o. 38] District of Columbia – Extreme levels of lead found in rubberized playing surfaces; playgrounds close; many more slated to be tested. September 2019.
No. 37] Vancouver, British Columbia – heavy metal not music to the ears of health-conscious Vancouverites. July 2019.
No. 36] Mayo Clinic’s tips to protect children from lead in artificial turf. April 2015.
No. 35] Durham, New Hampshire: Lead scare at UNH’s Memorial Field. November 2012.
No. 34] Beware of lead content in exotic color artificial turf fields! September 2012.
No. 33] Odessa, Texas: Eager fans will not be given pieces of the artificial turf field. September 2012.
No. 32] U.S. Federal panel increases child protection against lead. February 2012.
No. 31] UNLV researcher spreads word about the need to test artificial turf fields. December 2010.
No. 30] Environmental Health Sciences study (2010): Deteriorating synthetic turf dust containing lead may pose a risk to children. October 2010.
No. 29] Concord, Mass.: Town replaces fake grass fields, officials insist nothing is wrong with the lead levels! July 2010.
No. 28] Connecticut Department of Public Health issues Protocol for Bulk Sampling and Wipe Testing for Lead in Artificial Turf. February 2010.
No. 27] Leftwich on wipe testing for lead on artificial turf. September 2009.
No. 26] Dr. Blair Leftwich: It may take a very small exposure to have toxic blood lead levels. May 2009.
No. 25] Bill Crain on lead in synthetic turf. A new video documentary. February 22, 2009.
No. 24] Boston, Mass.: The Boston Globe’s testing finds lead in turf fields. January 2009.
No. 23] Texas turf worries over lead. December 2008.
No. 22] Consumer Reports: All is not right with the synthetic playing fields. December 2008.
No. 21] Patricia Taylor responds to a turf manufacturing rep’s statement. December 2008.
No. 20] Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology [editorial] says lead exposure from artificial turf fields is serious business. November 2008.
No. 19] Newton, Mass.: More turf fibers test for excessive lead ppm. November 2008.
No. 18] Portland, Oregon: City to remove turf from playground. November 2008.
No. 17] Natural News: “Artificial Turf May Cause Lead Poisoning in Children.”October 2008.
No. 16] Newton, Mass.: Excessive lead in turf fibers from 5 Bosotn area venues (September 2008). No. 15] Portland, Oregon: Rieke turf field off limits to U-11 (September 2008).
No. 14] University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey says, “Lead in synthetic turf can be absorbed into gastric fluids” (September 2008)
No. 13] California sues turf companies for violating lead warning law (September 2008).
No. 12] Finally, a peer-reviewed scientific research article on lead and other (September 2008).
No. 11] Salem, Oregon: Oregon issues lead guidelines for turf fields (August 2008).
For earlier items posted on this thread (page), please scroll down.
[No. 38] District of Columbia – Extreme levels of lead found in rubberized playing surfaces; playgrounds close; many more slated to be tested. According to a news story on DCist.com 7 August 2019), Washington, D.C. “government has closed three playgrounds after testing showed elevated levels of lead. The closures went into effect at AitonElementary School, Cardozo Education Campus, and ThomsonElementary School on Friday [2 August]…. The closures are the first of their kind, because D.C. has never tested these kind of playground surfaces for lead before….. The surfaces in question are made from ‘pour-in-place’ rubber—an often colorful, bouncy material usually made with a base of recycled tire shreds and a top layer of poured rubber…. The D.C. Department of General Services “says that it will complete testing of all 257 individual pour-in-place playgrounds that it oversees by January of 2020 (it started first with the 82 D.C. public schools that have one or more such playgrounds). The work is being completed.” Source: Rachel Sadon, “D.C. Closes Three Playgrounds After Tests Show High Lead Levels,” on DCist.com, 7 August 2019) at https://dcist.com/story/19/08/07/d-c-closes-three-playgrounds-after-tests-show-high-lead-levels/
[No. 37] Vancouver, British Columbia – heavy metal not music to the ears of health-conscious Vancouverites. According to a news report on CBC (7 June 2019), “[a] laboratory test revealing lead in rubber turf pellets from a Vancouver park is causing some local citizens to ask officials to remove the faux fields. A group of citizens sent samples from playing fields at TrilliumPark in Vancouver's Strathcona neighbourhood to a Burnaby, B.C., environmental testing lab called Total Safety Services. They received the results last month. A sample of rubber infill contained 15.9 micrograms of lead per gram. The amount is below the allowable limit of 90 micrograms of lead per gram in surface coatings like paint, according to the Federal Canada Consumer Product Safety Act. Any amount of lead is unacceptable to Janet Brown and other advocates Peter Nicol and Marlene Cummings, who are worried about the environment and people's health. ‘This needs to be shut down. This pollution needs to stop,’ Brown said. … [T]he group's findings seem to have had an impact on some members of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. On April 15, a motion involving the installation of a new synthetic turf field at SirWinstonChurchillSecondary School was amended by Commissioner John Irwin. It now instructs staff to explore more organic and sustainable infill options, as well as possible storm water filtration. ‘In New York, they're using cork coconut fibre type crumb instead of the rubber tire crumb,’ Irwin said. He said the remaining artificial turf fields need to be studied and remediated if necessary.” Source: Micki Cowan, “Group wants Vancouver to axe artificial turf fields after lab test confirms lead,” on CBC, 7 June 2019) at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/artificial-turf-lead-vancouver-1.5165863
“Young children are at the greatest risk of health problems related to lead exposure, including serious brain and kidney damage. Children age 3 and under are especially vulnerable because their ways of playing and exploring - such as crawling and putting objects in their mouths - increase their risk of contact with lead, and of lead entering their bodies through breathing or swallowing.
What are the common causes of lead exposure? Children can be exposed to lead through many sources, including artificial athletic fields. “Artificial turf made of nylon or a nylon and polyethylene blend may contain unhealthy levels of lead dust, which could be inhaled or ingested by a child.”
How can I protect my child from lead exposure? You can take simple measures to minimize your child’s risk of lead exposure. For example: “Take precautions around artificial athletic fields. Don;t allow your child to eat on an artificial field, and keep drinking containers — when not in use — in a bag or covered container. After leaving the field, have your child remove his or her clothes and turn them inside out to avoid tracking contaminated dust from the play area. If clothing can’t be removed, have your child sit on a towel or blanket in your vehicle. Wash contaminated clothing, towels and blankets separately. Have your child bathe with soap and water after playing on the field. Keep shoes worn on the field outside of your home. Ideally, remove all shoes when you enter the house and wear no shoes inside or use house slippers indoors.”
[No. 35] Durham, New Hampshire: Lead scare at UNH’s Memorial Field. The Memorial Field is the home field for both lacrosse and field hockey at the University of New Hampshire. It was completed in the summer of 2002. According to a news report in the Union Leader (20 October 2012), on 20 October 2012, “University of New Hampshire officials announced the immediate closure of Memorial Field. University officials learned that the artificial turf surface installed at the field in 2002 has degraded to a point where measurable lead levels have been detected in dust samples taken on the surface of the field.” “Memorial Field had already been scheduled for replacement in the upcoming fiscal year but in light of the new information the university is developing an earlier timeline for replacement.” “Officials with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services advised the university that the lead levels found do not present a high risk to adults, but that children aged six or under should not be allowed on the field.” “As there are currently no standards for lead levels for outdoor artificial turf fields, the university used the closest relevant health standard, which is a limit for lead dust on interior floor surfaces set by the state of New Hampshire and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. That limit is 40 micrograms per square foot and applies to children under the age of seven. There were three findings from multiple samplings taken at the field that exceeded the 40 microgram level although the average of all the findings was below that level.” Source: Gretyl Macalaster, “UNH closes Memorial Field after detection of lead in dust samples,” in Union Leader, 20 October 2012, available at http://www.unionleader.com/article/20121020/NEWS12/121029998 .
