As originally printed in the Star Tribune Letters to the Editor, Friday, May 2, 2008.

Make sure it’s safe

The April 26 article “Turf wars not taking place on most area athletic fields” missed the mark in two ways. First, it quoted only those who sell or have bought the product, plus a state health official who said he hasn’t looked into it. Officials who have looked into it — from legislators to city council members — have concerns. A bill this session at the Capitol would require studies of turf’s health and environmental risks.

Second, a turf war did take place this year — and turf lost. A Minneapolis park board proposal died at the City Council after council members asked hard questions about turf’s potential impacts and insisted on the natural grass alternative.

Other states and the federal government are investigating artificial turf, both for lead in the fake grass and for toxins underneath in the fake dirt — which is really rubber crumb, made from pulverized scrap tires. For the health of our state’s children and environment, let’s wait to hear what independent investigators — not turf industry representatives happy to pawn off old tires at a steep price, or local officials who OK’d heavy investments for plastic grass — have to say about the safety of artificial turf.