Artificial turf is made from petroleum‐based materials which are resource intensive to manufacture and transport.
Some artificial turf is painted with lead paint creating an unsafe recreation area for children.
Artificial turf has also been shown to leach zinc, organic compounds and other chemicals, particularly from the crumb rubber infill.
Soil health and stability are greatly reduced in the absence of root systems and organic matter from grass and other vegetation.
Lawns act as a carbon sink, taking up CO2 from the atmosphere, thereby playing a small role in managing global climate change. The 40 million acres of lawns in the US take up between 6 and 17 teragrams of carbon each year depending on how they are managed, according to NASA. Also, leaving grass clippings on the lawn increases carbon uptake. Tearing up grass to install artificial turf releases significant amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.
Lawns act as natural filters taking up dust, pollutants, and particulate matter from the air and water (up to 12 million tons per year).
Lawns significantly reduce noise pollution, particularly in urban areas.
The reality is that there will always be a significant portion of the population that wants a lawn their children can run barefoot on, they can have a comfortable picnic on, their dogs can lay in the shade on, or on which they can play soccer. There are many benefits of lawns when they are maintained in a responsible and sustainable manner. A healthy lawn increases soil stability through its deep and expansive root structure which reduces land degradation and erosion from wind and water.
Lawns cool the air: according to a Mississippi State University study, a healthy lawn has the same cooling effect as an 8.5 ton air conditioning compressor. About ½ the heat energy directed to a grassy area is eliminated by evapotranspiration. Non‐vegetative surfaces (like rock, artificial turf, cement) do not have the same cooling effect and in some cases, can actually create a mini ‘heat‐island’ effect, increasing the ground‐level temperature.
Some consider artificial turf a favorable alternative to grass, however there are many issues surrounding artificial turf: