Saturday, March 28, 2009

Artificial Turf: Latest Findings on Lead Levels

Well, I realized the other day I promised I would write about the chemical soup and carcinogens in artificial turf but I just keep finding out so much new information on lead in artificial turf that this post is about lead too.

If you have small children at home, pets, or kids that play on artificial turf fields, or even if you just breathe the air in Montgomery County, or eat crabs from the Bay, you may be interested in this too! And just as a reminder, your councilmembers said they KNEW about these health risks, but they were satisfied that the level of risk was ok. I am sure you will think so too after you read this. Or not.

So here goes: The latest study is from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-School of Public Health. This study found that, “when children or athletes ingest the tiny rubber granules in synthetic turf, it is likely that a significant portion of the lead in the granules will be absorbed by their bodies’ gastric fluids.”

Let’s parse that a little further, shall we?

This study was completed on the ‘new’ generation of artificial turf, the turf made of tire crumbs. The study was lead by Dr. Junfeng Zhang, associate dean and professor of environmental and occupational health at the UMDNJ-School of Public Health. The study examined lead levels in rubber granules from four parks in NYC, and simulated digestive tract absorption in two of the samples.

The result? Even though the samples had relatively low concentrations of lead in the rubber granules, substantial amounts of lead were absorbed into synthetic gastric juices. And, as you know, health professionals know that even the tiniest amount of lead in the system will affect the health and cognitive ability of children.

The findings appeared in the November/December 2008 issue of the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology.

So, when your older child brings home those tire crumbs, your younger children at home will be able to ingest them too.

Ok, I won’t go into the high zinc levels or the PAHs, the known carcinogens, in the study samples. We can save that for another posting. Just so you know though, zinc is especially harmful to pets.

But not to worry, folks. Clearly your councilmember knows more about pediatric health risks than these worrisome folks up in New Jersey. As the great philosopher Alfred E. Neuman used to say, What, me worry?

1 comment:

  1. This is information that concerned parents, athletic field users, and many others here in Seattle are starting to present to our electeds to assist them to start to prioritize public health over availablity of sportsfields to organized athletic associations. See the Dr. Zhang YouTube video at
    Incidentally, the research that the video said was stopped has since resumed and concluded, I saw a very recent reference to it in Nature, but can't locate it at the moment.
    See the brand-new local blog (started yesterday) at


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