On 26 October 2012, the university officials said that “the field is being reopened to varsity athletes after additional testing showed no measurable levels of lead and blood tests for field hockey team members showed they do not have elevated lead levels. Athletes using the field will be required to follow safety guidelines, including aggressive hand and body washing after using the field and laundering clothing worn on the field separately.”Source: Associated Press, “UNH re-opens closed field to varsity teams,” on Boston.com, 26 October 2012, available at http://www.boston.com/news/education/2012/10/26/unh-opens-closed-field-varsity-teams/rorbNj2G8RicnVsVYUHjSJ/story.html .
SynTurf.org cautions the buyers of artificial turf fields – especially the exotic version of solid blue, red or black - to find out the lead levels in the turf carpets.
[No. 33] Odessa, Texas: Eager fans will not be given pieces of the artificial turf field. According to a release by Mike Adkins, director of communications for the Ector County Independent School District, dated 14 August 2012, pieces of “[t]he old synthetic turf that was removed from Ratliff Stadium this summer will not be given away to the general public.” According to the communication, the turf “contains encapsulated lead that can be dangerous if ingested” and so the district officials thought it best to keep the turf and dispose of it themselves. The release is available here.
[No. 32] U.S. Federal panel increases child protection against lead. According to an Associated Press story in theAtlanta Journal-Constitution (4 January 2012), “For the first time in 20 years, a federal panel is urging the government to lower the threshold for lead poisoning in children.” “Wednesday’s [4 January 2012] vote by the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention would lower the definition of lead poisoning for young children from 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood to 5 micrograms. The CDC has accepted all of the panel’s recommendations in the past.” “Recent research persuaded panel members that children could be harmed from lead levels in their blood that are lower than the current standard, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.” “Usually, the victims are children living in old homes that are dilapidated or under renovation, who pick up paint chips or dust and put it in their mouths. Lead has been banned in paint since 1978. Children have also picked up lead poisoning from soil contaminated by old leaded gasoline, and from dust tracked in from industrial worksites.” Source: Mike Stobbe (Associated Press), “Panel urges lowering cutoff for lead poisoning in children,” in Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4 January 2012, available at http://www.ajc.com/health/panel-urges-lower-cutoff-1289321.html .
[No. 31] UNLV researcher spreads word about the need to test artificial turf fields. In October 2010, SynTurf.org posted an item about a research commentary on “Evaluating and Regulating Lead in Synthetic Turf.” See below at Item 30. One of the researchers on that project was Shawn Gerstenberger of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas.
According to a recent article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal (November 26, 2010), “The stuff in synthetic turf that helps make it green needs routine monitoring for lead hazards and guidelines to assess them, a UNLV professor and six colleagues concluded after a recent study.” “That’s because the ‘green stuff’ in fake grass is lead chromate. When the compound breaks down, it can release lead that could conceivably be inhaled or ingested by those who play on it -- everyone from football players to kids in day care centers and parks.” Even though “no one has reported ill effects from any synthetic turf, according to industry experts,” still “the turf needs inspection, according to UNLV's Shawn Gerstenberger and researchers in New Jersey, New York and Georgia. They presented their findings in the October issue of the peer-reviewed research journal, Environmental Health Perspectives.”
[No. 30] Environmental Health Sciences study (2010): Deteriorating synthetic turf dust containing lead may pose a risk to children. The Environmental Health Perspectives is a peer-reviewed open access journal published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health. In a recently edition, the publication carried a research commentary entitled “Evaluating and Regulating Lead in Synthetic Turf” by Gregory Van Ulirsch (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia, USA), Kevin Gleason (New York State Department of Health, Troy, New York, USA), Shawn Gerstenberger (Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA), Daphne B. Moffett (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia, USA), and Glenn Pulliam, Tariq Ahmed, and Jerald Fagliano from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Trenton, New Jersey, USA. The commentary is cited as Van Ulirsch G, Gleason K, Gerstenberger S, Moffett DB, Pulliam G, Ahmed T, et al. 2010. Evaluating and Regulating Lead in Synthetic Turf. Environ Health Perspect 118:1345-1349. doi:10.1289/ehp.1002239; Environ Health Perspect 118:1345-1349. Obline October 1, 2010. The abstract of the article is available at http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action;jsessionid=329B79696CEF833977FD20963FAB63BF?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.1002239 and it may also be accessed here and here.
Findings: “Data collected from recreational fields and child care centers indicate lead in synthetic turf fibers and dust at concentrations exceeding the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 statutory lead limit of 300 mg/kg for consumer products intended for use by children, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s lead-dust hazard standard of 40 µg/ft2 for floors.”
The researchers concluded the following: “Synthetic turf can deteriorate to form dust containing lead at levels that may pose a risk to children. Given elevated lead levels in turf and dust on recreational fields and in child care settings, it is imperative that a consistent, nationwide approach for sampling, assessment, and action be developed. In the absence of a standardized approach, we offer an interim approach to assess potential lead hazards when evaluating synthetic turf.”
[No. 29] Concord, Mass.: Town replaces fake grass fields, officials insist nothing is wrong with the lead levels! According to a news report in The Boston Globe (July 16, 2010), “Two artificial turf playing fields at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School will be ripped up and replaced this fall with a new material that contains less lead.
Town officials say the existing fields pose no danger to players because the lead amounts are so small. However, they asked the manufacturer, Sprinturf, to replace the surface at no charge because officials do not want any lingering doubts in the community about the safety of the fields.” “While it’s perfectly fine and meets all guidelines, the other product has even less stuff,” said Selectman Greg Howes. “Perception is reality. It could create a public relations problem for us, and we don’t want that nagging problem.” “The US Environmental Protection Agency’s standard for bare soil in children’s play areas is a maximum of 400 parts per million of lead. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has asked artificial turf manufacturers to voluntarily reduce lead in their product, and the leading manufacturers agreed to cut lead used to color synthetic turf to 300 parts per million by the year 2011 and to 100 parts per million or less by the year 2012.
The Globe independently tested turf samples from area schools after Guive Mirfendereski, a Newton activist, offered test results that showed lead levels at Concord-Carlisle’s turf in excess of 13,000 parts per million. Sprinturf’s chief executive then conducted tests that showed 250 parts per million. The Globe subsequently sent turf samples to a local lead screener and laboratory for independent testing, which found lead levels of nearly 300 parts per million. The town also conducted its own test, which showed a level of 416 parts per million.” For more of the story, go to Jennifer Fenn Lefferts, “Concord to replace school’s two fields; New artificial ones to contain less lead,” in The Boston Globe, July 16, 2010, Metro section, page 3, avaialbale at http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/07/16/concord_to_replace_schools_two_fields/ .
[No. 28] Connecticut Department of Public Health issues Protocol for Bulk Sampling and Wipe Testing for Lead in Artificial Turf. In December 2009, the Connecticut Department of Public Health ( www.ct.gov/dph) issued a Fact Sheet entitled Lead in Artificial Turf. It stated that “Children who play on artificial turf surfaces may be exposed to lead dust released from turf fibers. Read this fact sheet to decide if you should test your artificial turf surface.” The fact sheet recommended bulk sampling and surface wipe testing to measure the amount of lead to which children may be exposed as the result of playing on turf fields. Following a bulk testing that measures lead in amounts more than 300 milligram per kilogram, a wipe test should be conducted. If the surface wipe test results in more than 40 micrograms per square foot and and children are likely to have frequent or prolonged contact with the turf (e.g., day care settings), the decision-maker should restrict access by children or replace the turf with a product containing less 300 milligrams per kilogram of lead.
