Those charged with the responsibility of choosing the best playing surface for their school or community face a difficult decision. The demand for all-weather, all season playability argues for the installation of an artificial surface, and the pressures exerted by members of the athletic community and the marketing departments of turf companies can be overwhelming.
But as we learn more about the long-term impact of human exposure to chemical toxins, the environmental issues raised by covering fields with tons of recycled rubber and plastic, and as municipal and school budgets become stretched, the decision to go with an artificial surface becomes more complicated.
As municipal and school budgets are subject to many variables, the costs associated with artificial turf fields need to be carefully scrutinized. Those include repairs, infill replacement, water cannons (to cool excessive heat), disinfectants (to control body fluid spills) and regular cleaning, not to mention the initial purchase price and eventual disposal challenges and fees.
For many policy makers, the issues raised by a growing number of studies showing potential long-term health consequences for young athletes make the decision easier.