LA City Council Committee Seeks Study of Possible Artificial Turf Ban – Daily News

Artificial grass on homes along Lull Avenue in West Hills, Calif., Monday, July 8, 2024. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

When a committee of the Los Angeles City Council approved a motion calling for a preliminary study of a potential ban on artificial turf in LA, Kelly Shannon McNeil, deputy director of the nonprofit Los Angeles Waterkeeper, saw the move as an “incredibly positive step.”

The City Council’s Energy and Environment Committee voted June 28 to approve a study to understand the health effects of artificial turf — a product widely used by schools, homeowners and many others, but which may contain synthetic chemicals called polyfluoroalkyl substances. , or PFAS.

McNeil has spent years advocating for the environment and water resources, and she said the issue of PFAS and other “forever chemicals” is especially important to her as the mother of a two-year-old.

“We’re looking at all the different ways we can limit exposure to PFAS in our communities and banning artificial turf would be an immediate opportunity to do that,” McNeil said.

Artificial grass is marketed as not requiring water like real grass – but artificial grass is sometimes watered to cool down the green plastic on hot, sunny days. It is widely installed in housing estates, recreation areas and sports fields.

But Los Angeles City Council members Bob Blumenfield and Katy Yaroslavsky, who introduced and seconded the motion, want to know if the health effects of artificial turf outweigh the potential benefits.

In 2023, the state legislature passed SB 676, which allows local governments to ban artificial turf. The cities of Millbrae and San Marino in California have since passed artificial turf bans.

In April, the Environmental Protection Agency categorized PFAS and other “forever chemicals” as hazardous substances that are dangerous to human health and warned that exposure to PFAS can lead to reproductive effects and developmental delays and can increase the risk of certain cancers.

Encino resident Maria Solayzami’s lawn has been artificial turf for five years. She said the lawn is helpful because it requires less maintenance and has reduced her water bill. Solayzami said that when she switched to artificial grass, she did not know that PFAS could be found in artificial grass. She’s gotten a little worried in the years since.

“I like the aesthetic and it doesn’t use too much water,” Solayzami said. “I have three kids, so the chemicals, they’ve been on my mind.”

In 2019, the EPA released a study examining the safety of crumb rubber — recycled tire rubber used in artificial turf — and found that “although chemicals are present (as expected) in the crumb rubber and exposure may occur, they are likely limited.” The study did not specifically test for PFAS.

Melanie Taylor, president and CEO of the Synthetic Turf Council, said in a letter to the LA City Council that “there are significant benefits to using artificial turf, which is why schools, families and communities across the country are choosing to use it.”

The City Council’s motion calls on the city to encourage a transition to “California Drought Friendly Landscaping.”

Patricia Bates, an Encino resident and treasurer of the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society, transitioned her lawn to native drought-tolerant plants three years ago — and said it was “a wonderful choice.”

“(Native plants) are amazing, and they provide habitat for all kinds of birds and pollinators and animals,” Bates said. “And I’m very pleased with the move to move away from artificial turf.”

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