The dangers of synthetic turf in schools
Artificial turf is increasingly popular in Australian schools for playgrounds and sports fields. However, it poses several health and safety risks that parents should be aware of:
- Chemical Exposure: Artificial turf contains harmful chemicals like PFAS, which pose health risks, especially to children and teenagers. These chemicals are persistent and potentially hazardous.
- Heat Island Effect: Synthetic grass contributes to high temperatures in school environments. Surface temperatures on artificial fields can reach up to 80°C, far hotter than natural grass. This extreme heat can lead to serious heat-related health problems and makes outdoor activities uncomfortable and risky.
- Increased Injury Risk: Athletes, including children, are more prone to injuries on artificial turf due to its hardness and unnatural resistance. This leads to a higher rate of foot, ankle injuries, and skin grazes, which could lead to infections.
- Case Study Insights: Dr. Sebastian Pfautsch’s research at the University of Western Sydney found significant heat variations in outdoor play spaces. Artificial materials like synthetic turf reached dangerously high temperatures (up to 100°C), making them unsafe for children.
As parents and community members, it’s essential to be aware of these risks and advocate for safer, natural alternatives in our schools. Ensuring a safer, healthier environment for our children should be a top priority.
The Natural Turf Alliance advocates for the use of natural grass in schools. Natural turf is safer and healthier for children to learn and play on.