On or about January 8, 2010, the Lead Poisoning Prevention & Control Program and Environmental & Occupational Health Assessment Program at the Connecticut Department of Public Health issued its protocol for Bulk Sampling and Wipe Testing for Lead in Artificial Turf. The measure recognizes that because “[t]he turf industry adds lead chromate to some artificial turf products … [t]he potential exists for lead exposure resulting from direct contact with artificial turf fibers containing lead.” “Lead dust,” the protocol further stated, “may be generated due to the degradation of the turf fibers over time.” The information outlined in the protocol “describes the procedure for bulk sampling and wipe testing for lead in artificial turf. It is important that these guidelines are followed when collecting samples of artificial turf for lead analysis. This will assure that results accurately represent the lead contents of the product.”
For the Text of the Fact Sheet click here. For the Bulk Sampling and Wipe Testing Protocol for Lead in Artificial Turf, and the Decision Tree click here.
On February 22, 2010, the CT DPH sent an advisory letter informing the Directors of Health and Chief Sanitarians, and Daycare Licensing Unit about adoption of the protocol. Click here for the letter.
[No. 27] Leftwich on wipe testing for lead on artificial turf. Dr. BlairLeftwich is Laboratory Director at Trace Analysis, Inc., an environmental laboratory, in Lubbock, Texas. His prior work has been mentioned on this site at http://www.synturf.org/lead.html (No. 26, May 2009, below). In a recent e-mail to SynTurf.org, Dr. Leftwich indicated that “After the California settlement [Seehttp://www.synturf.org/lawsuits.htmlItem No. 07] 0there should be more testing ofartificial turf. It will be necessary to perform a total lead test and a wipe test for total lead. It is very important that the wipe test be performed when the potential for the highest amount of available lead is present. That time is when the field has had the longest play time between rains. In other words, when the field has been the most dry, scorched by the sun, and scuffed by running feet. For example, a field that may have 5,000 mg/Kg lead in the fibers could fail the wipe test if tested after several days of play in dry conditions, but pass the wipe test if tested directly after a rain. The rain washes the lead dust and small particles deep into the turf, below the turf, and off the field. The total lead in the fibers is not significantly changed by the rain.”
[No. 26] Dr. Blair Leftwich: It may take a very small exposure to have toxic blood lead levels. Leftwich is Laboratory Director at Trace Analysis, Inc., an environmental laboratory, in Lubbock, Texas. In an unsolicited e-mail to SynTurf.org, Leftwich wrote:“Attached are 3 articles on lead in synthetic turf fibers. They show that it may take a very small exposure to have toxic blood lead levels.” They are:
In a telephone interview with SynTurf.org, Leftwich repeatedly made the point that the “wipe test” measures only the lead amount that is exposed at the time that the wipe is taken. The test does not show the total amount of the lead that was or still is present in the turf blades. A cleaner result would obtain if the wipe is taken after a rain event or the watering of the fields. “In that case, the lead dust would be washed away,” he said. When asked about how athletes are exposed to lead, he gave the example of a quarterback who licks his fingers every time prior to a snap, or when a mouth guard picks up lead when in contact with the turf or contaminated hands. The most interesting example of an athlete ingesting lead, according to Leftwich, is seen when a slow motion taped replay shows a player falling face down onto the turf and causing the water droplets on the wet field rise to meet the player’s mouth and lips. One could also posit a situation when a player’s face comes in contact with lead dust on the turf surface. When asked what his experience has been with lead from crumb rubber, “I cannot get excited about lead in crumb rubber,” he said.
[No. 25]Bill Crain on lead in synthetic turf. A new video-documentary by Patrick Barnard - The Pimento Reports: Pimento3 Edition No.007, February 22, 2009. Go here http://www.youtube.com/user/pimento3 .
[No. 24] Boston, Mass.: The Boston Globe’s testing finds lead in turf fields. According to a news story in The Boston Globe (January 19, 2009), there is lead in turf fields around the Boston area. The newspaper tested samples from Concord-Carlisle regional High School, Saunders Stadium in South Boston, Lincoln Sudbury high School and Charlestown High School and Wayland . By far the worst, the results from Concord-Carlisle showed 294 parts per million of lead in the green turf fiber. The American Academy of Pediatrics “recommends” 40 ppm or less as “safe,” if at all. For the full story, see Megan Woolhouse, “In fake grass, some se real threat,” in The Boston Globe, January 19, 2009, pages A1 and A14, available athttp://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/01/19/in_fake_grass_some_see_real_threat/ . A compendium article on “looking for lead,” which described the procedure for testing, is available athttp://www.boston.com/news/education/k_12/articles/2009/01/19/looking_for_lead/ .
[No. 23] Texas turf worries over lead. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. December 21, 2008. In a few recent news item concerns are being raised about high school turf fields testing for lead in excess of the standards set for soil by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to a news item in Temple Daily Telegram (December 18, 2008), the turf fields at Bulldawg Stadium in Copperas Cove and Leo Buckley Stadium in Killeen are of the same brand as the turf fields at Ratliff Stadium in Odessa and Birdville Independent School District’s Fine Arts/Athletics Complex in North Richland Hills. An independent test of the field at Ratliff found lead “at roughly 14 times the EPA standard,” while a test of the turf at Birville ISD facility found a lead level nearly 10 times the EPA standard. The test at the Birdville stadium “also found about twice the EPA limit for lead in drinking water in the runoff from the field, an indication that the lead is being released into the environment.” The turf surfaces at Tiger Field in Belton and Wildcat Stadium in Temple are of a different manufacture the aforementioned, but the authorities interviewed for the new story told Temple Daily Telegram that they will keep and eye on this story because the health of the athletes comes first. For more on this, go to Greg Wille, “Concern raised about stadium turf,” in Temple Daily Telegram, December 18, 2008, available at a http://www.tdtnews.com/story/2008/12/17/54488. See also “High levels of lead found in artificial turf,” Longview News-Journal, December 18, 2008, available at http://www.news-journal.com/news/content/news/stories/2008/12/18/12182008_toxic_turf.html .Danny Robbins, “Lead found in artificial turf at 2 prep stadiums,” Associated Press, December 17, 2008, available athttp://www.texasbob.com/stadium ; “Friday Night Lights Out?,” on KTRK 13 (ABC-TV, Houston, Texas), Wednesday, December 17, 2008, available at http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/state&id=6560735 .
