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Officials: Artificial turf fields here safe

Artificial turf manufacturers and officials at Lancaster County colleges and schools say there’s no reason for concern that students practicing and playing on synthetic fields here are at risk of lead exposure. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission last week began looking into possible health hazards from lead in turf fields after two fields in New Jersey were found to contain unexpectedly high levels of the material. The fields, made of aging nylon fibers, raised fears that athletes could swallow or inhale lead-laden fibers or dust. If ingested, lead can cause brain damage and other illnesses, particularly in children. Five Lancaster County public school districts, at least one private school and the county’s three colleges all have synthetic fields. But officials at those schools said their fields are made of a different material than the fields implicated in the New Jersey health scare. And a trade group says the New Jersey fields pose no health threat because the lead chromate used in their fibers to prevent fading is encapsulated in plastic. “There is no scientific evidence of a health risk for children or adults based on recent test results and current knowledge of the chemical structure of aged synthetic turf products,” the Synthetic Turf Council said in a news release posted Monday on its Web site, citing two scientists.

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