A New Era in Lawn Care

  • Monday, June 23, 2008 2:38pm
  • Life

There’s a house in my neighborhood that always catches my attention. It’s not a well-tended garden or magazine-worthy front porch that stops me cold.

It’s the artificial turf.

This yard is home to a handful of canine pals. The plethora of doggie toys and even fence signs with information about the pups show they’re well-loved by their owners. I’ve never had the chance to ask about the homeowner’s choice of artificial turf, but I assume it keeps the dogs from digging, and any leftovers from puppy play time can be washed away with a hose.

This homeowner may be ahead of the times.

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, more schools are considering the benefits of artificial turf for their playgrounds. The schools say the artificial turf actually reduces the school’s carbon footprint. The turf needs very little upkeep, and schoolyard sprinkler systems can be eliminated. Pollution-belching lawn mowers can be stored for good.

At the same time, the federal Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the Centers for Disease Control, is investigating whether artificial turf poses health hazards. The turf may emit carcinogenic fumes, and the fake grass blades could contain unsafe levels of lead.

We reported that last week.

The Adopt-A-Stream Foundation argues that this region’s percentage of roofs, driveways and roads already inhibits normal groundwater seepage. Standard suburban lawns nearly as good for the environment as native plant growth, but how much worse is artificial turf?

Turf advocates say the stuff is water-permeable. Critics respond that the synthetic layer pollutes surface water.

The Synthetic Turf Council reports that artificial turf is a good way to recycle old tires.

My question: should children be sent out to play on the remnants of an old 18-wheeler’s tires?

Very little independent research has been done on this topic. Hopefully a new interest by federal regulators will shine a spotlight on the issue, and schools can get the information they need to make informed decisions.

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