WARNING SIGNS ON SYNTHETIC TURF FIELDS
HEAT WARNINGS ARE OFTEN POSTED ONLINE OR IN HANDBOOKS, BUT NOT ON THE FIELDS
The health risks from elevated heat on artificial surfaces and related heat effects are well known and well documented. Unfortunately, heat warnings are often only seen online or in handbooks used by the people reserving a field, not made visible to the parents and players using the fields. With the climate warming, high temperature events will happen more often, making awareness even more critical. The time is now to move these warnings off the web and onto the fields where they can be heeded.
EXAMPLES OF SYN TURF WARNINGS ONLINE:
FEDERAL WARNINGS: EPA, CDC, & CPSC
Industry lobbyists oppose warning signs, but the EPA, CPSC and CDC all recommend precautions for users of artificial turf.
The CDC recommends informational warning signs be installed to protect the public for users of artificial turf alerting them to take certain precautions when using synthetic turf surfaces to avoid exposure to lead (remove and turn clothing inside out after play, avoid eating and avoid contaminating drinking containers with dust and fibers from the fields.)
The CDC, EPA and CPSC recommend that young children wash their hands frequently after playing outside and always before they eat.
WARNINGS froM THE CPSC
- Avoid mouth contact with playground surfacing materials, including mouthing, chewing, or swallowing playground infill. This may pose a choking hazard, regardless of chemical exposure.
- Avoid eating food or drinking beverages while directly on playground surfaces, and wash hands before handling food.
- Limit the time at a playground on extremely hot days.
- Clean hands and other areas of exposed skin after visiting the playground, and consider changing clothes if evidence of tire materials (e.g., black marks or dust) is visible on fabrics.
- Clean any toys that were used on a playground after the visit.
WARNINGS From the Mount Sinai Children's Environmental Health Center
This premier children’s health center was first to alert parents to toxic exposure from artificial turf fields.
HEAT WARNINGS FROM MONtGOMERY COUNTY
Artificial surface fields generate greater heat than natural surface fields on warm and hot days. Anytime the outdoor temperature exceeds 80 degrees, coaches should exercise caution in conducting activities on artificial surface fields. When temperatures exceed 90 degrees, coaches may hold one regular morning or evening practice (before noon or after 5:00 pm); coaches must restrict practices between noon and 5:00 pm to one-hour, with water breaks every 20 minutes. Code red or code purple guidelines prevail, if applicable.
This field can get very hot on warm, sunny days. If you experience symptoms of heat-related illness, such as dizziness, weakness, headache, vomiting, or muscle cramps, move to a shaded area. Drink water, rest, and seek medical attention if you do not feel better. In extreme temperatures, please cease all activities and get off of the artificial turf field.
EXAMPLES OF WARNING SIGNS ON ARTIFICIAL TURF FIELDS
New York City Parks & Rec
“Always remember: To protect yourself from the heat, drink lots of water, wear light and loose fitting clothes, always wear shoes, take breaks often, and exercise moderately. If you experience symptoms of heat related illness, such as dizziness, weakness, headache, vomiting or muscle cramps, move to a shaded area, drink water, rest and seek medical attention if you do not feel better.”
Westport Parks & Rec
- "Wash hands and exposed body aggressively after playing on fields."
- "Turn clothes inside out as soon as possible to avoid tracking dust to other locations."
- "Keep beverages closed and in bags/coolers when not drinking to avoid excess dust and fibers from getting in the beverage."
- "Eating on the fields is prohibited."
SOME SIGNS PROTECT THE FIELDS, NOT THE PLAYERS
Most signs you see today warn users to protect the fields - no metal cleats; no flammable anything lest the field go up in a toxic waste ball of flames; no spectators?! (sorry mom, dad, grandma and grandpa - you'll need to invest in a telephoto lens to catch shots of junior in the next big game!)
Field managers typically fence off the fields and restrict their use - so much for more play time and encouraging community outdoor activity. You must pay-to-play on this surface.
Granted - some of these warnings inadvertently protect the people using the fields. For example, preventing pets from defecating on the fields is a great idea - In order to reduce this exposure, your AT manager will need to routinely apply chemicals to kill the bad stuff.
It is wise to protect the costly field. But what about our precious offspring? Don't they deserve to be protected? Apparently, the liability to those installing the synthetic turf fields is a bit more than they can stand - after all - mandating warning signs would in fact mean companies would be forced to admit the dangers.
WHAT THESE WARNING SIGNS LEAVE OUT
- No mention that exposure can melt your shoes, if not cause blisters on your skin.
- No mention of restricting activity to 20 minute sessions on hot days?
- No mention (for people who think synthetic turf means more play time) that the new fields can't be used most of the mid-day throughout the hotter months
- Limits on non-athletic activity allowed on the field.
The Field Turf partnership of with Penn State University tells a different story...and the studies on heat ("there is no magic bullet to reduce heat on sythetic turf fields") and injury ("clinical studies have indicated that higher injury rates occur on artificial turf than on natural surfaces") in the years since the 2009 partnership began.
Get all the facts about your new field, not just the sales and marketing gloss from your sales pitch.
Make your views known to your elected officials to ensure your community is not at greater risk than necessary from exposure to the toxins and carcinogens found in artificial turf surfaces, regardless of the infill used.