26 October 2016
Harrow International School in Tuen Mun is facing scrutiny over artificial turf laid out at a playground. Photo: Facebook
Harrow International School in Tuen Mun is facing scrutiny over artificial turf laid out at a playground. Photo: Facebook

Concerns raised over toxic chemicals in school artificial turf

Tests conducted on an artificial turf at the Harrow International School in Tuen Mun have revealed that the rubber materials used for the facility contain toxic chemicals, Sing Tao Daily reports.

The findings of the tests, which were conducted earlier this year, have sparked worries among parents that their children’s health could be at risk, the report said Monday.

Artificial turf, a surface of synthetic fibers that is made to look like and replace natural grass, has been suspected of containing substances that could cause cancer, although the makers deny any such risk.

Given the fears, some parents of children who were enrolled at Harrow International School Hong Kong, which was founded in 2012, dipped into their own pockets and commissioned a laboratory to test samples of the artificial grass.

According to the test results that came back in late March, the rubber compounds, which are used in making the artificial grass as well as car tires, contained 24.2 parts-per-million (ppm) of lead.

Although the concentration is lower than the standard 1,000 ppm, the parents were still shocked and angry, the paper said, citing fears that the lead could make its way into the human body and affect the nervous system.

The parents conveyed their concerns to the British boarding and day school’s management, asking them to look into the matter.

The tests also revealed that the rubber compounds comprise 251 ppm of polybrominated biphenyl and 721 ppm chlorine. Both of them are considered to be harmful to the immune system.

Claiming that it uses the fourth-generation artificial turf that has won the top-tier accreditation from FIFA, school authorities mailed some information to the parents and provided details regarding the material used in the artificial turf.

Still, in a bid to allay concerns further, the authorities are preparing to send samples to Labosport France, which is a laboratory certified by FIFA, for more analysis, according to the report.

A school spokesman was quoted as saying that they have been keeping a close eye on reports regarding potential harm that could be caused by artificial turf, and that they will make a decision on continuance of the facility in the future.

The school management may also seek the opinion of government authorities if necessary, he said.

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