Brown, Astro Turf reach agreement

Kathy Woods Aug. 15, 2009, 4:27pm

Jerry Brown (D)

SACRAMENTO Calif. (Legal Newsline)-The nation's first enforceable lead standards for artificial turf came in an agreement late this week forged by California Attorney General Jerry Brown.

In September, Brown filed suit against three manufacturers of artificial turf in hopes of forcing the companies into making public the dangers of the level of lead in their products.

Field Turf Tarkett, Astro Turf and Beaulieu of America were named in the lawsuit, which alleged that they did not comply with a state law passed 22 years earlier, requiring warnings where exposure to harmful chemicals was a possibility.

Then, in April 2008, Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, asked Brown, a Democrat, to determine whether companies should require warnings in accordance with state law.

Two scientists at the time had related that their findings. They said: "There is no scientific evidence of a health risk for children or adults based on recent test results and current knowledge of the chemical structure of aged synthetic turf products."

In May 2008, the state Senate passed a bill calling on state agencies to investigate whether companies needed a warning label, as required under Proposition 66, a 1986 ballot measure requires public notice when hazardous chemicals known to cause birth defects are present.

On Thursday, Brown signed, the first of its kind, agreement requiring Georgia-based Astro Turf LLC to almost eliminate lead from its product.

"This agreement is the first of its kind and will help make playgrounds and ball fields safe for our children," Brown said in a statement.

The judgment requires the company to reduce the lead levels in their products to 50 parts per million by 2010. Some of their products were found to have 5,000 parts per million. They are also prohibited to sell any existing products that are not up to standard.

Public Health Trust will receive $60,000 from Astro Turf to go towards wipe tests in artificial turf fields, daycare centers, schools and public playing fields, the attorney general's office said.

Asro Turf will also provide a mailed warning to all customers, who have purchased products from them in the past five years, with warnings that the product contains lead. The mailer will also outline "good maintenance practices" that can reduce lead exposure and advise customers of a program to test existing product or replace old product.

The company will pay $170,000 in civil penalties, grants and attorney fees, under the agreement.

CEH Executive Director Michael Green said, "Today's agreement with Astro Turf sets a strong standard for other companies who have not yet agreed to eliminate lead risks to children from turf." Adding that, "Lead is a stunningly toxic chemical that has no place in playing fields for children. We applaud the Attorney General, the L.A. City Attorney, the Solano County D.A. and Astro Turf for this accord to protect California's children."

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