Artificial Turf Lawsuit Filed Over High Lead Levels

A California environmental watchdog has filed a lawsuit against the makers of artificial turf fields demanding that they stop selling turf that contains lead levels in excess of California state standards, and that they issue an artificial turn recall for fields that could pose a danger to children now and in the future.

The Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health conducted tests on more than 50 samples of artificial turf procured from various fields. One-third of the samples were found to contain lead levels in excess of the State’s upper limit of 0.5 micrograms per day of lead exposure.

There are concerns that the nylon used to make the artificial grass can disintegrate over time, resulting in the release of lead-contaminated dust. This could pose a serious risk of lead poisoning, especially for young children, if dust particles are absorbed through the skin, get into drinking water or food, or transfer from the hands to mouth.

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Until recent years, artificial or synthetic turf fields were rarely seen outside of professional stadiums and sports arenas. However, there are now more than 3,500 artificial turf fields throughout the United States and about 800 more are built each year. Many high school and government owned natural grass fields have been replaced with artificial turf because of lower maintenance costs and playability in all weather conditions.

In April, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that it would look into the risks associated with artificial turf fields and the results of this investigation are expected by the end of this month. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also recommended testing for worn out nylon fields installed in several parks, stadiums and schools throughout the country.

According to CDC estimates, over 300,000 children in the United States have elevated blood levels of lead. Young children are at the greatest risk of lead poisoning, which is most commonly caused by babies or toddlers who ingest or chew on flaking lead paint chips. In children, lead poisoning can lead to behavioral problems, weakened immune systems, brain damage and even death. For adults, it can be associated with high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and kidney failure.

In response to the recent concerns about lead in artificial turf fields, the CDC has issued a series recommendations to help reduce the risk of lead poisoning. The health agency has advised to wash your hands and clothing after playing on artificial turf; to sit on a towel or blanket after playing on an artificial surface to prevent the spread of contaminated dust; and to refrain from eating or drinking from open containers on synthetic turf.


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  • SimonSeptember 17, 2008 at 1:13 am

    My son's kindergarden installed artificial turf in it's yard last week and a group of concerned parents are raising the issue at the annual general assembly next week. We are going to use your artical as reference material during the assembly. Thank you for your article.

  • Tami ASeptember 4, 2008 at 6:00 am

    How do I find out what recourse I have from my $25K turf I had installed>??????

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