Turf safe, agency says

Parents of athletes in Liverpool and North Syracuse can breathe a little easier. A federal agency recently found that children are not at risk from lead exposure in artificial turf fields.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a report last week detailing its evaluation of 40 turf samples from across the country. The samples were all tested in the CPSC's lab in Maryland. The tests revealed that the lead content was not high enough to cause harm to children playing on the fields.

"Lead is present in the pigments of some synthetic turf products to give the turf its various colors," the report stated. "Staff recognizes that some conditions such as age, weathering, exposure to sunlight, and wear and tear might change the amount of lead that could be released from the turf. As turf is used during athletics or play and exposed over time to sunlight, heat and other weather conditions, the surface of the turf may start to become worn and small particles of the lead-containing synthetic grass fibers might be released. The staff considered in the evaluation that particles on a child's hand transferred to his/her mouth would be the most likely route of exposure and determined young children would not be at risk."

Two local fields were closed this spring after lead was found in two New Jersey fields made of the same turf material. Liverpool and North Syracuse both declared their turf fields off-limits after finding similar lead levels.

Now that the fields have been cleared, North Syracuse Assistant Superintendent for Management Services Wayne Bleau said he believes the field should be reopened in the coming weeks.

"We'll be going to the board of education at their Aug. 11 meeting and recommending that we open it back up," Bleau said. "I'd like to have it open to everyone, no restrictions, Aug. 12."

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