Great article. Another con for this stuff is that artificial turf has a non-permeable base, which means that rain water and general run-off can not absorb into the soil under this stuff. This is in essence like paving over our yards, which creates more storm water run-off. While this might seem minor for an individual yard or two, consider if an entire street or neighborhood or park converted to artificial turf – what would the impact be to our over-worked stormdrains?
Also, lost is the ability for the surface water to soak into the soil and be naturally filtered and cleansed by soil microbes and uptake plants that absorb and process toxins. Without this natural system, more contaminants are going to end up in the stormdrains and ultimately, the creeks and ocean.
Also consider the loss of ground water recharge. When water runs off to the storm drain rather than soak into the ground, it can not be filtered back into our groundwater system.
Finally, there are numerous health concerns related to fake grass. This plastic turf degrades into pellets and eventually fine dust that children and others playing on the “lawn” absorb into their lungs and bodies (these plastic pieces also find their way to the creeks and ocean during with the rains).
There is also concern of more injuries as the fake stuff is not as forgiving as soil and lawn -- it's harder on the joints and scraps become more serious burns. Finally, if blood or other body fluids get onto the turf it must be sterilized with chemicals (such as chlorine bleach) as the fake lawn can not break down the germs and bacteria as a natural turf might do.
Don’t get me wrong…I’m no fan of lawns. I haven’t had one in more than a decade. However, I do understand that there are some appropriate locations and uses for natural turf – particularly for children and sporting events. But I am very concerned with the “fake” lawn trend.
Girsh Park is now fundraising to convert their expansive playing fields into artificial turf. Now that’s going to cause big water run-off problems in the area, and who knows what the long term effects will be on the water quality of the adjacent creeks and wetlands, and to the health of children and adults who regularly use these fake surfaces.