Newsom, Calif. do about-face on fake grass

Years after California embraced synthetic turf as a cure-all for drought, it’s eyeing a ban for its effects from “forever chemicals.”

Assembly Bill 626, signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on October 8, allows cities and counties in California to ban artificial grass due to concerns of “forever chemicals” potentially leeching into the soil.

Gov. Newsom appears willing to ban the use of chemicals called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in synthetic turf, despite efforts to develop PFAS-free products.


The backstory: In 2016, then-Gov. Jerry Brown prevented local governments from banning artificial turf, considering it a viable option for conserving water in California’s drought-prone environment.

  • However, in 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency detected PFAS in some synthetic turfs, which have been linked to health issues such as cancer, kidney and liver damage, and birth defects.
  • When artificial turf is disposed of in landfills, it can continue to release toxins into the surrounding soil, water, and air.
  • Some synthetic lawn producers advertise their products as being PFAS-free, with cheaper products more likely to contain PFAS.
  • Another bill, AB 1423, aimed to ban artificial turfs containing PFAS starting in 2025, but Gov. Newsom vetoed it over concerns of the lack of regulatory oversight.
  • Newsom expressed support for the intent of the bill but highlighted the challenges in implementing single-product chemical bans without proper oversight.
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