SSC and concerned residents asked for a 3 year moratorium on the installation of artificial turf on any town-owned land at Sharon’s Annual Town Meeting in October 2020, Sharon residents voted Yes in support of the moratorium! Information on the moratorium and town meeting presentation can be found below, along with the main reasons we were asking for a moratorium.
If you want to learn more about our campaign to recommend retaining a natural grass field at the New Sharon High School, click here.
Nine Reasons we are asking for a moratorium on the installation of artificial turf moratorium in Sharon
Plastic turf contains toxic chemicals including flame retardants, UV inhibitors, plasticizers and PFAS. PFAS are “forever chemicals” that never break down, and accumulate in soil, water and our bodies. The MA Department of Environmental Protection has established a new drinking water standard for PFAS of 20 parts per trillion – the equivalent of one drop in an Olympic swimming pool. We should not expose our student athletes and our drinking water aquifers to these toxic chemicals.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are a family of chemicals widely used since the 1950s to manufacture common consumer products and used in firefighting foams. They have been linked to a variety of health risks, particularly in women who are pregnant or nursing, and in infants. See more information on PFAS in Massachusetts here.
The new drinking water standard for PFAS establishes a limit of 20 parts per trillion (ppt) for the sum of six PFAS compounds, called “PFAS6.” The rule requires public water suppliers to test for PFAS6 and act when there is a detection above the limit. In using the sum of six PFAS compounds, these standards provide a higher degree of protection, particularly for sensitive subgroups including pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants. There are currently no federal PFAS standards for drinking water.
“Long-term exposure to PFAS puts vulnerable people, like pregnant women and infants, at risk for cancer and other long-term health complications. The last place in 2020 that people should have to be concerned with exposure to cancerous material is their kitchen tap,” said State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro).
2. TOXIC PFAS CAN LEACH INTO THE ENVIRONMENT
There are almost 5,000 different kinds of toxic PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances). The EXACT same kind of PFAS in rolls of worn-out plastic turf dumped near a wetland in Franklin, MA (September 2019) was also detected in water samples from a nearby wetland, showing that we should be concerned that PFAS can leach out of plastic turf and into the environment. Scientists are now studying this issue.
3. PLASTIC TURF IS A DISPOSAL NIGHTMARE
Plastic turf cannot be recycled, so worn-out turf ends up in landfills where its toxic ingredients slowly leach into the environment. Sharon should not contribute to this environmental disaster.
4. DO WE WANT TOXIC PLASTIC POLLUTION IN SHARON?
The mechanical wear from high tread loads causes plastic grass blades to break off, about 600 pounds per year. These plastic particles accumulate in the environment, and ultimately enter the food chain.
5. PLASTIC TURF IS EXPENSIVE!
One plastic turf field will cost $1,000,000, and must be replaced every 8 to 10 years, not to mention the substantial costs of annual maintenance and end-of-life disposal. For more information on the high cost of plastic turf, click here.
For half that cost, all seven of Sharon’s natural grass athletic fields could be more intensively maintained for the benefit of all Sharon’s student athletes. With enhanced maintenance, Sharon’s natural grass fields could tolerate substantially more playing time.
These before-and-after photos show what 5 weeks of enhanced maintenance can accomplish.
6. INJURIES ARE COMMON WITH PLASTIC TURF
Plastic turf is a five-time loser: it’s toxic, hot, expensive, a disposal nightmare, and causes burn injuries. Professional soccer players refuse to play on plastic turf.
The NFL Players Association is now calling for all NFL football fields to be natural grass. The NFLPA president stated that natural grass fields provide a much lower risk for injuries, compared to artificial surfaces, citing the league’s official injury reports from 2012-2018. That study showed that players have a 28% overall higher rate of non-contact lower extremity injuries on artificial turf. Non-contact knee injuries occur at a 32% higher clip and non-contact foot or ankle injuries are 69% percent more likely on artificial fields. Biomechanical studies have shown that synthetic turf does not release cleats as readily as natural grass, which may explain the difference in injury rates.
7. PLASTIC TURF GETS HOT
Temperatures on plastic fields on warm, sunny days can become dangerously hot compared to natural grass, which remains relatively cool due to transpiration. The use of Brockfill might be preferable to crumb rubber, but it will not prevent field temperatures from rising above the 105º threshold for canceling sports events.
8. PLASTIC TURF PROMOTES CLIMATE CHANGE
9. OTHER TOWNS ARE GETTING GOOD RESULTS WITH WELL–MAINTAINED NATURAL GRASS ATHLETIC FIELDS
Concerned Martha’s Vineyard citizens wrote this eloquent letter to their Planning Board. Sharon residents should also be concerned about the message artificial turf sends to our youth!
“ …. we understand that our planetary health depends on decisions large and small. We know we must break our addiction to the fossil fuel industry and instead invest in our soil to help it capture as much carbon as possible. We know we need to avoid the use of materials that further contribute to global warming and instead use plants to lower surface temperatures…. And we realize that we should avoid materials that add to our waste stream and instead embrace those that are regenerative.”
The people of Springfield clearly take pride in their healthy, organic natural grass athletic fields. This video describes their field maintenance program.
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