mat system. This part of the installation is two thirds of the overall cost of the A.T. Thus, for a 2.5 million dollars installation approximately 1.7 million dollars go for the subsurface and drainage. The most interesting thing about this is that the drain mat probably sees little or nº water. The surface is hydrophobic and the undersurface is poorly engineered to favor water retention rather than drainage. That seems like a high price to pay for something that does not work! Artificial turf surfaces have their place in the turf industry. They can work in environments where grass will not grow and are marginal. However, they are costly and not maintenance free. It is important to take all the factors in to consideration before making a large investment. Don’t take the manufacture’s word for the factors of concern i.e. don’t let the fox guard the hen house. The propaganda on BYU’s installation is charts with surface temperatures less than the air temperature and claims for drainage of 60 inches per hour. The question still remains is A.T. 11.47 times better than natural turf?
No. 01] The Texas Study. The measurements taken at the Texas A & M University, College Station, Texas on August 20  equally point out the dangerously high surface temperature of synthetic turf. To convert the values in the following chart, solve for F in C/100=F-32/180, or 9C=5F-160.
Type of surfacemax. daytime surface tempmax. nocturnal surface temp
Green growing turf31°C [= 62°F]24°C Dry bare soil39°C26°C Brown dormant turf52°C27°C Dry synthetic turf70°C [=158°F]29°C Source: JamesB. Beard and Robert L. Green, “The Role of Turfgrasses in Environmental Protection and their Benefits to Humans,” in Journal of Environmental Quality, vol. 23, no. 3 (May-June 1994), pp. 452-460, table 1. reprint of this article go to: http://new.turfgrasssod.org/pdfs/Role_of_Turfgrasses_in_Environmental_Protection.pdf. Dr. Beard was formerly with Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Texas A & M and is presently at International Sports Turf Institute ay College Station, Texas. Dr. Green id with Department of Botany and Plant Sciences at the University of California, Riverside, CA.