More Artificial Turf Found with Lead, as California Attorney General Files Lawsuits
Oakland, CA- The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) announced today that independent testing has found high levels of lead in varieties of artificial turf from ten more companies. The testing found that the lead level in one turf sample, produced by the nation’s leading installer of sports fields, Field Turf, was more 150 times higher than federal child safe lead standards that will ultimately come into effect as a result recent Congressional action to ban lead in products for children.
In June, CEH initiated the first legal actions under California law against fifteen other producers and retailers of artificial turf and indoor/outdoor grass carpeting. Today, the California Attorney General, the Los Angeles City Attorney and the Solano County District Attorney filed suit against three of the turf producers identified by CEH, while CEH filed suit against three other producers and notified ten other companies that their turf violates California law.
“Our testing on products from dozens of companies show that artificial turf can contain high amounts of lead that can easily come off onto children’s hands when they play on turf fields,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “The artificial turf industry must understand that their products need to meet our state’s strict lead safety standards. We welcome action by the Attorney General and other government officials who are working to clean up this threat to California’s children.”
CEH has commissioned independent testing to determine if lead from turf wipes off on contact. In every case, samples tested by the laboratory show that when turf contains high amounts of lead, the lead wipes off at levels that exceed California standards. Others have found similar results: testing conducted for the Oregon Statesman Journal on a high school sports field installed by Field Turf found lead levels far in excess of federal and California standards. Children playing on artificial grass can be exposed when lead from turf wipes off onto their hands (from hand-to-mouth behaviors), and young children may be more at risk since they are more likely to swallow turf material. Children can also be exposed when turf degrades in the sun and releases lead-tainted dust. In June, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 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 is recommending that parents and schools be sure that children wash their hands thoroughly after playing on artificial turf fields. The nonprofit is also announcing that parents, schools or others with artificial turf fields can send samples of turf for free lead testing to the nonprofit’s Oakland office.
In July, the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission released an assessment that claimed to find no lead threat from artificial turf, even though their testing found that lead can come off of turf at a level that is almost twenty times higher than the California standard. CPSC looked at only fourteen samples from four companies; to date, CEH has tested over 150 samples from more than two dozen companies, and has found about 30% of the samples contain high lead levels. Last month, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal called the CPSC assessment “crudely cursory” and requested that the agency withdraw its report.
Recent reports have found high lead levels in turf on artificial turf playing fields, but the CEH testing shows that artificial grass used by residential installers and sold to do-it-yourselfers can also be a health threat. In addition to Field Turf, the recent CEH testing found high lead levels in turf from nine other companies, including Pregra artificial grass sold at Costco, and turf produced by Tiger Turf, EcoAlliance, Poly Lawn, Challenger Industries/ X-Grass, Lazy Lawn/Best Turf for Less, Lex Lawn/ProGreen, Turfstore and Taishan Sports. CEH also filed lawsuits today against companies the nonprofit previously notified for their lead-containing turf, including Shaw Industries, Synthetic Turf International, and Turf Headquarters, while the Attorney General and other California officials filed suits against turf makers Field Turf, AstroTurf, and Beaulieu of America. CEH has been in discussions with AstroTurf and has welcomed the company’s strong intention to clean up the problem.
CEH initiated legal action against the turf companies under California’s Proposition 65 law, and is calling for turf makers to reformulate their products to eliminate the lead risk to children. The turf industry has stated that it will voluntarily comply with the recent federal law banning lead in children’s product. Since voluntary industry standards are unenforceable, the CEH effort intends to hold the companies to a legally binding lead standard.
Earlier this summer, the California Assembly passed a bill (SB 1277) sponsored by Senator Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) calling for a state study investigating the health and environmental impacts of natural versus synthetic turf fields.
A CEH report and more information is available here. Consumers with questions about sending samples for lead testing to CEH can call 510-655-3900.
Connecticut Attorney General’s statement is available here.
The Oregon Statesman Journal report is available here.
Information on SB 1277 is available here.