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Suit against artificial-turf firms is settled

The nation’s largest artificial turf supplier and manufacturer have agreed to eliminate nearly all lead from their products as part of an agreement to settle charges that they violated California’s Proposition 65 law by not including warning labels, state officials said Friday.

Beaulieu Group and FieldTurf USA Inc., both based in Georgia, had been charged with the violation in 2008 by the California attorney general, Los Angeles city attorney and the Solano County district attorney. Their products are used at public facilities, such as schools.

As part of the settlement, Beaulieu — a supplier of the turf — additionally agreed to pay for testing the lead content in its products purchased after October 2004 and installed at schools, day-care facilities and public playgrounds in the state, said California Deputy Atty. Gen. Dennis Ragen. The company is required to replace any turf that tests high in lead.

Manufacturer FieldTurf agreed to pay for testing of its products installed before November 2003 at the same kind of public facilities. It will offer discounts to replace turf found to have high lead content.

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Neither company agreed to test or replace products bought by consumers.

Also in the settlement: Beaulieu will pay $285,000 and FieldTurf will pay $212,500 in civil penalties, Ragen said.

Representatives at Beaulieu and FieldTurf could not be reached for comment. The companies did not admit to any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

The action brings to a close a suit filed by the state and local government agencies under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. The law requires warning labels on products that contain chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects.

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The suit was filed after Oakland’s Center for Environmental Health told the state attorney general’s office that it was considering to sue based on testing that found high amounts of lead in the companies’ products.

In its own tests, the state found that turf samples contained more than 5,000 parts per million of lead, more than 10 times the state and federal guidelines for children’s products, Ragen said.

Beaulieu and FieldTurf have agreed to change their products to contain less than 50 parts per million, Ragen said.

A third company named in the suit, AstroTurf, settled charges last year.

The lead was added to the synthetic grass to keep its color bright, Ragen said.

nathan.olivarezgiles@latimes.com


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