Letter: Synthetic turf misconceptions

Posted 2/9/24

To the editor:    

I would like to respond to Magnus Thorsson’s letter to the editor about the Resilience and Energy Committee’s conclusion on synthetic turf.  

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Letter: Synthetic turf misconceptions


To the editor:   

I would like to respond to Magnus Thorsson’s letter to the editor about the Resilience and Energy Committee’s conclusion on synthetic turf.  

Mr. Thorsson states that “our primary concern stems from the public health risks with synthetic turf. The use of crumb rubber as an infill material has raised concerns about heat stress, injuries, infections, latex allergies, and chemical exposure.”

The 2021 Ad Hoc Fields Advisory Committee (of which I was a member), consisted of 21 Barrington public school, town council, municipal staff, school committee and municipal volunteers. A report which took two and a half years to complete, was issued in October of 2021; 65 percent of that report focused on synthetic turf. 

The following is summary of the environmental aspect of the synthetic turf findings from that 44-page report, as they relate to the Town of Barrington.

• The committee recommended using an alternative to crumb rubber, like Brockfill, which is an engineered wood particle designed to improve traction and reduce turf heat in line with natural grass. Brockfill is 100 percent organic and compostable at the end of its useful life.

• The committee recommended that the Town: (1) select an artificial turf manufacturer that affirmatively claims not to use PFAS in its manufacturing process and (2) commission a laboratory test prior to surface purchase and installation to confirm the manufacturers’ claims.

I recommend that if you are interested in details about artificial turf, that you read the 2021 committee’s exhaustive report, which also includes findings on injuries and cost.  The report is called Ad Hoc Athletic Fields Advisory Committee Report and Recommendations, and can be found on the Town’s website in the Park & Recreation Commission tab.

With respect to the Energy and Resilience Committee’s concern about designing for water management and reducing runoff, all the estimates given to the Town in the 2023 Traverse Landscape report include below-turf drainage that collects water and makes it potentially available for irrigation on adjoining property.

Last, I would like to point out that the 3.8 million dollar figure that Mr. Thorsson quotes in his letter, is for eight acres of synthetic turf at the high school. The 2023 Traverse Landscape report suggested a half to a quarter that amount of synthetic turf acreage for the town.  

Mike Seward


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