Nothing is more important to you, and nothing is more important to us than the safety of our athletes. There have been many scientific studies on synthetic turf and sand and rubber infill materials by manufacturers, universities, independent research and state and federal agencies. Not one has documented a reason (health, environmental or safety-wise) not to install the most current generation of properly installed synthetic turf materials. Synthetic turf has been shown to reduce athletic injuries in comparison to poorly maintained natural turf in numerous independent studies. Here are four of the most important facets of player protection, and how synthetic turf technology is working to keep players safe on the field:
SHOCK ATTENUATION – With play, infill moves. It gets kicked out from the most heavily used areas to the least used areas of the field. This phenomenon, called “fill migration,” means the areas with the least amount of infill to reduce impact forces are also the most used. Danger arises when shock is absorbed solely at the point of impact and returned directly to the player. Too much force transmitted to the player (particularly the neck and head) has the potential for life-threatening consequences.
The goal is to disperse the impact. When a player falls on the turf, it is vitally important the force of the fall is spread over a wide area. There are two industry-standard methods to spread the impact – infill and shockpads (or a combination of the two). Infill is the particulate material brushed into the fibers of the system. There are many options for infill, but the most common material used to attenuate shock is SBR (ground up recycled tires). Shockpads are installed underneath the turf carpet.
The current preferred installation company, AstroTurf, uses a technology called
RootZone to combat infill migration. RootZone acts like a net to encapsulate the infill and reduce its migration, delivering more consistent shock absorption across the field and over time. Infill stability is not just crucial to shock attenuation. It has a drastic impact on foot release and durability over time.
ORTHOPEDICS – Cleat lock, also known as foot fix the greatest orthopedic risk to players arises when cleats become trapped in the surface. As players run, pivot, and move kinetic forces are generated. This force must be released. Ideally this happens when the foot is released from the playing surface. If the foot is not properly released or the cleats become trapped, the potential for injury to the lower extremities rises as the force looks for the weakest link through which to escape.
Optimal traction is the goal. A surface should be engineered to efficiently release the shoe across a range of cleat designs. At the same time, the turf system should provide adequate traction to prevent players from slipping and sliding on the surface and to give them the speed they need to win. The ideal surface should balance these needs.
AstroTurf’s RootZone specifically addresses cleat release. This crimpled layer of fibers keeps the infill in place, reducing infill migration and compaction. The result is optimal cleat release and less torque transmitted to the knees and ankles. In fact, research by Michigan State University found that RootZone was the most influential variable in reducing torque because RootZone limited cleat contact with the infill and provided a less compacted layer. These findings are statistically significant and the research was independently funded.
HEAVY METAL & CARCINOGENS – Over the years, heavy metal and carcinogen content in synthetic turf have been called into question. However, all fibers have fewer than 50 parts per million (ppm) of lead, less than the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s limits for children’s toys (100 ppm) and household paints (90 ppm). Also, crumb rubber infill has undergone rigorous academic scrutiny – dozens of independently funded studies have examined crumb rubber health and environmental effects. None has found cause for concern.
ANTI-MICROBIAL – Some clients express concern about staph and MRSA. While an outbreak of this sort is quite serious, the role synthetic turf plays is minimal. Research shows that microbes survive equally as long on natural grass as they do synthetic. Also, bacterial microbes have low survival rates when exposed to UV light. These types of outbreaks are linked to poor hygiene, not synthetic turf.
You can never be too cautious. AstroTurf uses an antimicrobial field treatment that gives round-the-clock protection against mold, mildew, algae, and bacteria. This treatment, called AstroSheild, is a silane-based treatment. It has engineered nano-structures that physically pierce the cell walls of microbes. AstroSheild does not leach and guarantees efficacy for 2 years.