Artificial turf fields are on their way to Petaluma, CA. Three artificial turf fields are scheduled to be installed at a Petaluma park. Artificial turf fields will also be installed later at two high schools who are following suit.
Parents have expressed their concerns however concerning risk of bacterial infections, heat conduction, the effects of crumb rubber, and increased risk of physical injuries to players.
One parent says that her son suffered a staph infection after scraping his elbow at a summer sports camp in Berkeley last summer. Experts say however that there is no elevated risk of bacterial infections as long as the artificial turf sports field is bleached and cleaned properly regularly. They say that bacterial infections are much more likely to occur from exposure to bacteria in locker rooms.
Regarding increased risk of physical injury, experts say that there is nothing inherently risky about synthetic turf itself. Rather, what increases the risks is cleat size. Taller cleats are more hazardous than smaller cleats.
Officials are currently researching alternatives to crumb rubber. Some possible alternatives are coconut and organic cork.
Finally, official say that the increased playing time and lack of maintenance issues they'll face with the artificial turf outweighs any of the negative risks.