Hudson Valley Parent

HVP August 2017

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Page 24 of 39 n Hudson Valley Parent 25 By OLIVIA L. LAWRENCE M ore than 11,000 synthetic turf athletic fields are in use across the country. More play, more consistency underfoot for young athletes and a sleek, professional look are all part of the turf allure. But are they safe? What is artificial turf? Arlington School District installed turf in 2007, the first school district in the greater Poughkeepsie area to take the plunge. The marching band, baseball, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer and football teams, all use the turf fields. This popular artificial grass is technically crumb rubber, made of recycled tires. Turf drains and dries fast and allows for multi-use - field hockey in the afternoon won't mess up the site for the football game scheduled for that night. Teams can even get their logos woven into the material. Generally, fields cost somewhere around $1 million, but proponents say maintenance is cheaper than grass. Turf tests On the New York State School Boards Association website, Cathy Woodruff, senior writer explains that, "Multiple studies in recent years have offered school officials reassurance regarding the safety of crumb rubber infill, and no definitive studies have linked turf with health problems. But some members of Congress have questioned the safety of the material, prompting a new federal study." Underway at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a widespread study of turf materials collected throughout the U.S., including at: nine tire crumb recycling plants, 19 fields at U.S. Army installations and 21 indoor and outdoor community fields. Analysis of the tire crumb samples, along with a study of exposure, will continue through 2017. The EPA says that "While this effort won't provide all the represents the first time that such a large study is being conducted across the U.S." Heated concerns The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) also have tests underway. It says the risk for harmful lead exposure is low from new fields as turf fibers are still intact. However, as the turf ages, lead is released in dust that could be ingested or inhaled and the risk increases. If exposure occurs, it's not known how much lead the body will absorb. The EPA and CDC, as well as the turf industry, say the only identifiable The biggest risk in sports could be right under your child's cleats How safe are artificial turf fields? The Hudson Valley Admirals, 10 and under division, play on one of the 11,000 synthetic turf fields in the country. This natural surface has a soft and bouncy feel, which reduces knee injury. (Continued on Page 26)

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