SPRINTURF Responds to USA TODAY Article “Feds promote artificial turf as safe despite health concerns”

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SPRINTURF responds to the March, 16, 2015 USA TODAY article by Thomas Frank "Feds promote artificial turf as safe despite health concerns".


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s standard for lead in children’s toys is 100 parts per million (ppm) or less; for new household paint, it is 90 ppm and for bicycle components is 300 ppm. Every current generation (2008 and newer) artificial turf field has less than 50 ppm lead, and the crumb rubber infill ranges from 40 ppm lead to undetectable. Further, “lead-free” for household plumbing means solders and flux with lead less than 2000 ppm and pipes/pipe fittings with lead less than 80,000 ppm.

Perhaps that is why the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a statement in 2008 saying, “young children are not at risk for exposure to lead in these synthetic turf fields.” Mr. Frank quoted a 2011 New Jersey Health and Senior Services report but failed to note that the report said, “Tests of artificial turf fields made with polyethylene fibers showed that these fields contained very low levels of lead.”

Thomas Frank references in his USA TODAY article published on March 16, 2015 Feds promote artificial turf as safe despite health concerns, the current EPA hazard level for bare soil is 400 ppm lead or higher, while the very stringent California standard for residential soil is 80 ppm. Mr. Frank cites the L.A. school district as a positive example for removing turf from preschools in 2008 that tested around 60 ppm lead - less than today’s stringent California soil standard of 80 ppm. "Hopefully, the L.A. school district is not proud of this decision unless they do not want children to play outside at all," said a SPRINTURF spokesman.

Mr. Frank quotes Mr. Bruce Lanphear as an expert in lead who says children are being used as a “poison squad.” "If less than 50 ppm lead is the poison squad," says a SPRINTURF spokesman. "Then, children would need to live in a bubble away from toys, household painted surfaces or soil since all of these items have higher lead levels than artificial turf."

Mr. Frank also fails to mention that Mr. Lanphear is actively lobbying the US government for more than one hundred million dollars in annual funding to study children’s exposure to toxic chemicals, according to a Senate committee hearing on Lead-Based Paint Poisoning: State and Local Responses.

Mr. Frank focuses his entire article on events from 2007/2008, which falls outside the typical 7-8 year life of an artificial turf field. From that time frame, he quotes Mr. Stuart Shalat claiming 45 out of 50 independent New Jersey towns and schools conspired to prevent him from testing their fields as they were all “putting their hands over their eyes.” What Mr. Frank did not disclose was that Mr. Shalat wanted to use experimental robotic air sampler that he was promoting (2011 Artificial Turf report by Stuart Shalat using robotic air sampler) versus using a standardized ASTM test, the internationally recognized benchmark for testing methods. There were numerous fields tested from 2005 – 2009; the primary issue with polyethylene fields was that certain colors like yellow (used only for marking yard lines) had been formulated with small amounts of lead chromate. These colors were reformulated in 2007 and none of the newer generation fields test over 50 ppm.

"Finally, Mr. Frank fails to recognize that we allow our own children to play on these very same fields, and we are very conscious of anything that would harm our kids in any way," said a SPRINTURF spokesman. "The modern day turf field has less lead and heavy metals than toys, house paint and the most common soils. Further, artificial turf fields do not use pesticides, fertilizers or water, and cause less injuries and provide more playtime than any natural grass field."


SPRINTURF, founded in the late 90s and acquired by Integrated Turf Solutions (ITS) in 2010, is the first fully integrated polyethylene turf company in North America to offer a full range of artificial turf products. SPRINTURF has more than 1,000 turf installations in leading sports programs, colleges, universities and professional athletic teams across North America and abroad. Its high-performing, dual-yarn systems are manufactured in the USA at SPRINTURF facilities in Alabama and Georgia, and SPRINTURF certifies all of their artificial turf products to comply with the USCPSC lead standards set for toys. SPRINTURF is the only company in North America that extrudes 100% of its fibers in-house and in the USA. More information about the company can be found at ww.sprinturf.com.

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