Safety of Synthetic Turf Validated by NJ Test Results
Thursday, June 05, 2008
ATLANTA, GA – Synthetic turf test results released by the New Jersey Department
of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) on June 3rd confirmed lead chromate
levels are well below that necessary to cause harm to children and athletes using
the popular playing field surfaces.
"Our industry is proud of its unblemished record of human
health and environmental safety since synthetic turf was first introduced more
than 40 years ago,” says Rick Doyle, President of the Synthetic Turf Council.
"We are actively sharing information and cooperating with the NJDHSS, Consumer
Product Safety Council (CPSC) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to
ensure the continued safety of the public.”
Lead chromate has been used in a number of synthetic turf fields
to extend the life of its colorfastness. Testing three fields in New Jersey
with elevated lead levels, the NJDHSS focused on the bioaccessibility of
synthetic turf, which it defines as "the fraction of a substance in a material
that is soluble and made available for absorption" by the body.
Findings validated the Synthetic Turf Council’s position,
based on science and expert opinion, that lead chromate’s extremely low
bioavailability prevents it from being readily absorbed by the human body.
From its tests, the NJDHSS reported that the amount of lead
chromate contained in fibers from the three fields available for absorption in
the intestine, which is where food altered by stomach acid is absorbed by the
blood and lymphatic systems, ranged from 2.5% to 11%. We used the most extreme
scenario, 11%, to calculate the amount of turf that would have to be ingested
to equal the federal standard of 600 parts per million. In practical terms, it
is virtually impossible for a child to be at risk from synthetic turf:
According to calculations made by forensic toxicologist Dr.
David Black, a 50 lb. child would have to ingest over 100 lbs. of synthetic turf
to be at risk of absorbing enough lead to equal the minimum threshold of
elevated blood lead. That level is even more unreachable than Dr. Black’s
original worst case bioaccessibility, which was based on ingesting 23 lbs. of
The Consumer Product Safety Commission's guidance states
that young children "should not chronically ingest more than 15 micrograms
of lead per day from consumer products." Putting these test results in
perspective, polymer and fiber engineering specialist Dr. Davis Lee calculated
that a child playing on the three New Jersey fields would have to wipe his
fingers on the turf and put them in his mouth 750 times in a day to receive
enough lead to equal the CPSC threshold level.
Dr. David Black performed the same tests as the NJDHSS,
using the same protocol during late May, which showed an average
bioaccessibility of 4%. The results of the two tests are similar and validate
the safety of synthetic turf, including the synthetic turf NJDHSS reported to
contain concentrations of lead chromate of between 3,400 and 4,700 part per
The industry continues to develop new technologies to enhance
the safety and playability of synthetic turf. Over the past four decades, the
product has made significant improvements. For example, more than 90% of the
colored fibers used in synthetic turf today contain lead chromate levels below
the federal standard. Even so, our industry is voluntarily developing pigment
formulations that continue to reduce lead chromate levels while maintaining
high levels of quality and performance.
About the Synthetic Turf Council
Based in Atlanta, the Synthetic Turf Council was founded in
2003 to serve as an objective resource assisting buyers and end users with the selection,
use, and maintenance of synthetic turf systems in sports field, golf, and
landscape applications. The organization actively collects reputable studies
and research, as well as official statements by governmental agencies and
sports organizations, which address the impact of synthetic turf sports fields.
STC members produce and install most of the synthetic turf sports fields in
North America. Membership includes builders, landscape architects, testing labs,
maintenance providers, installation contractors and other specialty service companies.
For more information, visit www.syntheticturfcouncil.org.