letter to the editor

Artificial Turf Bad for Children & Environment

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Editor,

     It is astonishing that while we recognize a bit of plastic as small as a plastic bag to be harmful trash, the same material the size of a football field is just “turf.” Finally a bit of environmental science is being included in our school curriculum, but the  decision of the Warwick School Board to cover acres of earth with artificial turf and crumb rubber is the direct antithesis to what the children are learning.

     In handing our children a dying planet shouldn’t we be giving them some skills to deal with it rather than be setting an enormous example of how to look the other way from reality, shirk our responsibility, and recognize no connection between cause and effect? These are exactly the very human faults that have gotten us into the mess we are in right now, and the very contradiction to the education the next generation needs.

     Last week, Mary Makofske, in her very thorough treatment of the matter, explained many of the possible dangers that artificial turf poses. Besides the things that she mentioned: the inhalation of lead and other heavy metals from the crumb rubber and the festering of germs from blood, sweat and animal droppings which enter abrasions, there are also the dangers from the chemicals in the plastic grass itself. Studies on lab animals have shown that there is a direct relationship between the BPA and phthalates in plastic that is inhaled, ingested and touched to higher incidences in glandular disturbances, infertility, and cancer. No studies have been done on humans because it is recognized that this would be immoral. But what would we have here but an experiment the size of a football field in which hundreds of schoolchildren would be the guinea pigs.

     From the time that they are babies our children depend on us to be the adults and exercise mature judgment for their protection and well being, in opposition to the immediate gratification that children seek.  Should we now jump into this project headfirst when there is no honest research done proving these chemicals safe? Many countries in Europe, towns and cities in the US have banned the stuff. There will be runoff into local waterways and neighboring fields of all these chemicals. Two large pieces of living breathing land will be killed.

     One thing we do know is that there are schools in neighboring states that have gone over to healthy organic turf fields. For the sake of our children, neighboring residents and taxpayers shouldn’t the school board at least look at other alternatives through the eyes of a paid professional consultant? Up until now the school janitors have been taking care of the lawns. They have plenty on their plates, and no special training in this area. If the schools worked with such a consultant we might see possibilities that we don’t know exist.

     On Wed., Dec. 18 we will have the opportunity of telling the school board that we should not jump into this project. The other items in the same proposition can wait till another year, but the damage done by covering two fields with toxic substances will not be so easily undone. In some cases you can say “on the one hand this, and the other hand that,” but in the case of our children’s health for me there is no other hand.

     Please consult www.warwickvalleyschools.com to find your polling location on Wed., Dec. 18, and make the best decision for our children’s well being and education.

JULIA CALDERON

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