Leading Artificial Turf Companies Agree to End Lead Threats to Children

The California Attorney General, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH), the city of Los Angeles and Solano County have finalized legal agreements to end health threats from lead in artificial turf with Field Turf, the nation’s leading maker and installer of artificial turf fields, and Beaulieu Group, the leading supplier of indoor/outdoor grass to retailers including Home Depot, Ace Hardware and others. The agreements set a legal limit of no more than 50 parts per million of lead in turf sold in California; previous CEH testing found more than 300 times that amount of lead in one FieldTurf product.

“We welcome this agreement to protect children from the unnecessary lead threats they faced from some artificial turf fields,” said Michael Green, CEH Executive Director. “California is now the national leader in resolving a problem that has concerned parents across the country.”

Last year, AstroTurf became the first company to agree to legally binding limits on lead in turf. The agreement with AstroTurf calls for the company to meet the 50 ppm lead limit in California as of June 15, 2010.

In addition to the lead limit, the agreements with the companies outline redress for purchasers of older turf products. Beaulieu will replace qualifying products at any California daycare, school or playground that were installed after October 15, 2004 and have been in place for more than 3 years; Field Turf has agreed to replace and install at a discounted price qualifying turf fields in California that were installed before November 2003. In some cases, FieldTurf may implement lead-reducing maintenance measures in lieu of the discounted replacement offer.

The settling companies have also agreed to payments totaling $497,500, which includes payments to the State of California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, payments to the Attorney General, the City of Los Angeles and Solano County, funds for a state study on hazards from turf, funds for CEH’s ongoing work to educate and protect Californians from toxic health hazards, payments to help defer CEH’s legal expenses, and money from each company towards a turf testing and outreach fund to be administered by the Public Health Trust.

CEH began testing artificial turf in 2008 and found several varieties containing high levels of lead. The Center initiated the state’s first legal action to end lead threats from turf in May of 2008, notifying the Attorney General and the turf makers and retailers about the health concern. The Center and the Attorney General’s office filed lawsuits against turf companies in September 2008.

Earlier that year the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services reported on their testing of artificial turf fields, concluding that for children exposed to lead from artificial turf, “the potential for lead poisoning to occur is plausible.” That summer the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also warned that “As the turf ages and weathers, lead is released in dust that could then be ingested or inhaled, and the risk for harmful exposure increases.”

CEH has a fourteen-year track record of protecting communities from the health impacts of toxic pollution and has previously uncovered lead and other toxic health threats to children from wood playground structures, toys, vinyl baby bibs and lunchboxes, imported candies, children’s jewelry, children’s medicines, and many other products. CEH also works with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices.

Consumers, schools, daycares or others who have concerns about potential lead hazards in their artificial turf installations can contact CEH for free lead screening at 510-655-3900 or by email at matt@ceh.org.

For more on CEH’s work on lead in artificial turf, see http://www.ceh.org//legacy/storage/documents/lead_in_grass.pdf and http://www.ceh.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=311&Itemid=166.

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