Kids in the Los Gatos High School district have spoken out against artificial turf.

Image of Samuel Liu from his school newspaper where he wrote an in-depth piece about concerns over the district's artificial turf installations

Our elementary school kids are trusting grownups to be educated on the issues and advocate for them.  These kids are trusting LGUSD to make a safe decision here. 

However, older students in the community have spoken out themselves in the past against artificial turf.

In April 2015, Los Gatos High School student, Zoe Lam, penned this piece: "LGHS needs to listen to its constituents' opinions and concerns. Plan resulting from Measure E is replacing ALL five athletic fields with artificial turf at LGHS. This is NOT the right choice."

A petition started by Lam garnered over 300 signatures.  "Keep Natural Grass on Helm Field... Grass on LGHS’s football field, Helm Field, should be reinstalled after renovations."  View the petition to read the numerous and insightful comments from Los Gatos community members opposing the artificial turf installation.

Note the petition title includes "Los Gatos students, alumni and locals were not adequately involved in the decision to approve artificial turf on Helm Field and all other sport fields."  Hmmm...  students, alumni, and locals were not adequately involved in the decision to approve artificial turf?  LGUSD community, noticing a pattern?

At the other school in the same high school district (the Los Gatos Saratoga Union High School District, LGSUHSD), when artificial turf field was proposed there, the softball team "sent many emails explaining how it is more dangerous to play on".   Student Ellie Lee explicitly spoke up about the heat of artificial turf.   Another student, Eleni Spirakis, raised concerns "concerning the efficacy of turfing the softball field and the likelihood of it actually saving water".  Spirakis wrote “There is no evidence that [turf] will save water or reduce maintenance, as the district claims.”  

Several years before that, Samuel Liu (pictured up top), a student at the same Saratoga school published an excellent, in-depth piece for his school newspaper: "Are artificial turf fields carcinogenic?"  It's outdated and focuses partially on crumb rubber (which is not on the table for LGUSD at this time), but it's chilling to see how much of the storyline detailed in the article applies equally well to the dialog and issues being raised in LGUSD today even for crumb-rubber-free artificial turf installations.  

Is it foreboding that it's relatively easy to find local parents and students with cautionary first-hand experiences to share, especially considering many burns, many injuries, and staph infections likely go unreported?   (These are all risks on artificial turf regardless of whether or not the system makes use of crumb rubber infill.)  These experiences are common enough that several impacted local families have even spoken out in local papers, Los Gatan and the Saratoga High School Newspaper.  

Liu's article explains that back in 2005, when LGSUHSD installed artificial turf, "it’s possible that this turf may have contained significant amounts of lead, a developmental toxicant. In September of 2008, then attorney general (and now governor) Jerry Brown led a lawsuit against AstroTurf, Beaulieu Group and FieldTurf (the company that makes the school’s turfs) for violating California’s Proposition 65 by knowingly failing to disclose that their products contained lead."  An additional safety issue with those artificial turf systems is that they were infilled with crumb rubber which even LGUSD's current landscape designer has referred to (at the 11/18/21 board meeting) as "carcinogenic".   

Why do we think we know enough about safety of artificial turf product components now?  Even if lead and crumb rubber concerns have been addressed, clearly there's a reason to be concerned that some of the many remaining unknowns regarding the safety of artificial turf system components may also constitute serious risk to our kids.

Why do we think the story will be different this time?  Wouldn't we just be repeating the same flawed logic?  Why do we think it's wise to move forward with so many unknowns?

All these statements taken from Liu's article applied not only back in 2005 but continue to be true today:
  • Concerns are being raised about artificial turf (yes, even without crumb rubber infill) by "high-powered doctors, public health professionals, lawyers".
  • Research is still in progress.
  • We're having a hard time persuading administration to keep artificial turf off our campuses.
  • We hear “Everyone is using these fields.”
  • "School officials said they relied extensively on scientific research."
  • The district is trusting the safety advice of industry affiliates.
  • There's a fear that "we’re putting first graders and cancerous materials together.” (Yes, there are links to cancer from chemicals used to manufacture crumb-rubber-free artificial turf system components.)
  • We're still asking "Would you, knowing what these fields contain, but not knowing the consequences, put other parents’ children on these fields?"