Jeff Gearhart is the Research Director at the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, MI. He has product tested over 100,000 everyday items, including artificial turf.
Artificial turf is an environmental health issue on a large scale, with around 13,000 artificial turf fields in use today, while we add about 1,500 more a year.
Artificial Turf as a Public Health Concern:
Releases toxic chemicals including lead, PFAS, phthalates.
Causes environmental warming to air and waterways, crumb rubber infiltrates soil and water.
Increases head and non-contact injuries.
Exposes children to toxic fumes and contacts and can cause endocrine disruption, metabolism, liver and thyroid issues, cancer, immune dysfunction.
Jeff also underscores the expense of artificial turf (roughly 1M raised through community campaigns) for fields that require maintenance and only last 8-10 years. And then they have to create toxic dumps for artificial turf waste (40,000 tires per field). Jeff Gearhart says using organic grass fields is a matter of, "Reclaiming, our heritage of having natural, safer, healthy playing fields. And I think it's about reclaiming the joy of sports and the joy of the community."
Jeff Gearhart has co-authored many peer-reviewed articles on toxics in consumer products and suggests learning more about artificial turf from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Siani and the Toxic Use Reduction Institute.
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