California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a new law that would allow cities and counties to ban synthetic turf, for landscaping in particular, when the PFAS levels in the product exceed a predetermined limit.
The bill replaces a bill introduced by Senator Ben Allen in response to synthetic turf containing Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). According to the governor, “that bill did not clarify which agency would oversee regulation.”
The new bill allows cities and counties to ban synthetic grass out of concern that “forever chemicals” could potentially leech into the soil. Less than a decade ago, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation forbidding cities and counties from banning synthetic grass. At the time, the state was in the middle of a crippling drought, and fake lawns were thought to help conserve water.
“Emerging research makes it clear that synthetic turf poses a threat to the environment due to a lack of recycling and the presence of toxins such as lead and PFAS,” said Senator Allen.
With the new law, “local governments will once again be able to regulate synthetic turf in a way to protect our environment in the face of drought and climate change but also by preventing additional contributions of our recycling challenges and toxic runoff,” he added.
No more PFAS
This bill would prohibit, except as provided, and commencing January 1, 2026, a public entity, including a charter city, charter county, city, or county, any public or private school serving pupils in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive, a public institution of higher education, other than the University of California, or a private institution of higher education from purchasing or installing a covered surface containing regulated PFAS, as defined.
Commencing January 1, 2026, the bill would prohibit a person or entity from manufacturing, distributing, selling, or offering for sale in the state any covered surface that contains regulated PFAS.
“There are different types of synthetic turf out there. Some are better than others. I would say that there are things that cities and school districts can do to lessen the likelihood that there’s environmental impact,” said Allen.
Synthetic turf manufacturers say they are working to address concerns about the materials they use, although, for the most part, they cannot completely remove PFAS. Some have switched to sand and other safer products in an attempt to replace crumb rubber.
The City of San Marino is one of the first to act on the new ban. They have established a temporary moratorium precluding the synthetic turf.