TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., sent a letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission on Thursday that urged the agency to expand its investigation into possibly hazardous lead levels in artificial turf.
Menendez also asked the agency for recommendations on how parents can protect children who play on artificial grass fields, lawns and playgrounds.
The CPSC, which has investigated lead in children's toys and household products, did not return messages seeking comment.
Menendez made his request a week after the federal Centers for Disease Control issued an advisory recommending that worn, frayed sports fields containing nylon fibers be tested for lead.
The CDC said no cases of elevated blood lead levels in children have been linked to artificial turf. Health officials remain concerned because exposure to lead is cumulative, and children are especially susceptible.
Lead can cause brain damage and other illnesses, particularly in children.
Turf manufacturers insist their products are safe.
Rick Doyle, president of the Synthetic Turf Council, an industry trade group, has said the lead in turf is encapsulated in the blades and does not leach out or become airborne.
A California environmental watchdog group reported this week it had found excessive amounts of lead in several brands of artificial turf. It warned some of the biggest manufacturers and sellers that it would sue unless they recall or reformulate their products.
The report from the Center for Environmental Health followed New Jersey health officials' finding of unacceptably high lead levels in some synthetic surfaces.
New Jersey health officials first discovered elevated lead levels at an athletic field in Newark last fall, then found similarly high levels in two other nylon-based fields.
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