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Emerging Environmental Issues
Possible Health Effects of Synthetic Turf

Synthetic turf is increasingly used on playing fields and in parks. It is made in layers of synthetic materials including green plastic blades attached to a backing, small particles called "fill" that secure the blades, and underlying systems for drainage and stability. The fill, often referred to as “crumb rubber”, is of interest because it is usually made from recycled tires containing chemicals that can cause cancer, birth defects and other health problems under some exposure conditions. Many companies supply fill, and it is provided in various forms, so the chemical composition varies. Work has been ongoing to evaluate the various components of synthetic turf fields and the products used to maintain them. The information on this webpage provides an initial summary of screening chemical analyses of some fill products. Please click here for further information.

Cadmium in Children's Toys

There have been numerous recent reports of toxic metals, especially lead, in toy jewelry, lunch boxes and other inexpensive consumer items. This has resulted in recalls of a number of metallic toy jewelry items by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, as well as actions by state government agencies. Please click here for further information.

Update on Toy Safety

December 1, 2008

Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission will take new actions on toy and children's product safety, based on a law passed in 2008, the protections do not go into effect until February 2009 or later. There was a recent decision by a CPSC attorney that manufacturers would be able to continue to sell contaminated toys until their supplies are depleted. That decision may be challenged, and the CPSC may be more effective in the future. But at this time, there continue to be many unsafe products on the shelves of stores that contain lead, cadmium, bisphenol A, phthalates, and other chemicals of concern to many parents. The levels of lead clearly violate the law in some cases.

What to look for:

There are no foolproof or easy ways to insure a toy will not contain hazardous chemicals. But some steps will reduce the likelihood that a toy contains hazards such as lead, cadmium, or arsenic. Frequently observed characteristics in recalled toys and those containing chemical hazards include:

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items imported from China or other countries lacking oversight of quality and hazards. Toys made in the US or European countries with oversight and regulations may be safer sources.

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small inexpensive trinkets such as children's play jewelry, key rings, charms, decorative items, and similar products. A large number of these items contained high levels of lead, cadmium, and other toxic heavy metals.

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inexpensive small collectibles with paint or metal parts. Characters, scale models, and other pop culture items may have been made with greater attention to image than safe materials or design.

In addition, soft plastic toys and baby items often contain phthalates, bisphenol A and similar chemicals that may harm children. The use of these types of chemicals is changing rapidly, but there are clearly many plastic products with ingredients of concern.

Additional Information:

A number of websites contain information on specific products and chemicals. One clearinghouse for information on toy safety, with links to dozens of other sites, is www.kindersafe.org.

Depleted Uranium

A new report finds depleted uranium (DU) can be detected in people more than 20 years after exposure when using high sensitivity urine tests. Radioactive DU has also been found in the dust of two homes and a workplace after the National Lead Industry sites federal cleanup.

The isotope measurement testing project, which has never before been conducted on any US community, is a joint initiative of United States and United Kingdom scientists, led by Prof. Randall Parrish. The results are being published in an international journal, Science of the Total Environment (doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2007.09.044, electronically available on-line).

The National Lead Industries factory emitted between 5 and 10 tons of DU aerosols from 1958 to 1982. DU is a toxic chemical due to its heavy metal and radiological properties. National Lead used DU to manufacture armor-piercing munitions. For further information please see the following documents:
Human Health Effects of Lead

The Public Health Live Broadcast originally aired on November 15, 2007 is now available to view online.

Click here to watch the archived webstream of this program.

 


Please send questions or comments to: dcarpenter@albany.edu

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