Wales will not impose a ban on artificial grass, clarified Climate Change Minister Julie James, after indicating she wanted to explore such a possibility. James initially suggested she wanted to consider if a new law targeting certain single-use plastics in the country could also be applied to banning artificial grass, which is often derived from recycled tires and plastics, the BBC reported.
These lawns come with numerous risks to human and environmental health, James previously explained, noting that there were surmounting “worrying reports” that the “toxicity coming off artificial grass” was “quite alarming.”
James’s U-turn on the topic is a disappointing setback. One recent study linked artificial turf to instances of a rare form of cancer in several Philadelphia Phillies baseball players who played at the Veterans Stadium pre-2003. There is also the potential of the turf leaching plastics and chemicals into the environment as it bakes in the sun.
One of the pertinent chemicals of interest is “forever chemicals” like PFAs. Some of these chemicals have an impact on the endocrine system, while others can disrupt the immune system. Moreover, these are called “forever chemicals” because they are so difficult to get rid of and can run into the soil and waterways of affected areas.
Areas downhill from the fields can become riddled with microplastics, which are very difficult to clean up and control. However, these potentially catastrophic implications have not stopped artificial turf companies from lobbying for their products.
For many, artificial turf just isn’t practical. Although these lawns give the impression of being low maintenance, they actually require a lot of effort to ensure they are safe. In order to keep the temperature and smell down, the fake grass must be watered regularly — which defeats the purpose of having it.
In a prior press conference, James expressed that building artificial lawns “isn’t the short-term solution it looks like for people” and that she would work with authorities to ensure artificial lawns do not make their way into “publically-funded spaces” in the country.
Following the walk back, James said, “I don’t have the power to ban artificial grass tomorrow morning. And even if I did, I wouldn’t.” She added that she still hopes she can help educate the public about the environmental repercussions of incorporating fake grass into their gardens.
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