Report: Artificial turf at Glendale sports fields well within federal limits for toxins

An environmental testing firm has determined that the amount of lead in the artificial turf at the Glendale Sports Complex is far below federal and state limits — a potential chink in the armor of those who have argued strongly at City Hall against allowing the material in residential front yards.

The findings were submitted to the City Council this week in a report by Glendale-based Environmental Consulting Services after some on the dais had asked to test the turf amid assertions from the public that allowing the faux grass in front yards presented a public health hazard.

The original turf discussion came as the council weighed in on expanding the use of artificial turf in Glendale. Currently, residents can only put the fake grass in backyards. In order to make the change, the City Council needed an out-of-reach vote of 4-1.

Councilman Rafi Manoukian said the test confirmed what he already knew: opposition to artificial turf is more about aesthetics than health issues since the city already uses it in sports fields and residents can put it in their backyards.

The test taken on Aug. 11 relied on two random samples from the Sports Complex on Fern Avenue. One sample showed lead levels at 14 parts per million and another showed 21 parts per million — far less than the 300 parts per million allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the lab report.

Despite the findings, the odds of artificial front lawns are unlikely to change.

“We don’t have four votes,” said Councilman Dave Weaver, a proponent of artificial turf.

Councilman Frank Quintero, who voiced opposition to the change last week along with Mayor Laura Friedman, stood his ground on Tuesday.

“I’m still not persuaded,” Quintero said.

Friedman was absent.

Several members of the public who addressed the City Council last week quoted studies describing the dangers of high levels of lead dust at sports fields with artificial turf. In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent out a health alert after high levels of lead were found at two worn-out New Jersey fields.

According to a 2008 city report, the New Jersey findings came from artificial turf made out of a nylon/polyethlene blend. Since the city’s fields solely contain polyethlene, high levels of lead shouldn’t be a concern.

Last week, Weaver suggested the city regulate the type of artificial turf residents can put in their yards through a permitting process, but that idea failed to garner enough support.

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