[No. 22] Consumer Reports: All is not right with the synthetic playing fields. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. December 7, 2009. On the December 1, 2008, Jim Guest the president of Consumer Union posted on line an item entitled “Safe Enough? No.” It will appear also in the January 2009 edition of Consumer Reports Magazine. Here is in part what Mr. Guest had to say: “New legislation will essentially eliminate lead in all children's products, require safety testing of toys before they hit the market, and give the Consumer Product Safety Commission more muscle and a bigger budget. All good. But that doesn't mean we're in the clear …. And then there are those artificial-turf playing fields. Various government agencies are at odds over whether the levels of lead found in some of them should worry us. CU thinks it should, and we've asked the appropriate agencies to assess all risks and not ignore research that raises concerns.” For more on this, go to Jim Guest, “Safe Enough? No.,” in ConsusmerReports.com, December 1, 2008, available at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/aboutus/mission/haveyouheard/safe-enough-no/overview/safe-enough-ov.htm
[No. 21] Patricia Taylor responds to a turf manufacturing rep’s statement. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. December 7, 2008. On December 7, 2008, The Daily Press (Charlottesville, Va.) published an article by Brandon Shulleeta, entitled,In an item published“Supervisors remain wary of turf safety.” The article is available at
http://www.dailyprogress.com/cdp/news/local/local_govtpolitics/article/supervisors_remain_wary_of_turf_safety/32292/ . In that piece, the Vice Chairman of Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, David L. Slutzky, was reported as not being “comfortable approving the funding because he still has concerns about the safety of the fields. There have been studies that indicate there is lead in the fibers of some synthetic turf fields. Recent studies also indicate that turf fields generate significantly more heat than grass.” The piece then reported, “A manufacturing company representative said that any lead in the fields would be well below hazardous levels, based on numerous studies, and that injuries are less likely to occur on the turf fields than on grass.”
In rebuttal of the statement by the manufacturer rep, Patricia Taylor made the following comment in a posting on Dailyprogress.com:
According to the Agency For Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a division of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, in its report entitled Toxicological Profile For Lead, dated August 2007, “No safe blood lead level in children has been determined.“ (See Public Health Statement, 1.6 How Can Lead Affect Children?, p. 10)
According to our federal government, “No safe blood lead level in children has been determined.”
The report the ATSDR put out in August 2007 lists many health effects that people, especially children, suffer when they are exposed to even a tiny amount of lead by inhaling it or eating it. Parents and community leaders should be informed about what those health effects are and decide whether it is worth the risk to exposure your children to even tiny amounts of lead - especially in an exposure that is entirely preventable.
The ATSDR never says that a little bit of lead is safe for children to eat or inhale.
There’s something else that you need to think about:
Remember that children will not be exposed just once to lead dust if they play on synthetic fields that contain fibers that are degrading and contain lead. They will be exposed, by inhaling it or eating it, every time they play, if lead is present.
Those kid hours of exposure have never been studied. When they are studied in the future, no one will be able to take those hours back and say a mistake was made. And the lead in those children’s bodies may stay there.
The same ATSDR report says that “only about 32% of the lead taken into the body of a child will leave in the waste. Under conditions of continued exposure, not all of the lead that enters the body will be eliminated, and this may result in accumulation of lead in body tissues, especially bone.“ (See Public Health Statement, 1.4 How Can Lead Enter and Leave My Body?, p.8)
If children who play on your fields are poisoned by lead will the manufacturer be held liable under the terms of the agreement you sign with them when you buy your fields? Even if the manufacturer is held liable, will it have been worth it, if children are irreparably harmed?
[No. 20] Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology [editorial] says lead exposure from artificial turf fields is serious business. Here are a few passages form an editorial by Paul J. Lioya and Clifford P. Weisela entitled “Artificial turf: safe or out on ball fields around the world,” which appeared in Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology (2008) No. 18, pp. 533–534, available at http://www.nature.com/jes/journal/v18/n6/full/jes200856a.htm . It is a publication of the Exposure Science Division, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute of Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, a joint collaboration of Univerdsity of Medicine and dentistry of New Jersey and RutgersUniversity.
High lead levels have been found by state and local agencies and other organizations in a number of "in-use" fields of varying ages and types of materials. The lead is mixed within the fibers as a lead chromate paint for bright coloration of the surface. It seems, however, that the surfaces degrade over time because of use and weathering. As a result, lead can be released from the older turf material by just wiping the surface with synthetic sweat or extracting from the turf fibers using a synthesis digestive system. In some cases, the amount on wipe exceeds residential guidelines for lead on floor surfaces, that is 40 g/ft², and it is likely that continued aging of the turf will result in even greater releases. Furthermore, the ease of mobilization would enhance the probability of re-suspension of lead into the breathing zone of athletes and other users, especially young children. Unfortunately, neither of these issues has been adequately examined for impact on the cumulative exposure and risk to the users even though these turfs have been sold for many years.
At the present time, we believe that the million dollar+expense to produce and install a synthetic field by communities and athletic facilities demands a much more thorough understanding of the environmental impacts, human exposure and health risk implications associated with all synthetic turf products available on the market. This calls for a comprehensive evaluation of artificial turf by exposure scientists, and others in environmental science and environmental health sciences. This should be developed with cooperation among the users, regulatory agencies and the manufacturers of the turf products. In the end, the goal would be a set of guidelines for product composition and design to ensure this well-liked and increasingly available product for athletic field and home use has a true clean bill of health. The evaluation should consider durability, full life cycle cost, heat retention, human exposure to contaminants, ecological impact, and aesthetic properties. Following a prudent scientific approach to understanding the otential exposure, ecological and health effects from the material used on these fields will allow us to continue to hear the sounds "play ball" on synthetic turf athletic surfaces.
For more of the editorial, including a critique of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s take on turf, as well as the problems with rubber infill in general, go to Paul J. Lioya and Clifford P. Weisela entitled “Artificial turf: safe or out on ball fields around the world,” which appeared in Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology (2008) No. 18, pp. 533–534, available at http://www.nature.com/jes/journal/v18/n6/full/jes200856a.htm or click here.
[No. 19] Newton, Mass.: More turf fibers test for excessive lead ppm. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. November 6, 2008. According to the results of X-Ray Florescence Analyzer test the fibers from the following turf fields in the Boston area tested well in excess of amounts deemed “safe” in children’s toys -- 100 parts per million (ppm) by the U.S. Congress and 40 ppm by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The tests were conducted by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH), Oakland, California. The sample fibers were collected by SynTurf.org during its field trip of October 13, 2008 (seehttp://www.synturf.org/miscellanea.html (Item No. 22).
- Beaver Pond Rec. Complex, Franklin, Mass.: Red 5701 ppm.
Further, on September 30, 2008, SynTurf.org by its public health consultant submitted additional turf fibers for testing by CEH. The test results, dated October 15, 2008, show excessive lead reading in the following fibers:
- Lincoln-Sudbury H.S. football field, Sudbury, Mass.: Yellow 7058 ppm
- Sudbury—Cutting Field, Sudbury, Mass.: Yellow 8619, Red 4466 ppm
The CEH test report stated, “While there is no official safe level of lead exposure in turf for children we recommend that children avoid contact with turf that tests positive. Congress recently set a limit of 100 ppm for children’s toys in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and the AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics recommends a cap at 40 ppm.”
[No. 18] Portland, Oregon: City to remove turf from playground. According to a report in The Bee (Portland, Oregon), the city’s parks and recreation department will remove the artificial turf that has been under the merry-go-round at WoodstockPark for the last 7 years. The removal of the “whirl-pad” is prompted “due to concerns that it might contain lead.” The turf at WoodstockPark playground has not been tested for lead, but “it’s likely that it does have lead,” according to the officials. According to The Bee, The Bee sated, “Children can get lead in their bodies by swallowing or breathing in dust that contains lead,” according to Oregon Department of Human Services’ lead prevention Internet website at: www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/lead/prevent_child . “Even a little lead can make children slower learners.” Source: Merry Mackinnon, “City to remove artificial turf in WoodstockPark: Might contain lead,” in The Bee, November 5, 2008, available at http://www.thebeenews.com/news/story.php?story_id=122559042942823100 .
