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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Should Carleton install artificial turf on its fields?

<an style="vertical-align: baseline">Artificial turf is currently becoming a more popular playing surface for athletic facilities across the country. At the youth, high school, and collegiate level, artificial turf is seen as an investment that will support sports in communities for years to come. But, Carleton has not installed turf into any of our athletic facilities. With so many other places across the country turning to turf, is it time for Carleton to do so as well? Should only some fields install artificial turf, if any at all?

Here is a list of pros and cons, and I will let you make the call.


Lower Maintenance Costs: Natural grass requires watering, mowing, seeding and some pest control. This can cost thousands of dollars per year in labor, parts, machinery, and material. Artificial turf requires cleaning as well, but at a much smaller scale. Although installation costs are higher for artificial turf, saving in maintenance costs result in saving money.

Increased Playability: Artificial turf is much more readily playable than grass. It is not as affected by rain and snow, and will help the teams who play outside in the late fall or early spring (baseball, softball, football, frisbee, lacrosse, and rugby). It will allow athletes to get outside earlier to practice their sport, which will help performance on the field. Also, no games or matches will be cancelled due to a muddy field or standing water across the playing surface.

Fewer Injuries and Consistent Play: Due to a more consistent surface, where rugged grass and unevenness could lead to twisted ankles or knee injuries, artificial turf could reduce some injuries. This consistent surface helps the play of sports such as baseball and lacrosse, where the consistent bounce of a ball on the ground is vital to gameplay. But, artificial turf is more firm with less give than grass, thus there is a chance knees could become sore from constant impact on turf.

Saves Water: Without the need to grow grass, and to maintain it, this saves an enormous amount of water. It can take up to 50,000 gallons of water per week to keep grass growing and green during dry seasons.


Turf Burns and Open Lesions: Turf burns are common for athletes that slide or dive on a turf surface. This would be most likely to occur in a football or soccer game. Some of these burns could lead to open lesions that would serve as a health risk for infection.

Cost: Artificial turf averages $5 per square foot, which will add up to a cost upwards of one-million dollars per field. This will put a dent in the athletic department’s budget.

Lead Exposure: Older turf may have nylon/polyethylene blend fibers that contain levels of lead, which can lead to public health concerns such as contaminated water sources, and higher risk of asthma, learning disabilities, and cancer. If the field drains after rain, this could possibly lead to lead leakage in the water system. But, a company named Field Turf, the largest artificial turf manufacturer in North America, sells a lead-free artificial turf that could be used at Carleton.

Other Toxic Chemicals: Jackie Lombardo, a member of the Sierra Club National Toxics Committee says, “We know older turf products contain toxic chemicals associated with asthma, learning disabilities, and cancer.” Some of these chemicals include zinc, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and selenium.

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