(This letter was read to the Town Council on Oct. 10, 2017)
Maintaining artificial turf means putting chemicals on top of chemicals.
With a high quality, state of the art, cost-effective, grass playing field, which we do not currently have in Watertown, proper maintenance, supervised by a knowledgeable professional is essential to protect that field.
But in the strange new world of unnatural fields, proper maintenance can mean less about protecting the field, and more about protecting the human beings, especially young ones, who use the field.
Proper maintenance of synthetic turf requires that even more chemicals be applied to the field – a field which is already a mixture of hundreds of chemicals, in solid form. Flame retardants need to be added because plastic blades and tire crumbs are made from petroleum, which is highly flammable.
Biocides are required to remove bodily fluids generated by players slamming against the field and slamming against each other. Football is a hard contact sport. Sweat, urine, blood, spit, snot, and vomit sit on the plastic and rubber, and accumulate, becoming part of that field, until it is chemically cleaned.
Fungicides are necessary to prevent or stop the growth of mold, which can cause infections, including potentially deadly MRSA.
Herbicides are necessary to control weeds. Yes, weeds do grow on fake grass and cannot be pulled out without damaging the mesh.
Some of the chemicals already contained in the turf are known to cause cancer, or respiratory illnesses, or hormone disruption, or learning disabilities. So now we add these types of maintenance chemicals, which themselves may trigger those
same damaging health effects.
What specific maintenance chemicals are we spraying onto the field and what warning labels are on those containers?
When are we applying those chemicals? Are we applying them at different times or all at once?
Are we doing it on hot summer days when the temperature of the turf is 130 or 140 degrees, when the chemicals in the field are more volatile?
Are we doing it the day before or the same day that the field hockey team practices or plays a game?
As one who lives downwind of Victory Field, I would like to have the answers to those questions. I believe that all parents should have the answers to those questions.
And I think you should have them too.