Letter to the Editor: Synthetic turf concerns

To the Editor:

In the article (“Weston Restoration emphasizes environmental integration,” Oct 23) there is no indication that athletic health concerns were considered with regard to the new synthetic playing surfaces that will be installed next month. There was discussion a few years back within the NFL suggesting that certain types of synthetic turf cause more lower leg injuries than grass turf does, but as is often the case with the NFL, hard data was never released, and the discussion faded. NCAA surveillance data describes the dimensions of the current epidemic of knee, lower leg and ankle injuries in college sport, and the clinical literature documents the all too frequent consequence (as high as 50 percent by age 35 in some studies) of premature arthritis of knee and ankle among athletes so injured. Is there reliable injury incidence data to suggest that the synthetic surface proposed for Weston Field is at least injury neutral when compared to traditional grass turf? Does Williams have a statistically validated mechanism for evaluating the health effects, if any, of the new surface, once installed? An e-mail I sent to the department of athletics inquiring about these matters remains unanswered.

Nicholas H. Wright ’57 MD, MPH