As we stepped off the field all we could think of was getting to the shade. People had begun spraying water over the fields, and steam started rising from the ground. As we got ready to play our next game one girl had to change her cleats because the one’s she had been wearing had melted over the course of the previous game.
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Another girl was begging the coach not to force her back on the field. We had been familiar with playing soccer in very high temperatures but none of us had experienced this while playing on artificial field turf. These, however, are not only dangers that come with being an athlete forced to play on artificial field turf. In recent years disquietudes have risen about possible dangers related to exposure to artificial field turf among athletes, specifically both the immediate and long term ramifications turf can have on one’s health.
Concern related to the use of artificial field turf connects to the different materials turf is comprised of: backing material, which provides support; plastic blades, which make it a form of grass; and infill, found in the form of rubber beads. These beads comprised of recycled tires, which include: lead, benzene, mercury, arsenic, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, along with a number of others, as reported by Hannah Rappleye (NBC). But these are just a few of the many possible ingredients used in the turf beads.
It is difficult to know exactly what potentially harmful materials an athlete is being exposed to due to the variety of tires being used to make turf. Without testing every individual bead of grass there is no way to know with absolute certainty what athletes are being exposed to as they play. In 2011 a study was conducted by Stuart L. Shalat to determine how much field turf is inhaled by athletes while on the field. A machine called a PIPER was used to sample the air of five different fields throughout New Jersey. All of the tests took place during the summer at temperatures higher than eighty degrees fahrenheit.
The results proved that the wipe samples of lead measured in ng/ft2 ranges from thirty on fields two and five to ten thousand three hundred thirty on field one. Field one is the only field in the sample to be over five years old. This data suggests that even limited activity can cause the turf to be inhaled by the athletes present. Considering the number of other materials used, this has just reason to raise consternation (Shalat). All of this data also excludes the fact that turf beads can easily be swallowed and ingested, according to Jordan Swarthout, a former soccer goalie,
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