[No. 17]Natural News: “Artificial Turf May Cause Lead Poisoning in Children.”Natural News (Phoenix, Arizona) reported on October 7, 2008, “Certain varieties of artificial turf fields may expose children or adults to dangerous levels of lead, the New Jersey Health Department has warned.” “Lead is a neurotoxin that can cause developmental or mental impairment, and is particularly dangerous to children and pregnant women,” reported Natural News. “The health department discovered the danger while conducting tests to see if a Newark children's park was being contaminated by a nearby industrial site. To the surprise of health officials, it turned out that lead was coming from the park's own artificial turf lawn. Many artificial turfs are made with lead chromate, which helps the green pigment resist leaching by the sun. The disintegration of turf fibers causes the metal to be released as dust.” According to the report, “Schools and parks across the country have responded with alarm, with many sending samples from their artificial turfs out for independent testing. The MontgomeryTownshipHigh School in New Jersey has banned children under the age of seven from using its field. California State Senator Abel Maldonado has asked the state's attorney general to investigate whether warning signs should be placed on artificial turf fields. California law requires that prominent warnings be posted if chemicals ‘known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity’ are present.” Source: David Gutierrez, “Artificial Turf May Cause Lead Poisoning in Children,” in NatrualNews.com, October 7, 2008, available at http://www.naturalnews.com/024412.html .
[No. 16] Newton, Mass.: Turf fibers from five venues in the Boston area contain excessive amounts of lead. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. September 20, 2008. On September 7, 2008, SynTurf.org visited five artificial turf fields in the Boston area – Charlestown High School, Concord-Carlisle Regional High School, Saunders Stadium, Lincoln-Sudbury High School and Wayland High School. An account of the field trip appeared in http://www.synturf.org/miscellanea.html (Item No. 18). At each venue, SynTurf.org collected samples of variegate turf fibers. On September 12, 2008, SynTurf.org sent the sample fibers to Center for Environmental Health, Oakland, California, to be tested for lead. For SynTurf.org’s transmittal letter, click here. Please note, in the transmittal letter, mention of the orange fibers from Wayland High School was inadvertently omitted from the list of Wayland fibers that were submitted for testing.
In an e-mail to SynTurf.org, dated September 19, 2008, CEH reported the following findings:
Charlstown High School
blue – No lead detected (ND), yellow – 7007parts per million
Concord Carlisle Regional HS
green – 13,900ppm, yellow – 11,100ppm, red - ND, black - ND, white - ND, blue - ND
green - ND, white - ND, yellow – 13,000ppm
yellow – 10,200ppm
yellow – 6098ppm, red – ND, orange – 12,500ppm
Explaining the results of the test, CEH stated: “We tested the samples of artificial grass that you sent us. According to our X-Ray Fluorescence Analyzer we found the following results for the samples you sent (“ND” means no lead detected). While there is no official safe level of lead exposure in turf for children we recommend that children avoid contact with turf that tests positive. Congress recently set a limit of 100 ppm for children’s toys in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a cap at 40ppm.” For the full text of CEH’s e-mail click here.
SynTurf.org Note: To put in perspective the danger of exposure to lead in amounts present in turf fibers, from a public health perspective, no informed authority thinks playground and yard soil should have more than 600 parts per million (ppm) of lead.
The amount of lead present in the yellow fiber from Charlestown, Concord-Carlisle, Saunders, Lincoln-Sudbury and Wayland high schools far exceeds what is allowed under any reasonable interpretation of the standard set by governmental authorities and researchers. The same goes for the level of lead in the green turf fibers (the whole field itself) at Concord-Carlisle and the orange fiber at Wayland High School. In Massachusetts, such levels are not even allowed in landfills. To wit: In Massachusetts, landfilled soil is allowed to have up to 2,000 ppm lead when in lined landfill and 1,000 ppm when in unlined landfill.
The result from the Saunders Stadium test is especially disconcerting, because the level of lead in the new field’s yellow fibers is now almost twice as much as it was in the yellow fiber of the old field. For an account of SynTurf.org’s visit to Saunders Stadium in June 2008 and result of lead tests of samples taken at the time, see http://www.synturf.org/miscellanea.html (Item No. 18) and http://www.synturf.org/lead.html (Item No. 09).
The test result from Saunders Stadium is particularly troubling when one considers that the installation of the new turf at the venue coincided with the closure of fields in New Jersey and elsewhere because of elevated levels of lead in those fields. One would have thought the news of those closures would have moved the City of Boston to ensure that the new field at Saunders Stadium would not have lead-contaminated fibers.
[No. 15] Portland, Oregon: Rieke turf field off limits to U-11. According to a news report in The Oregonian (September 19, 2008), “Portland Public Schools is limiting access to an artificial turf field often used by elementary school students after district tests showed levels of lead above some national recommendations.” The PortlandParks and Recreation will limit some of its programs on the field at the RiekeElementary School. The measure comes in the wake of independent tests at for lead on the three fields – LincolnHigh School, ClevelandHigh School and RiekeElementary School. Even though the test results “were within safety ranges set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for turf fields, but [they] exceeded more general recommendations for lead in soil set by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” So, in a joint letter to parents, “PortlandParks and Recreation and Rieke said they will not allow children 11 and younger to practice or play on the field,” according to The Oregonian. Source: Kimberly Melton, “Traces of lead sidelines school’s turf field,” in The Oregonian, September 19, 2008, available at http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2008/09/traces_of_lead_sideline_school.html .
[No. 14] University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey says, “Lead in synthetic turf can be absorbed into gastric fluids.” On September 16, 2008, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey issued a press release, which set forth the findings of a scientific investigation into absorption of lead form artificial turf infill crumb rubber granules into gastric fluids. “[A] new study by researchers at the UMDNJ-School of Public Health finds that when children or athletes ingest the tiny rubber granules in synthetic turf, it is likely that a significant portion of the lead in the granules will be absorbed by their bodies' gastric fluids,” the press release stated. The principal investigator Junfeng (Jim) Zhang, Ph.D., an associate dean and professor of environmental and occupational health at the UMDNJ-School of Public Health, said, “Even though the samples had relatively low concentrations of lead in the rubber granules, we observed that substantial amounts of lead – 22.7 and 44.2 percent in the two samples tested – were absorbed into synthetic gastric juices. Because we know that even low levels of lead can cause neuro-cognitive problems – such as IQ loss – in children, these absorption fractions are meaningful.” The study included one “new generation” artificial turf fiber, which had a relatively low level of lead but “the absorption fractions into synthetic gastric and intestinal fluids were still high (34.6 and 54.0 percent, respectively),” the press release stated. The full text of the press release is available online athttp://www.umdnj.edu/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/quinnaj/newsroom.cgi?month=09&day=16&year=08&headline=UMDNJ+Study+Finds+Lead+in+Synthetic+Turf+Can+Be+Absorbed+into+Gastric+Fluids and is also available (click) here.
[No. 13] California sues turf companies for violating lead warning law. On September 3, 2008, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the state of California, the city of Los Angeles and Solano County filed suit on September 2, 2008, against three manufacturers of artificial turf fields after tests showed dangerous levels of lead. Tests found lead levels at some of the 12 fields tested throughout the state violated Proposition 65, a ballot initiative enacted 22 years ago that set up a law that warns of exposure harmful chemicals. The three companies named in the civil suit are FieldTurf Tarkett, AstroTurf and Beaulieu of America. The complaint is filed at Alameda County Superior Court. Officials say, the aim of the lawsuit isn't to get artificial turf surfaces torn up around the state, but to warn those using the fields about exposure to lead. This could be done through signage or education programs. To read more about this story, see A.J. Perez, “Dangerous lead levels alleged in suit vs. artificial turf makers,” in USA Today, September 2, 2008, available at http://www.usatoday.com/sports/2008-09-02-turf-lawsuit_N.htm and Rachel Raskin-Zrihent, “County joins in civil suit over lead in artificial turf,” in Times-Herald (Solano and Napa Valley Counties), September 3, 2008, available athttp://www.timesheraldonline.com/news/ci_10370555 , and Jane Kay, “Suits filed over lead in artificial turf,”in San Francisco Chronicle, September 3, 2008, available athttp://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/09/03/BAK012MTOM.DTL&hw=turf&sn=001&sc=1000 .
