• Local high school becomes first in world to use unique kind of artificial turf

    By: Chris Flanagan

    Updated:

    The field at The Wheeler School may look like a typical set-up, but an attention to detail would bring out what's truly unique about their turf.

    The school is the first and only in the world to use walnut shells on its artificial turf, using a product called Safeshell. 

    The product blends crushed black walnut shells into the turf, with the Ohio-based company claiming it can reduce surface temperatures by up to 38 degrees.

    "I had never heard of the technology before it was here, and it's exciting," Marti Kane, The Wheeler School's field hockey coach, said. "We're pioneering a new technology."

    The company says the turf is also safe for children with nut allergies, saying they "partnered with a leading biotechnology firm to develop a patent-pending process that eliminates allergens that remain on the shell after separation from the nut."

    "That's the first concern, yes is nut allergies," Keith Estey, maintenance manager at The Wheeler School said. "I've been told a person with nut allergies would not have a nut reaction."

    Boston 25 News has reported on potential health risks with artificial turf fields for years, as a result of old, shredded tires.

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    Officials at The Wheeler School said they did their homework, and are certain the new walnut-shell field is safe.

    "One of the things Wheeler prides itself in is doing the investigative stuff before their involvement with a decision like this," Sean Kelly, director of athletics marketing, said. 

    The Wheeler School wouldn't say how much the new field cost, and it was donated by an anonymous alum.

    The school will officially dedicate the new field on Friday.

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