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*The views of this article are of Sports Turf Northwest’s only. Sports Turf Northwest Is Not Against Synthetic Turf but against the denial by Turf Manufacturers and uninformed “Professional Parents” of health-related issues associated with synthetic turf.  When turf manufacturers, the Synthetic Turf Council, and parents put the blinders on and only see dollar bills, that is troubling. Why not be proactive for the safety of athletes, which are also your kids. Hiding behind industry-funded “Scientific Studies” is bull shit and shameful. Synthetic turf is a growing industry and will continue to grow.  Remember when cigarettes posed no health risks or concussions were a mere headache and all will be fine?

I Sell Artificial Turf Maintenance Equipment but Question “Scientific Studies”, Why?

Got your attention? It’s time to look at the term “Scientific Studies” and why the artificial turf industry blankets any health-related issues with “Scientific Studies”. For 7 years now I have been writing about Staph and MRSA infections. Specifically how these infections relate to artificial turf. These harmful microorganisms are connected to artificial turf, however, let me be very clear what I do.

I sell artificial turf maintenance equipment to destroy Staph and MRSA for the protection of athletes. The Artificial Turf  Industry is full of dishonest individuals, who only care about sounding articulate. The point of this article is how all health-related issues are dealt with if ever mentioned. Bad publicity is bad for sales. Bad publicity about synthetic turf will get a “Scientific Study” to make all things good again. Why do we need “Scientific Studies” when common sense provides us with the real answer? I’m going to say MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!

Richard Smith, a former editor of the British Medical Journal, puts it:

Most scientific studies are wrong, and they are wrong because scientists are interested in funding and careers rather than truth.

From the Synthetic Turf Council’s Website

Science is an important focus for the STC. That’s why we actively collect independent research and studies from third-party organizations about synthetic turf and its system components under the following topics: Player Performance & Risk of Injury; Environmental & Health Risk of Synthetic Turf with Crumb Rubber Infill; Heat; Staph & MRSA

According to the Synthetic Turf Council, synthetic turf has no health-related issues at all.  Concerns about crumb rubber toxicity, injury, heat stress, Staph, and MRSA are all just a bunch of hot air topics. Mention a health-related issue in association with artificial turf and the solution is to discredited by use of “Scientific Studies”.  Studies which have so conveniently been provided by independent research from third-party organizations. If a parent or news organization makes a statement of how the infill material ends up in the washing machine (the black infill material goes everywhere your kid or clothes does) you can bet some “Scientific Study” would show up discrediting the statement and the STC would amend the above statement with a comma behind MRSA and add, Washing Machine Danger.

Organizations Like The Synthetic Turf Council Have a $$$$ Incentive to Exist

We all know how organizations like the Synthetic Turf Council operate. A quick recap goes like this, start an organization and then get companies and people who have a vested interest in the industry to pay a membership fee. Have conferences around the country, charge high rates to attend and display your wares. Profit margins on tradeshows are amazing, anywhere from 40%-80% of pure profit. It’s like lobbying without going to Washington.  The self-appointed voice of the industry, Synthetic Turf Council, who provides a depository of cutting edge “Scientific Studies” so everyone can feel good about the industry.

Calling The Kettle Black Disclosure

The manufacturer of the equipment I sell is a member of the STC because not to be a member means lack of exposure.  The UVC turf equipment I promote and is effective in killing Staph and MRSA has been laughed at by the STC. Turf manufacturers have tried to say the warranty of the turf will be voided if the equipment is used, total B.S.

There are lots of “Scientific Studies” available to refute negativity about artificial turf. My main focus is to bring awareness to Staph and MRSA health concerns. God forbid speak about health dangers and turf because the main evidence or argument about safety is provided by a two-bit study.  I will focus on only one example of information being twisted, interpreted wrong and supplied by a so-called third-party organization.

The Most Relied Upon “Scientific Study” Used To Combat The Truth

This study is used over and over and over again to counter the argument that Staph and MRSA poses a danger to athletes.  I have written about this study before and have had an editorial disagreement with FieldTurf about it. Artificial Turf Manufacturers are Acting Like Big Tobacco, Profits Over the Safety of Athletes.  FieldTurf is a very large corporation that has sold over 4,500 artificial turf projects. The voice of FieldTurf is Darren Gill, VP Global Marketing and I disagree 100% on how FieldTurf and VP Darren Gill use a certain “Scientific Study” to avoid the real issue concerning Staph and MRSA.  Common sense will always trump “Scientific Studies” so I will let you form your own thoughts about the subject.

Background Information on The “Study”

Whenever the topic of artificial turf and infections like Staph and MRSA are brought up the #1 “Scientific Study” that is referenced is research done by Andrew S. McNitt, PH.D. SOIL SCIENCE, Penn State University.  Dr. McNitt could be classified as the foremost expert on artificial. Dr. McNitt has provided tremendous research over the years.  I have no issue with Dr. McNitt or his research however my issue is how his research is being manipulated by turf manufacturers and the Synthetic Turf Council. It’s all about interpretation.

