School infection! Yes, a public school in El Cerrito, CA has a field of artificial turf that has been infected by fungus and mold, though the specific names of the individual species is not clear. To curb the growth, school officials have proposed applying TURFLON™, a product of Corteva Agroscience, which its website says was “founded on the rich heritages of Dow, DuPont and Pioneer.”

A brief glance at the official documents for TURFLON™ might make you wonder just a bit about the safety of the product, and certainly make you hope that kids aren’t turned loose too soon on turf sprayed with it. It is classified as “hazardous” under the criteria of the Federal OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. A specific main hazard is an allergic skin reaction, which can be reduced if you “avoid breathing dust/ fume/ gas/ mist/ vapors/ spray.”  Any “Contaminated work clothing” associated with it “should not be allowed out of the workplace.”

As for its ability to biodegrade, that is to break down, its official government listing says “no relevant data found,” and as for “other hazards,” there is “no data available.” The same for its dangers of accumulating in tissue, or what’s more formerly called “dangers of bioaccumulation.”

All this sounds scary enough, but what you might find most shocking is that while the two main ingredients are listed as Triclopyr-2-butoxyethyl ester 64700-56-7 60.5 and Ethylene glycol monobutyl ether 111-76-2 0.5%, information for a whopping 39% of the rest of the content is, well,not available.”

Now shouldn’t this make a parent—or anybody who gives a damn about kids—just a little bit suspicious? Especially because, since World War II, approximately 80,000 new commercial synthetic chemicals have been released, with approximately 1,500 new ones come out every year. Doesn’t it make you wonder about how the particular chemicals in this TURFLON™ might react with those other 80,000+ chemicals? 

After all, we do know that a huge number of kids have been diagnosed with conditions such as ADHD and assorted other ailments. What makes me suspicious is the simple reason that, as “war babies”, none of the kids in my school were exposed to these chemicals, and there was never a serious problem in our behavior. In fact, there was only one 3-day expulsion that I can recall in an entire 8 years of elementary school. My wife, another war baby who attended school with kids from Jewish refugee families, had a similar experience. Could just one of the many causes be that in 2021 plastic manufacturing hit a staggering total of 390.7 million tons, up from the puny amount of a measly 1.5 million tons in 1950? Just wondering.

Of course, there are surely many other new sources of stress that we did not face, such as the internet, the media, cell phone distraction, more divorce, more family breakdowns, more poverty, etc., but I can’t help but wondering if this cascade of new chemicals does not play a significant role. At least it is surely time to investigate this question more thoroughly.

As for the “rich heritages” of Dow and DuPont mentioned above? Well, yes, those heritages must be fairly rich as they paid out plenty in lawsuits for past violations. And Dow invented 2,4-D, the famous weed killer now considered a possible cancer-causer as well as a thyroid disrupter.