Selecting Safer Alternatives for Athletic Playing Fields
When municipalities, universities, schools and other institutions consider what type of athletic playing fields to install, they sometimes face a decision among natural grass, artificial turf with crumb rubber infill and artificial turf with other forms of infill. TURI’s report, Athletic Playing Fields: Choosing Safer Options for Health and the Environment, provides information on materials used in artificial turf as well as information on organic management of natural grass.
TURI has also created the video "Safer Alternatives for Athletic Fields" and a fact sheet to help organizations make informed decisions. Although this video focuses primarily on artificial turf infills, it is also important for decision-makers to research other components of the turf system, including the carpet fibers.
TURI Sports Turf Alternatives Assessment
In response to information requests from municipalities, TURI undertook an alternatives assessment for sports turf. The main findings of the alternatives assessment are summarized in TURI's report, Athletic Playing Fields: Choosing Safer Options for Health and the Environment.
The overall project includes the following detailed sections, which were published in the order in which they were developed.
- Cost Analysis
- Physical and Biological Hazards
- Infills: Overview
- Infills: Recycled Tires
- Infills: EPDM
- Infills: TPE
Other Turf Resources Available
The TURI Library’s Artificial Turf resource guide provides links to reports, articles and press reports related to artificial turf. TURI also prepared comments on a recent study by the Washington Department of Health.
Federal Research on Recycled Tire Crumb used in Playing Fields
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission have launched an effort to study key environmental human health questions related to crumb rubber used in playing fields. View the webinar about the research on crumb rubber. In December 2016, EPA published a status report on its research. The status report includes a detailed review of existing literature on infill made from recycled tires.
Springfield Uses Organic Natural Grass for Playing Fields
The City of Springfield, Mass. is using organic land care practices on school properties and 900 acres of public land and athletic fields. See the results in the video of the Forest Park athletic field.