Penn State and FieldTurf Joined Forces

The Synthetic Turf Council is proud to reference “independent third-party organizations” as the means where information is gathered. FieldTurf in 2009 joined forces with Penn State to create the Penn State Center for Sports Surface Research. If you wanted to see the information about the joint venture you could at one time. The joint announcement of the joint partnership is no longer visible, hence the 404 pages. In the world of Internet terminologies what we now have is a 301 re-direct or worse, a 404 Page.

A what? It’s a way to keep the attention away from the topic. If you were to view the guts of the black link below you would see the blue link. If you clicked on the underlined black link before you would be taken to the blue link that held the joint partner information.  http://www.fieldturf.com/en/innovation/penn-state-fieldturf I just made it look nice and put FieldTurf’s page information behind the clean CAPITALIZED BLACK TITLES LINK.

PENN STATE CENTER FOR SPORTS SURFACE RESEARCH

I know you want to click on the black underlined link and please do. Because this is what http://www.fieldturf.com/en/innvation/penn-state-fieldturf will provide you

404 Error which tells the reader the page no longer exists
Joint Study Announcement No Longer Available

FieldTurf Is A Funding Partner (or was) For Research At Penn State University

The Synthetic Turf Council along with many other turf manufacturers use “Scientific Studies” researched at Penn State to calm fears about Staph and MRSA dangers.  Do you see the connection of “Independent Third-Party Organizations”? The research paper, A Survey of Microbial Populations in Infilled Synthetic Turf Fields by Dr. Andrew McNitt, is a good research paper.  The findings of the study are that artificial turf does not harbor or grow harmful bacteria, such as Staph and MRSA.  I completely agree that artificial turf is not acting like a giant growing coral reef and that below the surface Staph and MRSA is not breeding and spreading.  Who is monitoring the playing surfaces and what policies and procedures are in place to deal with bodily fluids? Weber State, I salute your research. To the readers of this article, let’s compare two studies and you tell me which one is more realistic. READ THIS STUDY Weber State Study On Bacterial Pathogens

The Concern About Bodily Fluids

All sports being played on artificial turf are all contact sports that have a higher degree of bodily fluids contaminating the artificial turf.  To make the common sense argument very black and white, a recreational league player might have a nasty blood infection. If the individual were to receive a cut, they would bleed on the turf.  As a parent, you will not know that your child might come in contact with infected blood, do you see the problem? The health issue of Staph and MRSA is a result of not sterilizing the surface. Here is an article I wrote as to how I see the problem Trust the Center For Disease Control When It Comes to Facts About MRSA and Staph 

Instead of addressing the health-related issues about bodily fluids, the synthetic turf industry would rather use a “scientific study” to say there are no health-related issues at hand.  Bad publicity for artificial turf might means that, hold your breath, natural turf might be a better option and a lost sale might occur. There is no stopping the artificial turf machine and installation of artificial turf will continue to grow.  The whole process is a giant charade so everyone can say they really looked at all the issues.

Two Groups Who Will Lead The Way For Change

There are two groups that will ultimately create change and put safety ahead of “scientific studies”.  Currently, the voices of those concerned are lacking organization. Parental concerns due to disorganization of voices have aided any health discussions to end quickly.  I get the phone calls from concerned mothers all the time so I can say there is a great concern brewing.  In the future, the organization for concern will take place. When health concerns become louder, the industry will be forced to act.  Kids for decades have had their brains bouncing around in helmets and suffering concussions. When concern about concussions became too loud the football industry blinked and now concussions are treated as a serious health issue.

The group I would be most afraid of are the lawyers.

 

References:

“A Survey of Microbial Populations in Infilled Synthetic Turf Fields (Center for Sports Surface Research).” Center for Sports Surface Research (Penn State University), 2019, plantscience.psu.edu/research/centers/ssrc/research/microbial/microbial. Accessed 11 May 2019.

“Andrew S. McNitt.” Psu.Edu, 2010, www.personal.psu.edu/asm4/. Accessed 11 May 2019.

Woelfel, Mike. “Are Synthetic Turf Fields Full of Bacterial Pathogens Like Staph?” Sports Turf Northwest, 11 May 2019, sportsturfnw.com/synthetic-turf-fields-bacterial-pathogens/. Accessed 11 May 2019.

—. “Artificial Turf Manufacturers, Profits or Safety of Athletes?” Sports Turf Northwest, 26 Feb. 2014, sportsturfnw.com/artificial-turf-manufacturers-are-acting-like-big-tobacco/. Accessed 11 May 2019.

—. “MRSA and Staph Infections Should Concern Synthetic Turf Users.” Sports Turf Northwest, 11 May 2019, sportsturfnw.com/trust-the-center-for-disease-control-when-it-comes-to-facts-about-mrsa-and-staph/. Accessed 11 May 2019.

“Research & Latest Thinking – Synthetic Turf Council.” Syntheticturfcouncil.Org, 2019, www.syntheticturfcouncil.org/page/Research. Accessed 11 May 2019.

“Resource Center – Synthetic Turf Council.” Syntheticturfcouncil.Org, 2019, www.syntheticturfcouncil.org/page/Resource_Center. Accessed 11 May 2019.

“Richard Smith: Time for Science to Be about Truth Rather than Careers – The BMJ.” The BMJ, 12 Sept. 2013, blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2013/09/09/richard-smith-time-for-science-to-be-about-truth-rather-than-careers/. Accessed 11 May 2019.

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