Synthetic Turf: Unsafe at Any Speed

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has given artificial turf a “safe to play” endorsement based on flawed and limited science. The Commission should withdraw its endorsement and undertake a broader review.

A growing body of evidence about chemical exposure and other dangers from synthetic turf has been ignored by the Commission which has posted false safety assurances for parents, athletes and schools. Its endorsement is based entirely upon a very limited 2008 study on lead exposure which failed to take into account realistic risks for children and athletes. Among its flaws, the Commission –

•    Looked only at ingestion of lead, not inhalation or absorption through the skin;

•    Measured lead on an empty field. By contrast, the latest study shows that chemical exposure intensifies with the level of activity – the harder the play, the greater the danger; and

•    Tracked only lead but ignored a cauldron of other dangerous chemicals in the shredded tires underlying the fields, including arsenic, benzene, cadmium, chromium, cobalt and mercury.

In fact, the Commission study found lead levels in artificial sports fields above its accepted limits for children’s products, yet the agencies rebuffed a PEER call to reclassify playgrounds and elementary school fields as children’s products. It ruled that since the same products were also marketed for adult use it would not impose safeguards for children. Significantly, there is no safe level of lead exposure for children.   

It is irresponsible to declare artificial turf “OK to install, OK to play on” in the face of mounting evidence that just the opposite is the case. Meanwhile, synthetic turf companies feature the Commission’s endorsement on their web sites and brochures.

Please sign this petition asking the Consumer Product Safety Commission to do its jobs and stop misrepresenting the true risks to the public.To learn more about synthetic turf please visit our website at

Subject: Chemical Exposure and Other Dangers from Synthetic Turf

Dear Chairperson Tenenbaum,

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has failed in its mission of protecting the public with respect to artificial turf fields, especially with respect to the known risks for children.

The Commission has issued an “OK to install, OK to play on” endorsement of synthetic turf based upon flawed and limited science.  This assurance was based upon a study that found lead levels above the Commission’s children’s product threshold but did not even look at older fields, where lead emissions are higher, or at pathways beyond inhalation. Even the inhalation measurements were taken on empty fields with no activity likely to stir up lead particles.

Children playing on these artificial fields are not only exposed to lead but also to mercury and an array of other dangerous chemicals – none of which the Commission monitored.

The Commission’s endorsement of artificial turf is not reliable and does a disservice to the public. I urge you to retract this endorsement and undertake a course of comprehensive study, reflecting the growing body of evidence about the risks posed to children and athletes using these synthetic surfaces.

[Your name here] 

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