What Are the Dangers of Astroturf?

Written by jaime golden
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What Are the Dangers of Astroturf?
Can artificial turfs be dangerous to play on? (Football field image by TekinT from Fotolia.com)

Artificial turf is being used on school fields, community athletic fields and professional fields. This recycles old rubber tires and uses it in place of grass on athletic fields. Opponents of artificial turf claim that athletes are in danger by playing on these fields. The dangers include chemical inhalation, bacteria, overheating of the turf, turf burns and increased risk for muscular or bone injuries.

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Bacteria

Athletes sweat, spit and bleed during games, and all of this bodily fluid is left on the artificial turf. With cuts and open wounds being a part of team games, these leftover body fluids can cause bacteria to enter new open wounds. This puts players at risk for serious infections and bacterial diseases. Many field caretakers spray disinfectant on the turf to minimise this risk, but spraying those chemicals on the turf may pose a risk as well. In fact, a 2005 New England Journal of Medicine posited that athletes who have played on artificial turfs have shown higher rates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, after obtaining an open wound injury or abrasion.

Chemical Concerns

The University of Connecticut has found that artificial turf may cause a risk to young adults, children and babies, which has parents concerned about the safety of their children playing on these fields. No parent wants their children inhaling possibly toxic fumes that can lead to serious illnesses, such as respiratory diseases and cancers.

Overheating

On severely hot days, these fields can pose a health threat to players on an artificial turf. A study by the University of Missouri found that artificial turf in the summer season may reach temperatures of 65.6 to 76.7 degrees Celsius. For this reason, athletes are at a higher risk for heatstroke and dehydration in hot weather.

Burns

Artificial turf may cause abrasions to the skin, which are known as turf burns. These injuries, while not serious, can be very painful. Turf burns can scar, cause infections and leave a player extremely uncomfortable. These injuries can occur even if the athlete has proper attire covering most of his body. Turf burns usually occur when players are knocked down or slide on the field, and they often affect the knees and elbows.

Muscular and Bone Injuries

Many athletes feel like their feet are "stuck," and find that the artificial turf slows down their reaction times. For this reason, many athletes are unable to pivot, run and tackle as quickly as they are able to on grass. Injuries to knees, ankles and the head have been shown to be more prevalent on artificial turf than on grass fields due to the stickiness of a surface and its inability to absorb shock.

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