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Artificial Turf and Synthetic Grass Systems
Yarn Fiber Test Methods & Resources

Where can we find out more?

The best source for information about the content of yarn fiber materials you would like to use in an upcoming artificial turf project or of an existing synthetic grass installation is your materials supplier.

To review product information about a specific style, request materials safety data sheets (MSDS), copies of recent heavy metals disclosure statements and available test results, warranties and any guarantees.  If you need further information about a specific element, such as lead content, simply request samples of your own materials be tested and documentation sent to you for review, prior to your shipment leaving the warehouse dock. Having to meet stringent specifications on custom orders is a common task of manufacturers of artificial grass – over 50% of all grass today is contracted and produced as a “special order”, customize to suit the need of the new field’s owner.

Why test? Because additional information is required for a specific job and the specific job materials that will be used for a project.

  • For any public works project
  • For any commercial project
  • For general information
  • For required information required for disposal at a landfill or waste recycling center

What are we looking for?

There are no published thresholds or benchmarks to reach as to how much lead could be in artificial turf fibers and still be considered “safe”, today. There are no specific testing protocols that have been identified to test artificial turf surfaces or systems, either.

Human and environmental health and safety groups, organizations and governance bodies all agree that reducing our exposure to heavy metals, especially lead, should continue to decline, for every hazardous substance until it reaches a No Effect Level (NEL).

The trouble with lead, specifically, is that there IS NO NEL that can be determined for lead. In other words, the only NEL for lead is zero; so reducing exposure to any amount of lead, in effect, is the ultimate goal.

What is the most important piece of information we need from tests?

The most important data point to consider when reviewing your test results is how much lead, of any amount present, could be absorbed into our bodies by touching the material with exposed skin, or breathing in dust particles, or by hand to mouth exposure.

  • This is commonly referred to as the “bio-availability” of the lead.
  • The most “bio-available” lead is found in its original state, in surface soils all over the planet.
    • To put the question of the amount of lead we might be looking for into context, the CDC has determined that a benchmark for lead, by weight in soil on a school playground can measure up to 400 parts per million (ppm).  Any areas outside the perimeter of the designated play area can test up to 1200ppm before they are of any concern (that could include grasses, soils, mulch, etc).

What kind of tests are done?

Several chemical tests are used to identify lead in material samples and how much of that lead might be able to be absorbed by the body, under normal exposure. These tests are used for all sorts of consumer and industrial products. Tests selected to assess lead in synthetic materials provide a set of standards, guidelines and protocols that must be followed to insure consistency and relevancy to the final test results.

  • Total Lead Content Test is the FIRST TEST that should be done is to determine the amount of “lead” that may be discovered to exist in the  sample.

If lead is found in the materials (using the Total Lead Content tests) the next point to determine is how much of the lead in the materials someone could be exposed to when they touch or use the artificial grass surfaces - that requires the results of two test protocols to provide the most balanced set of data.

  • These two tests are:
    • The “wipe test” which can tell you how much lead can be “wiped off” of a surface area.
    • The Ingestion or Solubility Test: If the wipe tests show positive results for lead content, a second test; referring to how soluble the lead content is; would be carried out to determine how much of the lead might be available to be absorbed into our systems through hand to mouth exposure or by inhaling particles of the materials.

A final test you can do on the sample will tell you how much lead might leach out of the turf fibers as they decompose, under the slightly acidic, grimy conditions found in a typical landfill, and is called:

  • The TCLP – Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure
    provides information for the disposal of turf in a waste or landfill.

Can I do the testing myself?

There are self-test kits and portable testing equipment available and these methods are great for doing preliminary scanning of materials. For a more authoritative report and comprehensive test results, you should really seek out trained professionals and have the tests done under laboratory conditions.

Chemistry labs can easily and inexpensively perform tests to determine the amount of lead (and other heavy metals and biological contaminants) in a sample and provide you a confidential report regarding your test results. Self testing may be a great way of screening material, but a professional lab report provides more credible documentation of test results, if ever needed.

The reported results, of course, are only valid for the materials tested.

Tests procedures and results are confidential and are relevant only to samples tested.

