PRESS RELEASE

Los Angeles’ Artificial Turf Plan Misguided

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 18, 2022
Contact:
Kyla Bennett, kbennett@peer.org, 508-230-9933
Jaime Honkawa jhonkawa@peer.org (310) 625-7277


 

Los Angeles’ Artificial Turf Plan Misguided

PFAS Found in Turf Dangerous for Children

 

Los Angeles, CA — A plan by the Harvard-Westlake School to install acres of artificial turf along the Los Angeles River is dangerously misguided and may place child athletes at risk, charges Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Test results reveal levels of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are well above state and federal health advisories in the blades and backing of artificial grass slated to be used in the project.

The Los Angeles City Planning Department is currently considering a Harvard-Westlake River Park Project that includes installation of artificial turf fields covering a large portion of a 16-acre parcel of land along the L.A. River as part of a redeveloped recreational facility. Initial test results from a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certified laboratory on the turf that Harvard-Westlake plans to use shows the presence of several PFAS compounds in both the artificial turf blades and its backing. Additional testing of the turf should be conducted immediately to confirm these results; however, the German supplier of artificial turf grass blades to Field Turf/Tarkett Sports admit to using PFAS in the manufacturing of their synthetic turf. Moreover, consultants for the artificial turf industry now readily admit it is the case.

Virtually every PFAS studied for toxicity is associated with adverse health effects ranging from thyroid dysfunction, delayed puberty, obesity, osteoarthritis, liver problems, immune disorders, kidney problems, decreased vaccine response in children, more severe cases of Covid-19, to cancer. Research also shows human exposure to PFAS can occur through inhalation and ingestion, as well as direct dermal exposure.

“The EPA has concluded that there is virtually no safe level of several PFAS, including one of the PFAS found in the turf Harvard-Westlake plans to use,” stated PEER Science Policy Director Kyla Bennett, a scientist and attorney formerly with the EPA, pointing out artificial turf inherently involves intense and intimate contact with players. “Subjecting athletes, especially children, to these chemicals is just plain irresponsible.”

PEER’s comments fault the L.A. City’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on the proposed Harvard-Westlake River Park Project for not addressing this threat to physical health, as well as the environmental risk from PFAS leaching off these fields into surrounding water and soils. In addition, PEER contends that the DEIR –

    • Completely ignores the spread of microplastics from the fields;
    • Falsely claims the turf will save water by overlooking the water needed to repeatedly cool off the turf that often becomes too hot for recreation. This regular and copious use of water will also produce more toxic runoff; and
    • Incorrectly implies that the turf will be recycled when it wears out, as there is currently no turf recycling operation in the U.S.

“The Los Angeles City Planning Department needs to take an honest look at artificial turf and not be gulled by industry boosters,” added Bennett, noting that the City of Boston recently banned the installation of artificial turf in all city projects. “The country often looks to California as a leader on environmental issues, but in the case of artificial turf, they are still in the dark ages.”

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Read the PEER comments

Look at the proposed Harvard-Westlake School project

Examine the problems of PFAS in artificial turf

See industry inability to recycle old turf fields

See Field Turf/Tarkett Sports Data Sheets for their synthetic turf
Data Sheet 1
Data Sheet 2

Hear Steve LaRosa of Weston & Sampson concede that artificial turf is made with PFAS