Mayor: faux grass may contain varying levels of toxins

Mayor Laura Friedman on Tuesday took issue with a report by an environmental testing firm that showed lead levels in artificial turf at city sports fields was far below federal standards.

Friedman has cited potential health hazards presented by high levels of lead in artificial turf in opposing changes to city codes that would allow property owners to install the faux grass in front yards.

During the review of the proposal, some on the dais had asked city officials to test the artificial turf at the fields at the Glendale Sports Complex. 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 issued last week.

Still, Friedman said it would be inaccurate to apply the results as a general safety endorsement of the turf.

“To think that particular sample has a low lead sample content, that that means that every sample is the same, is completely inaccurate,” she said.

Her comment came after Councilman Ara Najarian pointed to the test as a way to debunk health concerns brought up at council meetings earlier this month.

“One of the major objections to the artificial turf that we heard was that it was releasing toxins into the ground. In fact, that was the main issue that we had,” Najarian said. “That issue has been put to rest.”

The council has been discussing whether to lift a ban on artificial turf in front yards for several weeks. Currently, the faux grass is allowed in backyards and on some city fields. Members of the public have spoken for and against the proposed change, with both sides claiming environmental benefits.

Opponents of artificial turf said they were concerned about lead poisoning and other environmental hazards, such as a “heat-island” effect that occurs when unnatural surfaces get hot. Proponents said faux grass would limit water and pesticide use.

On Tuesday, the council voted 3-2, with Councilmen Dave Weaver and Najarian dissenting, to maintain the ban on front yards.

Another topic the council has been chewing on for weeks is a ban on the retail sale of cats and dogs at pet stores. The council unanimously voted for the ban Tuesday.

The new law bars pet stores from selling animals bred on the premises or bought from a breeder.

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