Group Warns of Lead in Turf; (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Angela Delli Santi, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 24, 2008

TRENTON – A California watchdog group yesterday
cautioned consumers about potential lead exposure from artificial turf products
found in homes and playgrounds.

The warning came five days after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention issued a health advisory about potential exposure to lead in
artificial turf. Conceding that "CDC does not yet understand the potential
risks associated with exposure to dust from worn artificial turf," the
agency issued recommendations to minimize exposure in children age 6 and under,
who are most vulnerable to lead.

Last week's federal advisory was prompted largely by New Jersey public health officials' findings
two months ago of unacceptable lead levels in some synthetic sports fields.
Testing in New Jersey
found high lead levels in nylon and nylon-blend fields that had endured a lot
of wear.

The lead found at three turf fields – in Newark,
Hoboken, and the College
of New Jersey outside Trenton – could be absorbed by humans, a
follow-up test showed, but the state epidemiologist said the lead levels were
not high enough to cause poisoning to people who play on the fields.

Yesterday's warning by the Oakland, Calif.-based Center for Environmental
Health was broader. Tests by an independent lab showed excessive lead in
indoor/outdoor carpeting, artificial lawns and playground grass made with nylon
and polyethylene, said Charles Margulis, a spokesman for the center.

A subsequent test showed lead could be wiped off turf with a cloth or a
child's hand.

Margulis said yesterday that the center has begun notifying 15 turf
manufacturers and retailers of its intent to sue under California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic
Enforcement Act unless the companies agree to recall the products or
reformulate artificial turf to contain less lead.

Names on the list include some of the country's largest retailers, like Ace
Hardware and Lowe's, as well as some of the best-known turf manufacturers, like
AstroTurf.

The companies have 60 days to respond.

The center uses litigation and advocacy to remove toxins from consumer
products and the environment.

Davis Lee, a Georgia Tech professor and consultant to turf manufacturers,
was skeptical of the center's claims.

"Their results are not consistent with what I've seen," Lee said.
"I've done several months worth of testing. I've not seen anything that
would raise a concern."

The Synthetic Turf Council, an industry trade group, did not reply to
requests for comment. Messages left with Ace, Lowe's and AstroTurf weren't
immediately returned.

Earlier this month, AstroTurf issued a statement saying additional tests by
the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services confirmed the safety of
synthetic turf fields.

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