The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff today released its evaluation (pdf) of various synthetic athletic fields. The evaluation concludes that young children are not at risk from exposure to lead in these fields.
CPSC staff evaluation showed that newer fields had no lead or generally had the lowest lead levels. Although small amounts of lead were detected on the surface of some older fields, none of these tested fields released amounts of lead that would be harmful to children.
Lead is present in the pigments of some synthetic turf products to give the turf its various colors. Staff recognizes that some conditions such as age, weathering, exposure to sunlight, and wear and tear might change the amount of lead that could be released from the turf. As turf is used during athletics or play and exposed over time to sunlight, heat and other weather conditions, the surface of the turf may start to become worn and small particles of the lead-containing synthetic grass fibers might be released. The staff considered in the evaluation that particles on a child’s hand transferred to his/her mouth would be the most likely route of exposure and determined young children would not be at risk.
Although this evaluation found no harmful lead levels, CPSC staff is asking that voluntary standards be developed for synthetic turf to preclude the use of lead in future products. This action is being taken proactively to address any future production of synthetic turf and to set a standard for any new entrants to the market to follow.
As an overall guideline, CPSC staff recommends young children wash their hands after playing outside, especially before eating.