“New Yorkers expect to play where they want, when they want,” said Adrian Benepe, the commissioner of parks and recreation. “Our biggest need is to make a lot of places where kids can play so we can address health risks like obesity.”
But the use of turf has also prompted other health concerns, about the possible dangers posed by the materials used to make it, as well as its ability to soak up so much sunlight that it heats up to extreme temperatures.
On Playing Fields, Grass Is an Endangered Species
Scientists at Columbia University who analyzed satellite thermal images of New York City the past two summers concluded that synthetic turf fields were up to 60 degrees hotter than grass fields. They attributed the difference to the pigments used in making the turf, as well as the turf’s reliance on filaments that increase the surface area that soaks up heat. More important, the turf lacked grass’s ability to vaporize water and cool the air.
Stuart Gaffin, an associate research scientist at the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University, said the synthetic fields get almost as hot as a tar rooftop.
Photo from NY Times