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A Brief History Of Artificial Grass

History Of Artificial Grass

You have probably seen artificial grass around town, also known as artificial turf, or sometimes AstroTurf, and you may even have played sports on it, but have you ever thought about where it came from? The Ford Foundation was on a mission to advance the human race through scientific means anyway they could think of, so back in the early 1960s as part of that goal, they tasked their science and industrial partners to create a synthetic surface for urban playing surfaces that would be easier on the human body than hard concrete and asphalt.

Their hope was to give city children year-round play areas and playgrounds made of softer substances where a fall wouldn’t mean a bad scrape and a bruised knee. The first installation of the new playing surface called Chemgrass was installed by laying it down on a playfield with synthetic grass adhesive in 1964 at Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island. The kids loved it, and the Ford Foundation chalked up a win!

The first use of artificial grass in a professional major-league sports venue was in 1966 when Houston’s famed Astrodome opened. The Astrodome gave the artificial grass a catchy new name, AstroTurf, and although that is technically a trademark of the AstroTurf Manufacturing Company who produced the dome’s field, it has fallen into common use for all artificial grass regardless of brand, much in the same way that disposable plastic bandages are all called “Band-Aids” and all paper tissues still go by “Kleenex”!

Following the big success of Astrodome’s AstroTurf, the artificial grass market saw other manufacturers begin to produce their own versions. One of the most famous of these was the 3M Company (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing) called its artificial grass Tartan Turf. The boom in close-roofed domed stadium construction for sports around the world was engendered by the widespread embrace of artificial grass.

Despite its great popularity, artificial grass came drew some unexpected negative attention in the early 1970s because of quality and safety concerns. Some fields of artificial grass, mostly those manufactured by less reputable companies looking for a quick profit from the growing trend, began to show signs of deterioration. These lower-quality artificial grass fields wore out too quickly and developed tears in their seams while the top layer was bleached and degraded by exposure to the sun’s UV radiation.

Both athletes and their team doctors started to lodge complaints about the blisters and friction burns they were receiving from the artificial grass. Live grass turf has some give to it, and will cushion a forceful blow, but artificial grass didn’t replicate that effect and injuries from its use became more commonplace as it continued to degrade and lose cohesion. Despite misgivings, in 1974 the Stanford Research Institute decided that artificial grass did not present a major health hazard to professional athletes, and its use continues to this day!

Australia’s State of New South Whales has performed an independent review on the application of artificial grass for public spaces. We hope you found this article interesting, and now you have some expert knowledge to share with your friends when you watch the next game!

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