Potential exposure to lead in artificial turf : public health issues, actions, and recommendations
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Potential exposure to lead in artificial turf : public health issues, actions, and recommendations

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      16:10 EDT (4:10 PM EDT)


      In the course of conducting a routine health investigation at a metal facility in Newark, NJ, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) tested a nearby community athletic field for lead contamination. Samples taken from the field showed high levels of lead in the field dust, but the lead did not come from the scrap metal facility.

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is partnering with its sister-agency, ATSDR, to monitor this situation because of CDC's expertise in lead poisoning prevention.

      After determining that the lead source was the artificial turf, NJDHSS began to test other artificial turf fields looking for similar high lead levels in artificial turf fibers. These findings raised concerns about potentially high lead levels in artificial turf used in other locations including fields and playgrounds. NJDHSS tested a limited sample of athletic fields in New Jersey. Any questions regarding the specific fields tested should be directed to NJDHSS.

      As determined by NJDHSS, limited sampling of additional athletic fields in New Jersey and commercial products indicates that artificial turf made of nylon or nylon/polyethylene blend fibers contains levels of lead that pose a potential public health concern. Tests of artificial turf fields made with only polyethylene fibers showed that these fields contained very low levels of lead.

      Information provided by NJDHSS to CDC and ATSDR indicates that some of the fields with elevated lead in either dust and/or turf fiber samples were weathered and visibly dusty. Fields that are old, that are used frequently, and that are exposed to the weather break down into dust as the turf fibers are worn or demonstrate progressive signs of weathering, including fibers that are abraded, faded or broken. These factors should be considered when evaluating the potential for harmful lead exposures from a given field.

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