Officials probe hazards of lead in artificial turf

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iMONITOR

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Officials probe hazards of lead in artificial turf

Investigation comes after high levels detected in 2 N.J. fields this week

The Associated Press
updated 3:47 p.m. ET, Fri., April. 18, 2008

TRENTON, N.J. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is looking into the possible health hazards of lead in artificial turf installed at schools, parks and stadiums across the country.

Two fields in New Jersey were closed this week after state health officials detected what they said were unexpectedly high levels of lead in the synthetic turf and raised fears that athletes could swallow or inhale fibers or dust from the playing surface.

The artificial-turf industry denied its products are dangerous. But the CPSC it is investigating.

"We have a great deal of interest into any consumer product that could be used by children where children could potentially be in harm's way because of lead exposure," CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson said.

The United States has about 3,500 synthetic playing fields made of various materials, including nylon and polyethylene, and about 800 are installed each year at schools, colleges, parks and stadiums, according to the industry's Synthetic Turf Council.

Pigment containing lead chromate is used in some surfaces to make the turf green and hold its color in sunlight. But it is not clear how widely the compound is used. The New Jersey Health Department found lead in both of the nylon fields it tested, but in none of the 10 polyethylene surfaces it examined.

Both nylon fields were AstroTurf brand surfaces.

Jon Pritchett, chief executive of General Sports Venue, the Raleigh, N.C.-based licensee of AstroTurf products in the United States, said the company's tests have shown a low risk of exposure to lead.

"Obviously, we take very seriously any concerns about the safety of our products, and this is no exception," Pritchett said.

New Jersey found itself at the forefront of the issue after state health authorities stumbled onto the lead while investigating whether runoff from a scrap-metal operation in Newark had contaminated an adjacent playing field.

New Jersey's epidemiologist, Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, said fibers and dust created through wear and weathering might become airborne, where they could be inhaled or swallowed.

But Rick Doyle, president of the Synthetic Turf Council, said the lead is fixed in place in the nylon and does not leach out, and thus poses no health risk. He also said that in recent years, manufacturers have begun offering lead-free nylon surfaces.

"In the 40 years that synthetic sports turf has been in use in the United States and around the world, not one person has ever reported any ill effects related to the material composition of the fibers," he said.

Bresnitz has ordered additional tests on how easily fibers and particles from artificial turf can be swallowed or inhaled. He said the risk from playing on a lead-impregnated field is probably very low. Nonetheless, he suggested washing thoroughly after play, laundering clothes separately and wetting down fields to keep the dust and fibers down during play.


Two fields in New Jersey -- Frank Sinatra Park in Hoboken and a playing surface at the College of New Jersey in Ewing -- were voluntarily closed after state health officials found up to 10 times the amount of lead that is allowed in soil on contaminated sites that are being turned into homes. The government has no standard for how much lead is allowable in artificial turf.

A city-owned field in Newark was closed last fall after similar test results; officials there are replacing the surface.

Lead can cause brain damage and other illnesses, particularly in children.

Fibers don't break off easily on nylon fields, according to Dr. Davis Lee, a Georgia Tech professor and consultant to turf manufacturers. He said even if fibers were to come loose, the lead pigment particles still would not fall out.

Artificial soccer, baseball and football fields are popular because they are durable and eliminate the need for watering, pesticides and mowing. Costs start at about $300,000 and go up depending on the type of turf, the size of the field and other factors.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24204179/
 
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DaveNF2G

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I hope somebody is checking the ground underneath the turf, which seems like a more likely source of contamination.
 

bpckty1

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Astroturf is nice, especially for indoor venues. But, outside, while it looks nice, the ground/base is harder than natural turf, and many times the base is asphalt. However, maintenance is generally less expensive than grass and can be used for more sports.

My favorite sport is Boise State's blue turf where they have "fun with ducks".
;^>

As stated above, check the base. That seems to be more of a "source of interest" than the actual carpet. But, if there is a problem with the turf, it may come from rug burn more than breathing the air above it.
 

iMONITOR

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I always dreamed about having this stuff at my house. Maybe it's a good thing that dream never came true!
 

Thayne

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Some people from wisconsin moved into a house next to my sister and paid $425K for it(About 100k more than its worth) Now they are putting in artificial turf because they want to save water. The guy said the turf job cost $5400; yet the summer water bills are about $75 a month. They have 3 dogs so I wonder what will happen when all the urine & poop start adding up.
My sister thinks they are trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear ;)
 

kb2vxa

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"I hope somebody is checking the ground underneath the turf, which seems like a more likely source of contamination."

Yew betcha! First, the college has "playing surfaces" for football, soccer, baseball, softball and track so which one(s) are we talking about here? Ewing just north of Trenton and the whole area has been contaminated by heavy industry now moved elsewhere. The sign on the railroad bridge once said "Trenton makes the world takes" before it rusted apart and fell into the Delaware River, they weren't kidding about what we took.

Then Frank Sinatra would be spinning in his grave if he knew the park in Hoboken is built on landfill they got from who knows where and dumped behind Lackawanna Terminal and the old ferry slips. The banks of the Hudson River were bad enough until they dumped even more crap in it to expand the landfill where the old Erie Lackawanna Railroad radio tower stood. I can't say what that rotting mess of old pilings, bulkheads and decking mixed with GKW* is back there but it doesn't smell very good.

"My sister thinks they are trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear."

She'll change her mind about what they're making soon enough when she gets a whiff of sun baked Wisconsin Cheddar.

*God knows what; a term used by nuclear engineers to describe a mixture of otherwise indescribable reactor waste products.
 
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