Have you stepped on a soccer, baseball or football field recently? Chances are that if you or your kids are athletes, you’ve experienced the new generation of synthetic turf fields made of recycled tires – and seen the black rubber specks kicked up every time a foot, knee or ball hits the surface.
There are now at least 11,000 synthetic fields at schools, playgrounds and community centers around the country, and most of them are made of “crumb rubber” turf, which blends green plastic grass with bouncy rubber infill. So far scientific studies show no definitive link between the turf and any health risk, and proponents say this successor to AstroTurf is safe. They also say it helps the environment because it recycles tires and doesn’t require watering, pesticide and herbicides, and is less prone to cause injury than earlier versions of turf. But critics have asked that more tests be conducted to see whether those ubiquitous black granules or the gases produced by the fields on hot days are linked to any adverse health effects.
What is your experience with artificial turf? Do you and your kids enjoy playing on it? Do you think your school, youth league or town should use the surface because of its benefits? Would you prefer grass or an alternative artificial surface? Please click this link to email NBC News if you have a story, concern or message of support to share.