Fossil Fuel-Based Artificial Turf Raises Concerns

Cities and states are rolling back support for artificial turf, which can leach chemicals and microplastics into groundwater.

1 minute read

April 9, 2024, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Close-up of roll of green artificial turf laying on more artificial turf.

Yuriy Chertok / Adobe Stock

Local governments are starting to address the environmental impacts of artificial turf, which grew in popularity in recent decades as an alternative to thirsty natural grass.

In an article for Route Fifty, Kaitlyn Levinson explains that artificial turf can contain toxic materials like PFAS and leach fossil fuel-based materials into local groundwater. States like California, which in 2015 barred local jurisdictions from banning artificial turf, are now rethinking that decision. “In October 2023, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that still prohibits cities and counties from banning drought-tolerant lawns consisting of living plants, but does allow them to ban synthetic grass.”

For property owners looking for turf alternatives, landscaping with native vegetation offers another option. “Biodiverse landscapes containing native plants and vegetation, for instance, can help communities strengthen local ecosystems and build climate resilience.”

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