PEER, Mar 21, 2013


Washington, DC — Federal “safe to play” endorsements for artificial turf are based on flawed and limited science and should be withdrawn, according to legal challenges filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Federal agencies have given blanket safety assurances for parents, athletes and schools despite a growing body of evidence documenting chemical exposure and other risks from synthetic turf.

PEER today issued retraction demands to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Each agency did a very small study on a limited selection of possible exposures which failed to take into account realistic risks for children and athletes. Among flaws cited by PEER are that –

  • CPSC only considered possible ingestion of lead found on the field surface, not inhalation or absorption through the skin. EPA looked at the presence of a number of compounds and inhalation potential on a handful of fields but not when there was activity likely to stir up plastic and tire dust particles containing lead and other toxic compounds;
  • Both examined newer fields despite the fact that the fields release more lead as they age;
  • CPSC examined only lead, on the surface, ignoring a cauldron of other dangerous chemicals in the mass of pulverized tires underlying the plastic “grass” rugs including arsenic, benzene, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, mercury, carbon black and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; and
  • The EPA study took air and surface samples from three athletic fields and from one playground. The testing was so limited, an EPA representative said, that the agency was “not in a position to draw any conclusions on a national basis.”