THS Athletic Director Patrick Cox spoke out in support of artificial turf at the Thursday night school board meeting. The board was looking for more information on the product due to a proposed project to install turf and lights at the school's athletic field.
"There's a big difference between astroturf and what we're talking about today," Cox said of modern artificial turf. Tolland's field would likely consist of crumb rubber and synthetic fiber.
He addressed several common concerns about the fields, including:
- Whether athletes may inhale harmful chemical components while playing on the field. FINDING: ingestion or inhalation of the chemicals in crumb rubber is not a health concern, according to a 2007 study from the California EPA, a 2006 study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and a 2008 study from the CDC.
- Whether there is an increased risk of infection (MRSA, herpes simplex, etc.) from artificial turf. FINDING: A 2008 New York State Department of Health study showed there was "no widespread presence of infectious agents."
- Whether rainwater runoff from the field is an environmental risk. FINDING: The CT DEP, Department of Health and UConn Health Center found in 2009 that there was no risk to water supplies or air quality.
- Whether there are higher rates of injuries on artificial fields. FINDING: A NCAA study from 2005 and 2006 of 106 men's soccer teams and 136 women's soccer teams showed no "major" differences in the frequency, severity or nature of athletic injuries.
Cox also added that several nearby schools, such as E.O. Smith and Enrico Fermi have successfully switched to artificial turf fields in recent years.
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He said that the turf fields are generally low-maintenance and are expected to last for around 15 years.
Superintendent William Guzman said that the project developed as a possible revenue source for the town, which would be acquired from rental fees from other towns and teams. Turf is also more durable; Guzman said that the current field is torn apart if the football team plays after rainy weather.
The board asked that more information about potential turf injuries from experienced medical professionals be presented at the next meeting.
For a complete look at the proposed project, check out Tolland Patch's interview with THS boys soccer coach Jim Leahy.
The school board is scheduled to meet next on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m.