Asphalt playgrounds are bad for kids. So is artificial grass
Children line up to return to class after their morning recess at Lockwood Elementary School in Los Angeles on Aug. 31. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)
To the editor: It’s frightening that LA schoolchildren are playing on sizzling asphalt, but the commentary and reporting on it miss an important part of the story.
Years of research show that the school playground surfaces that are even hotter than pavement are made from artificial turf or colorful rubber. On a warm, sunny day, when grass fields are about 90 degrees, artificial turf fields are often 150 degrees or hotter; my organization has measured temperatures up to 180 degrees. Rubber playground surfaces are similarly hot.
Artificial turf is sometimes installed in an effort to save water, but unfortunately, artificial turf must be watered to prevent it from getting so hard that it can cause injuries when children fall.
Scientists have clearly documented the dangers of artificial turf, including heat and PFAS and other chemical exposures, but their concerns are regularly ignored by school boards and other community decision makers. The Times can contribute to the health and safety of children across the country by examining what these dangers are and why they are being ignored.
Diana Zuckerman, Washington
The writer is president of the National Center for Health Research.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.