Many synthetic turf fields consist of not only artificial grass but also rubber granules that are used as infill. The public concerns about toxic chemicals possibly contained in either artificial (polyethylene) grass fibers or rubber granules have been escalating but are based on very limited information available to date. The aim of this research was to obtain data that will help assess potential health risks associated with chemical exposure. In this small-scale study, we collected seven samples of rubber granules and one sample of artificial grass fiber from synthetic turf fields at different ages of the fields. We analyzed these samples to determine the contents (maximum concentrations) of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and several metals (Zn, Cr, As, Cd, and Pb). We also analyzed these samples to determine their bioaccessible fractions of PAHs and metals in synthetic digestive fluids including saliva, gastric fluid, and intestinal fluid through a laboratory simulation technique. Our findings include: (1) rubber granules often, especially when the synthetic turf fields were newer, contained PAHs at levels above health-based soil standards. The levels of PAHs generally appear to decline as the field ages. However, the decay trend may be complicated by adding new rubber granules to compensate for the loss of the material. (2) PAHs contained in rubber granules had zero or near-zero bioaccessibility in the synthetic digestive fluids. (3) The zinc contents were found to far exceed the soil limit. (4) Except one sample with a moderate lead content of 53 p.p.m., the other samples had relatively low concentrations of lead (3.12–5.76 p.p.m.), according to soil standards. However, 24.7–44.2% of the lead in the rubber granules was bioaccessible in the synthetic gastric fluid. (5) The artificial grass fiber sample showed a chromium content of 3.93 p.p.m., and 34.6% and 54.0% bioaccessibility of lead in the synthetic gastric and intestinal fluids, respectively.
In an e-mail to SynTurf.org, Dr. William Crain, wrote “[i]n the Discussion of the full article, we also note that whereas the lead (Pb) levels found in rubber granules were relatively low, health scientists increasingly find that even low levels of lead can produce neuro-cognitive problems in children, and the scientists therefore say that no lead at all should be added to children's environments. For this reason, our finding that 24.7 to 44.2% of the lead was bioaccessible in synthetic gastric fluid is important. These percentages reflect the fractions of the maximum concentration extractable by chemical means, and the percentages (24.7 to 44.2%) are substantial.” According to Dr. Crain, the research “also helps clarify which specific absorption routes researchers might focus on as they assess potential toxicants in the new generation synthetic turf.” “We found, for example, that PAHs are not likely to be absorbed into the body through ingestion, so research efforts might best examine other exposure routes, such as skin contact and inhalation,” he wrote.
[No. 11] Salem, Oregon: Oregon issues lead guidelines for turf fields. On August 28, 2008, the Oregon Public Health Division issued an interim recommendation for school districts and other owners and operators of artificial turf fields that contain lead. According to the Associated Press, even though the U.S. Consumer Product safety Commission had found earlier that lead in artificial turf fields did not pose a risk to children, the Oregon “state officials said there were still some uncertainties about health risks from very old or worn fields containing high concentrations of lead.” The Oregon recommendation is “anything up to one half of 1% lead is OK if the turf is in good condition.” Source: Associated Press “Oregon issues lead guidelines on synthetic turf,” KTVZ (Central Oregon), August 29, 2008, available at http://www.ktvz.com/Global/story.asp?S=8920176 .
The Oregon guideline comes on the immediate aftermath of the Public Health Division’s finding that lead levels at West Salem High’s turf field were “unacceptably high,” which could pose a risk in ingested. For an excellent account of the Oregon testing of the field turf and how it compared with the CPSC’s earlier inadequate methods, see Beth Casper, “Lead ‘unacceptably high’ on turf: Follow-up testing at W. Salem warns of ingestion risk,” in Statesman Journal, August 28, 2008,available at http://www.statesmanjournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080828/NEWS/808280365/1001 .
[No. 10] Salem, Oregon: Elevated lead level found in West Salem High’s turf field. According to a news report in Statesman Journal (August 22, 2008), tests show that “WestSalemHigh School's artificial turf field contains lead in levels much higher than the standard for lead in paint.” The test was first conducted by the Journal and later re-tested by the school district. The surface is FieldTurf and was installed in 2002. For more on this story and review of turf’s lead controversy nationwide, see: Beth Casper, “Lead in school turf raises health, safety questions,” in Statesman Journal, August 22, 2008, available at http://www.statesmanjournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080822/NEWS/808220370/1001 .
[No. 09] Saunders Stadium, South Boston: Yellow lined turf from the old carpet tested high for lead. Syntuf.org, Newton, Mass. July 19, 2008. On June 29, 2008, SynTurf.org visited Saunders Stadium in South Boston. SynTurf.org posted a pictorial essay about the visit at http://www.synturf.org/miscellanea.html (No. 08). The news media story on the Saunders turf woes appeared earlier at http://www.synturf.org/maintenancereplacement.html (No. 21). On its visit to Saunders Stadium, SynTurf.org collected samples of the carpet, carpet fuzz and crumb rubber. Of the carpet, SynTurf.org collected samples of the green fibers and parts of the carpet that was lined with yellow paintr. The carpet pieces were sent for testing at the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, California. According to an e-mail from Caroline Cox, CEH’s Research Director, “[S]ample #3 yellow turf from Saunders Stadium had 7,997 parts per million of lead.”
[No. 08] San Diego yanks turf incentive.On June 26, 2008, the San Diego County Water Authority suspended its artificial turf incentive program in response to a centers for Disease Control health advisory that cited concerns about lead levels found in certain kind of artificial turf. The incentive consisted of providing rebate on water bills to consumers who opt for artificial turf instead of natural grass. For the CDC advisory go to http://www.synturf.org/cdc.html (Item No. 02). For the San Diego announcement go to http://www.sdcwa.org/news/2008_0626_artificialturf.phtml or click here.
SynTurf.org Editor’s Note: What happens to the poor souls who took advantage of the incentive program by detrimentally relying on the program and swallowing the upfront high cost of installing turf in their yards? Here is one solution: Sue the county and force the health officials to defend the propriety of their action by science that shows the turf to be hazardous.
[No. 07] Las Vegas, Nev.: KVBC TV News team discovers lead in turf fields.Healthline 3 at KVBC TV in Las Vegas, Nevada reported on May 14, 2008, that its team had tested the turf fields at four locations and found “unsafe lead levels” at two places. While the elevated level of lead was found in nylon turf, there was still lead in the carpet made of polyethylene. The ramification of the findings also questions the safety of the turf in people’s backyards in the water-challenged silver state. For a video of this report and transcript of the broadcast, go to “Artificial Grass A Toxic Turf?,” at KVBC Las Vegas, NV, May 14, 2008, available at http://www.clipsyndicate.com/publish/video/592516/artificial_grass_a_toxic_turf?wpid=0 .
