New Studies Show PFAS in Artificial Grass Blades and Backing | Children’s Health Initiative
Parents and communities have long been concerned about the health risks of chemicals in artificial turf made from rubber tires, which can be contaminated with heavy metals and chemicals that are linked to an increased risk of cancer. Now, laboratory tests by the Public Environmental Responsibility Workers (PEER) and Ecology Center show that both the grassy blades and the back of the artificial turf contain the highly toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS.
Children can be exposed to chemicals in lawns, either from touching or ingesting the crumbled rubber pellets that make up the wearer, or possibly from inhaling chemicals that release gas into the air, according to the Icahn School of Medicine Children’s Health Center in Mount Sinai. The pellets also get into shoes and clothing and end up in cars and houses. The mountain. The Sinai Center has called for a moratorium on the installation of new fields with artificial turf.
PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they accumulate in the body and are not broken down. Almost all of Americans’ blood is contaminated with PFAS chemicals, which have been linked to lower immunity in children, endocrine disorders, and cancer. Children are particularly vulnerable to damage from PFAS because of their developing bodies and the persistence of the PFAS chemicals in the body. PFAS chemicals are found in drinking water, fire fighting foam, and many other consumer and industrial products.
In July, the Environmental Protection Agency admitted that artificial turf contains toxic chemicals, some of which are known to cause cancer. The EPA report was not a formal risk assessment and did not address the potential harm.
PEER and the Ecology Center tested eight different lawn samples. They all tested positive for total fluorine, suggesting the presence of PFAS. PFAS are used in the manufacturing process to make the turf sheets pliable enough for extrusion. The organizations tested 36 types of PFAS, but there can be many other PFAS in artificial turf.
Between 12,000 and 13,000 man-made fields are used in the United States. The turf and infill of a single deconstructed field weigh about 44,000 pounds. There are also many fields that are no longer actively used. According to the Synthetic Turf Council, the fields must be replaced every eight to ten years, with between 1,200 and 1,500 fields having to be replaced at a time.
It is difficult to dispose of discarded lawns. A thousand deconstructed fields total about 80 million square feet of lawn and fill, and together weigh about 440 million pounds. In fact, it is not clear how or if turf is recycled despite the industry association’s recycling guidelines. The Intercept describes rolled up boxes that disappeared after PEER’s investigation, setbacks from a city official asked about discarded boxes, and vague responses to questions from the alleged recycling company in Malaysia.
What can parents do?
If you are concerned about your children playing on or near artificial turf, take the following precautions:
- Do not let children play on artificial turf with their bare feet.
- If possible, keep younger children and babies away from the lawn to avoid choking.
- Make sure that hands are washed thoroughly before children eat, drink, or adjust their mouthguards.
- Have the children shower and brush as soon as possible after playing on lawn.
- Take off and shake off shoes and other equipment immediately after playing and before entering.
- Vacuum your car and home regularly to remove any debris that migrates from the field.