Pros & Cons of Astroturf

Written by justin higgins
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Pros & Cons of Astroturf
Astroturf is a common selection for football fields. (50 Yard Line on Football Field image by Chuck Alexander from Fotolia.com)

Astroturf is a brand of synthetic turf patented in the 1960s. Today, the term has developed a generic usage that refers to any kind of artificial turf used for sports, homes and other recreation. Astroturf is usually composed of polythene plastic grass with a rubber base. Astroturf presents a number of advantages and disadvantages with regards to cost, playability and health.

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Cost

Astroturf is much more expensive than natural turf to install, especially in larger areas like baseball stadiums and golf courses; however, natural grass must be cut, watered, and often chemically sprayed with pesticides and fertilisers. Over time, these expenses may easily make artificial turf a long-term money-saver. In homes where installation is minimal, homeowners may save money by not having to purchase a lawnmower or lawn-mowing services. Still, AstroTurf does have some required maintenance, including vacuuming, cleaning and repair, as well as eventual disposal and replacement. Depending on the given arena and its uses, extensive cleaning and constant replacement of damaged turf may make natural turf the better cost option.

Playability

Astroturf is more durable than natural grass. It is less susceptible to tears, dents and divots. When grass is ripped apart, potholes and resultant muddy patches can present hazards; therefore, AstroTurf may reduce physical injury rates. During heavy rain and other precipitation, AstroTurf does not become as slippery and muddy as natural turf, thus resulting in fewer weather cancellations. On the other hand, during periods of intense heat and/or sunlight, AstroTurf absorbs much more heat than natural turf, raising the surface temperatures to dangerous levels; for example, air temperatures in the high 90s may result in AstroTurf surface temperatures of more than 48.9 degrees C.

Health

Astroturf presents a number of health hazards to the body and the environment. According to Environment and Human Health Inc., chemical compounds within the rubber base as well as the polythene material release toxic metals into the environment, including arsenic, chromium, and excessive levels of zinc. These toxins, even if they are not harmful on the field, may contaminate local water supplies from turf runoff. Astroturf fields, if not properly cleaned, may serve as breeding grounds for bacteria as bodily fluids such as sweat and saliva and/or animal droppings build up. These bacteria pose a serious risk for various kinds of infections, especially when open wounds are produced during play. Health advantages also exist for AstroTurf; aside from reduced potential for physical injuries, AstroTurf does not need pesticides or chemical fertilisers that may be harmful to human health.

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