Concerns have been raised again that the surface of synthetic grass fields and parks are too hot to be usable during the summer months.

A new study released by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and the Desert Research Institute (DRI) have found that the maximum surface temperature of artificial turf was around 69 degrees F higher than that of irrigated natural grass, and 62 degrees F higher than air temperature. This study was conducted between August 2006 and March 2007 and recorded maximum surface temperatures as high as 169 degrees F. The threshold that was determined to be the limit for safe extended use is 46 degrees lower than this maximum.

The results indicate that the rise in surface temperature of artificial grass can be attributed to solar radiation as opposed to the air temperature. Another factor is a lack of heat transfer from the grass blades to the underlying fill material. Overall the inference is that the construction and product materials are contributing factors causing the elevated temperatures.

While all of this sounds pretty grim for synthetic grass use in summer months, there is one very important factor that should be highlighted about this study. The research was only done using one kind of synthetic grass product (which has not been disclosed) and it is very likely that the results would have differed with other artificial grass products.

The research is offered as a caveat to park managers who are charged with making a choice over artificial grass products for public fields and parks. It highlights the importance of investigating all available products before purchasing synthetic grass with one consideration being to choose a more reflective color to minimize grass surface temperatures.

Update: April 2012 – new technology has recently been introduced by leading synthetic grass fiber producer TenCate with the company releasing their market leading TenCate XP Blade grass fibers with heat reflective technology that is designed to significantly lower the temperature of playing fields. Read more here.