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Five synthetic fields used by L.A. Unified schools are out of commission

Turf from El Camino Real's all-weather field.
Turf from El Camino Real’s all-weather field has been ending up sticking to shoes. The field has been shut down for contact sports until it is replaced.
(Jeff Kearin)

As a new school year begins, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Unified School District confirmed on Wednesday that five out of approximately 60 synthetic fields cannot be used following the guidance of the Office of Environmental Health & Safety.

The District has had a continuing problem with fields not being able to withstand heat, causing material to end up stuck to the bottoms of shoes. In 2016, the district had to replace six fields because of defective materials.

According to a statement from LAUSD, “Crumb rubber infill material previously used was made of recycled materials, which could contain toxic chemicals. These infill materials were removed from all District synthetic turf fields more than 12 years ago. The District moved to TPE and EPDM alternative infill compounds made of ‘virgin’ rubber, which do not use any form of recycled materials. However, some of these products contained insufficient chemical stabilizers to withstand the temperatures in the Los Angeles region and the daily playfield use. This has resulted in shortened lifespans for some fields. However, all synthetic turf fields have to be replaced every eight to 10 years.”

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These are the fields not being used:

  1. Contreras High School — Project is in construction; scope of work includes remediation of slope adjacent to the field. Construction is anticipated to conclude in the first quarter of 2024.
  2. Carson High School — Project in design. Construction is anticipated to begin in the second quarter of 2023 and conclude in the third quarter of 2023.
  3. El Camino Real Charter High School — Synthetic turf field project to be presented for approval at the Aug. 30 board meeting. Construction is anticipated to begin in the first quarter of 2023 and conclude in the second quarter of 2023.
  4. Fremont High School — This is in the process of warranty repair with AstroTurf. The plan is to complete the repair in the fourth quarter of 2022.
  5. Dymally High School — This is in the process of warranty repair with AstroTurf. The plan is to complete the repair in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Oaks Christian’s Aidan Flintoft is following in the family trade of punting and kicking in high school, and eventually college. He’s committed to Stanford.

This is the third time El Camino Real has had problems with its synthetic field. No contact sports are allowed on the field until it is replaced.

The district continues trying to identify new products that might be “suitable alternatives” for dealing with heat.


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