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WVN #239: Handling turf heat

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  • waylandvoters1
    Dear Wayland Voter, Health officials in Wayland and Weston are considering measures to deal with high temperatures on artificial turf. Even before Wayland s
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 28, 2008
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      Dear Wayland Voter,

      Health officials in Wayland and Weston are considering
      measures to deal with high temperatures on artificial turf.

      Even before Wayland's million-dollar FieldTurf High School field
      was installed last summer, citizens had taken readings
      elsewhere showing that even on moderate days the temperature
      of the material can become hot enough to cause burns.

      Wayland's Board of Health is considering posting warning signs.

      Though high turf temperatures have been widely reported
      across the country, and the issue was raised during the debate
      over installing the field, the Board's action seemed to catch
      some Wayland officials by surprise. When the Board wrote to the
      selectmen about warning signs, Selectman Michael Tichnor
      said at a March 17 meeting: "...I feel this kind of a sign is totally
      unwarranted...there is no evidence that there's any additional
      health hazard as a result of having a turf field...the evidence is to
      the contrary...I would urge that we suggest that this sign not go
      up."

      "I concur with you on that one, Michael," said Selectman Joe
      Nolan. Nolan did support a study of the situation.

      The Board of Health suggested signs warning: `Be aware that
      direct contact with these surfaces by you, your children or pets
      when the temperature is elevated may lead to contact skin burns
      and/or heat prostration.''

      ``We recommended posting signs that warn people and
      coaches before they use the field on hot days to make sure that
      athletes are getting enough water and are not getting fatigued,''
      said Wayland Health Department Director Steve Calichman.

      Wayland resident Tom Sciacca told the MetroWest Daily News
      that his numerous measurements at fields in the area included
      a turf temperature reading of 142 degrees last Sept. 20 while the
      air temperature was 76. He had recorded temperatures as high
      as 156 degrees on other fields.

      In Weston, Public Health Director Wendy Diotalevi said, ``We
      definitely have had discussions about when the field can be
      used and when it can't be.''

      In addition to surface temperature, she told the News, "at 120
      degrees the field starts off-gassing chemicals.'' FieldTurf is
      made from pulverized truck tires.

      High turf temperatures have been reported in nearby towns. At
      Acton-Boxboro High School and elsewhere, for example, fields
      are sprayed with water to reach playable temperatures. In
      Newton, Mayor David Cohen has promised measures "to
      ensure the safety of all users" of synthetic turf fields in the city.

      In Utah the Brigham Young University Health Department has
      established 120 degrees as the maximum acceptable turf
      temperature.

      Weston's field was installed with private funds. Wayland used
      $300,000 in Community Preservation Act funds. The remainder,
      about $700,000, came from private donations. A pending
      Superior Court suit filed by Wayland residents contends that
      conservation funds can't legally be used for the field.

      Wayland's turf supporters earlier downplayed potential
      problems with temperatures or environmental consequences.
      Residents who were concerned that runoff from the field could
      endanger town water supplies filed an appeal, and ultimately the
      town agreed to measures imposed by the state. The town hasn't
      yet demonstrated full compliance with commitments to the
      Department of Environmental Protection to protect the Happy
      Hollow wells.

      -- Michael Short


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      Michael Short, Editor
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