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“Lead-Free” Artificial Turf Yarn Spin-Sell
Frustrating and Confusing

“Last year, it was all about too much lead in artificial turf and synthetic grass yarns and fibers.  This year – there’s too many synthetic grass installation and brand name solution vendors that are over-stating and using words like “lead-free” artificial grass and synthetic turf yarn in their marketing and advertising.” states ASGi Executive Director, Annie Costa who also says many of these products have “undetectable” levels of lead – amounts only found with the most aggressive of total lead content testing procedures.

“It’s frustrating for consumers, especially when competitive companies claim “lead-free” yarns while others state, more correctly, that their yarns may contain “undetectable” levels of lead.  It’s a shame that some feel its a ‘marketing sound byte’; this is serious business to consumers, not a ‘spin sell’.”

So which is it? Are synthetic turf and artificial grass yarns “lead-free” or “lead-safe”.

Let’s clear up the confusion by using an example of products that most of us can relate to – gasoline.  USA petroleum and fuel companies label and refer to their low-lead gasoline as  “lead-free” when, in fact, the fuel actually does contain small amounts of lead.

After the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) had found high lead content in the nylon artificial turf yarns at the Ironbound School’s older sports field, it raised not only the awareness of the potential that other installed synthetic field turf products might contain high levels of lead – it brought about a great deal of concern that new products might, as well.  News reports stated that though CPSC, CDC and others were mainly concerned about this existing, older field – new products, used for landscape, had been purchased and tested and found to contain high concentrations of lead (Pb) in brand new products by the NJDHSS staff, as well.

The Ironbound’s field was replaced, shortly after testing was conducted, with new surface materials that test well below EPA and OSHA standards of lead (Pb) content and staff members at the school have been quoted as saying they are very satisfied with their selection and that their new artificial grass field surfaces are very safe.  The manufacturer’s of yarns and fibers, raced to reformulate all the yarns typically used in the industry – polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and nylon (polymide or PA)  being the most commonly used and most new fibers not only meet or exceed EPA and OSHA standards, they may not contain enough lead in the yarn fibers to even be detectable – again – does that make for a bonafide “lead-free” product?  No one will say, for sure.

ASGi has contacted the CPSC and made several attempts to contact the California Attorney General’s offices for their official comments; “After several tries to get some clarity on this, ” said Costa, “we haven’t gotten any word or clarification, as yet.  I would suspect that the CPSC and California’s AGs offices are waiting until the Prop 65 legal suits are settled, before they are willing to comment, one way or another.”

Prop 65 legal suits are still pending settlements with several US manufacturers and suppliers of artificial grass turf materials that were found to have extraordinary amounts of lead in their PE, PP and nylon fibers.  Attorney General Brown’s offices, along with several district attorneys and the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) filed legal actions claiming that these companies did not properly warn their business/trade customers (retailers and installers) of their products’ high lead content – subsequently – the retailers and installers were not aware that they were putting their employees at risk and are required (OSHA/OEHHA) to disclose that not only to their own employees, but to place warnings on their buildings and their products; warning, prior to exposure, their own customers.

“I think that US manufacturers and companies that are importing goods from overseas (including China and the EU) are supplying products that meet or exceed any US or state rule, ban or regulation.” says Costa.  “ASTM is in the final phases of also publishing a voluntary guideline that will help everyone provide proper documentation, testing and alliviate any more confusion for synthetic turf yarns that are manufactured after September 1, 2009, as well.”

In the meantime, ASGi has developed a public web site that consumers can use to find companies that provide transparency and promote their compliance with US mandatory and voluntary standards – you can go to Get-The-Lead-Out.Org (http://www.get-the-lead-out.org) and find product information, online.  You can easily search the whole Get-The-Lead-Out.Org index page results  for products that meet or exceed ASTM voluntary standards and other mandatory standards set by the CPSC – such as the CPSIA, FHSA, FFA for flammability and other regulations, rules and restrictions.

The Get-The-Lead-Out.Org website index give you a easy to use search feature that lets you find companies that have supplied their product’s photos, descriptions and contact information for the manufacturer of artificial grass and synthetic turf materials and consumables used for landscape, lawns, putting greens, bocce and dog yards (many of these companies also manufacture and supply fake grass materials for sports fields and other public and private projects).

Domestic manufacturers, US Importers and private labelers of synthetic turf and artificial grass finished materials and companies that make and supply consumables, such as recycled crumb rubber and alternative infill solutions for landscape, lawns, dog yards, putting greens and sports fields,  who would like to participate in the Get-The-Lead-Out.Org programs can easily get online by registering at http://www.my-compliance-certificate.org

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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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