Kids' Science Challenge: Claire - Germy Turf: The Pulse of the Planet daily radio program offers free legal online mp3 downloads, exploring the world of sound in nature, culture and science, with audio adventures, world music, extraordinary sound portraits, science diaries, and nature ring-tones; an amazing sonic experience.

Airdate: Aug 18, 2009
Scientist: Adina Paytan

Kids' Science Challenge: Claire - Germy Turf

Kids' Science Challenge: Claire - Germy Turf
Artificial turf fields may look clean, but with no natural means of replenishment, are they magnets for germs?


music; ambience soccer game

Third-grader Claire Dworsky is an avid soccer player, and she’s got a few questions about the fields she plays on. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. On many playing fields, natural grass is being replaced by artificial turf. And Claire began to wonder whether one type of field is healthier for both the players and the environment. Her inquiry won top prize in the Kids’ Science Challenge, our nationwide competition for 3rd to 6th graders. And now Claire is working with oceanographer Adina Paytan to help sample water runoff from fields across San Francisco. As she waits for the lab test results on the water, Claire has a theory about artificial turf.

CD: “I’m going to think I would find that the turf has more germs than the grass does.”

Well, when you think about it, a grass field naturally filters and replenishes itself, but artificial turf just sits there season after season, which brings up another question

CD: “Do they every clean the turf?”

AP: “That’s a great question, Claire. You know, I didn’t know myself, so I checked it up, and it turns out that they hardly ever clean the turf. They go around picking garbage items like plastic bags or if somebody left the peel of a watermelon. But they hardly ever wash it. Do you think it’s a good idea to wash it or not?”

CD: “Yeah, I think so”

AP: “I think it’s a good for the people who play soccer on it. The other hand, it may not be that good if they use soap and other stuff, or if the water gets anything off the grass and then goes into our drain. Maybe it’s not very good for the environment.”

Claire Dworsky is putting her theories to the test in Adina Paytan’s lab. You can check out Claire’s latest reports at

Pulse of the Planet’s Kids’ Science Challenge is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.