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Scott Kappes
Scott Kappes
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Artificial Turf Cited For Lead Risks

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Lead seems to be showing up everywhere in recent months. We have seen excessive amounts of lead in everything from charms and pendants to toys and clothing. Now artificial turf used on all types of indoor and outdoor playing fields and surfaces have joined the list of lead culprits. This week a California based environmental organization, Center of Environmental Heath, filed legal action in the state of California demanding that 15 retailers and manufacturers to stop selling and producing the artificial turf containing lead.

The center conducted tests of more than 50 samples of artificial turf obtained from a variety of outlets, including Home Depot, Ace Hardware Corp., Orchard Supply Hardware and Lowe’s Companies, as well as carpet retailers and Bay Area turf installers.

Artificial turf has become increasingly popular over the past several years and many fields and play areas have made the decision to switch to the low maintenance product. Currently there are over 3,500 artificial turf playing fields scattered throughout the nation, with 800 additional fields being built each year.

“Parents see their kids playing on artificial turf and they expect the turf to be safe,” said Michael Green, executive director of the Center for Environmental Health. “But we found that artificial grass and turf can pose a real health threat to children. You may not have to mow it or water it, but unfortunately you do have to test it for lead.”

The legal action follows the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s decision to launch an investigation into the matter this spring. The results of the investigation are expected to be available by the end of next month. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also expressed concern over the amount of lead in some artificial turf in a June 18 health advisory issued by the organization.

Health experts take seriously the health effects of lead exposure, particularly in children. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 300,000 U.S. children have elevated blood levels of lead. It harms the nervous system, and studies show it can also impair the immune system. Excess lead exposure in children is linked to lowered IQ and test scores, memory problems, hyperactivity and behavioral problems, including juvenile delinquency. In adults, it’s associated with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and kidney failure in those with chronic kidney disease, as well as with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

This should be disturbing news for parents throughout the nation. Our children are the most important thing in the world to us and it is very alarming that the ground that our children play sports and other activities on may actually be detrimental to their well being.

The CDC advised washing hands and clothing after playing on artificial turf to reduce the risk of exposure to lead. The agency also advised eating or drinking from containers left open on or near the field.