The Battle Over Artificial Turf on Playgrounds
The last time you were at the playground with your kids, did you notice whether or not your kids were playing on real grass versus artificial turf? There are certainly pros and cons to playgrounds with artificial turf. But there are also risks.
Who uses artificial turf on playgrounds?
Cities tend to use artificial turf the most on their playgrounds. Depending on where the city is, natural grass may be difficult to grow. This is the case in the south western US, for example. The cost of planting, growing and maintaining a lush green patch of grass for a playground are astronomical.
In addition, cities also see artificial turf as a way to go green; since there is no need for fertilizers, chemicals or other agents that can harm the earth, artificial turfs are considered environmentally friendly.
The dangers associated with artificial turf on playgrounds
Cities who have already made the switch to artificial turf on their playgrounds have found that though there are positive effects, there are certainly dangers associated with artificial turf. Some of these dangers include:
- Poisoning - Low and mid-priced artificial turf are often made with rubber from used tires. This rubber releases gasses that have been associated with many health dangers, including increases in asthma, allergies, infections, and an increased risk of cancer. On a playground, children will be exposed to these gasses.
- Burns - You may be surprised to learn that burns can be a hazard from artificial turf. When the hot sun burns down on this material, the surface gets hotter than any other surface around, including asphalt. In a study performed in Las Vegas, it was shown that artificial turf can get up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Before you think that is only in Las Vegas, a New York City study showed artificial turf reaching to 172 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Falling and tripping hazard - Though manufacturers of artificial turf say that their turf can last up to eight years and still look great, most studies have found that they don't last that long because playgrounds are constantly in-use. As a result, the turf eventually begins to come up and holes begin to form, creating hazardous conditions for children to play on.
Costs for turf and installation
What you can expect to pay will largely depend on the quality you're after. There are a number of different types:
- Standard turf that's drainable yet constructed out of economy materials
- Deluxe models that are intended to simulate long, fresh grass (and look practically real)
- Turf that's available in bright cheery colors, including red, orange, blue, and yellow
A good rule of thumb is to plan for between $4 to $5 for deluxe playground turf and $2 to $3.50 for standard versions. These costs are provided before tax and installation.
With installation, you also have to factor in supplies (like tape, nails, stakes, etc.), any dumping or delivery fees, and the seller's markup. To budget safely, expect all of this to more than double the price per square foot for the playground turf you're looking at.Ready to Compare Artificial Turf Price Quotes?