A sign at an artificial turf field in Westport. Credit: contributed

To the Editor:

Vote NO Toxic Turf Field

[Above is the] sign outside one of Westport’s turf fields.  The sign says everything.

The Town of Westport encourages all those using artificial turf fields to observe the following recommendations:

  1. Wash hands and exposed body aggressively after playing on fields.
  2. Turn clothes inside out as soon as possible to avoid tracking dust to other locations.
  3. Keep beverages closed and in bags/coolers when not drinking to avoid excess dust and fibers from getting in the beverage.
  4. Eating on the fields is prohibited

Thank you

Kevin Hickey
Friends of Allen’s Meadows

4 replies on “LETTER: ‘The Sign Says Everything’”

  1. This sign has nothing to do with what’s being proposed in Wilton. They were put up due to concerns shared by Westport residents around crumb rubber infill. As Lynne has said many times (including Tues night at the annual town meeting) Wilton uses coconut infill to mitigate risk tied to crumb rubber, and that’s what’s being proposed in this new turf as well.

    I noticed this letter came from “Friends of Allen’s Meadows”. Would love to learn more about that group and how I can participate. Just because I want a third turf field in Wilton doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the natural beauty of Allen’s Meadows. There are more than six fields in the complex and we are talking about converting one from grass to turf. Thats a compromise I’m willing to make to ensure our kids have the field our town desperately needs.

    1. Here’s the “safe” turf infill…
      Coconut husk is sourced primarily from Indonesia and India, where there is exceptionally poor regulation or quality control over pesticides or chemicals added prior to harvesting, during processing, or post processing. ■ The largest producer of the world’s coconuts is Indonesia, where the process of retting coconut husk is hastened by adding bacteria to the water the husks are left to soak in for several months, making it easier to extract the “coir.” ○ The extracted coir may be chemically treated to reduce the risk of bacterial spore growth. ■ Copper sulfate fungicide (used in combination with petroleum oil in the US), malathion, and chlorpyrifos and many others are used on coconut plantations. ○ Coconut husk infill floats, leading to a possible problem in heavy rain.

    2. @Justin, I’m afraid that you misunderstand.

      Synthetic Turf is like a cake, with layers. It’s composed of:

      Top Layer: Plastic Blades of Grass.
      The plastic used is polyethylene, which emits greenhouse gases including methane, which is currently driving 1 quarter of atmospheric warming. It cannot “self-clean” like natural grass, so the Town has to spray disinfectants on it to clean it. The plastic grass also breaks down (sheds, if you will) from compaction from athletes running on the surface. Those tiny little pieces that break off are known as microplastics, which end up in the water supply. This was the subject of the intense scrutiny/controversy over PFAS, commonly known as “Forever Chemicals”, which includes /both/ the top layer (the grass) and the middle layer (the infill).

      Middle Layer: Infill Material (think of it like a soft gravel)
      Westport banned crumb rubber infill some time ago but even coconut husk has issues. It’s manufactured overseas (Italy, I believe) so you’re not supporting local jobs by buying it, and its manufacture requires the use of anti-bacterial chemicals and flame retardants. And because the material is “organic” it can facilitate the growth of bacteria, which is not good news as a play surface.

      That’s just one aspect; the other medical issue is that the infill increases risk for some types of injuries like concussions and “turf burns” when sliding on a plastic field versus a true “organic” material such as grass. I don’t know, is it really worth the “compromise that [you are] willing to take” to have your kids play on something like that?

      Bottom Layer: Drainage Material, Piping, Geotextiles
      Pretty much the same type of infrastructure needed for a properly built natural grass field.

      Visual image:

  2. The Town of Wilton also has a sign that says it all:



    The following items are prohibited:
    – soda, sports drinks, alcohol, coffee, or any beverage other than water
    – food, peanuts, seeds, or gum
    – pets or other animals
    – metal cleats or other sharp objects that could penetrate the synthetic surface
    – unauthorized vehicles

    shaw SPORTS TURF

    Link to photo here: https://goodmorningwilton.com/slow-steady-progress-on-parks-rec-projects-fields-indoor-field-house-lightning-detection-and-merwin-playground/

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