Many yarn manufactures mix batches of resins, pigments and other additives as they need materials for production.  Each dye lot of fibers can have its own “lead signature” and so tests should be run on each dye lot to properly document the lead content; even if it is so low, that it’s undetectable; the tests validate the information.

Masterbatching will help deliver greater consistency

Yarn manufacturers that supply artificial grass finished fibers to the tufting mills are adopting a process they call “master batching” where digital systems mix predetermined batches of resin and additives so that they can provide the utmost consistency to the yarn manufacturers. As adoption of these new systems grow, they will provide greater consistency of all yarn fibers produced and delivered to market.

How much material is needed for testing artificial grass yarns for lead?

Most tests require just a few fibers, about the size of a tablespoon of materials (1 ounce by weight) of each type or style and color of fiber present in the finished materials – for a wipe test, many have used an area of 1 square foot (12 inches x 12 inches) to test artificial grass surface fibers for lead.

How much lead is too much lead?

Today, that question is under national attention from groups focusing on arriving at a comprehensive answer; not only for synthetic turf materials and system components, but for many related industries, as well. It is a complex question to answer for our market because there are so many generations of turf installed across the country and many are of various types of fibers and styles of yarn, built under a variable set of installation conditions, use and UV exposure.

Defining a clear set of guidelines for assessment, testing and review of the results is underway.

We are all aware of the dangers of lead exposure and everyone in the artificial turf market takes this subject very seriously.  Our industry has a pristine 40 year track record with no incidences of lead exposure posing any risk to any one who has ever worked in a plant, built an installation or used the surface materials, even over extended periods of time, spanning decades.

The artificial turf industry; their association of manufacturers of all raw materials and finished goods; are working closely with the CPSC, CDC and EPA on gathering test data and developing guidelines.

The response not only should consider market conditions and available products today, the reply will hopefully strive to help with the assessment of past and the possible requirements of future product specifications and installations.  There are several national groups being funded to study the matter and as the work progresses, we will hope to keep you informed of their progress, which may span several months time.

Do we need to “sit on the bench” waiting for reports, assessments and study results?

… currently,  there is no “safe harbor number” to guide us in determining what amount of lead in artificial grass yarn fibers, if any, might be safe …

… so, maybe looking at WHO would use the artificial grass area might be a better place to start to determine what guidelines should be used.

Soil, paint, gasoline, plastic and metal toys, lunch boxes, metal jewelry, and plastic bottles, to name just a few items, all have safe harbor benchmarks we can use to reflect our own test result data against. The EPA’s standard for lead in bare soil in play areas is 400 ppm by weight and 1200 ppm for non-play areas, which is another point to note.

For toys, a voluntary standard established in the US under ASTM F-963-07, and European Standards under EN-71 set limits of soluble lead in toys (bio-available lead) to 90ppm.

so, if you wanted to feel confident that you could use artificial grass materials around young children and seniors …

… why not look at other products’ or materials safe harbor numbers and simply use those as benchmarks?

Our highest risk, lowest tolerance to exposure group would include pregnant women, babies, toddlers and children up to the age of 14; and we should include seniors, who are considered, as they increase in age, to be as sensitive as a young child to lead exposure.

… consider setting your yarn fiber specifications for meeting current US standards for pediatric lead exposure levels for a product, such as a baby rattle or toy, that might be put into a child’s mouth … that could fall anywhere between 90 and 600ppm in the US, under current guidelines**.

It is important to note that what ever published guidelines are used today, there are efforts in the US and Canada that are proposing amendments to existing legislation to set pediatric exposure limits even lower – especially for toys – within a range of 40 to 90 ppm (USA) and 90 ppm (Canada).

If your yarn fiber materials tested at or below the safe harbor benchmark of a baby’s toy, of 90 to 100ppm …

… wouldn’t you feel confident to design, specify or install that material for any suitable project?

Whether a backyard lawn or the local high school football field, our children and seniors deserve to be able to enjoy the investment in artificial turf materials regardless of their age or present health.  As business owners and operators, we need to insure that our workers and staff, who are exposed to materials daily, have the safest products to work with, as well.

