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Why Would You Test Artificial Turf Yarns for Lead?

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Why Would I Test for Lead Content

in Artificial Turf and Synthetic Grass Yarn Fibers ?

Professional designers, architects and builders know that Material Safety Data Sheets, warranties, guarantees and terms and conditions are generally required as part of your response to a bid proposal for:

  • public works projects
  • commercial projects
  • developments
  • municipal projects

You may need to provide test results …

  • In your bid response to the above
  • For records for employee safety – see OSHA and OSH guidelines and you may have special requirements to meet; one is knowing the composition of your materials, two is disclosing the exposure to your employees three is having safety meetings to discuss this information and the fourth is having records of that information on file and available in the event of need.
  • Your fire department will need to know of the materials stored in case of fire, keep a set of data off site
  • Your building, fire, liability and health insurance carriers may require this information to underwrite an appropriate policy, to cover you for all liabilities


Type of Tests for Lead (Pb) in Artificial Turf and Synthetic Grass

Though ASTM is working diligently on publishing a voluntary standard test protocol, the artificial turf market, today, does not have a specific test used or required. There are no industry, product specific rules, standards, regulations or bans that cite artificial turf and synthetic grass must comply to – however – there are out door and indoor surface standards that are always considered.  Lead in soils in playground areas (EPA 400ppm), lead in paint (CPSA, CPSIA – 600ppm for consumer products; Children’s Products >Feb 2009 = 300ppm, with further reductions to follow), to name two.

How do I Read the Results of a Test?

Sample Conversion:

Parts Per Million (ppm) to milograms per kilogram (mg/Kg)  to % of weight

  • 6000 ppm = 6000 mg/Kg = 0.60 % by weight
  • 600 ppm = 600 mg/Kg = 0.06% by weight
  • 60 ppm = 60 mg/Kg = 0.006% by weight
  • 6 ppm = 6 mg/Kg = 0.0006 % by weight


Total Lead Content (“Digestive”) Tests are performed on a small sample of finished fibers.  Approximately 1 to 3 ounces of yarn fibers are needed of each type of blade represented in the finished goods sample.  The fibers are “digested” in specific acids and other chelating agents – results are analyzed and the total amount of lead present in the materials is the stated finding.  Results can vary from non-detectable levels (>10ppm) to results that are stated in the thousands of parts per million.

Results are generally cited by the following:

  • parts per million
  • micrograms per kilo gram
  • % of weight

Results of common NIOSH test protocols to determine total lead content contained within the materials being tested will include all encapsulated lead chromate and other lead compounds, regardless of their type – it doesn’t tell you if the lead is “available”, “accessible” or “absorbable”, just that it is there.

Common test protocols used in most of the studies and results cited have been “digestive” tests that are standards developed by NIOSH and air quality tests, developed by the EPA.  For total lead content the NIOSH 3050/6010 is often used because it is a very aggressive digestive test that will provide usable information when determining how much lead could be “available”, “accessible” or “absorbed” during exposure to new and even older materials.

For the future, any product designed and marketed to children, under the age of 12, will also be required to only cite Total Lead Content and the CPSC has an aggressive reduction schedule ALL industries are conforming to, starting Feb 10, 2009.  [to keep up to date - register for CPSC/CPSIA Portal Pages here]

Wipe Test Results are cited by the amount of lead dust found on the surfaces of materials sampled – not what might be “inside” the materials, but available ON the surface materials that could be wiped off; on to clothing, skin, etc – so, in theory, a material can have a total lead content of 600ppm and yet findings on the results from a standard wipe test might show a different amount could be wiped off, if any lead wipes off, at all. This test does NOT tell you what type of lead dust is found, just that an amount is there, on the surfaces.

The standard wipe test used to determine surface lead has been the NIOSH 9100b. Because there are so many variables in the test data aquisition (how many wipes, in what direction, how hard did the tester press down) – wipe tests results don’t often offer a complete finding. High results for lead content here would demand a closer look with the more aggressive Total Lead Content test, mentioned above

XRF – X-Ray Florescence technology is able to take readings of how much of any heavy metal a sample might contain, without the use of damaging any materials.  The “XRF unit”, which looks like a hand-held computer with a handle) can determine the approximate total lead content contained within the sample by simply taking a reading, under the appropriate conditions, reflected off the surfaces of the materials.

XRF technology, again, much like a wipe test, has mixed results due to the variables in aquiring sample data and a high lead content finding with XRF technology would warrant doing further review on the materials.


CDC Publishes Preliminary Lead Test

CPSIA, GCC, COC, Certificates of Conformity and other important topics, links, RSS feed, and other valuable resources are all available (at no cost for the general public) by registering for ASGi’s CPSIA Portal Pages HERE


UPDATES on Lead – and the Artificial Turf and Synthetic Grass Market

  • Types of Lead:

    • Natural Occurring, Compounds, Encapsulation

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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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