This NYT piece is interesting in that oh-I-never-thought-of-that sort of way. Grass playing fields are — in New York City, at least — an endangered species:

To avoid the ignominy of being trampled underfoot, the grass fields need to be idle all winter, and once a week the rest of the year. As a result, there is increasing pressure from league coaches to install synthetic turf to allow the fields to be used year-round to meet local demand.

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But not only can synthetic turf suck up enough sun to heat to potentially dangerous levels, the recycled tire rubber that gives it its springiness has “worrisome” levels of a carcinogenic chemical, according to researcher William Crain. In addition, Crain objects: “In a city where there is very little nature left, kids are already living in a synthetic indoor setting. When they go outside, they should feel grass and soil. Instead, we’re putting artificial surfaces outside, too.”

Beijing 2008 update: General Electric will show off its energy-efficient “Ecomagination” products at the Games; pre-Games test events ran much more smoothly than expected; and today, Beijing began testing a four-day vehicle ban to keep 1.3 million cars off of the city streets.

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