Molly Trotter’s commentary of the cleanliness of the Stoller Center Field House turf surface (“Senior Asks About Field House Cleanliness,” April 5) raises some good questions about how our staff cleans surfaces and if infections can be obtained from synthetic turf surfaces.
It is disappointing however, that Ms. Trotter did not contact members of the athletic department facilities staff before writing her column. Had she done so, many of her questions about the safety and cleanliness of our surfaces may have been answered.
The indoor FieldTurf surface is not unique to Pacific, as Ms. Trotter suggests. It is one of a handful of indoor turf facilities at the NCAA Division III level, but is becoming more commonplace at the Division I and professional levels. As such, there is a significant level of research on the cleanliness of turf and the potential of infection.
Research indicates that artificial turf does not increase the chances of acquiring bacterial infections. Both the Centers for Disease Control and the NCAA concur that no cases of MRSA have been directly related to activity on a synthetic turf surface.
A study conducted by Andy McNitt, associate professor of soil sciences and turfgrass at Penn State University, concluded that the rate of survival of MRSA on synthetic surfaces is the same as on natural grass surfaces and can be effectively treated with commercially available treatments and detergents. (See bit.ly/HCqJZ1)
In addition, our facilities staff has been in contact with other schools in our region that use synthetic turf surfaces, none of which have experienced a case of MRSA or any other infection related to its use. At Oregon State, the maintenance program for its indoor and outdoor turf facilities includes the regular grooming of surfaces twice a year and the routine clean up of debris.
Our athletics facility staff has researched cleaning turf and has prepared a comprehensive maintenance plan. Both grooming and debris pick-up occur on a regular basis on all of our synthetic surfaces. In addition, our facilities staff has implemented a spraying program that further ensures that the turf remains clean and safe for student use.
While Pacific athletics facilities staff is working diligently to keep our turf surfaces clean, it is also the responsibility of everyone who uses the turf to help keep the surface and seek treatment for any turf burns immediately. Athletes who experience burn injuries should seek immediate treatment from Pacific’s athletic training staff. The rest of the Pacific community should consult a doctor or the Student Health Center.
Furthermore, the National Athletic Trainers Association strongly recommends that individuals take additional measures to help prevent infection after any athletic activity. These include showering immediately after activity, washing hands on a regular basis, avoiding whirlpools or common shower areas with open scrapes or wounds and washing athletic gear and towels after each use. (See bit.ly/IGwmZu)
The safety of our Pacific community is one of our top priorities. Our staff works hard to make sure that those facilities are safe and free of infection, but it also takes vigilance from everyone to help make that happen.
Head Baseball Coach & Facilities Manager