In Lawn Industry, Media

Turf Australia Media Release, Thursday 30 May 2013

TURF AUSTRALIA URGES COUNCILS NOT TO ROLL OVER ON TURF ISSUE IN FAVOUR OF ‘TOXIC’ SYNTHETIC TURF

Turf Australia, the not-for-profit body that represents Aussie turf growers, is warning councils not to follow the example of Victorian Council, Darebin City Council, on the issue of potentially carcinogenic synthetic grass.

This week Darebin resident, Ali Mekawy, has appeared in the media, touting his success in a battle with Darebin Council to use synthetic turf on his nature strip. According to reports, Darebin City Council initially asked the resident to remove his synthetic nature strip for trip hazards.

John Keleher, president of Turf Australia, is urging all councils to reconsider the use of synthetic turf in community areas as worries over toxic links escalate.

“Studies have raised concerns about the dangers of long-term exposure to synthetic turf and the presence of chemical carcinogens, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons,” says Keleher.

“Synthetic turf has also been known to reach three times the average air temperature (93.3°C) which could cause serious burns injury among children and adults as they use public walkways, playgrounds and sporting fields,” he says.

Keleher asks councils to think about broader community issues such as soil erosion and preventing polluting local waterways.

“Erosion control is essential in keeping the ground from moving during heavy rainfall. This occurs when bare ground is exposed, leaving nothing to prevent the earth from literally washing away. It’s crucial for preventing pollutants such as pesticides and excess fertilisers from entering our streams and waterways which will cost councils money to treat,” says Keleher.

“This is an issue right across the country. Homeowners risk losing parts of their land to the effects of soil erosion and communities face contaminated waterways and streams. The building and construction industry, local government planners and landscape industry professionals must ensure sustainable measures are put in place,” he says.

“it is short-sighted to claim synthetic turf is cheap to maintain as it doesn’t require watering. Modern varieties of turf do not require very much water to maintain. While some types of synthetic turf actually need watering and are made using a lot of water,” Keleher adds.

“We know that some companies are offering a rebate to homeowners who replace their lawns with synthetic grass, and some are even implying that they are aligned with local councils. It’s a marketing ploy designed to trick homeowners. It’s important that those with a garden realise that the long term benefits of having a natural lawn outweigh this discount substantially,” adds Keleher.

“The aesthetic appeal of a natural lawn is important for homeowners. LG Hooker research shows nine in 10 buyers prefer that their backyard be real grass,” says Keleher.

In fact, a study of 114 real estate agents revealed that natural turf adds 18 per cent to a home’s property value, adding $75,000 to the average selling price nationally.

Keleher suggests councils consult their communities more broadly when determining where real turf should be used in the community.

“There is a growing move to increase public green space and community gardens across the country. Whilst single residents may be vocal, they don’t represent the public good.”

For more information, visit www.turfaustralia.com.au

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