[No. 06] Get your turf tested for lead, free.The Center for Environmental Health will test for lead in artificial turf, at no charge. Send samples to: THE Center for Environmental Health 528 61st Street, Suite A Oakland, CA 94609 Include your name, address, phone number and e-mail address. Information about the turf -- where purchased, brand name, etc., is helpful. Send a sample up to eight square inches in size, although smaller sample sizes will suffice. You should receive a response within two weeks. Contact the center at (510) 594-9864 for additional questions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also suggests that facilities managers wishing to test artificial turf for lead contact their local or state health or environmental departments.
[No. 05] Oakland, Calif.: Center for Environmental Health sues 15 turf manufacturers and retailers over lead content. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. June 26, 2008. According to a news report in the Oakland Tribune,on Monday, June 23, 2008, the Oakland-based consumer watchdog “Center for Environmental Health [www.cehca.org] filed a legal action with the state on Monday demanding that 15 retailers and manufacturers cease selling and producing artificial turf containing lead — a potent neurotoxin.”
"Parents see their kids playing on artificial turf and they expect the turf to be safe," said Michael Green, executive director of the Center for Environmental Health. "But we found that artificial grass and turf can pose a real health threat to children. You may not have to mow it or water it, but unfortunately you do have to test it for lead."
The suit is filed under California’s strict toxic substances exposure law, called Proposition 65.
[No. 04] New Jersey confirms lead test results, urges Feds to continue with turf investigation. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. June 6, 2008. On June 3, 2008, the New Jersey Commissioner of Health and Senior Services Heather Howard released the final artificial turf results that sparked an investigation of turf fields by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. In the press release, Howard stated: “Further laboratory testing has shown that lead can be dissolved from artificial turf fibers and turf field dust under conditions that simulate the human digestive process, leaving the lead available for the body to absorb.” “Lead is known to harm children’s health and neurologic development,” statement said. While bioaccessibility of lead from nylon-fiber field dust may not be harmful in a single exposure episode, Howard raised the potential for harm to children through cumulative effect of long term exposure to turf field dust or in combination with lead exposure from other sources. “It’s a special concern for children who are already exposed to lead,” Howard stated. “This could add to the lead levels already in their bodies,” according to State Epidemiologist and Deputy Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, Dr. Eddy Bresnitz. For the text of the Commissioner’s Press Release, go tohttp://nj.gov/cgi-bin/dhss/njnewsline/view_article.pl?id=3190.
In a letter, dated June 3, 2008, Dr. Bresnitz apprised the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission of the final turf test results, requesting the continued investigation by the CPSC “to determine the appropriate measures required to protect public health at a national level.” For the text of the letter click here.For a media coverage of the story go to “N.J. Agency Releases Toxic Turf Report,”NBC 10 (Philadelphia) at http://www.nbc10.com/health/16477245/detail.html.
[No. 03] There is lead in polyethylene turf fiber and lots more in the crumb rubber infill.SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. May 4, 2008.
The promoters of the new generation infill artificial turf fields never miss an opportunity to set their product in general terms apart from the old Astroturf. The exercise would bea legitimate one were it not for the promoters also dismissing valid specific criticism of their product by claiming that was the problem of the old Astroturf. SynTurf.org has sat through many a meeting where the sellers of modern artificial turf fields have dumped such concerns about foot-fixation injuries and Staph infection due to rug burns on the old Astroturf.
Therefore, it came as no surprise to see Astroturf once again bear the brunt of the bad news: When the news broke about elevated levels of lead in fiber dust from several New Jersey fields, the many sellers of modern turf fields, including the company that presently owns the brand name Astroturf, blamed the use of lead chromate in the old turf products, especially the one made of nylon. That cannot mask the reality that crumb rubber pellets and even polyethylene fibers still contain lead.
Part I: Industry Spin
On April 18, 2008, SynTurf.org received from a third party an “industry” note from a source identified in the correspondence as “Annie,” Marketing 101, PO Box 189-664 A Freeman Ln, Grass Valley, CA95949 (www.aweber.com). It had ad this to say about the bad news from New Jersey:
Our market is experiencing a "bad press week" and many of you may
have heard or read "news" media releases that sound like every
artificial turf football field in the US might get "ripped" out
because they found "lead in fiber material" used on a few fields
... let's start with the fact that these are OLD fields, using
OLD nylon technology AND located in highly industrialized parts
of the State of New Jersey ...
Annie then told her constituents, “If you are really concerned about whether your fibers, rubber or anything else you work with has "leachable" lead content in any dangerous proportions Check out TESTING OPTIONS and EQUIPMENT and KITShere (http://www.asgi.us/xwp/?p=105) . Further, she stated: “Some of you have and for those of you that haven't seen this PDF from STC regarding lead in fibers - It is VERY important to read and understand how "lead" might be "in" the fibers and yet not be
dangerous to humans, pets or environment!!!” Moreover, “”related info on CDC and the EPA websites confirm the explanation is a solid one and common for plastic technology - "a trace amount of lead is needed to help the plastics and other synthetics HOLD onto the color - the extremely tiny amount of lead that might be in NEW Nylon, PE or PP fibers will not leach out, it is "bound" up in the molecular structure of the polymer and will not be released, even if "crushed", burned or damaged in other ways).”
In a side-bar article that appeared in The Gazette (Montreal) on May 4, 2008, Michelle Lalonde reported, “Montreal is home to one of the leading artificial turf manufacturers in North America, FieldTurf Tarkett. The 14-year-old company stands by its product, and says the controversy over toxins in artificial turf is overblown, and related to old AstroTurf-style nylon fields or those made with a different type of rubber than used in FieldTurf… Company spokesperson Darren Gill said FieldTurf expects a review by Montreal's Public Health Department, due to be completed this summer, to declare its fields safe for public use.”
The foregoing serves as a background to the further admission by the turf industry that lead is indeed present in the materials that make up the infill artificial turf. Knowing this to be the case, the turf industry is now attempting to minimize or lowball the amount of lead found in artificial turf, regardless of its cumulative effect over long period of time on humans, particular children) and the environment, in interaction with other toxins and materials, especially if they target a similar organ or function in life forms.
Part II: Industry Admissions
1. In the last week of April the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency decided to look into artificial turf fields. On April 28, 2008, Eric Clément of LA Presse (Montreal) published an article that contained this quote/attribution from the president of FieldTurf, Jean Prévost, “D’abord, nos fibres sont en polyéthylène, et pas en nylon, comme les terrains fermés au New Jersey. De plus, notre service de marketing a environ 150 tests indépendants réalisés partout. Ça prend des produits chimiques assez puissants pour dégrader le caoutchouc, et ce ne sont pas des situations qui arrivent sur des terrains de soccer et de football.»
Translation: “First, our fibers are made of polyethylene, not of nylon, like the fields that have been closed in New Jersey. Moreover, our marketing department has about 150 published independent tests. It would take strong chemicals reactions (products) to degrade the rubber, conditions that are not present on soccer or football fields.”
Conclusion: FieldTurf president gives the impression that FieldTurf’s polyethylene has no lead (unlike the old nylon) and crumb does not degrade under field conditions.
2. On May 2, 2008, in Westport News, Frank Luongo reported, “The two fields closed in New Jersey had nylon fibers, while several other fields in the state with polyethylene fibers, or a mixture of both materials, were found to have levels of lead that ranged from low to undetectable.” Naturally, a low or undetectable level of lead in the polyethylene fiber is not exactly a complete absence of lead in the material.
When asked about FieldTurf's pigmentation process, Darren Gill, a spokesman for the company, told Westport News in an e-mail on April 28, 2008, that New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services “testing found levels of lead in FieldTurf polyethylene ranging between 1 and 1.6 ppm (parts per million).” Gill also told Westport News that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has set the recall level for toys with lead paint at 600 ppm (parts per million) and that there is proposed legislation in Canada which would limit lead levels to 90 ppm in toys that children can put in their mouths. Applying the lower proposed limit, Gil said, "To put this in perspective, Mr. Potato Head can safely contain about 90 times more lead than a FieldTurf field.”
