For a while now, it’s been a familiar story. People take a novel idea and propose it is some sort of panacea to society’s ills. We have heard about them in agriculture, healthcare, financial, legal, and military sectors. Yet, the evidence surrounding what this person can do, makes that person seem more and more like a quack, particularly when he or she is claiming that their science will cure “everything”.
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Such is the case with Dr Carlos Guesting, who claims he has engineered artificial turf that repels most bacteria. Guesting’s work is being reported in the New York Times and has received relatively little coverage in the press. He is bringing a lot of attention to his work as he is driving headlines about his work. Yet, when is Guesting’s synthetic turf supposed to start filtering out pollutants from the air, and how long will it take to have a demonstrable effect? What of these pollutants, and how will they get to our bodies?
The diversity of bacteria in soil and waterways has barely been thought about before. How does the artificial turf get out of our soil and will it react with the human population that depends on our bodies for water? Will the synthetic turf be life-proof?
A look at the other artificial turf on the market will tell you that this is a poorly engineered product. It is broken, washed out, damaged, and cannot last very long. As Guesting stated, it only “bids at” the prices of traditional artificial turf, and that is because it is made out of plastic, one of the most toxic materials. The synthetic turf needs to be made of something which, according to studies, can be made out of various natural components, and for it to be effective, this could be grown in nature at no cost. At this point, the infrastructure of the soil must be specifically redesigned in the soil itself, which is what the great innovators should do to test this.
Instead, the guy seems to think we need to treat every tap and sink with synthetic turf, and pour your medicines into it. This is a colossal waste of money, and after the US healthcare system is already on the edge, with Medicare funding pharmaceutical companies at higher rates than any other country in the world, can we afford to put money into making his synthetic turf better?
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Guesting is also claiming that people can wear synthetic grass shoes made out of his material on the streets of New York City and enjoy sandal conversations with each other. Somehow I have a feeling that these conversations will break down as soon as a rash hits. You can’t expect the flexibility of a synthetic shoe or a tennis shoe to handle the walking, dusting, and running activity of a 24 hour city.
Contrary to what Guesting has stated, the geologists at the Ciba aandersen steel facility are telling us that synthetic turf can’t survive the scraping of iron oxide bearing rings. It breaks down rapidly and not only does this ruin it for wear and tear, but the rocks which are galvanized when the equipment is turned over can still emit toxic metals. Without any life-proof qualities, which is something the natural grass in our natural environments does, this synthetic turf is not able to withstand such harsh use.
In short, artificial turf kills.
For all of the talk of research efficiency, cost and disruption, this sounds like something that could only be accomplished by a mad scientist on millions of dollars, and has a way of becoming a market trend quickly. This issue of synthetic turf, with its untested life-related potential, has concerns that we are not going to understand and learn from until it becomes a market market.
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This article was originally published on Futurity.org.