If you select yarn fibers and finished goods and systems that can provide a safe surface, regardless of who uses it, you can confidently deliver the kind of quality and value everyone can enjoy and benefit from.

the following tests are commonly used to determine lead content in or on various surfaces found in homes, daycare, schools, commercial and public buildings:

  1. Total Lead Test:
    this is the first test you always want to do –
    test findings will tell you how much TOTAL lead is in the materials (it can measure if there is encapsulated lead chromate) – NIOSH 3050B and 6010B
  2. Wipe Test:
    measures how much of the lead present is on the surfaces (after the surfaces have been treated to simulate use, UV degradation and weather) and could wipe off on to you (NIOSH 9100B with a 12 inch by 12 inch sample)
  3. Bio-Availability (Ingestion/Solubility) Tests:
    measures how much of any amount of lead present in the materials could be soluble – lead that is soluble can be absorbed into our bodies by touching the materials, eating it or inhaling dust made up of the materials, after it has broken-down under the wear and tear of use, UV exposure and weathering.  ASTM F963-07 for lead or all heavy metals
  4. TCLP or Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure:
    this test simulates the conditions of a landfill and can only tell you how much lead might leach out into the ground water or air in those conditions.  It cannot tell you how much lead is in the materials or if lead is soluble. TCLP test for lead

California Note:
Historically, the “wipe test”  is the test protocol the Attorney General
would use to assess lead content under Proposition 65 Guidelines for
Compliance in California – currently the “bio-availability” of any lead
content is not considered.

** EPA and CDC website links to review, research safe harbor numbers and other info (also see below, under Misc Notes: for comments regarding acceptable lead levels for toys)


Some lab referrals for professional testing.

These labs can provide you with results based upon the samples provided – if you are trying to provide proof of heavy metals, you can ask for a full spectrum of tests.

MAKE SURE TO FIND A LAB THAT IS NELAP Certified – (National Environmental Lab Accreditation Program) to insure your lab meets or exceeds standards in testing excellence!

Trace Analysis - NELAP Certified testing facility
Dr. Blair Leftwich
6701 Aberdeen Ave.,Ste.9
Lubbock, TX 79424

(800) 378-1296 – Toll Free
(806) 794-1296 – Voice
(806) 794-1298 – Fax

We analyze both physical and chemical parameters of samples for a broad spectrum of private and public concerns, including:

  • consulting and engineering firms,
  • manufacturers,
  • small businesses,
  • hospitals,
  • water & wastewater treatment plants,
  • universities,
  • military bases, municipalities,
  • artificial turf Pb testing, and
  • state and federal agencies.

We are a service-oriented business, dedicated to providing our clients with the finest environmental analyses available.==================================

Northwest Labs of Seattle
Omar Simon

Wipe test – please provide a sample of at least 18 inches x 18 inches for a 12 inc x 12 in wipe sample area. For all other testing, 1 ounce (approximately 1 tablespoonful) of fibers (each type) are needed. Tests can be completed for one or all heavy metals.

NW Labs also offers a full array of onsite testing of installed artificial grass surfaces AND new product testing in their labs for GMax and other surface testing for sports fields and other areas that must remain ASTM standards compliant for HIC, Fall-Zone Safety and percolation.


National Food Labs
Grace Bandong, Chemistry Lab Director:
925-551-4206 (offc)

National Food Labs provides both biological and chemical testing.

Other artificial turf fiber test options:

For a quick spot check of lead content in almost any material or surface – use X-ray Fluorescence technology – it’s an easy to use mobile unit, ideal for a warehouse or the field.

By far, the most popular unit is the  Innov-X Systems handheld XRF available for sale and, more cost-effectively, by daily or weekly rental.

