Natural Grass vs. Plastic Grass for 5 Glendale sports fields (7 acres) returns to Glendale City Council on Tuesday, June 28, 2022 at 6pm.
GEC and our local Sierra Club Angeles chapter are joining together to ask our City Council to vote NO on using artificial turf on five new sports fields, four of which are in or adjacent to park-poor South Glendale schools and parks. We ask for natural grass for a variety of community benefit, health and environmental reasons.
At this meeting, Council Members will hear a “triple bottom line” Life Cycle Analysis from Citadel EHS, which was commissioned by the City of Glendale after the Parks Commission voted 3 to 2 in favor of natural grass alternatives for Glendale sports fields in 2021. They will hear Community Services and Parks staff recommend artificial turf installations at: Woodrow Wilson Middle School, Cerritos Park, Pacific Park, Fremont Park, and the Sports Complex. That’s 7 acres of plastic grass that would shed microfibers into our water, increase the heat island effect, and will one day end up in landfills. GEC has provided a critique of the Life Cycle Analysis noting many problems with the analysis that altered the bottom line.
Please call in during the meeting or email our City Council Members ahead, to ask them to recommend natural grass, not plastic grass. This is likely our last chance to make our voices heard on this decision.
Synthetic turf presents many substantial negative impacts.
- Plastic grass is 40-70 °F hotter than surrounding air temperatures on warm, sunny days. It can get superheated to temperatures from 120 to 180 °F. and melt shoes, blister hands and feet, and induce dehydration and heatstroke.Fields over 120 °F are unsafe for play.
- 90+°F days = 120+ °F on plastic fields, endangering players to high heat levels. We can anticipate fewer and fewer days of available use during our highest demand months of play in years to come (as the climate warms) IF fields are too hot to play on safely. Grass fields rarely exceed 85°F and act to cool down the air as they respire.
- Artificial turf greatly contributes to the heat island effect and degradation of open space, increasing temperatures for the immediate area and the surrounding neighborhood. Studies have shown increases of 7°F to temperatures around the field.
- It is made from virgin plastic with blades and infill that have unknown additives and at the end of its life, recycled into shockpads or not, it ends up in a landfill.
- New studies show that both the grass-like blades and the backing of artificial turf contain the highly toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS which are toxic to players, to the neighboring community, and to everyone’s water when water runoff full of PFAs enters our storm drains after rainfalls
- It would replace precious green spaces in South Glendale parks and schools with plastic.
- Injuries, including turf burns, are a major concern.
- Synthetic turf, when cared for properly, does not save water. When not cared for properly, it requires faster replacement, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Natural Grass can use recycled water, which is good for replenishing our ground water levels.
In four instances, these are spaces shared with school children and/or park visitors: Woodrow Wilson Middle School, Cerritos joint use park with Cerritos Elementary, and Pacific Park which abuts Edison Elementary and will be the site’s second artificial field. Fremont Park is in a residential neighborhood with precious little access to park space.
These sites are in or next to South Glendale, in high pollution burden areas of our city that suffer from a severe lack of green space, with area temperatures several degrees hotter than North Glendale. At Fremont Park, the proposed artificial turf field would remove one third of the open green space. Two of the proposed sites are school campuses with mostly impervious surfaces, where the primary green space IS the grass sports field. Excessive heat is a particular risk for young children. Children (and staff) at these schools do not deserve to be burdened with additional heat and health impacts. They deserve their campuses to be greener.
We have also studied each site for current pollution statistics and looked at the heat island effects in each site. Click here to see that research.
Above: This google maps image shows how the Wilson Middle School grass field is not only the only green space on the campus, but is also the largest green space in this area of Glendale! What impact would a massive plastic field have on temperatures on campus and in the surrounding neighborhood?
Above: Heat island at Pacific Park from the current plastic field. Note the cooler area over grass field, which is proposed to be converted to plastic grass. Note the proximity to Edison Elementary. This area of Glendale is 4.5°F higher than city wide average with 77% impervious surfaces.
Above: Sports Complex showing heat island effect from existing artificial turf fields. Note that it is far hotter than the pavement. Heat map tool
There are reasonable alternatives that use natural grass.
Click here to see the letter GEC and the Sierra Club, Verdugo Hills Group sent to Glendale City Council. Click here for supporting reference links.
We have also compiled feedback regarding problems with the Artificial Turf vs. Natural Grass Life Cycle Analysis, which you can view here.
TAKE ACTION by calling in with a comment during the council meeting on Tuesday, June 28 (meeting begins 6 pm, call time approx. 8 pm) or sending an email ahead of the meeting.
View the Live Stream to follow along: https://www.youtube.com/myglendale
Call in with your comment: (818) 937-8100
Agenda/Live Stream: https://glendaleca.primegov.com/Portal/Meeting?compiledMeetingDocumentFileId=48388
When? Towards the conclusion of item 3a, (Synthetic Turf/Grass Life Cycle Analysis), which may be around 8 pm (this is just an approximation.) Turn your video volume off to prevent an echo. Note: youtube channel is approx. 30 seconds delayed.
Email council members in advance:
Mayor Ardy Kassakhian: AKassakhian@GlendaleCA.gov
Vrej Agajanian: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Brotman: dbrotman@Glendaleca.gov
Paula Devine: email@example.com
Ara Najarian: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copy us at email@example.com if you would like to share your comments with us.
“…plastic grass carpet generate massive heat islands larger than their actual size. A regulation sized field is about 80k square feet, or 2 acres, comprising approximately 800,000,000 plastic blades per field. Both the field surface and the surface of each blade reflect heat, triggering visible waves of heat rising and spilling into adjoining areas like schools or spectator stands. The entire surface area of heated plastic constantly off-gasses both methane and ethylene. These greenhouse-gases are highly toxic chemicals that everyone on and near the field children, athletes and bystanders will constantly inhale. They are released in increasing volume as the blades break down from UV light, weather, age and grinding action during play. The off gassing continues even at night and will continue for the hundreds of years it takes for these materials to decompose. Choosing to install plastic synthetic turf is choosing to promote climate change.” – Safe Health Playing Fields (open letter)