<
>

Lead levels on tested turf fields said not to be dangerous

TRENTON, N.J. -- Children aren't at risk for lead exposure
from synthetic athletic fields, according to a report released
Wednesday by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The commission evaluated synthetic athletic fields after lead
was detected on some fields, raising worry about exposure to
children.

But the commission said no tested field released amounts of lead
that would be harmful.

"A variety of artificial turf products were evaluated for risk
exposure to lead and the bottom line is parents should not be
concerned about harmful levels of lead in artificial turf," said
Julie Vallese, a commission spokeswoman. "Go out and play."

While the evaluation found no harmful lead levels, the
commission is asking that voluntary standards be developed for
synthetic turf to preclude the use of lead in future products.

"This will ensure that there is a level playing field for any
company manufacturing synthetic turf in the future," Vallese said.

The commission said its study showed newer fields had no lead or
generally had the lowest lead levels. Although small amounts of
lead were detected on the surface of some older fields, none of
these tested fields released amounts of lead that would be harmful
to children.

Lead is present in some synthetic turf products to give the turf
its various colors, but can cause brain damage and other illnesses,
particularly in children.

Conditions such as age, weathering, exposure to sunlight and
wear and tear may change the amount of lead that could be released
from the turf, and the commission considered particles on a child's
hand, then transferred to their mouth, would be the most likely
route of exposure.

Still, it determined young children wouldn't be at risk.

As an overall guideline, the commission recommends young
children wash their hands after playing outside, especially before
eating.

A California environmental watchdog group, the Center for
Environmental Health, reported last month that it found excessive
amounts of lead in several brands of artificial turf.

It warned some of the biggest manufacturers and sellers that it
would sue unless they recall or reformulate their products.

It was unconvinced by the commission's findings.

"My quick take is that the CPSC study is fatally flawed and
we're going to continue to pursue our case because lead is a threat
to children playing on artificial field," said Charles Margulis, a
spokesman for the center.

The center's report followed New Jersey health officials'
finding of unacceptably high lead levels in some synthetic
surfaces.

New Jersey health officials first discovered elevated lead
levels at an athletic field in Newark last fall, then found
similarly high levels in two other nylon-based fields.

A follow-up test showed the lead found on New Jersey's turf
fields could be absorbed by humans, but the state said the lead
levels were not high enough to cause poisoning to people who play
on the fields.

All three New Jersey fields were ripped up and replaced.

Turf manufacturers have insisted their products are safe.

Rick Doyle, president of the Synthetic Turf Council, an industry
trade group, has said the lead in turf is encapsulated in the
blades and neither leaches out nor becomes airborne.