With environmental issues becoming more topical and harder to ignore, the argument in favour of natural turf strengthens all the time. In a report written by the European Seed Association (ESA) titled "Why Choose Natural Turf" the evidence states clearly that turf grass is better for the environment. It is safer and healthier for the players as well as being a cost effective alternative to installing and maintaining artificial turf.
On the one hand, dedicated research and development has ensured that grass seed has evolved to cope well with unpredictable weather patterns from periods of drought to torrential rainfall, as well as shade and other climatic pressures. Grass is a living plant and produces oxygen; it absorbs noise and heat; it also clears carbon dioxide and dust from the air.
On the other hand an artificial pitch 'loses' 3 tonnes of material each year, just through normal play, with an effect on the environment and human health. Renewal of an artificial pitch produces 250 tonnes of waste including 105 tonnes of rubber granulates and 127 tonnes of sand. (Source: www.euroseeds.org)
In the United States, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has begun investigating potential hazards from lead in some artificial turf sports fields across the country. Two fields in New Jersey were closed in April 2008 after state health regulators found high levels of lead in turf fibre samples. (Source: www.usatoday.com)
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will play a supporting role in the investigation regarding health concerns posed by synthetic turf.
A report developed and managed by the Environment and Human Health Inc. entitled "Artificial Turf" has demonstrated that ground-up recycled tyres (tyre crumbs) used as in-fill material in synthetic turf, release chemical compounds into the air and water, constituting chemical exposure to humans and the environment. Health concerns include acute irritation of the lungs, skins and eyes. The report recommends that a moratorium is placed on installing any new artificial pitches which use these tyre crumbs. www.ehhi.org/reports/turf/
Research from Pennsylvania State University has identified that surface temperatures of synthetic turf surfaces are between 35-600 higher than natural turf grass surface temperatures. cropsoil.psu.edu/mcnitt/infill7a.cfm
Finally, players are concerned about the injuries associated with artificial turf which include burns, turf toe and foot lock. Therefore once you have considered all these factors - costs, health implications, environmental issues, injuries - and then look at the huge developments being made in grass breeding, the choice seems obvious.