Westchester School Districts Turn To Organic Solution To Synthetic Turf Fields

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Some schools in Westchester are going organic for safer athletics on their fields.

As CBS2’s Emily Smith reported, they are just a handful in the country opting out of the long-used rubber cushioning.

School districts in Bronxville, Pleasantville, and Irvington are in the process of implementing organic field turf, made from coconut and cork, as opposed to crumb rubber made from recycled tires.

Some families believe that their children’s health has been affected by the crumb rubber turf. Juli Shapiro told CBS2’s Smith that she is convinced there’s a connection between her son’s bone cancer and the crumb rubber.

“It’s all hard. It’s all hard,” she said.

There is no conclusive evidence on the health effects. The Synthetic Turf Council, which represents companies that make crumb rubber fields, insisted that it’s safe and cited multiple studies.

Petitions across the country have led to change. Westchester is on the cutting edge with its fields. The cost is about one and a half times more per square foot.

In Pleasantville, the district plans to spend $1.5 million for the replacement of two turf fields. The organic option added $105,000 to the cost.

In May, Bronxville voters approved a $1.8 million proposal for the organic infill version. In Irvington voters approved the same.

It wasn’t without controversy.

“I feel the rubber is good for recycling tires,” one resident said.

“There’s a lot of helicopter parenting going on. You’ve got to let kids be kids,” another added.

There are currently about 11,000 turf fields in the United States and only about 30 are organic.

Pleasantville’s organic turf field is expected to be in place in the fall. The other districts expect to have their shortly after.

 

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