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Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Blakely laces up for the first soccer match on Yokosuka Naval Base’s Berkey Field in August 2007.
The artificial surface is considered too new to worry about lead dust in the synthetic turf, base officials said Monday.

Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Blakely laces up for the first soccer match on Yokosuka Naval Base’s Berkey Field in August 2007. The artificial surface is considered too new to worry about lead dust in the synthetic turf, base officials said Monday. (Allison Batdorff/S&S)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Yokosuka’s Berkey Field is considered too new to worry about lead dust in the synthetic turf, base officials said Monday.

The playing field also is made of polyethylene fibers — a material the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says contains "very low" lead levels, officials said.

Synthetic turf on military bases underwent scrutiny after a CDC-based advisory found some fields contained unhealthy levels of lead dust from pigment used to color the turf. Subsequent testing revealed sections of artificial turf at several bases in Germany and in South Korea contained lead well above the CDC’s "significant" amount of 400 parts per million.

Yokosuka’s Berkey Field did not merit testing based on the CDC’s report "Potential Exposure to Lead in Artificial Turf," said base spokeswoman Michelle Stewart.

The CDC’s report recommends no testing for turf made of polyethylene-only fibers and said that the risk is low for new fields because the turf fibers are still intact, she said.

The base’s synthetic turf field, made by Polytan, contains yarns composed of polyethylene, Stewart said. The field cost $2 million and opened about a year ago.

"Based on this, it was determined that no testing was warranted," Stewart said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.

Sasebo Naval Base’s Nimitz Park was tested and deemed safe, base spokesman Chuck Howard said in June.

The playing field at South Korea’s Camp Henry, less than a year old, registered above the recommended amount of lead but was declared safe last week after more testing of the field and voluntary blood testing of five children who play there.

But the field remains closed amid lingering concerns about "long-term wear and tear," an Installation Management Command-Korea official said last week.

Lead exposure can have detrimental health effects, and can lead to development and behavior problems in young children. To date, there have been no reported cases of elevated lead levels in people linked to lead in synthetic turf.


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