The Innov-X Portable XRF can screen for all five restricted RoHS elements in an instant -

  • Lead (Pb)
  • Mercury
  • Cadmium (Cd)
  • Chromium VI (Hexavalent Chromium or Cr)
  • Hg
  • Br

Units can test the following applications:

* RoHS/WEEE Compliance
* Metals in Soil
* Alloy
* Lead in paint, plastics, synthetic fabrics and fibers

Links to RENTAL and supply sources

GEOTECH Engineering:

EquipCO Rentals

Ajax Environmental Supplies & Rentals

Thermo Scientific – make, sell XRF units


General Lead Info:

Dr Landrigan, Professor of Pediatrics, CEH for Children (Mt Sinai);
Pediatrician, Children’s Environmental Health Advocate: Mt Sinai Presentation on Lead



Industry Policy on Lead in Toys
International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI)
08 October 97

More than 30 years ago, when lead in toys was first identified as toxic, it was the Toy Industry which took the lead to protect children. The Toy Manufacturers of America (TMA) in cooperation with the American Academy of Pediatrics jointly developed the first toy safety standard limiting lead in paint and similar surface coatings, manufacturers around the world have limited the use of lead in toys ever since.

The voluntary standard established in the United States under ASTM F-963 and the European standard under EN-71 for soluble lead in toys (lead which may migrate from the toy and be ingested by the child) is 90 parts-per-million. At that level, any intentional use of lead in paints or other surface coatings containing lead would immediately put the toy over the permitted limit.

Under federal law, The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) enforces a standard for total lead of 600 ppm. Recently, the CPSC refused to lower the lead limit in paint and other similar surface coating materials to 100 ppm after finding that most paints sold in the United States were already at or below that level and therefore these materials did not present an unreasonable risk of injury warranting further government regulation.

The Global Toy Safety Standard now being drafted by the International Standardization Organization (ISO-TCI 181) adopts the standards in force in the United States and in Europe.

Finally, the US Customs Service and the Consumer Product Safety Commission initiated an inspection project dubbed “Operation Toyland.” Trained Customs and CSPC specialists carry out inspections to make sure that all toys brought into the United States conform to CPSC regulations with special focus on lead in paints.


An Obama08 Campaign “Letter of Intent” regarding lead abatement and elimination from toys, the retooling of the CPSC and the expansion of their ability to increase fines on violators, and reorg staff:


Lead contaminated soil can pose a risk through direct ingestion, uptake in vegetable gardens, or tracking into homes. Uncontaminated soil contains lead concentrations less than 50 ppm but soil lead levels in many urban areas exceed 200 ppm. (AAP 1993) The EPA’s standard for lead in bare soil in play areas is 400 ppm by weight and 1200 ppm for non-play areas. This regulation applies to cleanup projects using federal funds. The soil screening level (SSL) for lead represents a conservative estimate for a level that would be protective of public health in residential soils based on an analysis of the direct ingestion pathway for children.

EPA has set drinking water standards with two levels of protection. The maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) is zero. This is the level determined to be safe by toxicological and biomedical considerations, independent of feasibility. EPA’s final rule establishes an action level is set at 15 µg/L. The use of lead solder and other lead-containing materials in connecting household plumbing to public water supplies was banned by EPA as of June 1988.

FDA has set a number of action levels (enforceable) and levels of concern for lead in various food items. These levels are based on FDA calculations of the amount of lead a person can consume without ill affect. FDA has set an action level of 0.5 µg/mL for lead in products intended for use by infants and children and has banned the use of lead-soldered food cans.[44]

House paint contained up to 50% lead before 1955. Federal law lowered the amount of lead allowable in paint to 1% in 1971. The CPSC has limited since 1977 the lead in most paints to 0.06% (600 ppm by dry weight). Paint for bridges and marine use may contain greater amounts of lead.[45]

Both the federal government and the state of Massachusetts are considering (as of September 2007) action against lead in children’s jewelry. “But Mr. Durbin said he was disappointed with Ms. Nord and the safety commission, which he said did not appear to be attacking the problem aggressively enough, including moving too slowly to institute and enforce a ban on lead in children’s jewelry. He also mocked a new agreement with Chinese officials to block lead in toys, saying that the Chinese government told his office the policy had long been in place.”[46]

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About ASGi

ASGi - the Association of Synthetic Grass Installers was founded in 2007 to help connect market partners and their customers in the artificial grass and synthetic turf industry. We have grown into a global presence, focused upon the niche markets of landscape and leisure sports. Take a moment, browse the site - or email or phone us if we can be of help in answering a question or locating information. Phone US TOLL FREE - 888-378-4581 View all posts by ASGi

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