August 22, 2008
From the desk of
Exec Director, ASGi
There has been a great deal of confusion to what might be the appropriate test methods to use to determine the possible risks of lead in artificial grass fibers.
We asked the Colorado office of the CDC the following question and they have provided us a PRELIMINARY public fact sheet on their methods of testing for lead in turf fibers that we can share with you.
“If tests of artificial turf are done,
what is the appropriate method
and what are we looking for?”
If there is detectable lead in tested artificial turf yarn fiber samples – the next question to review is what amount of the total lead content can be EXTRACTED from the samples.
The CDC recommends collecting the lead content of the DUST using a micro-vacuum method to insure accurate findings*.
In my own words, my interpretation of the explanation of their preferred sampling method seems to be that to focus on just wiping the fiber surfaces with treated sample fabrics would NOT provide completely accurate findings.
Microscopic dust and particles drop below the fiber tips and are agitated during play, releasing them into the air.
Inhalation is an easy method of ingestion and exposure, especially for young children; who are not only closer to the ground, and breath heavier concentrations, their young bodies are most susceptible due to the fact that they are in their prime growth and development years.
The CRITICAL ELEMENT TO DETERMINE is the Extractable Lead Content which is best done using the micro-vacuum method*.
NJDHSS and industry testing show that a small child would have to eat plenty of turf fibers, in one sitting, to ingest enough to cause them any harm – in dramatic contrast – breathing in microscopic lead laden dust appears to require much less material to create possible health challenges. A summary re: testing from NJDHSS has stated that the lead-laden dust appears to have a greater absorption (bio-availability) potential through inhalation than eating the lead-laden fibers. The NJDHSS’s study was limited and that is why the CPSC, CDC and EPA were asked to broaden the assessment’s scope.
Breathing in the dust might challenge anyone with respiratory aliments. I’m no scientist – if you need further info – drill down by browsing ASGi’s members only library and archive iNSiDE ASGi or browse the internet for yourself.
NJDHSS PDFs on test findings of the extractable lead from encapsulated lead chromate in artificial turf and its possible bio-availability: HERE
NJDHSS – RE: Artificial Turf Review and Evaluation – August 2008 Update
I believe that this difference in interpretation (eating or ingestion compared to inhaling) is why we continue to see concerns raised by human and environmental safety groups about this issue in the press even though the industry feels that they have proven the safety of their materials and the use of the encapsulated lead compound pigments and UV stabilizers – their message has been focused on how much a child might EAT not on how much lead-laden dust a child might inhale.
One particular issue that seems to be more and more evident as these independent groups do these studies and publish the findings of their test samples and they work with manufacturers to understand the yarn’s needed additives is that the lead content is not only from pigments, the other source is the ultra-violet stabilizers used, as well. Published evaluations of X-Ray Florescence tests, published by several groups, seems to show a trend that lead content is higher in nylon fibers and yarns, however, it’s important to note that some polyethylene and polypropylene fibers are also suspect, though less likely to exceed 400-600 ppm if the yarn materials were made in the past 18 to 24 months. Only one polyethylene and polypropylene yarn manufacturer has publicly announced products, available on the market today, that are essentially lead-free. [press release here]
As we said, we will say again – know your products and engineer the job and find the appropriate materials to fit the project’s need to provide a surface for the owners/users they can use, with confidence. There are plenty of options to choose from on the market, today.
The San Francisco Parks Department, determined to provide the best solutions to their city and county parks and recreation needs, just published a set of recommendations that city and county parks planners will use in determining appropriate solutions for the use of artificial grass in their Northern California communities. SF Parks report on artificial turf fields – pdf
All the best
For Public Release:
available – August 22, 2008
*CDC FACT SHEET
Recommendations on Lead Testing of Artificial Turf Fields
Why did the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issue a Health Advisory about lead in artificial turf grass? [link below to alert]
A Health Advisory from CDC provides important information for a specific incident or situation, even if no immediate action is required. CDC issued a Health Advisory on June 18, 2008, to announce findings of high levels of lead in some artificial turf material, including older playing fields and consumer products intended for residential use.
What are CDC’s recommendations regarding testing artificial turf surfaces?
Test only those artificial turf fields that appear worn or weathered (i.e. turf that’s broken, faded or abraded, with visible dust)
Turf access should not be allowed for children under 6 years old if lead dust concentrations exceed 400 ppm
What testing methods should be used?
Download copy of the CDC Artificial Turf Test for Lead – FACT Sheet – pdf
Download June 2008 – CDC Health Alert re: Aging Artificial Turf Field Use- pdf
have a great weekend!
PS: remember to download the SF Parks report on artificial turf fields – though it focuses on the parks need for fields, their review of available information on hot topics re: human and environmental concerns provides the logical conclusion that artificial grass systems are an important option; under specific recommendations. Those Task Force recommendations include “lead-free” yarns, alternative infill solutions, authoritative and informative documentation, review of all chemicals and materials used in grooming (the germ and MRSA issues), increase in recycled materials content and an end of life-cycle commitment from manufacturers that old materials don’t land in an incinerator or landfill)
(included is artificial turf yarn fiber lead content bioavailablity chart on several brand name turf vendors)
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