Two of our stellar high school interns, Jenna Kim and Nolan Tonkyn, wrote about their experience working on the artificial turf testing project.  Check out their thoughts here:

It’s scary to think that I have been buying products without really knowing what dangerous chemicals are included in its makeup. By being involved in the artificial turf lead testing project at CEH, I was able to help schools and child care centers in California by informing them about the potentially-hazardous lead problems in some artificial turf installations.  As I kept calling school supervisors who said that their sites did not have turf, I felt better knowing that the children  at these schools are not bring exposed to such potential lead hazards.  For the schools that do have turf, it was comforting to know that they would be able to work with CEH to resolve the problem.

I am very glad that there is an organization like CEH that is here to give back to the surrounding community, making sure everyone has the right to live in a safe and clean environment.  It was a pleasure interning at such a great organization.  CEH has definitely given me new perspectives on my surroundings.  I learned that there are many products out there with the potential to cause harm to our bodies.  But with CEH here, there is an organized force to fight for our rights to ensure that products we use are safe.

By Jenna Kim


I have spent a large portion of my high school career at the football field, practicing for both Cross Country and Track. Not once did it even cross my mind that there could be harmful chemicals infused in the artificial turf, exposing anyone who came in contact with it to their damaging health effects.

When I came to CEH I started working on a project testing artificial turf from schools and child care centers around California to see if they turf contained lead. If the turf sample tested positive, which many of them did, we would educate the users of that facility about lead, and possibly help them get the dangerous turf replaced.

Although most cross country running is done on the track, we spend a good amount of time stretching, warming up, and even just lying around talking with friends on the football field. This combined with the number of tracks we visit for meets and invitationals makes it almost inevitable that I have come into contact with lead on many occasions.

This not only frightens me, but somewhat angers me.

The dangers that lead presents have been known for a long time, and yet companies have been using it in products—like artificial turf—with no regrets.  It takes a company like CEH to come in and stop them, and even so hundreds of sites in California have “leady” turf, causing harm to whoever touches it.

Not only that, but I’m sure a large portion of the population is unaware of the fact that the lead could be present in artificial turf, leading to the question: What other products that appear harmless actually contain harmful toxics?

Overall I had a good experience at CEH, I learned a lot about environmental justice, and some of the legal issues and processes that it involves. It has also improved my confidence while talking on the phone, and has given me an opportunity to work in a professional environment, which up to this point I had not done. CEH turned out to be a great place to intern, and I am glad to have spent my senior year of high school here.

By Nolan Tonkyn

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One Comment

  1. Posted December 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    In the interest of disclosure, Nolan Tonkyn is my nephew.

    I subscribe to 2 newspapers. The Wall Street Journal and the SFChron. The WSJ had reported on the adverse effects of these fields a while ago. So has the SFChron. Surface temp can be 120′ and up. The WSJ Article, if I recall correctly, was focused on short term no care issues (compared to live grass, grounds keeps, etc) and long term adverse health issues for users.

    Great work, CEH and interns.

    Know history and realize that without proper government agencies, staffed and funded, private – for profit entities will attempt to cram products down the throats of consumers (school districts, etc.) all in the interest of short term profits for investors.

    Well funded EPA and other Federal, State and local agencies would allow proper research to be done and conclusions drawn in a manner that would not allow these type of fields to be installed under the feet of the youths of our nation.

    You cannot kill a future generation (or harm them) for profit!!!! Wait, with Republicans, Tea Party Members and the likes of Ron Paul, maybe you can.

    Vote…and vote smart. Actually, run for office and change the establishment from within.

    Josh Whitmer