Georgia, Florida turf firms sued over lead-based coloring

5 09 2008

San Diego — Artificial turf may save water and reduce pesticides, but some brands from manufacturers in Georgia and Florida contain lead-based coloring that can harm consumers — especially children — according to lawsuits filed in California.

California’s attorney general is suing three of the artificial grass makers, while the nonprofit Center for Environmental Health is suing several others, claiming they violated California’s strict environmental laws by failing to disclose that their products contain lead.

The turf products at the center of the disputes are widely used for athletic fields, lawn replacements and for indoor/outdoor carpeting, not just in California but nationwide. They’re sold by big retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe’s as well as by specialty companies.

Named in the lawsuit by California Attorney General Jerry Brown are Beaulieu Group and Astroturf LLC of Georgia and Fieldturf USA of Florida.

Defendants in the lawsuit by the Center for Environmental Health are Beaulieu Group, Shaw Industries and Turf Headquarters of Georgia, and Synthetic Turf International of Florida.

According to the suits filed this week, all the companies use or used pigments containing lead that can rub off on consumers’ hands or feet or be accidentally ingested by children and pets.

Representatives of artificial turf makers say they were somewhat surprised by the California lawsuits, given that most manufacturers are already voluntarily phasing out their use of lead-based pigments and that federal regulators have said their current products are safe.

Michael Green, executive director of the Center for Environmental Health, said the suits were filed mainly to make sure companies’ live up to their promises to get the lead out.

Read on here.