>Posted: 4:28 pm EDT April 14, 2008
Updated: 6:52 pm EDT April 14, 2008
TRENTON, N.J. — Three athletic fields in New Jersey used by thousands of people have been shut down because officials say elevated lead levels in the turf pose a health risk.
The fields are in Newark, Ewing and Hoboken. In Newark, workers in hazmat suits rolled up the turf and put it into Dumpsters to be hauled away.
In Hoboken, soccer players were turned away from Frank Sinatra Park because of concerns about lead in the fibers of its turf.
New Jersey officials are urging owners of these types of fields to make sure their turf is lead-free.
State health officials said they found lead levels eight to 10 times higher than allowed in soil when they randomly tested two-dozen turf fields around the state. The state’s epidemiologist is asking the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission to investigate.
Health Commissioner Heather Howard said the New Jersey findings could have national implications.
It’s not known how easily lead from turf is absorbed by the body. Specialized tests on the high-lead turf samples are expected early next month.