Naturally, If it is okay for kids to put lead-laced toys in their mouths that they should also add to their cumulative exposure to lead by going out and playing in lead-containingfields!
Conclusion: FieldTurf’s polyethylene fiber has tested positive for lead in the range of 1 to1.6 ppm.
3. In a May 4, 2008, piece in The Gazette (Montreal), Michelle Lalonde reported, FieldTurf Tarkett is anxious to distance its product from those targeted in both the New Jersey study and the New York one.” The piece included the following quotes/attributions from New Fields’ Dan Gill: “ "It's been a case of mistaken identity," said FieldTurf's Darren Gill, who says he's received dozens of calls from concerned clients recently. Gill stressed that FieldTurf uses polyethylene fibres, not nylon, and the rubber pellets used to hold the fibres in place are put through a process that removes impurities. "We use cryogenic rubber. The tires we use are frozen and then smashed and that process takes out most of the impurities, including the lead," he said. "We are sure our product is safe, so if they want to do another study to help us prove our cause, we certainly have no problem with that," he said.
Conclusion:FieldTurf claims its cryogenic rubber takes out the lead (from crumb rubber). Implication: FieldTurf’s crumb rubber is lead-free.
Part III. Hardly Lead-free: The Scientific Evidence
By the industry’s own admission, there is lead in artificial turf fields, be it in the lead-based paint used in the old (and possibly new) nylon fiber (carpet) or the lines that go on the playing surfaces, or in the rubber that is used, be it the crumb rubber or the matting that is made of recycled tires; there is even lead in the polyethylene. The question is how much and what, if any thing, should we do about it and why? Here is a digest of three non-industry scientific studies/tests touching on the question:
1. Crain & Zhang (December 2007). “We also found that the granules [crumb rubber pellets] contained worrisome levels of zinc and lead. [footnote omitted] … Although the detected levels of lead have generally been below contaminatedsite soil standards set by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), many mental health scientists warn against adding any lead at all to the environment, for even small amounts can contribute to neurocognitive problems in children.”
In an earlier finding, Crain and Zhang (September 2006) stated, “The analyses also revealed levels of zinc in both samples that exceed the DEC's tolerable levels. Lead and arsenic also were present, and many scientists believe that these metals should not be introduced into the environment at all.”
2. RAMP Study (October 2007) by the Rochesterians Against the Misuse of Pesticides, in association with the University of Albany in New York. This study measured the presence of metals, semivolatiles and volatiles in the crumb rubber in five samples from five different manufacturers. Zinc was present in all samples in a range of 10,600,000 to 17,000,000 parts per billion (ppb). Lead was also present in all samples and ranged form 3,810 to 67,200 ppb. That translates to 3.8 to 67 parts per million (ppm). Compare this reading for lead (ppm) with information from turf manufactures in Part II above. Most neglected thus far is the finding of 10,800 to 203,000 ppb of phthalates that was present in all samples.
3. CAES/EHHI Study (August 2007) by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and the Environment and Human Health, Inc. Using the EPA SW-846 Method 1312 procedure, which replicated conditions approximating field conditions, CAES test showed the leaching of lead, zinc, selenium and cadmium into a water solution.
Conclusion: No super- or hyper-chemical conditions are necessary to release lead (and other substances) from crumb rubber into the air, soil and water – and life forms.
[[No. 02] How exposures can occur from lead in synthetic turf. By David Brown, Sc. D., Director of Toxicology at Environment and Human Health, Inc. April 19, 2008.
(SynTurf.org Editor' Note:In the aftermath of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to investigate the presence of lead in artificial turf fields (http://www.synturf.org/lead.html - Item No. 01), Dr. Brown has written the following explanation of how one is exposed to lead from the fields. In August 2007, Environment and Human Health, Inc. (www.ehhi.org) released a research report about the toxicity of crumb rubber in artificial turf fields. The testing was done by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES). The EHHI report is reported at http://www.synturf.org/ehhibrief.html and the scenario leading up to it is reported at http://www.synturf.org/thewestportbrief.html).
How exposures can occur from lead in synthetic turf.
Lead has been found in the synthetic turf grass mat used in artificial athletic fields. Apparently a lead containing agent was used in the manufacture or coloring of the nylon. It is important to understand how the exposures may occur.
Although the lead is incorporated into the colored surface, it is oxidized and released when exposed to a solution that is acidic. Water that condenses out of the air as dew or in humid conditions is acidic due to the absorption of carbon dioxide from the air.
The acidic solution causes the lead in the product to be oxidized to lead oxides and carbonates which are very soluble. The soluble lead salt forms a layer on the surface of the product. (That is the same reason that washing out a pot with lead glaze does not render it safe because glaze continues to release lead when acidic juices are stored in it.)
The surface of the fields seem to be doing the same thing. Over time, soluble lead collects on the surface of the field. When it rains the lead is washed off but a few days later more lead is oxidized and it is again on the surface. Activity on the filed will release the lead into the air. Exposure is not dependent on the content of lead in the product but the amount of oxidation that has occurred.
This same process takes place on houses painted with lead based paint. The soil around the houses are contaminated with lead that has been washed off of the houses by rain over time.
The exposures to players and to the soil and the run-off water will continue as long as the painted surfaces are present. This could be a human exposure problem.
[No. 01] Federal Consumer Agency to Investigate Lead in Artificial Turf. By Guive Mirfendereski, SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. April 18, 2008. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has decided to investigate the presence of lead in artificial turf field. In an-email to SynTurf.org, dated April 17, 2008, the agency confirmed the published report in USA Today. “[I]n light of the information provided to CPSC by the State of N.J., we are now looking into the issue of lead in synthetic field surfaces/turf,” wrote Scott Wolfson, the agency’s deputy director of public affairs.
There are some 3,500 artificial turf fields in the United States and about 900 to 1000 additional ones are being installed annually, according to the Synthetic Turf Council, a turf industry group.
One of the components of artificial turf is crumb rubber made from used tires. Lead is an ingredient in the manufacture of tires. The use of lead as an additive in gasoline in the past also accounted for some of the lead found in used tires. The paint used in the manufacture of some artificial turf surfaces may still contain lead, which may not be as prevalent today than it was a few decades ago, when lead was an acceptable additive in even household paints.
Last December New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services forwarded its lead testing results from a New Jersey turf field. At the time CSPC said it did not have sufficient information to take any action, prompting DHSS to do tests on additional turf sites and other consumer turf products. In its April 14th press release, the DHSS disclosed that on April 11, 2008, DHSS had written a letter to CSPC executive director, Patricia Semple, requesting action on the turf issue.
The decision by CPSC to investigate lead in artificial turf fields is a departure from the agency’s decades’ old policy of turning a blind eye to lead issues associated with artificial turf. Specifically, in September 1979, CPSC denied a request to establish mandatory safety standard for synthetic turf. The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) had petitioned CPSC in May 1976 to reexamine the risk of injury presented by synthetic turf and "to develop appropriate product safety rules." CPSC “determined that based on the evidence presently available, the use of artificial turf as a surface cover for athletic playing fields does not present an unreasonable risk of injury. NFPLA petitioned CPSC previously on the synthetic turf question; that petition had similarly been denied.” CPSC Release #76-057, September 3, 1976, available at http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PREREL/prhtml76/76057.html.
How things have changed and for the better, one would hope.