Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
I’m responding to Karen Pearsall’s thoughtful and well written letter which you printed in Monday’s issue of the Bulletin, in which she called for interested parties to actively participate in the discussion taking place now about how Manteca Unified School District will allocate school district funds, in particular, whether or not the available money should be spent on identified facility needs throughout the district, or automatically go toward replacing grass fields with artificial turf which seems to have been the case at Weston Ranch High School.
Before any school district official or parent decides to advocate for replacing grass playing fields with synthetic turf, they should go online and Google ‘synthetic turf and cancer’. According to the EPA, the ground up car and truck tire crumbs which form the base of artificial turf fields contain mercury, lead, benzene, poly-cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, arsenic, and other chemicals, metals, and carcinogens that are making kids sick. Children playing soccer, especially goal keepers, are getting cancer, most often blood cancers like lymphoma and leukemia, from inhaling, ingesting, or direct contact with wounds and abrasions by the small tire rubber particles. Soccerwire.com has several articles referencing stories done by ESPN and the NBC News special ‘The Turf Wars’ examining the inherent dangers and problems that these synthetic playing fields present.
If causing cancer in children isn’t enough, synthetic turf fields have other problems. Studies show that a synthetic field can have a surface temperature of 200 degrees on a day when the air temperature is 98 degrees, hotter than black asphalt, and can become so hot that chemicals from the tire crumbs begin to off gas into the air and are then inhaled by the kids. And contrary to popular belief, they aren’t as cost effective as grass playing fields. Professional sports field managers say that it costs about $20,000 per year to properly maintain an average synthetic field. Most fields have a total price tag of over a million dollars when all costs are factored in and have a limited lifespan, especially if they aren’t maintained properly, whereas a natural grass field costs less than half that of a synthetic field, never needs replacing, and doesn’t cause cancer.
It seems very strange to me in light of the fact that the school district places a high priority on keeping our children safe at school, and are currently looking at new ways to keep them safe on their way to school, that anyone in their right mind would consider having them play on a field of toxic waste material that has the potential to kill them.
Here’s a link to the YouTube video “ESPN-E60 ‘The Turf War’ by Julie Foudy” which you might find interesting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91svvfuF7iY.
Editor, Manteca Bulletin,