City officials have closed a turf field in Harlem after tests indicated it had high lead levels in the soil — but the same tests show that the turf at Cadman Plaza is perfectly safe.
“There is absolutely nothing to fear,” said Parks Department spokeswoman Jama Adams, noting that they have tested all 111 turf fields and only one — Thomas Jefferson Park in East Harlem — came back negative positive. (The city closed the park in December and is replacing its turf next week.)
“Cadman Plaza has definitely been tested and is definitely negative for lead,” Adams added.
The city used the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard of lead levels in soil as a measurement, which essentially tests how dangerous it would be for a child to eat the soil.
But Councilman David Yassky said his office is actively working with the city anyway to ensure the turf fields are safe.
The agency’s first deputy Commissioner, Liam Kavanagh, testified before City Council on Monday at a hearing to discuss the use and concerns of synthetic turf fields. He noted the benefits of turf — namely, that it helps avoid sports-related injuries — but also touched on the safety concerns. [Testimony document]
“Ensuring the safety of users is a primary concern when designing parks and playgrounds,” Kavanagh said. “We need to know that our fields are non-toxic and provide a safe and chemical-free playing environment.”