Date of Graduation

Spring 5-18-2023

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)


College of Arts and Sciences


Environmental Management

First Advisor

Allison Luengen

Second Advisor

Aviva Rossi

Third Advisor

Adam Hess


The use of artificial turf fields as a replacement for natural turf has been increasingly promoted as a green solution to reduce water usage, maintenance costs, and the need for pesticides. However, the potential environmental impacts of artificial turf fields are poorly understood, particularly in the context of the San Francisco Estuary, which is one of the largest and most polluted estuaries in the United States. This paper investigates the potential contribution of artificial turf from sports fields to the microplastic and chemical pollution of the San Francisco Estuary during artificial turf’s use and maintenance life stage. The study synthesizes scientific and gray literature, including peer-reviewed articles, patents on artificial turf fiber manufacturing, and technical reports to identify the chemicals used in artificial turf fiber and their potential impacts on aquatic organisms. The study reveals that benzotriazoles, light stabilizers widely used in artificial turf production, and novel brominated flame retardants may leach from the polyethylene and polypropylene, the main polymers of artificial turf fiber, and exert endocrine-disruptive properties on aquatic organisms. However, the current experiments found in the literature only account for acute toxicity and demonstrate that the lowest observable effect for most organisms, except plants, occurs at concentrations higher than ambient ones. The study also identifies endocrine disruptive chemicals of great concern - PFAS precursors. The study's findings contribute to the existing knowledge of the potential environmental impacts of artificial turf fields. The findings can inform management decisions to minimize the use of hazardous chemicals in the manufacturing of artificial turf fiber and promote the development of more environmentally friendly alternatives. The study highlights the importance of carefully managing artificial turf surfaces to prevent the escape of chemicals and microplastics into the San Francisco Estuary.